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Landscape architecture is a practice of continual inquiry with investigation at its core. But how and why do we undertake research? How do we assess its legitimacy? Where does basic research fit in? And how might we better transform knowledge into practice?
On Friday, October 21 at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meeting, LAF will participate in a panel to consider these questions. Eric Kramer of Reed Hilderbrand, Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, and Heather Whitlow of the Landscape Architecture Foundation will discuss these issues in an interactive panel session that aims to probe and envision the next frontiers of landscape architecture research.
To prepare for the session, we want to know how practitioners are using and engaging in research. If you are a landscape architecture practitioner, please take a few moments to complete this short 6-question survey:
Research and Practice: What Does It Mean? Why Do We Do It?
Fri, Oct 21, 10:30am-12:00pm
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 271
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 23-26 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Organized by Utah State University, the conference will also involve a day trip to the main campus in Logan, Utah.
LAF staff will present during two Concurrent Sessions, report to the CELA Board and Administrators during their respective meetings, and host a meet-and-greet for the 2016 CSI Research Fellows and past Landscape Performance Education Grant and Case Study Investigation (CSI) participants. The conference also features a number of presentations from LAF program participants, who will speak about their methods, findings, and further research.
In total, research from and about LAF’s various Landscape Performance Series initiatives will be part of seven sessions:
Concurrent Session 1, Thurs, 3/24, 8:00-9:20 am
Presentations: Landscape Performance: A Bold Idea in a Change-Averse Town
Matthew James and Erika Roeber, South Dakota State University
Integrating Life-Cycle Costs with Landscape Performance
Yi Luo, Texas Tech University
Case Study Meta-Analysis: A Step Toward Informing Design
Mary Myers, Temple University
Bo Yang, Utah State University
Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 3/24, 9:30-10:50 am
The Role of Landscape Performance in Standardized Landscape Architecture Curricula
Panel with: Andrew Fox, North Carolina State University
Kenneth Brooks, Arizona State University
Stephanie Rolley, Kansas State University
Emily McCoy, Andropogon and North Carolina State University
Arianna Koudounas, Landscape Architecture Foundation
Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 3/24, 9:30-10:50 am
Wadi Hanifah: Landscape Infrastructure for the 21st Century
Presentation by: Jean Trottier, University of Manitoba
Concurrent Session 5- Sat, 3/26, 8:00-9:20 am
Understanding Courtyards at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters: Methods to Quantify Use and Density
Presentation by: Chris Ellis, University of Maryland
Concurrent Session 6- Sat, 3/26, 9:30-10:50 am
Looking Beyond Case Studies in Social Performance Research: Replicable Surveys and Generalizable Outcomes
Panel with: Mary Myers, Temple University
Taner Ozdil, University of Texas at Arlington
M. Elen Deming, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation
Concurrent Session 8, Sat, 3/26, 2:00-3:20 pm
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters Heat Island Performance
Presentation by: C. Dylan Reilly, University of Maryland
Concurrent Session 9, Sat, 3/26, 3:30-4:50 pm
Presentations: Measuring the Social Performance of Food Production Landscapes
Ellen Burke, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Evaluating Performance of Campus-based Agriculture: Is Bigger Better?
D. Scott Douglas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
From October 2014 through September 2015, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) partnered with the General Services Administration (GSA) to evaluate the performance of the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters site on the St. Elizabeth’s West campus in southeast Washington, DC, the largest federal redevelopment project since the Pentagon. This acclaimed project earned LEED Gold certification and features an extensive stormwater management system.
GSA is charged with providing workplaces for the federal government by constructing, managing, and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. Because GSA has committed to incorporate sustainability principles — including sustainable site design and management — in all of its real estate transactions, the agency was interested in studying the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters site to test assumptions, assess materials, and understand the built condition.
The collaboration followed the model of LAF’s award-winning Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, with an academic team (Professor Christopher D. Ellis, PhD and student research assistant C. Dylan Reilly of the University of Maryland) leading the research and members of the design team (Emily McCoy of Andropogon and Brandon Hartz of HOK) lending their insights. Because of the longer timeframe, the partnership provided the opportunity for a more expansive study than what is possible through the 6-month CSI program.
The year-long partnership allowed the 31-acre site to be studied through all four seasons in order to achieve a more balanced and nuanced picture of its performance. The research looked at a variety of ecosystem services provided by the site’s most notable features: 985 new trees, over 400,000 sf of green roofs, and a 2.4-acre stormwater pond. It also assessed workers’ use of and satisfaction with the outdoor open spaces, and use of alternate modes of transportation.
The researchers used temperature loggers to record and compare surface temperatures on areas of conventional black rubber roof, sedum green roof, and green roof planted with tall grass. They also compared native plant species and average site surface temperatures to those at a traditional office landscape. For the two courtyards, they used time-lapse photography to quantify the number of people using the space and determine the most common uses. They also observed commuter traffic to document the modes used and conducted a survey of employees to determine their satisfaction with the outdoor spaces.
The products of this collaboration are a Landscape Performance Series Case Study Brief and an internal report for GSA that discusses performance, provides recommendations for site management and maintenance, and suggests areas for further research.
LAF was proud to be part of this important study and will continue to pursue opportunities for longer-term research partnerships to evaluate the performance of exemplary built landscapes.
Tum Suppakittpaisarn, a Doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is conducting a visual preference survey of urban stormwater management strategies. He is working under the supervision of Dr. William Sullivan in the Department of Landscape Architecture.
Landscape Architecture professionals, professors, and students (18 or older) are invited to complete a short survey to rate images of landscapes from seven cities across the United States. The images depict different ways of dealing with flooding and rain water. The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
We appreciate your participation, supporting important research for the profession!
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.
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.
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.