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As landscape architects increasingly engage in addressing complex challenges like climate change, urbanization, and public health, it is critical that they be able to communicate the measurable benefits of design solutions.
This year the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) included “landscape performance” and many measurement-related requirements its revised LAAB Accreditation Standards for all bachelor’s and master’s level landscape architecture programs. In their training, students must now learn skills necessary to predict outcomes, assess alternatives, defend design proposals, and evaluate environmental, social, and economic performance of landscape projects.
To help university landscape architecture programs integrate landscape performance into their curriculum, LAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants allow select university faculty to develop and test models in standard courses. Their teaching materials and reflections are then shared through the Resources for Educators section of LAF’s LandscapePerformance.org.
For the Fall 2016 semester/term, five $2,500 mini-grants were awarded for the following courses:
- Kenneth Brooks, FASLA, FCELA, PLA, Arizona State University
Design Research Methods (MLA/Interdisciplinary Research Methods)
A traditional lecture course that explores a range of research methods, techniques and strategies applied to the enterprise and advancement of design. The class is a required core course for 85 graduate students in professional design programs of architecture (MArch), interior architecture (MIA), industrial design (MID), landscape architecture (MLA), visual communications design (MVCD) and urban design (MUD).This course is designed to give Design and other students an intellectual framework and experience in conceptualizing, conducting and applying research methods and strategies that will permit them to advance the knowledge base and practice capabilities of designers and problem-solvers. A primary focus of the course is cultivating scholarship, inquiry and evaluation that enhances and enriches the effectiveness and performance practice of professional design.
- Brad Collett, ASLA, RLA, LEED AP, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Operative Landscapes (MLA Seminar)
Contemporary challenges posed by urbanization, climate dynamics, evolving economies and social paradigms have changed the demands we place on the designed landscape. Landscape architects in North America and around the world have risen to this challenge, revealing new possibilities for the economic, social and environmental performance of landscapes in public, private and infrastructural territories. Operative Landscapes examines the historical contexts and emergent theory driving this shift in the practice of landscape architecture, and surveys contemporary projects as a basis for understanding multi-scalar design approaches, technical details and maintenance regimes. An emphasis is placed on built landscapes and living systems as integral parts of site stormwater management approaches and regional water resource infrastructure.
- Kirk Dimond, MLA, LEED AP, University of Arizona
Site Engineering (MLA Site Engineering)
Site Engineering for landscape architects requires students to develop the comprehension and skills necessary to maintain health, safety, and welfare through the manipulation of topography and water. To reinforce this, knowledge objectives with associated performance measures, organized under the four natural elements of earth, water, fire and air, will challenge students to develop technical competency through lectures and exercises that also provide the means to measure and evaluate their decisions through understanding landscape performance. Culmination of the material is tested in a comprehensive final project requiring a full grading plan that demonstrates evidence of responsible design decisions.
- Joseph Ragsdale, ASLA, FAAR, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Design Theory and Exploration Focus Studio (BLA Studio)
This third and fourth year vertical studio links technical competencies with design explorations and applied landscape architecture theory studies. For sites located on the university campus, students will establish current performance criteria and metrics, propose design ideas in connection with an updated master plan, and evaluate changes in performance metrics of proposed design solutions. The course is structured around three activities, a technical module focusing on landscape performance, a design module emphasizing design exploration and a theory seminar reinforcing contemporary landscape architecture theory.
- Rebekah VanWieren, MLA, MS, Montana State University
Advanced Landscape Design Studio: Landscape Design Scenarios for Water Conservation in the Middle Rockies (Landscape Design BS Studio)
This studio will integrate landscape performance principles and metrics with a design project for the City of Bozeman, Water Conservation Division. Students will analyze the ecology and lifecycle of designing landscapes through field explorations around four themes: water, vegetation and soil, energy, and human health and well-being. These findings will be applied to design performance alternatives for water resource resiliency in the semi-arid West.
Over the last three years, LAF has awarded a total of $37,500 in Landscape Performance Education Grants to university faculty with five mini-grants awarded each year.
To help university landscape architecture programs integrate landscape performance into their curriculum, LAF is offering five $2,500 mini-grants to faculty for the Fall 2016 term/semester. Landscape performance is part of the the revised 2016 LAAB Accreditation Standards, which take effect starting with landscape architecture programs scheduled for accreditation reviews in fall 2017.
Faculty selected for the Landscape Performance Education Grants will work with LAF to develop and test models to incorporate landscape performance in standard landscape architecture courses, such as research and methods, site planning and analysis, design studios, and other lecture or seminar courses.
Applications are now available and will be due June 15, 2016. Each application is to include a teaching proposal, which will be evaluated for quality and feasibility by LAF and an independent committee of educators. Grant recipients will be announced in early July.
Grant recipients will work closely with LAF and its Education Committee to finalize the teaching proposals, which will then be implemented during the Fall 2016 term/semester. Formal course evaluations will be used to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models tested, including whether specific landscape performance learning objectives are met.
Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants are added to the Resources for Educators section of LandscapePerformance.org. This library of teaching tools includes syllabi, reading lists, and sample student assignments, as well as faculty reflections on their pedagogical approaches and experiences teaching landscape performance.
LAF awarded five Landscape Performance Education Grants in 2014 and five in 2015. This third round will bring the total in mini-grants awarded to educators to $37,500.
The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB), the official accrediting body for first professional programs in landscape architecture in the U.S., has included landscape performance in its recently-revised accreditation standards for all bachelor’s and master’s level programs. Landscape performance is listed in the Professional Curriculum section as one of the topics to be covered under “Assessment and Evaluation.”
The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) strongly supported this change, as did many of our colleagues in academia and professional practice, who provide input to the revision process. Future landscape architects must be able to assess and communicate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of design solutions.
Moving forward, as each landscape architecture program comes up for accreditation renewal (every 6 years), the program will need to demonstrate how landscape performance is being addressed. The revised 2016 LAAB Accreditation Standards take effect starting with landscape architecture programs scheduled for accreditation reviews in fall 2017. The revised 2016 LAAB Accreditation Procedures are effective immediately.
To assist faculty in incorporating landscape performance into coursework, LAF has developed a Resources for Educators database of sample teaching materials for studio, seminar, and lecture courses. Materials include syllabi, reading lists, and sample student assignments, as well as faculty reflections on their pedagogical approaches and experiences teaching landscape performance.
LAF will also continue to provide support to faculty through its Landscape Performance Education Grants. These $2,500 mini-grants allow select university faculty to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings. Ten mini-grants were awarded in 2014 and 2015. LAF will offer five more for the Fall 2016 term/semester. Applications will be available in May and due June 15.
Congratulations to Lovisa Kjerrgren, who won the 2015 Wayne Grace Memorial Student Competition with her short animation entitled “Pretty Heroic.” The competition and its $10,000 USD prize was sponsored by the Landscape Architectural Registration Boards Foundation. Entrants had to develop a communications piece that effectively conveys the vital role that landscape architects play in protecting and enhancing the public’s well-being, as identified in the “Definition of Welfare” research conducted by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB).
In the winning animation, the characters’ lives are enhanced by the work done by landscape architects, shown wearing capes in one scene. From the dialogue:
“Landscape architects may not have super powers, but they have the knowledge, skills and passion it takes to design environments that promote the welfare of you and your fellow members of the public for today and the future, and that is pretty heroic.”
Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Lovisa recently graduated with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. When asked how she settled on landscape architecture as a career, she said, “For me, it’s all about the dynamic combination of having the elements of art and creativity and marrying that with science, knowing that this really relates to people’s lives and the environment we live in.” Lovisa said the biggest challenge in creating the animation was scaling it back to be concise without losing the message she wanted to deliver.
LAF was honored to serve on the five-member jury of landscape architecture and communications professionals who unanimously selected Kjerrgren’s entry as the winner. The jury members were:
- Stephanie Landregan, FASLA, LARBF Chair and CLARB Past President
- Kenneth Backman, FASLA, LARBF Past Chair, CLARB Past President
- Terry Poltrack, Director of Public Relations and Communications, American Society of Lanscape Architects
- Barbara Deutsch, FASLA, Executive Director, Landscape Architecture Foundation
- Jim Brown, Trail Development Manager, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (and 2012 LAF Olmsted Scholar)
Attention landscape architecture faculty preparing for the upcoming schoolyear: The Resources for Educators section of LandscapePerformance.org now features materials from 10 university landscape architecture courses that incorporate landscape performance. The materials include syllabi, reading lists, assignments, sample student work, and faculty reflections on their pedagogical approaches and experiences teaching landscape performance. Whether you are looking to devote a class period to landscape performance or use it as an organizing theme for the entire semester, these teaching materials provide you with some tried and tested models.
The course materials were developed through LAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants, a program that offers $2,500 mini-grants to faculty to develop and test ways to integrate landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings. Five new courses were recently added from the faculty members that participated during the Spring 2015 term. They include studio, seminar, and lecture courses, ranging from introductory to advanced.
Many landscape architecture faculty are already teaching performance in some capacity, and the concept is being increasingly embraced in academia and practice:
“In my opinion, students graduating with a landscape architecture degree must have exposure to the theories and methods regarding landscape performance, including aesthetic and ecosystem service contributions, in order to become responsible and effective designers.”
— Kofi Boone, Associate Professor, North Carolina State University
Students also see tremendous benefit to being exposed to performance in their landscape architecture coursework:
“Learning about performance landscapes is beneficial to our education, and I think it should be taught more due to the state of our planet. If I had to critique any aspect of our performance studio it would be that I wish we could have done more with it. There need to be more non-studio classes addressing landscape performance.”
— Wayne Nemec, Third-Year BLA Student, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
LAF is committed to helping the next generation of design professionals obtain the knowledge and technical skills they need to measure and communicate the environmental, economic, and social impact of landscape solutions. The Landscape Performance Education Grants were made possible with support from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Foundation for Education & Research. A total of ten $2,500 grants were awarded in 2014 and 2015. LAF is actively pursuing funding and sponsorships to be able to continue the program in future years.