News & Events

LAF News

Stay up to date on LAF!

Subscribe to RSS Feed

Xtreme LA: A Unique Design Challenge in Austin

xtremelaaustin1During the morning site visit, Dean Almy indicates one potential location for a proposed light rail bridge.We just returned after an intense 3 days in Austin, Texas with the Xtreme LA Challenge. This year’s event, co-hosted by LAF, Landscape Forms and the University of Texas at Austin, brought young professionals from around the country to Austin to work with UT graduate students on a design challenge with established leaders in the profession.

Susannah C. Drake, RLA, RA a principal at dlandstudio and Sarah Kuehl of Peter Walker and Partners led the two teams, which had a day-and-a-half to propose design solutions for an underutilized area along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake.

Austin City Councilmember Chris Riley and UT’s Dean Almy, a member of the Waterfront Planning xtremelaaustin2Susannah Drake's team presents their “soft-boiled egg” concept: hard waterfront edge, green space in the center.Board charged with making recommendations to the City, presented an overview of the area, development challenges and opportunities. The teams spent the following morning visiting both sides of the waterfront to get a feel for the site and its context. They then headed to the studio to vet ideas, hash out solutions, and develop materials to present in just over 24 hours.

The teams presenting their ideas the following afternoon to a packed audience that included representatives from the Waterfront Planning Board, Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, and the City Planning Commission, along with UT students and other interested stakeholders.

“The teams demonstrated the importance of the xtremelaaustin3Sarah Kuehl's team was inspired by the idea of performance: musical, athletic, natural, city and landscape performance.discipline of landscape architecture to the construction of quality of life in the urban environment,” said Dean Almy. “Each of the teams developed a very thorough analysis of the challenges that future development of the site is facing, and they were able to arrive at two very distinct and provocative solutions in a very short time frame. The presentations will be part of the Waterfront Board’s future diliberations on the future of the area.”

LAF sincerely thanks Landscape Forms and the University of Texas at Austin for all they did to organize this outstanding event. Now in its third year, the Xtreme LA program provides young leaders with a unique opportunity to meet and interact with seasoned professionals and peers from across the country. This year’s inclusion of students on the design teams added an extra layer of mentoring and learning opportunities.

Landscape Performance Tools

On Sept 11, LAF presented one of the ASLA Annual Meeting’s Education Sessions. Landscape Performance Tools: Metrics for Culture and Environment attracted a standing-room-only-crowd as LAF’s Barbara Deutsch introduced and moderated a discussion of landscape performance and metrics with presentations from Heather Whitlow of LAF, Susan Olmsted of Mithun, and Beth Meyers of the University of Virginia.aslaedsession

Heather Whitlow stressed the value of having quantified benefits and outlined methods for quantifying landscape performance, using examples from case studies in LAF’s Landscape Performance Series database.
Download Presentation

Susan Olmsted discussed how metrics and aesthetic are incorporated into Mithun’s 7 Design Principles and offered insights on how metrics can be used throughout the life of a project, citing examples from Seattle University, High Point, the Lloyd District, Epler Hall, and the Olympia, WA Capitol Landscape Master Plan.
Download Presentation

Beth Meyer challenged the frequent assumption that aesthetics and beauty are synonomous and offered examples of the different ways that aesthetics perform. After presenting recent landscape assessment typologies, she cautioned that aesthetic performance is in danger of being overlooked because it is not as readily quantified as ecosystem services. She closed by challenging the profession to continue to seek ways to measure this essential component of landscape performance.

Feedback on the presentations was extremely positive, and the Education Session received coverage in ASLA’s Blog The Dirt.

Olmsted Scholar Events in Washington, DC

2010olmstedscholarsThe 2010 Olmsted Scholars at the LAF Annual Benefit.

Twenty of this year’s 38 Olmsted Scholars attended a series of LAF events in Washington, DC Sept 10-12. The highlight was the LAF Annual Benefit, where the Olmsted Scholars were recognized during a special ceremony. Outgoing LAF Board President Chip Crawford presented certificates to each scholar and said the experience  was completely energizing. “It was really moving to be in a position to recognize some of the brightest people entering into our profession.”

LAF staff, Board Members, and program sponsors had the opportunity to meet and interact with the Olmsted Scholars beforehand during a special luncheon. “I was delighted to finally meet this impressive group,” remarked LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch. “The Olmsted Scholars are truly inspiring; they will get a lot done — wherever they go!”

Following the luncheon, the scholars participated in a strategy session and shared their thoughts on how to further build the community of Olmsted Scholars, who now number 90 with the program in its third year.

Many of the Olmsted Scholars were also onhand at LAF’s booth in the ASLA Expo Hall. They helped promote LAF programs, and most braved the camera to be filmed for our Conversations with Leaders in Landscape series. We hope to use the footage to produce a video on the 2010 Olmsted Scholars, to be released later this fall.

Additional photos from the Benefit (now posted) and other Olmsted Scholar events (coming soon) can be found on LAF’s Flickr Photostream.


LAF's Invaluable Interns

topstoryphoto8-664w-dvzCara, Morgan (left) and Anthony (right) pose triumphantly with LAF staff after the Annual Benefit.LAF’s small staff relies on the help of interns to expand our impact. In just the last month, we’ve launched a new website, kicked off our new Landscape Performance Series and Conversations with Leaders in Landscape initiative, run a sweepstakes, manned an ASLA Expo Hall booth, hosted events for our Board, donors, and Olmsted Scholars, and held our most successful benefit to date. (Whew!)

We could never have accomplished all this without this summer’s dedicated team of LAF interns.

Research Assistant Russell Blessing provided remote support for the Landscape Performance Series, helping us build the collection of tools, factoids, and scholarly works.

dsc0044mTyler and Cara check in Annual Benefit guests.

Summer interns Tyler Smithson and Morgan Handley provided graphic design and ongoing support, particularly for the Annual Benefit, Sweepstakes, and Expo Hall booth. Their dedication to LAF despite holding two other jobs (Tyler) and missing the first two weeks of classes (Morgan) was truly remarkable.

We were extremely fortunate that Cara Kappler, a past LAF intern and Scholarship Coordinator, returned to work with us for the last month. Using experience gleaned from last year’s events, Cara took charge and coordinated many aspects of our Annual Benefit and Expo Hall Booth.

New LAF volunteer Amanda Schull provided dsc0059mMorgan fields questions about the Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes.much-needed assistance and calm during the last week of frantic final preparations and as the events got underway.

Past LAF intern, Anthony Le returned to provide the music and lend an extra hand during our Annual Benefit.

We cannot thank our interns enough for the time and talent they contributed to LAF. Several of them are currently looking for jobs in the landscape architecture field (and the others will be following graduation), so take note, potential employers!

Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes Winner Announced

Tracy Trisko of Glenwood, Maryland is the winner of LAF’s 2nd Annual Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes. Tracy will receive a week-long trip for two to Ayala Land/AECOM’s award-winning Avaya Cove resort in Morong, Bataan, Philippines.

sweepstakesjacintaJacinta McCann of AECOM selects the winning number.

“I am astounded that I was awarded this amazing opportunity,” said Tracy in response to the news. “I had just wanted to support LAF. I’ve never won a big prize before, so this was such a shock.”

Tracy plans to schedule the trip for sometime next year. The sweepstakes package, valued at $8,200, was donated by AECOM and Ayala Land and includes: 

  • 6 nights’ accommodation (3 nights at Anvaya Cove, 3 nights in Manila)
  • Roundtrip airfare between the U.S. and Manila
  • All ground transportation transfers
  • $100/day per person meal and entertainment allowance

Jacinta McCann, Executive Vice President at AECOM drew the winning number (okay, she actually used an online random number generator) from the 200 entries LAF received.

Thank you to all who participated by registering online, mailing in entries, or stopping by the LAF booth during the ASLA Annual Meeting. This unique opportunity helped LAF raise over $11,000 to support our research and scholarship programs.