First on the Ground

Andrew Sargeant is the first Enterprise Rose Fellow from landscape architecture.

By Zach Mortice

Andrew Sargeant’s design for a stormwater retention park that’s part of Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park. Image courtesy Andrew Sargeant, ASLA.

For the first time in its 20-year history, Enterprise Community Partners, the nonprofit housing and advocacy organization, has selected a fellow from landscape architecture for the prestigious Rose Fellowship. The fellowship pairs early career designers with nonprofits and community organizations to develop equitable housing and open space in cities and small towns across the country. Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, will work with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) on urban design and landscape architecture projects that generate equitable, high-quality public space through 2022.

Sargeant has been very active since he graduated from Temple University in 2016. A former 2018–2019 Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellow, Sargeant has worked at OLIN in Philadelphia and Lionheart Places in Austin, Texas. He will continue on as the vice president of the board of the Urban Studio, the nonprofit design collaborative he launched with LAF fellows Kendra Hyson, ASLA; Maisie Hughes; and Daví de la Cruz, Associate ASLA, that supports high school-age kids who are interested in design careers.

In the past, host organizations could select from a pool of potential fellows that included landscape designers, but this was the first year that some fellowships were held only for landscape designers. To ensure that Enterprise could select ideal candidates for landscape fellowships, they worked with the landscape architecture professor Kofi Boone, FASLA, of North Carolina State University to help define the criteria.

Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, the first Rose Fellow from landscape architecture. Image courtesy Andrew Sargeant, ASLA.

Sargeant has been working remotely with CNP since October 1 and is planning to relocate to Cleveland in 2021. And as he immerses himself in the history of the city and the litany of inequalities that often fall squarely on racial lines, Sargeant says he wants to find ways to leave Cleveland with more equitable public space in the neighborhoods that need it the most. More specifically, he says he will focus on the cultural elements of underserved communities to drive reinvestment. “I give people the reference of Chinatowns when I talk about this,” he says. “There’s a very specific cultural designation in a lot of areas within certain cities, and this is me trying to probe, ‘Is that possible, and should that be the way to go about reinvestment in some of these underserved communities?’”

Sargeant’s host organization, CNP, is a community development funding intermediary that works with community development corporations and focuses on, among other things, placemaking, planning, and climate resiliency. Mark Matel, the program director for the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship, says CNP’s application was especially compelling because “they were really trying to focus on how landscape architecture can bring initiatives of equity and resiliency in their communities.”

Early in his tenure with CNP, Sargeant has been working on plans to better connect Cleveland neighborhoods with park space and to Lake Erie. He’s also working on ways to restore disused and abused green space in Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods. Another initiative he’s been pulled into is Cleveland’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries. In each case, he’s working directly with local CNP partners that are spearheading these projects. “He’s blended in seamlessly,” says Linda Warren, CNP’s senior vice president of placemaking.

The addition of landscape architects to the Rose Fellowship is an opportunity to demonstrate that landscape architects should take a “comprehensive” view of urban environments, Sargeant says. Landscape architects can be the “point guards of most teams,” he says—the playmakers that create a plan and connect the dots.

Rockefeller Park in Cleveland, one of the park spaces Sargeant is reimagining with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. Image courtesy Andrew Sargeant, ASLA.

Warren says that she prizes Sargeant for his ability to see “the space beyond the building.” Rose Fellows, she says, “bring a design lens that none of us have.”

Increasingly, a landscape architect’s talents for collaboration and organization can be as important as any designed place. “A public park can only do so much. You have to be aware of your limits in regard to agency,” Sargeant says. “The most efficacy I could have is giving community members [and] other organizations that are in the city doing this work more capacity, more vocabulary to talk about this.”

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