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As landscape architects increasingly engage in addressing complex challenges like climate change, urbanization, and public health, it is critical that they be able to communicate the measurable benefits of design solutions.
This year the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) included “landscape performance” and many measurement-related requirements its revised LAAB Accreditation Standards for all bachelor’s and master’s level landscape architecture programs. In their training, students must now learn skills necessary to predict outcomes, assess alternatives, defend design proposals, and evaluate environmental, social, and economic performance of landscape projects.
To help university landscape architecture programs integrate landscape performance into their curriculum, LAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants allow select university faculty to develop and test models in standard courses. Their teaching materials and reflections are then shared through the Resources for Educators section of LAF’s LandscapePerformance.org.
For the Fall 2016 semester/term, five $2,500 mini-grants were awarded for the following courses:
- Kenneth Brooks, FASLA, FCELA, PLA, Arizona State University
Design Research Methods (MLA/Interdisciplinary Research Methods)
A traditional lecture course that explores a range of research methods, techniques and strategies applied to the enterprise and advancement of design. The class is a required core course for 85 graduate students in professional design programs of architecture (MArch), interior architecture (MIA), industrial design (MID), landscape architecture (MLA), visual communications design (MVCD) and urban design (MUD).This course is designed to give Design and other students an intellectual framework and experience in conceptualizing, conducting and applying research methods and strategies that will permit them to advance the knowledge base and practice capabilities of designers and problem-solvers. A primary focus of the course is cultivating scholarship, inquiry and evaluation that enhances and enriches the effectiveness and performance practice of professional design.
- Brad Collett, ASLA, RLA, LEED AP, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Operative Landscapes (MLA Seminar)
Contemporary challenges posed by urbanization, climate dynamics, evolving economies and social paradigms have changed the demands we place on the designed landscape. Landscape architects in North America and around the world have risen to this challenge, revealing new possibilities for the economic, social and environmental performance of landscapes in public, private and infrastructural territories. Operative Landscapes examines the historical contexts and emergent theory driving this shift in the practice of landscape architecture, and surveys contemporary projects as a basis for understanding multi-scalar design approaches, technical details and maintenance regimes. An emphasis is placed on built landscapes and living systems as integral parts of site stormwater management approaches and regional water resource infrastructure.
- Kirk Dimond, MLA, LEED AP, University of Arizona
Site Engineering (MLA Site Engineering)
Site Engineering for landscape architects requires students to develop the comprehension and skills necessary to maintain health, safety, and welfare through the manipulation of topography and water. To reinforce this, knowledge objectives with associated performance measures, organized under the four natural elements of earth, water, fire and air, will challenge students to develop technical competency through lectures and exercises that also provide the means to measure and evaluate their decisions through understanding landscape performance. Culmination of the material is tested in a comprehensive final project requiring a full grading plan that demonstrates evidence of responsible design decisions.
- Joseph Ragsdale, ASLA, FAAR, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Design Theory and Exploration Focus Studio (BLA Studio)
This third and fourth year vertical studio links technical competencies with design explorations and applied landscape architecture theory studies. For sites located on the university campus, students will establish current performance criteria and metrics, propose design ideas in connection with an updated master plan, and evaluate changes in performance metrics of proposed design solutions. The course is structured around three activities, a technical module focusing on landscape performance, a design module emphasizing design exploration and a theory seminar reinforcing contemporary landscape architecture theory.
- Rebekah VanWieren, MLA, MS, Montana State University
Advanced Landscape Design Studio: Landscape Design Scenarios for Water Conservation in the Middle Rockies (Landscape Design BS Studio)
This studio will integrate landscape performance principles and metrics with a design project for the City of Bozeman, Water Conservation Division. Students will analyze the ecology and lifecycle of designing landscapes through field explorations around four themes: water, vegetation and soil, energy, and human health and well-being. These findings will be applied to design performance alternatives for water resource resiliency in the semi-arid West.
Over the last three years, LAF has awarded a total of $37,500 in Landscape Performance Education Grants to university faculty with five mini-grants awarded each year.
On June 10 at LAF’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Dinner at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, LAF recognized first recipients of its new LAF Medal and Founders’ Awards. With Independence Mall as the backdrop, Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, Chair of the 2016 Award Committee presented the two awards before the crowd of 450 LAF friends and supporters.
Grant Jones, FASLA, co-founder of Jones & Jones Architecture and Landscape Architecture, took the stage to receive the first LAF Medal, which is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work over a career in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes. As the keynote speaker at the dinner, Grant delivered an inspiring speech full of history, wisdom, hope, and charges for the future.
“The Earth is our client, our partner in a life relationship. The landscape is not a fuzzy, vague or indefinable thing; it’s as real as your mother and father, and it’s got to be everything to you.”
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) received the first LAF Founders’ Award, which is conveyed to a firm, agency, or organization that demonstrates a significant commitment to preserving, creating, or enhancing landscapes over a sustained period of time. ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville accepted the award and then turned the tables, issuing a Philadelphia-style proclamation from the ASLA Board of Trustees expressing its sincerest appreciation to the Landscape Architecture Foundation in celebration of its 50 years.
LAF was so honored to recognize these innovators that have made a significant and sustained contribution to the LAF mission of supporting the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment.
Mpre photos from LAF’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Dinner can be found at:
Thank you to all who attended The New Landscape Declaration: A Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future on June 10-11. (And to the 75 presenters and panelists who worked hard to prepare the thought-provoking content!) With 715 attendees coming from as far away as China, Argentina and Australia, the event surpassed all expectations!
Inspired by LAF’s 1966 Declaration of Concern, the Summit featured 25 “Declarations” from key thought leaders and nine thematic panels, taking a hard look at whether the landscape architecture profession has fulfilled its promise and how it can effect change looking forward to the next 50 years.
Overarching themes of humanism, interdependence, and concern regarding climate change ran through most of the declarations and discussions. Other common themes were the increasing importance of cities; how landscape architecture can contribute to managing and preserving vital resources like water, food and biodiversity; the importance of integrating communities into the design process; and how to communicate the value of landscape architecture to the broad public.
A few highlights from the two days include:
- James Corner of Field Operations stressed that with continued population growth, cities are the future and will demand new organizational frameworks. Landscape architects are well positioned to lead because they see the city as a kind of dynamic ecosystem and can go further than planners and engineers by striving to embed beauty, desire, and pleasure into the system.
- Kate Orff of SCAPE declared that she is “interested in making publics, not projects.” She emphasized that landscapes can be a pilot for physical and social change if designers invest in building ecological constituencies and community capacity.
- Mario Schjetnan of Grupo de Diseño Urbano in Mexico City called landscape architecture to a global perspective, as most of the urban expansion and environmental deterioration is happening in the so-called developing nations.
- Nina-Marie List of Ryerson University asked what will become of wilderness, wild things, and the wild in man as we continue on this relentless trajectory of global urbanization. She asserted that “E.O. Wilson’s half earth movement is a blunt instrument that needs designers.”
- Blaine Merker of Gehl Studio emphasized happiness and sustainability as self-reinforcing systems. He advocated for a new mentality of design humanism that fosters human-scale development, local social ties, people-powered mobility, and places for common ground.
LAF is synthesizing all of the ideas, discussions, and audience input from the Summit to draft The New Landscape Declaration, which will be released for public comment this fall. (If you have thoughts to share, be sure to leave them here.) Stay tuned!
Photos from the Summit are posted at:
Video footage from the Summit is posted at: (more clips are being added)
Storify social media summaries are at:
The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) has announced the public launch of its LAF: 50 & Forward Campaign with a $3.5 million minimum goal. This campaign coincides with LAF’s 50th anniversary, at a time when greater investment in landscape architecture research, scholarships, and leadership is critically needed.
LAF works to support the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment through research, scholarships, and leadership to increase our collective capacity to achieve sustainability.
The campaign will allow LAF to expand its existing programs for research and scholarships by increasing stipends to Case Study Investigation (CSI) teams, strategically enhancing the Landscape Performance Series, and endowing $20,000 in new awards to students. Additionally, LAF will create two new $25,000 long-term research grants, and $25,000 fellowships as part of a new leadership program for mid- and senior-level professionals.
Critical, early investment in the campaign was provided by way of 77 gifts from organizations and individuals. With $3.28 million already raised, LAF anticipates achieving and exceeding its goal, allowing the foundation to provide even more programming and investment for the landscape architecture profession.
We would like to thank the following donors for their early, leadership commitments to the LAF: 50 & Forward Campaign:
Jeanne Dawson Lalli
Brightview and Brightview Design Group
Anonymous, in memory of Deb Mitchell
Joe Brown and Jacinta McCann
Mark and Doreen Dawson
Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly
Lucinda Reed Sanders
Aquatic Design and Engineering
Burton Landscape Architecture Studio
D’Arcy and Diane Deeks
!melk landscape architecture & urban design
Gustafson Guthrie Nichol
James Corner Field Operations
PWP Landscape Architecture
Chip and Pat Crawford
A full list of campaign donors can be found at:
On June 10-11, landscape architects from around the world will gather in Philadelphia to present their big ideas and engage in lively debate about realizing landscape architecture’s potential and effecting real world change. Speakers at the Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future will deliver a series of decisive ‘Declarations’ that respond to LAF’s seminal 1966 Declaration of Concern. On the second day, thematic panels will reflect on the ‘Declarations’ and discuss how landscape architecture can make its vital contribution in the 21st century.
We want your voice to be part of the conversation — even if you are not able to attend the Summit. What do you declare?
How can landscape architecture make its vital contribution to help solve the challenges of our time and the next 50 years?
For inspiration, you can check out this month’s Landscape Architecture Magazine where five of the speakers’ essays are printed and posted online at:
Share your thoughts, make your statement of leadership and ideas, challenge, poeticize, incite — we want to hear from you! #LAFSummit