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Olmsted Scholar Feature: Redefining Our Borderlands

By Anjelica Sifuentes, 2017 University Olmsted Scholar

eagle-pass-texas-530w

We are currently living in one of the most divisive political eras, with the issue of border security between the U.S. and Mexico at the forefront of many debates. My parents are Mexican-American, and our family is from the part of the country that has been scrutinized and villainized because of its location along the Rio Grande. Until recently, I hadn’t recognized the connection between my culture and my self-identity, both personally and professionally, but as I look back at my journey through these defining moments, I can’t imagine identifying without it.

I was born in early 1993 in San Antonio, Texas, a short 145 miles away from my extended family in Eagle Pass, Texas and the Mexico-U.S. border which runs along it. My father grew up in this border town, and my mother spent her childhood in El Paso and Mexico City until they both moved to San Antonio to start their own family. My entire life was consumed with my culture, but I was naive to living without it until I moved from this diverse and inclusive Texan city to the noticeably segregated and conservative Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This intense culture shock quickly made me reevaluate who I was as a person and what I planned to focus on in my professional career. 

A huge part of my Mexican heritage revolves around community, which helped inspire my research as I enter my final year at Louisiana State University. I see an opportunity to confront the struggling relationship between the U.S. and Mexico by designing regional border prototypes derived from the way people lived before the current interferences. In this research lies an opportunity to promote social change through unconventional means during a time when the future seems uncertain for immigrants and anyone who feels vulnerable because of who they are and where they’re from.

eagle-pass-green-space-530wUninhabited green space between downtown Eagle Pass and the Rio Grande

Generally speaking, the celebration of our border has become a quiet whisper due to political pressure that has left our cities feeling neglected and somewhat ashamed. Historically, as one sister city grew in size and density, the other did as well, but cultural and political setbacks have caused the cities to experience negative withdrawals. Our native ancestors settled along these areas for water, food, and shelter. It wasn’t until political power and modern adversity intervened that the current border conditions were created. Through my research and design iterations, I aim to shed light on the trends that have developed from these interventions and how to improve on them moving forward for the benefit of both countries.

As a student of landscape architecture, I feel a certain power and responsibility that is more formidable than some even realize. Our designs can influence people in ways that are invisible to the untrained eye because we have the ability to create significant change with deliberate research that informs the design process. I know this sounds like a romanticized rendition of what landscape architecture is, but seeing that opportunity has helped carry me forward into what I feel is my place in the profession.

I often think about the relationship between my self-identity and the passion that makes me fight for the protection and freedom of my heritage as I resist the powers that try to silence it. The issues surrounding border security are some of the most polarizing problems we face as a nation, but taking on such an immense challenge brings out the drive that I owe to the very culture that I’m fighting for. It’s important for me to use my role as a designer to challenge these controversies in a way that not only helps bridge the gap between different societies but also highlights the ability we have to inspire others to create change themselves. Although aspects of our country may seem uncertain, I truly believe we are at the beginning of a cultural revolution, and I will take this as an opportunity to be both an innovative designer and unapologetically Mexican-American.

Anjelica Sifuentes is entering her final year as a BLA candidate at Louisiana State University. She is a 2017 University Olmsted Scholar and the winner of LAF’s 2017 EDSA Minority Scholarship, which supports African American, Hispanic, Native American, and minority students of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds to continue their landscape architecture education.

Thank You to Our 2017 Scholarship Jurors

2017-scholarships-landing

Each year, the Landscape Architecture Foundation offers over $60,000 in awards through up to 11 different scholarships and fellowships, established by generous sponsors. The winners are chosen through a competitive application and selection process. LAF convenes juries to decide the winners of four awards, and we would like to extend a sincere thank you to this year’s jurors. We appreciate the energy you put in to the process and your commitment to supporting the next generation of designers!

LAF Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA Jury

Cheryl Barton, FASLA, FAAR, LEED AP
Founding Principal
Office of Cheryl Barton

Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, LEED AP
Principal
ParkerRodriguez, Inc

Doug Hoerr, FASLA
CEO and Senior Principal
Hoerr Schaudt

Mia Lehrer, FASLA
President
Mia Lehrer + Associates

Signe Nielsen, FASLA
Principal
MNLA

Gregg Sutton, PLA, ASLA
Principal
EDSA

Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden and Design Jury

Randall W. Mardis, ASLA, PLA
President
Landscape Technologies

Kevin Campion, ASLA
Principal
Campion Hruby

Julieta Sherk, PLA, ASLA
Associate Professor, College of Design
North Carolina State University

Landscape Forms Design for People Scholarship Jury

Scott Rykiel, FASLA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President
Mahan Rykiel Associates

Terry Guen, FASLA
Principal and Founder
Terry Guen Design Associates

Bill Burton, FASLA
Owner
Burton Studio

Steven G. King Play Environments Scholarship Jury

Kate Tooke, PLA, ASLA
Senior Associate
Sasaki

Julie Johnson, PLA, ASLA
Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
University of Washington

Sara Schuh, PLA, ASLA
Principal
SALT Design Studio

Thank You to Our 2016 Scholarship Jurors

Throughout its 50-year history, the Landscape Architecture Foundation has awarded scholarships to deserving students. This year, the total amount available increased significantly with the establishment of two new awards — the $20,000 LAF Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA and the $5,000 ASLA-NY Designing in the Public Realm Scholarship. The now 11 different scholarships and fellowships were established and made possible by their respective sponsors.

Scholarship winners are chosen through a competitive application and selection process. LAF convenes juries to decide the winners of four awards. We would like to extend a special thank you to this year’s jurors — we appreciate your commitment to supporting the next generation of designers!

LAF Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA Jury

Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, LEED AP
Principal
ParkerRodriguez, Inc

Lucinda R. Sanders, FASLA
CEO and Partner
OLIN

Martha Schwartz, DSc, FASLA, Hon FRIBA, Hon RDI, RAAR
Principal
Martha Schwartz Partners

Gregg Sutton, PLA, ASLA
Principal
EDSA

Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden and Design Jury

Virginia L. Russell, FASLA, PLA, LEED AP, GRP
Associate Professor of Architecture, Horticulture Program Director
University of Cincinnati

Randall W. Mardis, ASLA, PLA
President / Landscape Architect
Landscape Technologies
 
Susan Olmsted, AIA, ASLA, LEED AP
Associate Principal
Mithun

Steven G. King Play Environments Scholarship Jury

Lisa Horne, PLA, LEED AP, ASLA
Project Manager
RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture

Kate Tooke, ASLA
Associate
Sasaki Associates

David Watts, PLA
Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Landscape Forms Design for People Scholarship Jury

James Burnett, FASLA
President
The Office of James Burnett

Dan Herman, ASLA
Principal
Rabben/Herman design office

Scott Rykiel, FASLA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President
Mahan Rykiel Associates

Extraordinary Gift Launches New $20,000 Honor Scholarship

A generous gift from Jeanne Dawson-Lalli has created the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA. This new $20,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to a student pursuing a Master’s degree in landscape architecture at an accredited university in the U.S. or Canada.

The scholarship was established in memory of Joseph J. Lalli, FASLA (1943-2014) and his 46-year career as a landscape architect, artist, philanthropist, mentor, and teacher. Joe was the chairman and former president of the firm EDSA and had more than 500 projects to his credit in 40 countries. He was a persuasive leader, well-known and admired for his modesty and generosity. Joe experienced great value in his Master’s degree and wanted to help make the opportunity for graduate education accessible to others.

jeanne-and-joeJeanne Dawson-Lalli and Joe Lalli (both huge Miami Heat fans)

“We are honored to be able to offer such a significant award that serves as part of Joe’s wonderful legacy.” said LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch, FASLA. “Joe exemplified ‘giving back’ and did much to support students and foster the development of the next generation of leaders in landscape architecture. This scholarship will help and inspire students for years to come.”

Candidates for the new scholarship must show commitment to some of the areas that Joe Lalli dedicated himself to, including drawing, artistic pursuits, the importance of travel, and service to one’s community and profession.

“Joe credited his graduate studies for making him the outstanding designer he was. He also learned so much from drawing, painting and traveling extensively — it influenced his designs and his way of thinking,” said Jeanne Dawson-Lalli, who established the scholarship in memory of her late husband. “Similarly, I hope that this award allows promising students to continue their studies and pursue their passions to feed their creativity.”

The LAF Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA is the largest scholarship offered by the Landscape Architecture Foundation. LAF is now able to offer a total of over $60,000 annually in scholarships and fellowships for students through ten different awards.

Learn more about LAF scholarships at: www.lafoundation.org/scholarships

Thank You to Our 2015 Scholarship Jurors

2015-scholarships-newsletterEach year, the Landscape Architecture Foundation offers $40,000 in awards through nine different scholarships and fellowships, established by generous sponsors. The winners are chosen through a competitive application and selection process. LAF convenes juries to decide the winners of three awards. We would like to extend a special thank you to this year’s jurors, who lent their time and insights to the selection process. We appreciate your commitment to supporting the next generation of designers!

Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden and Design Jury

Gale Fulton, ASLA
Associate Professor & Chair, Graduate Landscape Architecture Program
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

David R. Gal, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP
Principal
SWA Group

Virginia L. Russell, FASLA, PLA, LEED AP, GRP
Associate Professor of Architecture, Horticulture Program Director
University of Cincinnati

Steven G. King Play Environments Scholarship Jury

Susan Herrington, PLA
Professor, Architecture and Landscape Architecture
University of British Columbia

Lisa Horne, PLA, LEED AP, ASLA
Project Manager
RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture

Joy Kuebler, PLA, ASLA
Owner
Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC

Landscape Forms Design for People Scholarship Jury

Brad Collett, PLA, LEED AP, ASLA
Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture Program
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Joe Geller, FASLA
Vice President
Stantec

Monte Wilson, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP
Principal
Jacobs Engineering