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Visit us at PARK(ing) Day DC!

On September 16, PARK(ing) Day returns to take over streets across the world! Please join us for this annual event where citizens, designers, and organizations reclaim parking spaces to create temporary public parks to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.

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This year, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is partnering with BrightView and Island Press to create a pop-up park at the SW corner of M Street and 20th Street NW. Stop by our park on Friday between 10am and 3pm to enjoy a board game, browse through the outdoor library, snap a picture in our photo garden, and meet some of the great folks at BrightView, Island Press, and LAF!

Since its inception in 2005 by the art-design-activist studio Rebar in San Francisco, PARK(ing) Day has brought awareness and inspiration to residents of cities around the world about the opportunities for our public urban spaces. This year will be the largest yet for Washington, DC with 34 groups participating to create a variety of temporary mini-parks. See an online map here.

#PARKingDay  #PARKingDayDC

New Documentary Showcases Key Themes and Energy of LAF Summit

Couldn’t attend LAF’s Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future back in June? Or were you there, but want to revisit and share some of the ideas and arguments presented in the “Declarations” and panels?

LAF has just released The New Landscape Declaration, a 20-minute documentary featuring exclusive interviews and recorded footage from the Summit. The film highlights key themes from this critical, provocative, and inspirational examination of the role of landscape architecture in addressing the challenges our our time and the next 50 years. Interviewees include James Corner, Gina Ford, Randy Hester, Mario Schjetnan, Martha Schwartz, Kongjian Yu, and many more.

With music, landscape imagery and stark text animations, filmmakers Michael Rubin, Joanna Karaman and Sahar Coston-Hardy skillfully weave together thought-provoking clips from the Summit and interviews, imbuing the documentary with the same spirit of urgency and opportunity that rang through the Summit itself.

 

Get a preview in the trailer above, or see the full film at:
http://vimeo.com/lafoundation/new-landscape-declaration

Support for the documentary was provided by PennDesign and OLIN. Additional footage was provided by Amon Focus and Visual Sound.

For those who want to see even more from the Summit, recordings from the full two days of Declarations and panels are now available and can be accessed at:
https://lafoundation.org/news-events/2016-summit/program/

Meet the 2016 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 2016 undergraduate winner and finalists, who were announced in April. An independent jury of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected them from a group of 32 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 2016 Olmsted Scholars will be honored at LAF’s Annual Benefit in New Orleans on October 21.

 

National Olmsted Scholar Casey Howard of the University of Oregon

Casey shares first-place team project for the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge focused on food systems. Inspired by existing drainage technology used in agriculture, Casey and team developed a concept for a living filtration system to restore soil health, protect watersheds, and preserve productive lands.

 

Finalist Kathryn Chesebrough of the State University of New York

By showcasing several influential experiences, including the Red Cup Project that she led in Syracuse, New York, Kathryn shares her thoughts on the power of art, her design perspective, and sources of inspiration.

 

Finalist David Duperault of North Carolina A&T State University

[Video forthcoming. See bio here.]

 

Finalist Lyna Nget of the University of Washington

Lyna discusses her focus on evidence-based design for sustainable, inclusive, and therapeutic environments for vulnerable populations — especially those who suffer from physical and mental illnesses and disabilities.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Biodiversity and Design

By Olivia Fragale, 2016 Olmsted Scholar Finalist

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I moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 2012 to pursue a position as Assistant Researcher and Outreach Educator with the Iimbovane Project at the Department of Science and Technology - National Research Foundation (DST-NRF) Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University. This research position involved monitoring and cataloging the species richness and diversity of native and invasive ant species of the Western Cape Providence through field sampling and lab work. My interest in studying ants was to understand the correlation between human settlement patterns and the impact this has on biodiversity.

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The importance of this study was to look at the system beyond the ant. Within the Cape Floristic Region, ants play a significant role in dispersing seeds. Our team discovered a positive correlation between native ant populations and native plant growth and diversity. Sites with a high population of invasive species demonstrated a lack of native plant growth. I was drawn in by the various scales of the study. At a microscale, I was studying ants, but at the macroscale, the ant-plant mutualism relationship was about the interconnected dependencies of an ecosystem. Loss of seed production impacted seed distribution, which impacted native plant growth which impacted soil conditions, therefore increasing erosion as well as changing availability of resources in the food web. These early research endeavors in the study of biodiversity have helped shape my thinking as a designer and my aspirations to strengthen the connection between science and the design professions.

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As a recent graduate of the Boston Architectural College, I am interested in the integration of relevant and current research in biodiversity into current professional practice. When thinking about our role as landscape architects, I look at the strategies used to safeguard biodiversity, including designs that:

  • Minimize and manage habitat disruption

  • Reclaim, restore, and reconnect significant ecosystems

  • Have integrated management plans to control invasive species

  • Focus on rehabilitation of contaminated soils to reintroduce positive ecological systems

  • Establish riparian buffers to protect aquatic ecosystems

This list of strategies is something to be proud of, but I believe as knowledgeable designers, we can strengthen our understanding by performing and contributing to research that is focused on monitoring biodiversity at various sites and on various scales. We have the ability to gather baseline data about urban biodiversity, standardize methods, and perform comparison studies that start to articulate and encourage the functions and benefits of designing with diversity.

So how do we measure biodiversity and how can the produced data become integrated into how we design and manage our spatial relationships? Well, biodiversity can be measured at a species level, an ecosystem level, and at the genetic level. Methods vary in their ability to reveal information about richness, evenness, rarity, disparity, and variability. In the field of ecology, the most common methods for measuring species biodiversity are the Simpson Index and the Shannon Index. Currently the Sustainable Sites Initiative and the LAF’s Landscape Performance Series and Benefits Toolkit have identified methods for measuring vegetation and biodiversity, which include the Biomass Density Index (BDI), LEED baseline information which focuses on calculating average values for regional evapotranspiration rates, species factor, density factor, and microclimate factor for each vegetation types. Collecting data and establishing measuring systems for biodiversity can inform our designs, manage our spatial relationships, and respond to scientific trends.

I am excited to participate in the collection and evaluation of valuable biodiversity data and contribute to the advancement of biodiversity-directed design strategies through the lens of my proposed research project that focuses on the relationship between biodiversity and biomimicry wastewater technologies. I believe the design of nature-inspired, living technologies is a powerful tool to align communities with the regenerative capacities of the plant’s life-supporting ecosystems. More specifically, living systems can be monitored to further understand how biodiversity is being recovered, established, and linked back into the community’s health, economic, and cultural experiences.

In my next blog post, I will elaborate on my proposed project and explore, at the community level, the important relationship between biodiversity and biomimicry wastewater technologies and how its diverse application can reveal and expose systems as they relate to human development and biological existence.

Olivia completed her MLA from Boston Architectural College in May and now works at Terraink in Arlington, Massachusetts.  While she is focused on transitioning into her new job, she looks forward to future project development.  In the meantime, she continues to pursue her project interests through continued dialogue with the research groups in South Africa and has another visit planned for 2017.

Upcoming Webinar to Highlight Landscape Architecture Careers in the Federal Government

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Have you ever considered a career in the federal government? Agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and General Services Administration influence what happens on millions of acres of land. From designing national parks and government facilities to shaping national policy, these agencies benefit from the unique perspective and expertise of landscape architects.

On Sept 15, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) are hosting a free webinar highlighting the exciting opportunities for landscape architects to work in the federal government.

Landscape Architects in Federal Service
Thurs, Sept 15, 2:00-3:15pm ET
Register Now

The webinar is geared toward landscape architecture students and recent graduates. Landscape architects working in the U.S. Forest Service and the Smithsonian Institution will provide an overview of their day-to-day work, including their leadership roles and the range of projects and policies they work on. The speakers will also discuss pathways to entering a career in federal service.

Speakers:

  • Matt Arnn, ASLA, Chief Landscape Architect, U.S. Forest Service
  • Jennifer Daniels, ASLA, Senior Landscape Architect, Smithsonian National Zoological Park
  • Jesse English, ASLA, Regional Landscape Architect/Recreation Planner, U.S. Forest Service
  • Logan Free, ASLA, Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Forest Service
  • Emily Lauderdale, ASLA, Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Forest Service