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Engaging Students with the New Landscape Declaration

LAF’s New Landscape Declaration is a new vision and 21st century call to action for landscape architecture to make its vital contribution in solving the defining issues of our time. The Declaration, along with the Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future that gave rise to it, serve to guide, challenge, and inspire — aims befitting to an academic environment.

To help university faculty and landscape architecture departments engage with this initiative, we’ve complied a list of resources and ideas to incorporate the themes into their programs and coursework:

  • Post the New Landscape Declaration in a prominent place in your department or website. (PDF versions in English and 17 other languages are available.)
  • Screen the 20-minute Summit documentary for a class or event and facilitate a post-film discussion. (The film is closed-captioned to support less-than-ideal sound systems and non-native English speakers.)
  • Assign students to explore the Summit declarations (in videos or essay form) and report out on their favorites or write their own declaration.
  • Use the New Landscape Declaration as a tool to communicate the value and values of the landscape architecture to allied disciplines and administrators in your university.
  • Respond to the Declaration by sharing your thoughts and ideas for action with LAF, within your department, or as an editorial. We encourage and look forward to continued discourse on the future of the profession and what needs to be done.

M. Elen Deming (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Richard Hawks (SUNY-ESF), and Ken Yocum (University of Washington) have graciously shared the materials and assignments that they developed to include the Declaration in courses taught during the 2016-2017 academic year. We hope that these sample teaching materials spur other educators to take advantage of this powerful set of resources to provoke and inspire the next generation of landscape architects.


5/24 UPDATE: You can see the video product of Professor Elen Deming’s “Declaration of Values in Landscape Architecture” project here.

LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership: First Residency Complete!

laf-fellow-cohort-1-photo-530wLeft to right: Alpa Nawre, Claire Latané, Brice Maryman, Nicole Plunkett, Harriett Jameson, Scott Douglas

Last week, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) welcomed its first cohort of the new LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership. The four LAF Fellows, two participating Olmsted Scholars, and fellowship facilitators gathered in Washington, D.C. for an intense 3-day residency to kick off the fellowship year.

Before getting to work, the participants attended a special dinner with the LAF Board of Directors, local Board Emeriti, and representatives from the National Park Service, which was recognized with the 2017 LAF Founders’ Award. After an inspiring evening, the cohort gathered at Impact Hub DC, a non-profit co-working space for “entrepreneurs, creatives, and professionals taking action to drive positive social, economic, and environmental change,” and the fellowship’s home-base for three days.

Lucinda Sanders, CEO and Partner at OLIN, and Laura Solano, Principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, serve as facilitators for all three fellowship residencies. At this first one, they explored the different aspects of transformational leadership with the cohort. They also underscored the importance of asking for help and of mentorship in all directions, as each cohort member is there to support the others throughout the fellowship year.

Residency I of the fellowship is designed to deepen the commitment of each cohort member and to help remove obstacles from her or his path. Repeated presentations and critiques were one of the primary exercises used to achieve this. The LAF Fellows and participating Olmsted Scholars presented their project proposals multiple times and in multiple formats over the course of this first residency, with each speaking opportunity further reinforced with guidance and feedback from the cohort team, facilitators, and invited guests.

laf-fellow-small-group-1-530wLeft to right: Alpa Nawre, Harriett Jameson, Laura Solano, Brice Maryman

Day 1 was dedicated to small group, workshop-style discursive presentations and some project work time to advance or refine their presentations for Day 2, when the entire cohort reconvened for their formal presentations and critique with invited guests Brad McKee, Editor of Landscape Architecture Magazine and Daniel Pittman, Design Director at A/D/O, a design/creative incubator in Brooklyn, New York. Their insights and perspective were invaluable to the project team. The cohort also received feedback from the LAF Board of Directors following a round of short, PechaKucha-style presentations.

Residency I wrapped up on the morning of Day 3 when the fellowship cohort and facilitators came together to reflect on the past two days and discuss the work and challenges they plan to confront over the course of this year.

To maintain momentum throughout the fellowship year, the cohort will check in monthly via conference call to report out on progress. In six months, the cohort will reconvene in Washington, D.C. in early November for Residency II. We look forward to sharing their progress in the months ahead!

National Park Service Receives LAF Founders' Award

nps-lafpres2-530wNPS Acting Director Michael Reynolds and LAF President Jennifer Guthrie

On May 3, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) held an intimate dinner and reception in Washington, D.C. to present the U.S. National Park Service with the 2017 LAF Founders’ Award, its highest honor for an organization. Launched in 2016, the LAF Founders’ Award 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.

National Park Service Acting Director Michael Reynolds accepted the award on behalf of the agency. Also in attendance were:

  • Bert Frost, Acting Deputy Director of Operations and Regional Director of Alaska
  • Jeff Gowen, National Mall Landscape Architect and Acting Chief of Facilities
  • Dena Kennett, Landscape Architect,  George Washington Memorial Parkway
  • Gay Vietzke, National Mall Superintendent

To a packed room of LAF Board members, Board Emeriti, incoming LAF Fellowship recipients, and other friends of LAF, Mr. Reynolds gave a short presentation emphasizing common interests and the influence of landscape architects’ on the National Park Service and its lands, dating back to Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr’s statement of purpose in the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 that established the agency:

“To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” (National Park Service Organic Act, 1916)

During the Q&A that followed, Mr. Reynolds spoke candidly about the work of the National Park Service, current challenges, and the role that landscape architects can play in the design, management, preservation, and advocacy for our public lands — both present and into the future.

With a shared ethos, we look forward to many more years of partnership between landscape architects and this pioneering agency, which has had a profound and lasting impact on our nation and the world.

Five Landscape Performance Education Grants Available for Fall 2017


Last year the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) included “landscape performance” and many measurement-related requirements in its revised LAAB Accreditation Standards for all bachelor’s and master’s level landscape architecture programs. The revised standards take effect starting with landscape architecture programs scheduled for accreditation reviews in fall 2017.

To help programs integrate landscape performance into their curriculum, LAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants allow select university faculty to develop and test models for courses, such as research and methods, site planning and analysis, design studios, and other lecture or seminar courses.

The next round of grants will be offered for the Fall 2017 term/semester with applications due June 15, 2017. Each application is to include a teaching proposal, which will be evaluated for quality and feasibility by LAF and an independent committee of educators. Grant recipients will be announced in early July.

Download Grant Application

Grant recipients will work closely with LAF and its Education Committee to finalize the teaching proposals, which will then be implemented during the Fall 2017 semester/term. Formal course evaluations will be used to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models tested, including whether specific landscape performance learning objectives are met.

Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants are added to the Resources for Educators section of This library of teaching tools includes syllabi, reading lists, and sample student assignments, as well as faculty reflections on their pedagogical approaches and experiences teaching landscape performance.

LAF has awarded five Landscape Performance Education Grants each year for the last three years. This fourth round will bring the total in mini-grants awarded to educators to $50,000.

Announcing the 2017 LAF Medal and Founders Award Recipients

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is delighted to announce the recipients of its 2017 LAF Medal and Founders’ Awards. Launched last year in conjunction with the foundation’s 50th anniversary, these two annual awards honor individuals and firms/organizations that have made a significant and sustained contribution to the LAF mission of supporting the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment.

oberlandercornelia-226wLAF Medal

The LAF Medal is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work over a career in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes. The 2017 LAF Medal goes to Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC, MBCSCLA, FCSCLA, FASLA.

“Cornelia Hahn Oberlander once said, ‘I dream of green cities and green buildings where rural and urban activities live in harmony.’ With a career spanning a stunning seventy years, she has created just that,” said Awards Committee Chair Dennis Carmichael, FASLA.

LAF Founders’ Award

The LAF Founders’ Award 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. The 2017 LAF Founders’ Award goes to the U.S. National Park Service.

nps-shaded-logo-226w“In no small way are landscape architects and their organizations, including the Landscape Architecture Foundation,  indebted  to the National Park Service for its leadership, ethics, and works of landscape architecture,” said Carmichael on behalf of the Awards Committee.

The LAF Board Emeritus Council manages the nomination and selection process for the awards. Members of the 2017 Award Committee were:

  • Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, Parker Rodriguez, Chair
  • Chip Crawford, FASLA, Forum Studio
  • Chris Dimond, FASLA, AICP, PWP Landscape Architecture
  • Richard Hawks, FASLA, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Len Hopper, FASLA, Weintraub Diaz Landscape Architecture
  • Ginger Murphy, ASLA, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The recipients will be honored during LAF’s 2017 Awards Dinner on May 3 in Washington, D.C.