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Performance Evaluation: U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

By C. Dylan Reilly, MLA Candidate, University of Maryland

Imagine rising in a translucent elevator above a wooded, stone courtyard when suddenly a bald eagle swoops by, carefully watching for its prey. Imagine walking onto a green roof and disturbing a napping doe, which promptly leaps safely to the ground. Imagine looking up from a babbling fountain surrounded by yellow flowers to see and hear a screeching red tailed hawk. These almost primal experiences in the built environment are characteristic of the new U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The landscape encourages these experiences through its incorporation of vegetation from different Maryland regions, like the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Blue Ridge.

gsa-uscg-greenroofU.S. Coast Guard Headquarters (Image: Taylor Lednum, GSA)

Last fall Dr. Christopher Ellis asked me if I would like to work with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and the General Services Administration to evaluate the performance of this stunning landscape. As a graduate student finishing my first semester I was thrilled to have the opportunity. I come from a geology background, so it was an obvious fit. Through the course of the project I have spent countless hours reading case studies for precedent and pouring over scientific articles to understand how to develop rigorous metrics. During this process it quickly became clear how interdisciplinary landscape performance is. As researchers, we need to be able to identify the endangered species flying over our head as much as we need to know how to measure ambient air temperature.

At the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, we are looking at a variety of metrics, including biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and courtyard use. We are also observing how different surfaces on-site either contribute to or mitigate the urban heat island effect. To do this, we deployed a series of eight inexpensive temperature loggers, seven on different surfaces and one to measure ambient air temperature in a courtyard.

One of the most exciting temperature comparisons is between the green roof and the black rubber roof. At over 6 acres, the green roof is the third largest in North America, and we hypothesize that its heat island and stormwater benefits are significant. As we analyze the temperature data, we will pay close attention to timing because the magnitude of the urban heat island effect is greatest on clear summer nights.

rooftemp-images-600wTemperature logger on sedum green roof (left) and black rubber roof (right)

Some of the most exciting parts of our study are those metrics that involve on-site data collection, case study precedent, and review of scientific literature. Looking back at LAF’s formative A Case Study Method for Landscape Architecture published in 1999, it is impressive how much work LAF, design firms, and their research partners have done in the past 15 years to make case studies a viable way to advance the practice of landscape architecture. As someone just entering the field, landscape performance is an exciting place to be, and I look forward to working to develop more rigorous ways to measure and value designed landscapes.

Research Assistant C. Dylan Reilly is working with Dr. Christopher D. Ellis, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences & Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland to evaluate the environmental, social, and economic performance of the landscape at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

LAF Takes Manhattan (Kansas)

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and its research initiatives will be well-represented at the upcoming Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference March 24-28 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

cela-ksu

LAF will present during four Concurrent Sessions, give updates at the CELA Board and Administrators Meetings, and host a meet-and-greet for the 2015 CSI Research Fellows and Landscape Performance Education Grant recipients. The program also features a number of presentations from LAF program participants and grant recipients, speaking about their experience and findings.

Research from and about LAF’s Landscape Performance SeriesCase Study Investigation (CSI) program, and Landscape Performance Education Grant program will be part of four sessions:


Concurrent Session 3 - Wed, 3/25, 3:40-5:00 pm

Landscape Performance in Design Education

Presentations:   Accelerating the Adoption of Landscape Performance in Design Education
                              Arianna Koudounas and Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation

                              Integrating Landscape Performance Strategies into Design
                              Kenneth Brooks, Arizona State University

                              Analysis to Site Design: Landscape Performance and the Design Studio
                              Aidan Ackerman and Maria Bellalta, Boston Architectural College

 
Concurrent Session 4 - Thur, 3/26, 8:30-9:50 am

Evaluating Social Performance Through Practice-Based Research

Panel with:          Skip Graffam, OLIN
                              Victoria Chanse, University of Maryland
                              Arianna Koudounas, Landscape Architecture Foundation


Concurrent Session 5 - Thur, 3/26, 10:40am-12:00 pm

Presentations Based on 2014 CSI Research and an Evaluation of Landscape Performance Series Case Study Briefs

Presentations:   Quantification of the Benefits of the Lincoln Road Streetscape Revitalization
                              Ebru Ozer, Florida International University

                              The Social Life of Cool Urban Spaces: Learning from Sundance Square Plaza
                              AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Sammons Park

                              Taner R. Ozdil, PhD, James P. Richards, and Justin Earl, University of Texas
                              at Arlington

                              Performance Measurement: Cross-disciplinary comparison on definition,
                              framework, metric and method

                              Yi Luo, PhD, Texas Tech University and Ming-Han Li, PhD, Texas A&M University

 
Concurrent Session 10 - Fri, 3/27, 4:15-5:35 pm

Measuring Landscape Performance: Metrics, Methods, and Tools

Presentations:   Keeping it Real: Striving for Accurate and Appropriate use of Tools to Measure
                              Landscape Performance

                              Mary Myers, Temple University and D. Smith

                              Landscape Performance of Built Projects: Comparing Landscape Architecture
                              Foundation’s Published Metrics and Methods

                              Yi Luo, PhD, Texas Tech University and Ming-Han Li, PhD, Texas A&M University

                              Landscape Performance Metrics and Methods: A Discussion of What to Measure
                              and How

                              Jessica Canfield and Katherine Leise, Kansas State University,
                              Bo Yang, PhD and Chris Binder, Utah State

                              Evaluating Performance: A Guidebook for Metric and Method Selection
                              Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation

Keeping Promises: Exploring the Role of Post-Occupancy Evaluation in Landscape Architecture

How well do constructed landscapes live up to the lofty goals established by design professionals? And how do we know? Former CSI research assistant and University of Oregon graduate student Andrew Louw is investigating this topic for his masters thesis. He is both trying to understand the role of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) within the landscape architecture profession and exploring the use of a digital data collection method for POEs.

poe-centralwharf

Though environmental, social, and economic performance goals are often identified during the pre-design and design stages of a project, most projects lack effective post-construction monitoring and observation to determine if, and how well, the project’s design goals are being met. LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program was born out of a need to encourage and support design firms in assessing performance and documenting the benefits of sustainable landscape projects. CSI is now in its fourth year, and leading firms are increasingly investing in in-house research. Yet  little is known about the use of and perceptions towards post-occupancy evaluation within the profession as a whole.

Louw believes a method known as Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI), which is already used widely in the design process, may be well-suited for post-occupancy landscape performance analysis. The technology increases the capacity for analysis by crowdsourcing data collection to users, has relatively low cost, offers the opportunity for longitudinal study, and could be more objective than traditional methods since there is less chance for bias from volunteers.

Louw is evaluating Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI) as a tool for POE by comparing it with traditional approaches like direct observation and intercept surveys. Using a LAF case study site, Central Wharf Plaza in Boston, he also sets out to develop a framework for using Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI) for evaluating landscape performance.

Landscape architecture practitioners and others interested in landscape performance are invited to participate in Louw’s study by taking the following survey:

https://oregon.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_e2kIQPRAJLWftxX

Please share the link with others!

Urban Green Space and Mental Wellness

May has been designated as National Mental Health Awareness Month to raise awareness about the importance of mental health to overall human health. Many factors contribute to mental health and wellness, including biological factors, experiences, and lifestyle, but the built and natural environments that surround us also play a critical role.

tkf-mental-wellness3Our friends at the TKF Foundation have worked with researchers Kathleen Wolf, PhD (University of Washington) and Elizabeth Housley, MA (OurFutureEnvironment.org) to produce Reflect & Restore: Urban Green Space for Mental Wellness, a research brief that draws on four decades of research.

The report is chock-full of evidence about the benefits of green space for mental wellness — from lowering stress to creating a stronger sense of community to reducing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. The research brief underscores why even small bits of nature in the city are so important.

“The key message, confirmed by literally hundreds of studies, is that across all age groups, and in diverse cultural groups, there is a recurring positive response to small scale, often unremarkable, natural settings in cities. Some responses, such as mood change or a sense of relaxation may be personally felt, while other reactions, such as reduced blood pressure or cortisol levels, are happening at the subconscious level.”

Landscape architects are paramount in creating many of these green spaces, defined in the research brief as urban landscapes, gardens, parks or any private or public spaces where natural elements are key components. We’re checking and adding to make sure that all of the research cited is part of our Landscape Performance Series Fast Fact Library, where you can find over 120 statements of landscape benefits derived from published research addressing a range of environmental, economic, and social impacts. 

Landscape Performance at CELA

The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference gets underway in Baltimore later this week, running March 26-29.

cela2014This CELA conference is the first to feature a Landscape Performance track with sessions that “explore the impact of landscape projects of various types and scales through the observation and measurement of environmental, economic and social benefits.” A total of 18 presentations and panels will be part of this track.

LAF will present during two Concurrent Sessions, serve as a Research Funding Workshop panelist, host a meet-and-greet for CSI Research Fellows and Landscape Performance Education Grant Recipients, and give updates at the CELA Board Meeting and Administrators Meeting .

Research from and about LAF’s Landscape Performance Series and Case Study Investigation (CSI) program will be part of four sessions:


Concurrent Session 1- Thurs, 8:00-9:30am

Presentations Based on 2012 and 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) Research

Presentations:    A ‘Texas Three-Step’ Landscape Performance Research: Learning from Buffalo
                              Bayou Promenade Klyde Warren Park, and UT Dallas Campus Plan
                              Taner Ozdil, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington

                              How Does It Change After One Year? A Comparison of Benefit Composition of
                              LAF’s Published Case Studies in 2011 and 2012
                              Yi Luo, Texas A&M University

                              Park Seventeen Residential Roof Garden: Landscape Performance and
                              Lessons Learned
                              Ming-Han Li, PhD, Texas A&M University

                              Assessing Residential Landscape Performance: Visual and Bioclimatic
                              Analyses through In-Situ Data
                              Bo Yang, PhD Utah State University


Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 11:00am-12:30pm

Waterfront Ecologies: Opportunities and Challenges of Assessing Site Performance

Panel with:          Kristina Hill, PhD, University of California at Berkeley
                              Mary Pat Mattson, Illinois Institute of Technology
                              Aidan Ackerman, Boston Architectural College


Concurrent Session 3 - Thurs, 2:30-4:00pm

Landscape Performance Series Case Study Review and Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Prospects

Panel with:          Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation
                              Mary Myers, PhD, Temple University
                              Bo Yang, PhD, Utah State University


Concurrent Session 4 - Thurs, 5:00-6:30pm

One Project at a Time: Measuring Social Performance for LAF Case Study Investigations

Panel with:          Katharine Burgess, Landscape Architecture Foundation
                              Elen Deming, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
                              Taner Ozdil, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington