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Archive for the ‘ASLA’ Category

BY JENNIFER REUT

 

FROM THE JUNE 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

This spring, the Atlantic published an essay by David Treuer, the Ojibwe author of the highly lauded cultural history The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present. In “Return the National Parks to the Tribes,” Treuer puts his argument out front, and for the next 8,000 words, he doesn’t mince.

Treuer takes readers through an excoriating and sure-footed record of the national parks as sites of violence and dispossession, stopping only briefly to let readers take in Katy Grannan’s exquisite portraits of contemporary Native American people and their landscapes. The essay frontloads the murderous history of how tribes had been removed from their ancestral homelands in places that became Yellowstone and Glacier national parks and then starved out when they could no longer return to hunt or fish.

The narrative serves as a bracing jolt to set up the case that the national parks should be returned to Native Americans, who are owed these lands, and best suited to manage them in a responsible way. In the hands of tribes, the parks would be protected from the political badminton that sites like Bears Ears National Monument, and their people, have endured. With the maintenance backlog and reduction in park staff even as attendance has increased multifold, the National Park Service appears increasingly ill-equipped to steward the parks through climate change and into the next century. (more…)

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Cornelia  Hahn Oberlander, on site in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, in 2013. Photo by Anne Raver.

 

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a recipient of the ASLA Medal, died this weekend at the age of 99, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy of designed projects and a lifelong commitment to advocacy for the profession. Born in 1921, she fled Nazi Germany in 1939 for the United States, eventually attending Smith College and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, from which she graduated in 1947. Five years later, she moved to Vancouver, British  Columbia, with her husband, the late architect Peter Oberlander, where they both had high-profile careers for several decades. Oberlander designed many projects internationally, but her life and work are closely linked with the Canadian cultural landscape.

As word of Oberlander’s death spread, praise for her influence and activism appeared on social media, where she was called a “visionary,” “icon,” and “legend.”  Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, who served on the Oberlander Prize Advisory Committee, tweeted, “We stand on Cornelia’s shoulders. Great talent, creative risk taker, generous mentor.” Chris Reed, FASLA, of STOSS Landscape Urbanism, agreed, saying, “Cornelia leaves a stunning legacy of work and leadership, and humanity.”

Oberlander’s landscape architecture work has been extensively published in Landscape Architecture Magazine, as well as the general and design press. A selection of articles published in LAM and available online include “Permafrost Frontier,” a profile of Oberlander’s work in the Northwest Territories; “Canadian Modern,” profiling her work in Vancouver; and “Northern Terrain,” about Canada’s National Gallery.

Among the many opportunities to learn about Oberlander’s contributions are Susan Herrington’s Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape and the recent documentary City Dreamers, which focused on four influential women designers and critics: Denise Scott Brown, Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, and Oberlander. The Cultural Landscape Foundation, which conducted an oral history with Oberlander in 2008, announced in 2019 that a recently established international landscape architecture prize would be named in honor of Oberlander. The biennial prize will carry a $100,000 award as well as two years of public engagement. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has extensive information about Oberlander’s career and the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize on its website, as well as a recording of the livestreamed memorial service held on May 24, 2021.

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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.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

John Whitaker’s Dark Matter project posits a memorial landscape that is a forum for collective action and protest. Image courtesy John Whitaker, Student ASLA.

An ASLA Student Award-winning project challenges outdated death practices.

 

One of the most startling projects submitted for the 2020 ASLA Student Awards was Dark Matter—a proposal that uses landscape as a transmission medium for the ecological values of the deceased. With arresting images and a somewhat unconventional project type, Dark Matter dazzled the jury, which bestowed the Award of Excellence in General Design on the project last spring. John Whitaker, Student ASLA, an MLA candidate at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, designed a proposal that created a memorial landscape that grows over time to unify human remains with nonhuman ecologies, promoting biological and cultural diversity and offering mourners “the continuation of a relationship that would endure over time with both their loved one and the larger site,” Whitaker says. (more…)

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

The LivingRoom: A Freeware Learning Garden Focused on Health, Food, and Nutrition Education, by Simon Powney, Tripp Dunn, Huang Zhaoheng, Ben Gunter, Jacob Felkins, Cody Eades, Walter Hogue, Matthew Stanton, Clint Kiser, Logan Sullivan, Nada Aziz, Natalie Bowers, Brandon Burton, Oriey Glenn, and Jane Kent; Mississippi State University, Student Collaboration Honor Award.

“The inspiration for the color and bold graphic style used in the Galloway Elementary School LivingRoom Garden came from an existing mural at the school that speaks to local food production and programmatic discussions with education researchers. The style uses a simple palette of primary colors and geometric shapes to represent local food selections. The arrangement is based on a few ideas about how elementary age children can use the garden. First, there is a series of spaces that can be used to identify destinations. ‘Meet on the big watermelon’ or ‘Let’s go sit in the tomato and talk about this.’ Second, [there’s] the need for structure so multiple groups could use it at the same time. ‘Let’s walk on the “peas” path so we don’t get in the way of the class on the “carrots” path.’ Third, the ‘peas’ end in an ordering grid that allows teachers to instruct children to order things they find in the garden by size, color, texture, shape, etc. and have discussions about the differences.”

—Simon Powney, Student ASLA

 

Teaching children about how food is grown is a worthy endeavor. But school administrators are daunted by the funding requirements and maintenance of a school garden. A team of landscape architecture, architecture, and graphic design students created a prototype for a learning garden that is affordable and practical. Instead of small-scale farming, the student team described the design as focused on “aligning teachers’ needs with food, health, and nutrition education goals.” The resulting semicircular planter, made with off-the-shelf components for less than $1,500, incorporates a trellis, seating, and an irrigation system. Working with an educator, the team also created a garden curriculum that is organized around the themes of time, color, math, biology, and seasons, allowing the lessons to be incorporated easily into the regular school curriculum.

—Lydia Lee

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A presentation to the elders of the Red Water Pond Road Community, part of the University of New Mexico Indigenous Design and Planning program. Photo by Catherine Page Harris.

Faculty at landscape architecture programs are asking what an anti-racist landscape architecture pedagogy looks like.

 

Newly appointed this summer, Sara Zewde is the first tenure-tracked Black woman landscape architecture professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and one of only 19 Black landscape architecture professors at accredited programs in the United States. And now that her first semester teaching at her alma mater is under way, she’s witnessing a few more firsts.

Discussions of diversity and structural racism at design schools had always focused on quantitative measures, such as the number of nonwhite faculty and students, but now the conversation is shifting to what’s being taught, and that’s new for Zewde. “I have never seen this kind of conversation around the actual curriculum, and that’s what excites me,” she says. (more…)

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This fall, LAM will be highlighting professional and student winners from the 2020 ASLA Awards by asking designers to dive deep into one image from their winning project.

Jia: Bringing Landscape Architecture to Webtoons, by July Aung, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Student Communications Award of Excellence.

“Webtoons are a story and illustration-driven medium that makes information easily digestible and relatable, creating engaging content for younger audiences that have grown up in a fast-paced culture. Typical landscape architecture publications tend to have long, informative narratives that are often hard or take time to understand without a background in the subject. The webtoon format allows for graphics that clearly illustrate and summarize these concepts throughout an immersive story. Additionally, webtoons are designed for smartphones and are often distributed for free online, delivering messages and information to a global audience regardless of background and situation.

“When designing for the smartphone, the most important step is to limit the quantity of narration and dialogue so that it doesn’t overwhelm the screen and become hard to read. The illustrations and graphic design are the focus, while the words serve as the clarification, thus acting as the connecting thread between the panels. As with film, the pacing and flow of the illustrations and narration define the mood, time, and changes in location, which directly influences the reader’s feelings. For example, fast pacing exudes strong emotions such as anger and excitement, while slow pacing is mellow, sentimental, and relaxed. Hence, providing the wrong pacing and chapter design takes the reader out of the story or overwhelms them with too much information.”

—July Aung, Student ASLA

 

This unusual project delivers the story and values of landscape architecture into a new realm. Webtoons are vertical, linear cartoons meant to be read on smartphones—a graphic novel in text message format. The platform is favored by audiences who are younger or outside landscape architecture’s typical horizons, and the graphic quality allows for visually rich narratives that can unfurl the profession’s many trajectories. The story of Jia is that of a small, family restaurant whose owner confronts a resource crisis as he searches for a missing ingredient, and through navigating it, learns to live differently on the land. The central conflict of resource exhaustion is expressed through the story of the family’s coming to terms with waste and regeneration and learning to live and work in a more sustainable way. Jia animates and activates many central values and tenets of landscape architecture, and through the webtoon format, offers an exceptional opportunity for engaging wider audiences.

—Haniya Rae

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