Dr. Tu Youyou during the 1950’s.

Artemisia annua, a common roadside weed, is one of the humblest of the several hundred Artemisia species found all around the world. It’s dull and ragged, but it is instrumental in bringing a Chinese scientist to Stockholm to receive a Nobel Prize this December. The species is a shabby version of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle,’ familiar to gardeners for its lacy silvery foliage. Back in the 1960s Dr. Tu Youyou screened 2,000 traditional Chinese remedies in search of a new treatment for malaria. The malaria-causing parasite had grown resistant to quinine and other earlier drugs. Ho Chi Minh, in desperation because his soldiers were dying, appealed to Mao Tse-tung for help, and Mao set Tu to work. She found the clue in a 1,700-year-old manuscript that advised sweet wormwood, Artemisia annua’s common name, for intermittent fevers, a common malaria symptom. She found that an extract of the herbivore-repellent sesquiterpenoid lactones that give Artemisia its distinctive bitter scent killed the malaria-causing parasite. Born in 1930, Tu is still at work at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing. You (you) go, girl.

Constance Casey, a former New York City Parks Department gardener, is a contributing editor to LAM.

Credit: By Xinhua News agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Hopeful candidates pitch their projects and ideas to editors at the 2014 Meet the Editors in Denver.

The ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO can be a great way to catch up with current trends in the profession and those much-needed Professional Development Hours. But it can also be an opportunity to share with the Landscape Architecture Magazine team that much-beloved project you’ve been working on all year. Editors from LAM, The Dirt, and Topos will be on hand at the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago, Saturday and Sunday, November 7–8, for Meet the Editors, a time block of 15-minute sign-up sessions with your choice of editor to pitch story ideas or that project you’ve worked so hard on.

New to Meet the Editors this year is Christopher McGee, Art Director for LAM, who will be available to provide feedback on photography portfolios. Spots are limited and fill quickly, so be sure to snag a session before they’re gone. While we love to hear about new products and advertisements, Meet the Editors is meant for practitioners and professionals only. However, if you’ve got that hot new product you’re sure landscape architects will love, be sure to contact our Goods columnist, Lisa Speckhardt, at lspeckhardt@asla.org.


Most feel the L.A. River needs to change, though they can't agree on what.

Most believe the L.A. River needs to change, though exactly how it should be done is still up in the air.

From the October 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The push to fix the 51-mile Los Angeles River over the past few decades has been a triumph of citizen-fueled advocacy. It has harnessed landscape architecture as well as politics, planning, economics, engineering, hydrology, and ecology toward a dream of a living river, with plants and animals and people (and real estate) close to the water. Persistence and skill, notably on the part of the group Friends of the Los Angeles River, led to the stunning endorsement last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of a $1 billion federal plan to restore natural habitat along 11 miles of the upper river. It was a bigger bet on the river than anyone expected. Since then, the big questions have been whether Congress will fund the plan and, if so, how much the federal government will pay and how much the city will pay. The city must buy land, clean up contamination, and build a public realm; a lot of how to do all that had been laid out in a master plan in 2007 for 32 miles of the river, from its headwaters in Canoga Park to downtown Los Angeles. As part of the large master plan team, led by Tetra Tech, the offices of Civitas, Wenk Associates, and Mia Lehrer + Associates developed transformative, landscape driven solutions for sites along the river.

It’s all been incredibly exciting. But now, rather than wait until Congress considers funding the corps’ plan, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, an ardent river advocate, has been encouraging a whole other river plan but not telling anyone much about it. For this newer plan, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, a nonprofit the city chartered to direct its river strategy, asked Frank Gehry’s firm, Gehry Partners, to begin studying the whole length of the river. OLIN is on board as a consulting landscape architect. Garcetti called Gehry’s work “a master plan, in the truest sense of the word,” and added, “To have the Olmsted of our time focusing on this, I think, is extraordinary.”

The Olmsted remark did not go over well among landscape architects. None of the revelations about the Gehry project went particularly well, not least because they were unexpected. Over the past year, some longtime river strategists have been shown the outlines of the Gehry team’s effort, but for the most part it unfolded in private until the Los Angeles Times reported on its existence in early August. Then came the disciplinary resentments in the landscape realm and, more important, the pains of people—professionals and laypersons—who worked hard to get the corps’ blessing on a major plan. Those people rightly worry that they may now have to spend more effort to defend what they have already achieved for the river. They worry because so little about the new planning process has been shared with them or with the public. The city’s emerging bid to host the Olympics in 2024 adds another layer of uncertainty to some of the river sites.

The revitalization corporation insists it is considering all the previous work for the master plan and the corps’ proposal in its new project, but one of its tendencies has been to speak as if Gehry’s team is starting a process of remaking the river rather than walking into the middle of one. Mayor Garcetti, who has made the river a serious project for his administration, could clear up a lot of confusion. He needs to ensure that the intelligence gathered so far around the river’s revival remains in play and will feed into any future plans. It would help to involve the river’s early advocates and designers much more closely than seems to have been the case lately, and to pay more attention to their considerable accomplishment. Visions for a better river could combine many ideas and forms. Coherence in the approach will be crucial in selling them.

Credit: By A Syn [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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October’s LAM is our awards issue, and that means almost 70 pages of Student and Professional Award winners, including the 2015 Landmark Award given to Dan Kiley’s South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago. Finished in 1962, the South Garden celebrates almost 50 years of continued excellence as both a landscape architecture project and a cherished space in the public realm.

Out of 327 submitted projects to the Student Awards, 23 winners were chosen, with many of the projects highlighting the diversifying nature of landscape architecture. In the Professional Awards, 33 winners were selected from 463 submissions, many of which set the tone for the future of the profession. All this plus our regular Land Matters and Now columns.

You can read the full table of contents for October 2015 or pick up a free digital issue of the October LAM here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating October articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: Landmark Award, © Tom Harris/Courtesy the Cultural Landscape Foundation; Professional Communications Award of Excellence, Landscape Architecture Foundation; Professional Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence, Hargreaves Associates and Red Square; Professional Residential Design Award of Excellence, Hocker Design Group, Robert Yu, Justin Clemons; Professional General Design Award of Excellence, Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand.


Since 2012, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has brought in big names in landscape architecture—Cochran, Van Valkenburgh, Galí-Izard, and more—to speak as part of its Landscape Lectures series. Each lecture is roughly an hour long and highlights the work and achievements of the speaker. The above video contains a playlist of the available lectures through the museum’s YouTube channel, starting with one of the first lectures in 2012 up through June 2015. The next lecture in the 2015–2016 series will feature Walter Hood on November 12. For more information, please click here.

The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Wrought iron step and brick façade overcome by time. Credit: Future Green Studio.

Wrought iron step and brick facade overcome by time. Credit: Future Green Studio.

From “In the Weeds” by Nate Berg, in the September 2015 issue, featuring Future Green Studio’s love for designing with weeds.

“The juxtaposition of new growth against old structure creates a nice tension, and the dead leaves and stems on the wrought iron step create a nice bridge.”

—Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.


“If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” by Susanna Rustin from The Guardian on December 5, 2014.

BEDIT_Susanna Rustin portrait

Susanna Rustin

Every year LAM honors two articles that stand out in the realm of landscape architecture with the Bradford Williams Medal—one that has appeared in LAM, and one from outside the magazine. For the 2015 medals, articles from the 2014 calendar period were nominated by LAM’s Editorial Advisory Committee and then were narrowed to two winners from the nominees.

Earlier we announced Mimi Zeiger’s “Fresno v. Eckbo” as the winner for an article in LAM, from December 2014. Today we’re proud to announce Susanna Rustin, a feature writer at The Guardian, as the winner for an article outside of LAM for her December 2014 story “If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” Rustin’s article focuses on the need for diversity, particularly women, among those who shape the human environment.


The Bradford Williams Medal is awarded to two outstanding articles in landscape every year.

The medal’s namesake, Bradford Williams, was an editor and publisher of LAM in its earlier days when it was Landscape Architecture Quarterly. The medal was named to honor his contributions to the magazine and to ASLA. A list of past winners can be found here.

The medals will be presented at ASLA’s 2015 Annual Meeting & EXPO on Monday, November 9 in a ceremony at Chicago’s McCormick Place for the ASLA Student and Professional Awards.


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