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LAF Events at the ASLA Annual Meeting

If you’ll be in Denver for the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, we hope you’ll join us for one or more of the following events to raise awareness and support LAF programs. We’ll celebrate over $1 million awarded to students since 1986, honor our 2014 Olmsted Scholars, and launch the all-new, the next-generation of our award-winning Landscape Performance Series.

newheightsNew Heights, LAF’s 29th Annual Benefit
Fri, Nov 21, 7:00-10:30pm
The Studio Loft

Join top designers and leaders from practice, academia, and industry for a lively evening in the heart of Denver’s Theatre District. Enjoy cocktails, fine food, and amazing company, all while raising money to support LAF’s research and scholarship programs.

LAF Booth in ASLA Expo Hall (#1556)
Sat-Sun, Nov 22-23, 9:00am-5:00pm
Colorado Convention Center
Visit our booth to learn more about LAF, register for the Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes, and see the brand-new

Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes
Sun, Nov 23, 4:30pm
Colorado Convention Center
Join us at our booth in the ASLA Expo Hall as we draw the winner of our one-of-a-kind trip for two to Mackerel Beach, Sydney, Australia. You can make a donation to register to win right up until the drawing. Entrants need not be present to win. All sweepstakes proceeds support LAF’s research and scholarship programs.

Stormwater BMP Performance:
What Every Landscape Architect Should Know
Sat, Nov 22, 2:30-4pm
Colorado Convention Center
Don’t miss this Education Session moderated by LAF’s Heather Whitlow and featuring Bill Wenk of Wenk Associates, Jonathan Jones of Wright Water Engineers, and Jason Berner of the US EPA. This session will describe current initiatives to document performance, protocols for measuring performance, ways to design more effective systems, and the challenges the profession could face when levels of performance aren’t realized.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Rediscovering Colombia's Fucha River

By Viviana Castro, 2014 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

A river that was valued once as a source of life is now channelized to control its contaminated waters, with people fearing it and perceiving it as sewage rather than a natural resource. Rediscovering the Fucha River involves exploring the opportunities of the river as a public space, creating a vision that can change the perception of the river and demonstrate how people can experience its regeneration.

I began this exploration as my senior capstone project with the goal of understating the potential of urban river restoration in Latin American development. Studying this river in particular, however, brought up many aspects that brought a different value to the notion of restoration, where first there needs to be a rediscovery.

fucha01The Fucha River today in the city of Bogotá, Colombia.

Fucha — Muyscubum for “the great female” — was one of the sources of life for the Muysca tribe in the area of Bacata (now the city of Bogotá). The Muysca had a close relationship with the river, seeing it as the place of birth for all life forms. However, as Spanish settlement began to take place, the river was used as a hydraulic source for industries developing in the twentieth century. With this change, the waters began to degrade and the river began to be seen as a source of disposal. Even the term Fucha today can be confused with the Spanish vernacular fuchi, which is a way to describe a bad smell.

The river begins with high water quality as it flows down the steep mountain ranges but begins to degrade as it enters the urban core. By the time it reaches its last stretch, the river has lost its oxygen levels and has received waste from multiple polluting sources.

I interviewed people around the river edge, asking them about their impression of the river. People commented on the constant flooding, contamination, and waste disposal into the river, and compared their experience of the river in the city to the rivers in the countryside, where activities such as paseo de olla (traditional family picnics) take place around the river. How can our culture, and the built environment, contribute to the restoration of the river?

The Rediscovering the Fucha River vision utilizes public spaces as the way to encourage a new attitude towards the river. It takes into account four general scenarios found along the one-mile stretch that repeat along the river edge and illustrates how open spaces, residences, industries, and even how the surrounding truck parking lots can contribute to the restoration of the river.

By illustrating the river through time, we can show the steps that can be taken to help its regeneration. It can begin by allowing and encouraging the river to be observed, demonstrating its value and potential through art and recreational elements. With time, the river can be approached, and eventually it can be appreciated in its natural state.  fucha03

The Fucha River runs the risk of losing its meaning and natural function if it continues to be treated as it is today. Rediscovering the Fucha River involves understanding its meaning from the past, its role today, and what it will mean for the future. Overall, this vision aims to serve as an advocacy tool towards reconsidering the value of the Fucha River within the current development of the city. This river was part of our historical values and can be restored to bring our close traditional relationship with rivers to the city. In Bogotá, we can also have a paseo de olla. Let’s recuperate our Fucha River.

To see the full Rediscovering the Fucha River report, visit:

Viviana Castro recently graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Summa Cum Laude) and a minor in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida. She is currently working at Dix.Hite+Partners in Longwood, Florida.

Meet the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar and Finalists: The Undergraduates

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier national award and recognition program for landscape architecture students. The program honors students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.

Here, we showcase the 2014 undergraduate winner and finalists, who were announced last spring. An independent jury of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected them from a group of 30 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for being exceptional student leaders. The winner receives the $15,000 undergraduate prize and each finalist receives $1,000.

All of the 2014 Olmsted Scholars will be honored at LAF’s Annual Benefit in Denver on November 21. We hope to se you there!


National Olmsted Scholar Erin Percevault of Louisiana State University

Erin discusses her research looking at how renewable energy technologies and policies affect landscape and communities.


Finalist Blythe Worstell of the Ohio State University

In this slideshow, Blythe shares how travel, service, and her rustbelt upbringing have shaped her design interests.


Finalist Clemente Rico of Arizona State University

Clemente discusses his belief that landscape architecture can be an agent for social and environmental justice and his work to develop future designers.


Finalist Viviana Castro of the University of Florida

In this slideshow, Viviana shares her experiences abroad and discusses plans to return to Bogota, Columbia to share her capstone research and visions for rediscovering the Fucha River. 

Announcing Our 2014 National Olmsted Scholars

The Landscape Architecture Foundation is pleased to announce that Sara Zewde, a master’s student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Erin Percevault, an undergraduate at Louisiana State University, were selected as the 2014 National Olmsted Scholars.

zewdesara-500x700Sara Zewde, Harvard University

Sara receives the $25,000 graduate prize and intends to use the award to return to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and New Orleans, Louisiana to continue working with the communities of Pequena África and Treme in designing their urban landscapes in a culturally and ecologically relevant manner. The award will also enable her to pursue additional projects where communities desire a spatial interpreter of cultural values. Sara expects to receive a Master of Landscape Architecture in May 2015.

Erin receives the $15,000 undergraduate prize and plans to use the award to investigate how new nuclear technology and government legislation may create and alter industrial landscapes surrounding the Lemhi Pass, a National Historic Landmark along the wildlife corridor between Yellowstone National Park and the wilderness regions of central Idaho. Erin is pursuing a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and expects to graduate May in 2015.

Also honored are six National Olmsted Scholar Finalists, who each receive a $1,000 award. The graduate finalists are:

  • VeraEve Giampietro, University of Washington
  • Harriett Jameson, University of Virginia
  • Anneliza Kaufer, University of Pennsylvania

The undergraduate finalists are:

  • Viviana Castro, University of Florida
  • Clemente Rico, Arizona State University
  • Blythe Worstell, Ohio State University
percevaulterin-500x700Erin Percevault, Louisiana State University

An independent jury of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the winners and finalists from a group of 45 graduate and 30 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for being exceptional student leaders. These top students earned the designation of 2014 University Olmsted Scholars and join the growing community of over 300 past and present Olmsted Scholars.

The 2014 jury members for the graduate award were: Jacinta McCann, FAILA, LAF Board President and Executive Vice President of Design + Planning and Economics at AECOM; Chris Fannin, Director of Planning at HOK; Joseph J. Lalli, FASLA, Chairman and Principal at EDSA; K. Richard Zweifel, FASLA, ASLA President-Elect, and Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Brent Lloyd, Principal, ValleyCrest Design Group; Maria C. “Tina” Gurucharri, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Florida; Susan Szenasy, Director, Metropolis Magazine; and Leann Andrews, 2013 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate) and PhD Candidate at the University of Washington.

Jurors for the undergraduate award were: Mark Dawson, FASLA, Managing Principal at Sasaki Associates; Thomas Tavella, past President of ASLA; Skip Graffam, Partner and Director of Research at OLIN; Jim Laiche, Business Manager at The Toro Company; Jody Rosenblatt-Naderi, Chairperson of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Ball State University; Bill Marken, Editor-in-Chief of Garden Design magazine, ASLA; and McKenzie Wilhelm, 2013 National Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate) and student at Ohio State University.

Now in its seventh year, the Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier national award and recognition program for landscape architecture students. The program honors students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.The Olmsted Scholars Program is made possible with support from Lead Sponsor: The Toro Company; Annual Sponsors: EDSA, HOK, OLIN, Sasaki Associates, and Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly; and Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

Olmsted Scholar Events in Boston

From Nov 14-16, LAF held a series of events in Boston to honor the 2013 Olmsted Scholars, landscape architecture students who were nominated by their faculty for demonstrating exceptional leadership potential. Thirty-seven of this year’s 67 Olmsted Scholars traveled from across the U.S. and Canada to participate. Perhaps National Olmsted Scholar Leann Andrews best summarized the energy and camaraderie felt by all with, “This past week was nothing short of amazing.” 


The culmination was the LAF Annual Benefit at the Boston Harbor Hotel’s Wharf Room, where the 2013 Olmsted Scholars were recognized during a special certificate ceremony in front of the nearly 400 guests. “It was truly an honor to recognize this impressive group of individuals,” said outgoing LAF Board President Bill Main. “These incredibly bright, talented, and engaged young people will lead the profession in addressing future landscape issues.”

The Olmsted Scholars Luncheon gave the scholars the opportunity to meet each other, the LAF Board of Directors, staff, and program sponsors. Short presentations from the two National Olmsted Scholars provided insights into the amazing people and projects that the program supports. Leann Andrews, winner of the $25,000 graduate prize, discussed how she is melding her background in dance, landscape architecture, and global health. With the Olmsted funding she has been able to carry out her capstone project working with an informal ‘slum’ community in Lima, Peru to envision, design, construct, and sustain personalized home gardens. McKenzie Wilhelm, winner of the $15,000 undergraduate prize, presented her research on Alaska’s Pebble Mine and design interventions that could minimize the threatening effects of mining processes on fragile salmon habitat. 2009 National Olmsted Scholar Emily Vogler gave an update on her research on sustainable regionalism.

Following the luncheon, the scholars participated in a brainstorming session, sharing their thoughts on leadership and how to further build the community of Olmsted Scholars, who now number 243 as the program enters its seventh year. The scholars also participated in organzied tours of Sasaki’s Watertown office and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ Cambridge office, as well as informal dinners and other gatherings.

Thank you to the generous Olmsted Scholars Program sponsors whose support makes the financial awards and events like these possible. Photos from the Annual Benefit (now posted) and other Olmsted Scholar events (coming soon) can be found on LAF’s Flickr Photostream.