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This spring, ASLA convened women of color leaders in architecture and landscape architecture education to discuss networks of mentorship, camaraderie, and solidarity. “Hear their Voices: Inspiring Stories from Women Leaders in Design Education” was moderated by Samantha Solano, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture and regional planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The lively, candid discussion included the following leaders in design education:

Diane Jones Allen, FASLA, director and professor of landscape architecture, University of Texas at Arlington

Maria Bellalta, ASLA, dean and faculty, School of Landscape Architecture, Boston Architectural College

Hazel R. Edwards, professor and chair, College of Engineering and Architecture, Howard University

Vini Nathan, dean and McWhorter endowed chair, College of Architecture, Design, and Construction, Auburn University

After a round of introductions, Solano directed the conversation with sharp, thoughtful questions. Much of the conversation focused on how women can support themselves and each other, navigating male and white-led organizations. Bellalta urged that women carefully consider options on whether to push ahead or to sit back and listen, weighing strategic, deliberative planning against action when trying to navigate around or through what she called “tall people with big voices.” Jones Allen says that leadership has forced her to overcome the desire to always be liked, a deeply entrenched aspect of gender-specific socialization that is more fraught for Black women. “Sometimes, as the director, or the chair, or the dean, you have to make the decision, and sometimes people aren’t going to like you,” she says.  Nathan, meanwhile, suggests pushing at these boundaries to ensure growth, to “follow a little bit of your fear.”

All of this guidance is a part of the omnipresent but seldom publicly acknowledged “inner work” women are forced to focus on in addition to their institutional responsibilities, Solano says. But the discussion also made it clear that the work of diversifying the ranks of design education and design itself isn’t just for women. Beyond the mental and emotional preparation women undergo to exist and thrive in male-dominated spaces, the panel also concentrated on benefits and working conditions that should be fundamental for everyone, but often affect women first, including more flexible working conditions and stronger partnerships between schools and firms. Nathan says that simply hiring more women is not enough. Organizations need to make sure women are placed in positions that control budgets. “Money is what translates into power,” she says, “and power is what translates into influence and impact.”

The panel webinar was hosted by the ASLA Committee on Education. For more information, please visit ASLA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Webinars page, which is available on ASLA’s DEI hub.

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

Photo by Tina Chee, ASLA.

From “A Memorial for the Moment” by Timothy Schuler in the April 2021 issue, about a mass shooting memorial in Tucson, Arizona, by Chee Salette and the visual artist Rebeca Méndez that’s redefining the city’s main civic axis.

“Home amongst the stones.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

You can read the full table of contents for April 2021 or pick up a free digital issue of the April 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 250 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.

REVIEWED BY LISA CASEY, ASLA

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Connecting children to public space outdoors had a watershed moment, a clarion call, in 2005 when Richard Louv published his now classic Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. A journalist with a gift for storytelling, Louv was able to take the facts of the disturbingly shrinking time that young people spend outdoors and wrap it in a way that sparked the imagination of parents, educators, and child advocates everywhere. Although landscape architects, planners, and environmental psychologists have observed, studied, and discussed these trends for decades, his clarity at a key inflection point opened a movement like that of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring or Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.

However, there is something of an unspoken assumption around the original research and Louv’s framework in saying that the previous generation had better access to nature. Some did, as in the enthralling story that Kathryn Aalto shares in The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh of the eight-year-old A. A. Milne with his 10-year-old brother going on a long, unaccompanied ramble through the English countryside in the 1890s. Milne was the son of a progressive school headmaster and certainly had an exceptional childhood with such independence. Many of his contemporaries, at least half within the United States, were already in the workforce by age 14 according to the historian Robert Gordon. Young girls of the same age were in a different but no less dreary position of unending drudgery at home. The image of the carefree youth, which Mark Twain so eloquently captured in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer during this era, is ultimately one of privilege. In the early 20th century, fortunate boys living without the unending chores of a farm or factory hours in the city had more leisure time to explore the woods and streams. “The country road with barefoot boys, dogs, and fishing poles was an important part of early twentieth century small-town iconography,” notes Gordon, quoting Sinclair Lewis. The iconic youth in small towns was in various ways an elite group. How many prior generations of children of color and girls were never in Louv’s proverbial woods in the first place?

The editors of The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People focus on providing access and voice specifically to these groups of marginalized young people. Access, in particular, has been a central topic in the research and at conferences. There has also been increasing discussion around social justice. However, empowering voices within the process is a newer concept that brings a different set of challenges to the committed professional. Continue Reading »

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FOREGROUND       

Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020 (In Memoriam)
In an interview from 2010, one of the first women to be awarded the ASLA Medal looked back on
her trailblazing career.

Keep the Commons (Preservation)
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have seen their distinctive campus designs erode with
time and change. A new grant program will help them navigate the future.

Words Lost and Found (Planning)
When the Great Lakes Ojibwe tribes realized western planning for climate change didn’t
reflect their worldview, they remade it. Now natural resource planners are catching up.

FEATURES

 The Best Medicine
The Stanford medical campus in Northern California underwent a dazzling 12-year, $2 billion transformation. Details that take advantage of sight lines and the senses yield a landscape that’s also state of the art.

Shop Shape
A yearlong pandemic and skyrocketing online shopping have gutted retail streets. Five landscape architecture firms sketch out how to remake them as livelier, more equitable destinations.

The digital edition of the April LAM is FREE, and you can access it here and share it with your clients, colleagues, and friends. You can also buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. Single digital issues are available for only $5.25 at Zinio or you can 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) for more updates on #ASLAawards and the September issue.

Credits: “Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020,” IBI Group, formerly Carol R. Johnson Associates; “Keep the Commons,” Broadmoor via Wikimedia Commons (CC by-SA 4.0); “Words Lost and Found,” Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission/College of Menominee Nation; “Shop Shape,” Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect, PLLC (photograph), LAM (image manipulation); “The Best Medicine,” Patrik Argast. 

 

Drawing from Robert Smithson’s colossal land art installations and the industrial landscapes of New Jersey where she grew up, Julie Bargmann, ASLA, the founder of D.I.R.T. studio, practices landscape architecture with a subversive modesty. The Harvard University Graduate School of Design grad returned to her alma mater to talk about cultivating “humble but hard-ass projects” that use the tools and techniques of infrastructural engineering to reveal layers of history and ecological remediation on sites that are “good, bad, and more often than not toxic,” she says. Titled “Modesty,” her Daniel Urban Kiley Lecture earlier this month offered brief snapshots of her work and a portrayal of the stigmatized and degraded sites she’s endlessly attracted to as “tragic characters” that are “full of hard work,” typically hidden from view by landscape designers less interested in telling stories with scars.

TOWARD RECLAMATION

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE MARCH 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On August 29, 2005, the world saw what happened when a levee failed. A Category 3 hurricane slammed the Gulf Coast, 169 linear miles of federally constructed levees collapsed, and nearly 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, killing almost 1,000 people, the majority of them African American and over the age of 65. It was a wake-up call not just for New Orleanians but for lawmakers 2,000 miles away in California, who worried about their own state’s intricate system of ancient levees, which hold back the waters of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.

Covering an area the size of Rhode Island, the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is an inland delta formed by the confluence of five major waterways, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. It stretches from just east of the San Francisco Bay north to Sacramento and south to Stockton and drains more than 50 percent of the state of California. It is also a highly engineered landscape, made up of winding canals, earthen levees, and terraced agricultural fields. Roads follow the sinuous levees, forming what, from the air, appears as a convoluted puzzle pieced together over eons by a deranged dissectologist.

The delta’s present-day morphology is the product of one of the largest land reclamation projects in U.S. history. In the late 19th century, farmers and land speculators drained more than 500,000 acres of wetlands in the delta, using the dredge material—much of it the spoils of industrial gold mining—to build human-made islands. In the 20th century, water conveyance projects such as the California State Water Project further severed the relationship between delta wildlife and its unique hydrology. “There is nothing about the delta that is like what it used to be,” explains Brett Milligan, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis, and a cofounder of the Dredge Research Collaborative. “The way water flows through it is entirely different. The channels have been widened; all the dendritic channels have been cut off. There’s no floodplain at all.” Continue Reading »

BY JANE ROY BROWN

Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020. Photo courtesy IBI Group, formerly Carol R. Johnson Associates.

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When the landscape architect Carol R. Johnson died last December, at age 91, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, tributes to her extraordinary career quickly appeared. Within days, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, which had conducted an oral history with Johnson in 2006 and included her work at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in its most recent Landslide campaign, published a remembrance detailing her long and influential career. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Architect’s Newspaper followed shortly afterward, a mark of her pioneer stature outside the profession.

Johnson is remembered both for the breadth and scope of her practice, which encompassed many significant public landscapes including the Mystic River Reservation, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, and John Marshall Park in Washington, D.C., and for her leadership of Carol R. Johnson Associates (CRJA). At a time when women were rare in landscape architecture, Johnson built one of the largest woman-owned landscape architecture firms in the United States.

Educated at Wellesley and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Johnson founded her eponymous firm just two years after graduating. An inveterate traveler and hiker, Johnson’s approach to practice was informed by her deep understanding of the link between nature and culture, but also by a strong entrepreneurial drive, which resulted in a global portfolio of projects for her firm. Over the course of her nearly 60-year career of teaching and practice, Johnson also served on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Commission for Small Businesses and the Committee on Development Options during the Carter administration.

In 1982, Johnson was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In 1998, she received the ASLA Medal, “the highest honor the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) can bestow upon a landscape architect whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of the public and the environment.” She was the first American woman to receive that honor.

In 2010, Johnson gave the interview that follows to Jane Roy Brown and looked back over her career. A year later, she would announce the acquisition of CRJA by the IBI Group. She retired in June 2016, 57 years after founding her firm in her apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Continue Reading »