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2014 Landscape Performance Education Grant Recipients Announced

In today’s increasingly evidence-based marketplace, landscape architecture students need to be able to convey the environmental, economic, and social value of excellent design. Incorporating landscape performance into the curriculum will give students the awareness and skills they need to design for, evaluate, and communicate the impact of their projects.

lp-whiteboardLAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants allow select faculty to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings. For 2014, five $2,500 grants have been awarded to the following faculty for their proposed classes:

  • Aidan Ackerman, Boston Architectural College
    Ecological Analysis & Conceptual Frameworks (MLA Studio)
  • Gary Austin, PLA, University of Idaho
    Water Conservation Technologies (BSLA Lecture)
  • Kenneth Brooks, FASLA, FCELA, PLA, Arizona State University
    Advanced Landscape Architecture Studio IV (MLA Studio) and Special Topic: Design Performance (MLA Seminar)
  • Chuo Li, PhD, Mississippi State University
    Landscape Architecture Graduate Studio II: Health (MLA Studio)
  • Mary Myers, PhD, FASLA, FCELA, Temple University
    Seminar on Landscape Performance: Focus on Temple University Main Campus Landscape (MLA/BSLASeminar)

The selection process for the 2014 grants was competitive, with applications received from faculty at universities across the U.S. The teaching proposals include studio, lecture, and seminar courses for both BLA and MLA curricula.

Students will learn about landscape performance from a variety of angles, such as stormwater management, public health, energy conservation and social cohesion. Many of the courses integrate performance metrics directly into the design process, with students setting objectives and developing metrics to evaluate the projected performance of their studio projects. In other cases, students will apply various tools and methods to measure benefits to inform design scenarios for external “real world” projects.

Grant recipients will work with LAF throughout the duration of the classes and use formal course evaluations to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models used. Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants will form the basis of a new “Resources for Educators” section on the LAF website, which will offer teaching tools like syllabi, reading lists, and assignments for faculty members interested in teaching landscape performance to the next generation of design professionals.

The Landscape Performance Education Grants are made possible with support from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Foundation for Education & Research. Five additional $2,500 awards will be made for the 2014-2015 academic year, with proposals accepted starting next fall.

2013 Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes Winner

Shannon “Miko” Mikus of Athens, Georgia has won the one-of-a-kind trip to Seattle in LAF’s Fifth Annual Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes. Miko’s name was selected from the 162 entrants whose donations helped raise $10,000 to support LAF’s research and scholarship programs. The prize package features two days of tours of some of the city’s most acclaimed landscape architecture projects led by the designers themselves.

sweepstakes-mikoMiko learns that he won the sweepstakes from LAF Board member Bill Main.

“I am very excited! Seattle is one of the top destinations for designers and design students, so this is a very welcome opportunity to experience the city under the guidance of the city’s top landscape architects!” said Miko, who is pursuing his MLA degree at the University of Georgia and has a passion for parks and playgrounds. Miko plans to travel in the spring and will get to tour 5 Seattle and 2 Bainbridge Island sites, including Gas Works Park with Rich Haag and the Gates Foundation Headquarters with Jennifer Guthrie.

“I have told other students how I won the sweepstakes, but still don’t believe it myself. I stopped by the LAF booth during the ASLA Annual Meeting EXPO to ask if there were any plans to focus the Landscape Performance Series or perhaps a CSI team on the long-term and short-term community-building aspects of playgrounds. Talking to the LAF staff, I was convinced to donate to support the Olmsted Scholars Program, a worthy cause, no doubt, and by donating, I was entered in the sweepstakes. I use the LAF website as a valuable way to find research sources and to keep in touch with the professional side of landscape architecture — I didn’t expect that stopping by the LAF booth would lead to a trip to Seattle!”

“Since I retired from 20 years in the US Air Force and started my MLA at UGA, my family has been very busy and finding the time and means for a dream get-away like this was impossible. It is a fantastic educational opportunity to receive a planned, guided tour of an American design Mecca! Thank you, LAF!”

LAF truly appreciates the support of all who participated in the sweepstakes and sends a special thank you to our Seattle team of organziers and the sweepstakes sponsors: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, SvR Design Company, Mithun, EverGreen Escapes, AgriCurean Escapes, Northwest Playground Equipment, Sheraton Seattle Hotel, IslandWood.

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.

Welcome 2013-2014 Board of Directors

The new LAF Board of Directors took the reins on November 14 at LAF’s Annual Board Meeting in Boston. During a jam-packed three days of meetings and events, Board members demonstrated their vision, passion, and thought leadership in helping LAF to increase our collective capacity to achieve sustainability and cultivate the next generation of leaders.

Jacinta McCann, FAILA of AECOM began her term as President, succeeding Bill Main, Hon. ASLA of Landscape Forms, whose leadership and business acumen helped lay the groundwork for measuring and increasing impact as LAF approaches its 50th anniversary in 2016. Mark Dawson, FASLA of Sasaki Associates became President-Elect after serving for two years as Vice President of Finance.

Directors Laura Solano and Paul Bambauer assumed new roles as officers, joining three continuing officers on the executive leadership team. The Board also created a new executive position to focus on growing LAF’s leadership programs and initiatives, which will be filled by 2011-2012 President Lucinda Sanders. 

  • Vice President of Finance:
    Laura Solano, ASLA, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
  • Vice President of Development:
    Paul Bambauer, IRONSMITH
  • Vice President of Communication:
    Nate Cormier, ASLA, SvR Design Company
  • Vice President of Education:
    Kristina Hill, PhD, Aff. ASLA, University of Virginia
  • Vice President of Research:
    Forster Ndubisi, PhD, FASLA, Texas A&M University
  • Vice President of Leadership:
    Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, OLIN

Gregg Sutton, ASLA of EDSA retired off the Board after four years of service, including two terms as Vice President of Development. Kinder Baumgardner, ASLA, CSLA of SWA Group left after five years as a Director. Emily Vogler of the Rhode Island School of Design rotated off after serving a two-year term as past Olmsted Scholar representative, and Susan Hatchell, FASLA rotated off after serving for a year in an Ex Officio capacity as an ASLA Representative.

Five new Directors joined the LAF Board, bringing experience and insights from landscape architecture practice and academia. Andrea Gaffney, LAF’s first National Olmsted Scholar, was selected for the open Director position for past Olmsted Scholars. ASLA Immediate Past President Thomas Tavella, FASLA will serve as the ASLA Representative. Welcome to the new Board members:

  • Andrea Gaffney, SWA Group
  • Kona Gray, ASLA, EDSA
  • Stephanie Rolley, FASLA, Kansas State University
  • Joe Runco, ASLA, SWA Group
  • Thomas Tavella, FASLA, ASLA Immediate Past President

We look forward to working with this accomplished group and continuing LAF’s growth and momentum in the year ahead. Thanks to all for your commitment and contributions!

board-ab(Some of) the 2013-2014 Board of Directors at the LAF Annual Benefit. (You try getting them all in the same place at the same time!)

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Ocean Planning to Advance New York's Renewable Energy Frontier

By Liz Podowski, 2013 University Olmsted Scholar

New York State is planning for a sustainable energy future — a future that addresses the causes of climate change, diversifies and modernizes the State’s energy system, and expands the renewable energy frontier from land into the ocean. Currently, the ocean provides a vast, untapped source of renewable energy, with winds that are stronger and steadier than land-based wind.

windspeedsWinds over the ocean are stronger and steadier than over the land.

With millions of people living in ocean-front counties, offshore wind is an almost inevitable resource for New York to develop. However, wind energy development in the U.S. has historically focused entirely on land due to past technological constraints. To ensure that New York State responsibly and efficiently takes advantage of this resource as it becomes increasingly accessible, the New York Department of State (NYDOS) is spearheading a planning process in a nearly 16,000 square mile swath of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean planning is significantly different from land use planning. First, all ocean lands are held in public trust and are managed by either the state or federal government, depending on distance from shore. The freedom to navigate these “open seas” is a deeply-held value among mariners and poses an inherent challenge to siting permanently-fixed structures, like wind turbines. Second, the ocean environment is dynamic, multidimensional, and largely unknown. At first glance, the ocean may appear to be a homogenous sheet of blue water. But a closer look reveals seabirds foraging above and below the surface, marine mammals migrating large distances, delicate corals colonizing the ocean floor, fishing vessels pulling nets through the water column, and shipping vessels transporting goods from port to port. Even physical characteristics are highly variable, whether vertically with depth or horizontally with currents and weather patterns. Taken together, this complexity necessitates a planning approach that seeks compatibilities among uses and resources (as opposed to zoning, which often discreetly separates them).

oceanuses-sm(1) New York’s offshore planning area (NYDOS). (2) Scientific exploration of Northeast U.S. Canyons (NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program). (3) Maritime industry (NYDOS). (4) New York Community Conversations (NYDOS). (5) Gulls off the coast of New York (NEFSC/NOAA Northeast Fisheries Observer Program). (6) Deep-sea corals (NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program). (7) North Atlantic Right Whales (NOAA).

NYDOS is developing a collaborative framework to proactively document and analyze existing uses and resources within this busy, complex, public place. Rather than conduct costly field studies of the entire area, NYDOS relies on the iterative aggregation and analysis of existing datasets to better understand the spatial and temporal distribution of ocean uses and resources. Partnerships are critical to this innovative process. Staff collaborated with federal, regional, state, local, and public stakeholders to synthesize, analyze, and translate extensive (and often disparate) datasets. For example, NYDOS organized a series of participatory mapping events with Long Island residents to better understand the type and location of recreational ocean uses — from surfing to wildlife viewing. This information is included in the New York Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study released in July.

Over the course of the next few months, NYDOS will further investigate the potential compatibility of offshore wind projects with ocean uses and resources throughout the development lifecycle — from site surveys to decommissioning. These “compatibility analyses” are critical to ensuring the success of future wind energy projects, as well as the continued viability of the ocean economy and the health of the ocean ecosystem.

Liz Podowski is a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow working with the New York Department of State in the Office of Planning and Development. She received an MLA from the University of Oregon in June 2013.