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Olmsted Scholars Program: New $15,000 Undergraduate Award

LAF is pleased to announce a new $15,000 award for undergraduate students as part of its renowned Olmsted Scholars Program.

“The new award will recognize the high level of talent and leadership potential present in undergraduate programs,” said LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch, FASLA.

To date LAF has recognized 175 Olmsted Scholars. With the new award for undergraduate students, LAF will increase the number of Olmsted Scholars recognized each year and further strengthen its commitment to cultivate the next generation of leaders in the profession.

The new $15,000 award complements the existing $25,000 award, which will now be available only to graduate nominees. Previously, undergraduate students competed with graduate students both for their school’s nomination and for the national award. Up to three graduate and three undergraduate finalists will be selected with each receiving $1,000.

“LAF is delighted to offer such a significant financial award exclusively for undergraduate students,” said Deutsch. ”We are grateful to the sponsors who are making this award possible through their continuing pledges. LAF is pleased to recognize Toro, EDSA, HOK and OLIN for their continuing support of the Olmsted Scholars Program.”

University nominations are due to LAF by February 15, 2013. Full applications are due March 15. The first $15,000 prize will be announced in May and awarded at LAF’s 28th Annual Benefit on Friday evening, November 15, 2013 in conjunction with the ASLA Annual Meeting in Boston.

LAF Events at the ASLA Annual Meeting

If you’ll be in Phoenix for the ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, we hope you’ll join us for one or more of the following events to support and raise awareness about LAF programs. We’ll celebrate the fifth year of our acclaimed Olmsted Scholars Program, showcase the new resources in the Landscape Performance Series , and promote the 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) progam.

lafatasla1Sonoran Celebration, LAF’s 27th Annual Benefit
Fri, Sept 28, 7:00-10:30pm
Join top designers and leaders from practice, academia, and industry for a vibrant and memorable evening at the Phoenix Art Museum. Enjoy cocktails, fine food, and live music all while raising money for LAF’s research and scholarship programs. We’ll celebrate the fifth year of LAF’s Olmsted Scholars Program by recognizing the 2012 scholars and $25,000 winner, catching up with past Scholars, and making a special announcement about the program’s future.

lafatasla2LAF Booth in ASLA Expo Hall (#446)
Sat-Sun, Sept 29-30, 9:00-5:00pm
Visit our booth to learn more about LAF, register for the Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes, meet the 2012 Olmsted Scholars, and learn how you can participate in our 2013 Case Study Investiga- tion (CSI) program to document the benefits of high-performing landscape projects. On Sunday, we’ll be conducting video interviews, so come prepared to share your thoughts for inclusion in our Conversations with Leaders in Landscape series - we’d especially like to hear from past Board members, scholarship winners, and research grantees.sweepstakes-e-announce

Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes
Sun, Sept 30, 4:30pm
Join us at our booth in the ASLA Expo Hall as we announce the winner of our one-of-a-kind trip for two to New York City, featuring a day of private tours led by Michael Van Valkenburgh and staff. 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.

aslaedsessionAssessing Performance Education Session
Mon, Oct 1, 8:00-9:30am
Don’t miss Assessing the Performance of Landscape Projects presented by LAF’s Heather Whitlow, Kurt Culbertson of Design Workshop, and Bill Wenk of Wenk Associates. Learn methods and tools to identify and quantify performance benefits based on two years of success, challenges, and lessons from the Landscape Performance Series and Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. Then hear how Design Workshop and Wenk Associates are using landscape performance in their respective practices to set goals, develop design strategies, assess the effectiveness of designs, and show value of landscape solutions to clients and other stakeholders.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Illuminating the Intangible - Projects in Experimentation and Risk-taking

By Tera Hatfield, 2012 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

While preparing to apply to graduate school, I dog-eared well-worn works by Raymond Carver, T. S. Eliot, John McPhee, John Cage and Robert Smithson. Carver and McPhee illuminated intersections between obscure processes and marginalized places. Eliot, Cage, and Smithson introduced me to the poetics of entropy and the possibility of directed, open-ended designs that might serve as catalysts for future change. Much like the landscape architect, such artists grapple with communicating intangible processes and experiences, exploring new configurations and forms derived from underutilized and unseen conditions in language and the environment.

I believe the landscape is both a place of experimentation and risk-taking. Since being recognized as a National Olmsted Scholar Finalist, I’ve designed two projects that provided the opportunity for such experimentation. The projects book-ended my final year of graduate school, and fell on disparate sides of the design spectrum. (“Decoding the Tiber” is a highly conceptual competition entry, while the “Supershed” is a fully constructed dwelling.) However, both strive to visualize the unimagined, to interpret ecological and social changes via transformative landscape design.

hatfield01Last fall, I was the recipient of a fellowship to study the Tiber River. The Tiber, caged by 20-ft travertine embankments, is rejected as a social space by most Romans. My work was based on a competition to design a museum, traditionally a static entity, dedicated to the river, a system that is constantly in flux. The design specifically responds to a significant lack of environmental data on the Tiber and its heavily bounded site conditions. “Decoding the Tiber” situates post-industrial sites as data collection and decoding points, as well as newly productive space.

An urban river research center decodes the uncertain ecologies of the Tiber — a testing space for researchers to connect in the lab and on the water to provocatively engage the river and its urban narrative. This decoding is illustrated in designed stormwater data pools, their radical colors linked to water quality at other testing sites along the Tiber, changing temporally based on the health of the river. Opportunities for active physical exploration of the Tiber by Romans is a ways off; therefore, the design presents a digital iPhone application entitled “Tiber Decoder Ring” in which the dots and data between upstream and downstream are connected digitally (forecasts and real-time feeds). Users also have the ability to map their own intersections and investigations of the Tiber, graphically connecting users to their contextual surroundings.

This past spring, I participated in the award-winning Howard S. Wright Neighborhood Design/Build Studio taught by Professor Steve Badanes. The NBD team designed and built two tool sheds, a solar greenhouse and a community classroom space, that served the varied needs of the University of Washington Farm, Seattle Youth Garden Works and the Hardy Plant Society of Seattle. The project is located on the perimeter of the Union Bay Natural Area, a 74-acre center (and former county dump) dedicated to the study of urban agriculture, ecological restoration and sustainability.

hatfield02After an initial client meeting and feedback period, the integrated design process unfolded quickly with the decision to combine the varied client programs into a unified and cohesive structure in order to preserve space for outdoor education and habitat. This decision, in conjunction with a high degree of responsiveness to site conditions, became the foundation for the studio’s design strategy. With the nickname “Supershed,” the combined structure became the NBD studio’s most unique project to date, with a total area of 459 sf despite a budget of just under $11,000.

The design strategy utilizes a technically ambitious articulated king post truss system (and modular wall panels) that serve to address the client’s security and program needs while maximizing important site opportunities regarding light/sun exposure (solar greenhouse and daylit tool sheds), natural ventilation, rain (roof-water capture devices) and southern views of restored wetlands and Union Bay (classroom). All of the structure’s cladding is either salvaged from on-site materials (e.g., doors constructed from used concrete forms, twig fence organic material sourced from discarded university ground cuttings) or locally-sourced and donated, reclaimed cedar (for the classroom). The 12-week project was recently nominated for an AIA Student Award.

This spring, Tera Hatfield finished a clerkship with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and received her Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington. Her collaborative capstone project, focusing on entropic systems and mapping indeterminacy, was selected for the International Exhibition at the European Biennial of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona in September 2012. Upon completing a summer internship at ADX Portland as a fabrication assistant, Tera moved to Boston where she intends to find a position with a local design studio.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Landscape-Oriented Zoning for Rosario, Argentina

By Fadi Masoud, 2012 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist

masoud03The subdivision and transformation of agricultural lands to suburban decentralized developments is a symptomatic condition of the territorial edge of cities worldwide. By appropriating a micro-watershed landscape approach to the creation of subdivisions at the peripheral edges of cities, the hydrodynamic agrarian condition is envisioned to become the driver for a novel, resilient, and flexible landscape-oriented type of zoning and land use provision.

Recognizing the ineffectiveness of dated jurisdictional and normative planning tools in dealing with contemporary urbanization concerns, “landscape-oriented zoning” represents an alternative model for suburban developments on greenfields. With the micro-watershed as the unit of subdivision, landscape-oriented zoning promotes integrated and responsive built-form typologies as well as decentralized infrastructure on operative open space provisions.

As part of an option studio at Harvard Univeristy’s Graduate School of Design, I collaborated with Mariusz Klemens on a project to deal with the territorial front and agrarian front of the City of Rosario in Argentina. Bracketed by two small rivers marking the north and south limits of the city, the site for this project has been defined by the Urban Plan Rosario 2007-2017 as the New Strategic Territorial Front. The flatness of the Argentine Pampas, much like many greenfield zones in any expanding city, is subject to dated artificial and jurisdictional land use separation, zoning, and subdivision. This practice of parcelization of land for the building of new suburban subdivisions does not take into account the extreme hydrodynamics of these seemingly flat agricultural lands.

Our project uses the site’s existing micro-watersheds as a land subdivision mechanism and planning tool for these types of suburban fringes. Analysis showed that the current regional and local infrastructure does not respond to any of the existing environmental and social conditions. Its centralized configuration provides ineffective water and waste management, especially in high depravation zones. To address this, the project uses the natural drainage patterns to clearly demarcate micro-watersheds that run along and through the site. Rather than following a normative planning approach to land subdivision and land use, the project appropriated these flow lines as potential units for a landscape-driven zoning and parcelization regime.

masoud01

Since the site is currently not serviced by the centralized waste and water municipal network, the project proposed a new decentralized configuration of infrastructure by utilizing existing topographic and hydrologic conditions to allow for a new typology of fully adaptive and flexible built form and open space system.

masoud02Super-imposing this new micro-watershed-driven regime on top of a suitability zoning plan led to a type of a symbiotic land use zoning that protected the most arable land from development, and allowed for the most floodable areas to become points of collection and treatment. The integrated rapport between new land subdivision mechanisms, suitability land use designations, a decentralized wastewater infrastructure, and responsive and adaptable built form typologies creates the ingredients for novel forms and patterns of urbanization on the suburban edge.

Fadi Masoud was appointed as a Visiting Fellow (2012-13) at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where he just completed his Post-Professional MLAII degee. Fadi will continue his design and research work on the cross-section of landscape and planning, especially in places of extreme hydrological regimes and transboundary conditions.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Adaptation and Renewal in the Brazilian Drylands

By Jack Ohly, 2012 National Olmsted Scholar

Between 1999 and 2006, I spent a cumulative two years with a small collective of young farmers in the drylands of Northeastern Brazil. We worked to adapt models of sustainable agriculture to a semi-arid climate. While developing resilient agro-forestry systems to counter 50 years of devastating monoculture and deforestation, we came to realize how the same transformations that had degraded the environment had also eroded the region’s vibrant and deep-rooted culture.

ohly01Reaching out to community leaders, farmers, envi- ronmentalists, musicians and school teachers, we embarked on a broad, collaborative effort to revitalize cultural practices, organizing inter-generational workshops, seminars, work parties and an annual festival of traditional music that continues to this day. Raising appreciation of the endangered native scrub forest, demonstrating new rain harvesting systems and facilitating older singers teaching their songs to a new generation all contributed to a positive feedback loop in which we engaged the past to open people to new ideas and possibilities.

I was drawn to landscape architecture for its potential to address these kinds of intersections in a wide spectrum of contexts, integrating social needs, ecology and cultural dynamics into robust systems. At this time of great environmental and cultural loss, landscape architecture is poised to take a leading role in creating new ground, physical and imaginative, on which our natural and cultural heritage will thrive. While most of my student work focused on urban and post-industrial contexts, I see enormous potential in flexible, low-cost strategies that can help rural communities grow through profound and potentially destructive shifts in climate, culture and identity.

As the 2012 National Olmsted Scholar, I will return to Irece, Brazil to develop a set of regionally appropriate models for more ecologically and culturally vibrant public space. These models will be grounded in a survey study of dryland design techniques, regional conditions and history. They will emerge in dialogue with communities and local institutions, addressing the need for versatile social platforms, productive land and healthy, self-sustaining forest. Based on community interest , I hope to develop one or more pilot projects that explore and demonstrate how these potential uses might be layered together in mutually reinforcing ways.

I leave for Bahia tomorrow, August 7, to reconnect with old friends, initiate conversations, document conditions and seek out collaborators. It is my hope that the work will evolve over years, fostering imagination and agency, enriching civic life and contributing to a broader set of strategies for an increasingly culturally-homogenized and water-strained planet.

Jack Ohly just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania 3 year MLA program, where he received the Faculty Medal. He will begin work at Michael Van Valkenburgh’s office in Brooklyn later this month.