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To bring the concept of landscape performance to new strategic audiences, promote next-generation infrastructure, and enhance the experience for the 60,000+ unique users, LAF is developing a new website to house its Landscape Performance Series (LPS) and related resources.
The new website will feature “Collections”, themed groups of LPS content curated by LAF and leading thinkers, as a new way to organize and share content. When the site goes live in November, the Collections will be fully searchable and follow the design at right. But in the meantime, we’ve put some together right here in our blog to give you a preview of this exciting new content.
So…. <drumroll>, here are our first Collections. We’ll update this list as we put together more over the coming months.
- The Case for Street Trees
Need to advocate for more street trees, better design tree space design, or preservation of existing trees? Here are some useful precedents and research.
- Small But Mighty
It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of space to have a big impact. Here we showcase some of the smallest projects in the LPS along with Fast Facts on the benefits of even modest amounts of green.
If you have ideas for themes you’d like to see addressed in the Collections, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to mark your calendars for when the new Landscape Performance Series is slated to launch in November!
Curated by: Landscape Architecture Foundation
It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of space to have a big impact. Here we showcase some of the smallest projects in the Landscape Performance Series along with Fast Facts on the benefits of even modest amounts of green.
Case Study Briefs
Central Wharf Plaza
“At just 13,100 sf, this small plaza connects Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway with the Inner Harbor waterfront, serving some 280 pedestrians per hour. It also lowers ground-level temperatures by 10.4°F with tree canopy cover that shades 94% of the site. Pretty cool.”
ASLA Headquarters Green Roof
”The unique ‘waves’ aren’t the only thing that make this green roof seem bigger than its 3,000 sf. It is the subject of ongoing research, has hosted over 5,000 visitors, and has an extensive multimedia educational component that receives 35,000 annual pageviews.
Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit
Los Angeles, California
”This retrofit demonstrates that transportation infrastructure improvements can be combined with stormwater management to prevent flooding, improve walkability, and beautify the street. The street and residential properties along this one city block capture and filter runoff from a 40-acre area.”
Erie Street Plaza
“The City had lofty ambitions for this 0.25-acre former parking lot: create a significant public place that would become a key component of Milwaukee’s waterfront and new development in the Third Ward. The simple, inventive, and open-ended design does just that.”
Fast Fact Library
In a study of a Chicago public housing development, buildings with high levels of trees and greenery had 48% fewer property crimes and 56% fewer violent crimes than identical apartments surrounded by barren land. The greener the surroundings, the fewer the number of crimes that occurred, and even modest amounts of greenery were associated with lower crime rates.
“The greenery in this study was trees and grass, and the research suggests the exciting possibility that small-scale tree planting and beautification efforts in barren inner-city neighborhoods could help to create safer communities.”
An analysis of the impact of greening 4,436 vacant lots in Philadelphia found that greening was associated with residents’ reporting significantly less stress and more exercise in select sections of the city.
“The vacant lots that were greened averaged just 1,800 sf in size and yet correlated with improved health outcomes.”
Research in Tel Aviv determined that the presence of trees cooled the air from between .5°F on a heavily trafficked street to 2°F in a small (.37 acre) garden. The study also found that the cooling effects could be felt up to 330 feet from the site.
“The cooling effect of small groups of trees was noticeable not only within the wooded areas but also in their treeless surroundings.”
Curated by: Landscape Architecture Foundation
Need to advocate for more street trees, better design tree space design, or preservation of existing trees? Here are some useful precedents and research compiled from our Landscape Performance Series.
Case Study Briefs
Park Avenue/US 50 Phase 1 Redevelopment
South Lake Tahoe, California
“Streetscape improvements are part of many revitalization plans, and trees often play a big role. In this case, street trees and large planted areas complement increased building setbacks and wider sidewalks, helping to revitalize this corridor and create a scenic, pedestrian-friendly destination.”
Uptown Normal Circle and Streetscape
“We’ve seen many a tree go into decline after maxing out its root space, so we love that this project uses underground structural cells to give more soil volume to the 67 street trees. This is projected to triple their lifespan, saving an estimated $61,000 in tree replacement costs over 50 years.”
“LAF is based in DC, so we know how essential shade is for outdoor dining in the summer. Researchers counted an average of 90 individuals dining outside at any given time in summer on The Avenue’s 58-ft wide landscaped sidewalk with double rows of street trees.
Fast Fact Library
A Modesto, California study found that asphalt on streets shaded by large canopy trees lasts longer than asphalt on unshaded streets, reducing maintenance costs by 60% over 30 years.
“This research is very powerful since Departments of Transportation (DOTs) may only think of street trees as a maintenance liability.”
A study of houses in Portland, Oregon found that on average, street trees add 3% to sales price and reduce time-on-market (TOM) by 1.7 days. In addition, the study found that the benefits of street trees spill over to neighboring houses.
“In addition to public benefits, street trees provide benefits to the adjacent property owners, like the increased home sales prices documented here.”
National Tree Benefit Calculator
Casey Trees, Davey Tree Expert Company
“This easy-to-use online tool calculates stormwater, energy, carbon, air quality, and property value benefits for individual trees. The only inputs are tree species, size, adjacent land use, and zip code.”
USDA Forest Service
“This free application uses tree inventory data to quantify environmental and aesthetic benefits and their dollar value, including: energy conservation, air quality improvement, CO2 reduction, stormwater control, and property value increase.”
As one of its first initiatives, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) convened a small group of leading landscape architects at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on June 1 and 2, 1966. Their Declaration of Concern urged a new collaborative effort to improve the environment and train a new generation.
On the anniversary of this seminal event, we invite you to invest in the work of LAF to continue this legacy to “multiply the effectiveness of the limited number of landscape architects.” Members of the LAF Board Emeritus have pledged to match contributions made to the LAF Annual Fund now through June 15 (up to $10,000), so your gift will have double the impact.
LAF is still devoted to the four-point program proposed by these thought leaders nearly 50 years ago: (1) recruitment, (2) education, (3) research, and (4) a nationwide system for communicating the results of research, example and good practice.
In the words of Ian L. McHarg, Campbell Miller, Grady Clay, Charles R. Hammond, George E. Patton, and John O. Simonds…
“We pledge our services. We seek help from those who share our concern.”
Give today and multiply your impact.
May has been designated as National Mental Health Awareness Month to raise awareness about the importance of mental health to overall human health. Many factors contribute to mental health and wellness, including biological factors, experiences, and lifestyle, but the built and natural environments that surround us also play a critical role.
Our friends at the TKF Foundation have worked with researchers Kathleen Wolf, PhD (University of Washington) and Elizabeth Housley, MA (OurFutureEnvironment.org) to produce Reflect & Restore: Urban Green Space for Mental Wellness, a research brief that draws on four decades of research.
The report is chock-full of evidence about the benefits of green space for mental wellness — from lowering stress to creating a stronger sense of community to reducing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. The research brief underscores why even small bits of nature in the city are so important.
“The key message, confirmed by literally hundreds of studies, is that across all age groups, and in diverse cultural groups, there is a recurring positive response to small scale, often unremarkable, natural settings in cities. Some responses, such as mood change or a sense of relaxation may be personally felt, while other reactions, such as reduced blood pressure or cortisol levels, are happening at the subconscious level.”
Landscape architects are paramount in creating many of these green spaces, defined in the research brief as urban landscapes, gardens, parks or any private or public spaces where natural elements are key components. We’re checking and adding to make sure that all of the research cited is part of our Landscape Performance Series Fast Fact Library, where you can find over 120 statements of landscape benefits derived from published research addressing a range of environmental, economic, and social impacts.