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Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus’

BY BRADFORD MCKEE

Miami Beach Soundscape Park by West 8. Photo by Robin Hill.

Registration opened yesterday for the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, which runs October 2 to October 5 in Miami Beach—a place rich with urgent landscape, climate, and water issues to confront, not to mention turquoise waves and a lot of fun amid the refreshing Atlantic breezes. As ever, if you book early, through June 9, you save on the registration fee (up to $300 off the on-site registration fee for professional members, if you book lodging in hotels where ASLA has reserved rooms for the event). Besides the many colleagues you look forward to seeing each year, there will be 120 ways to educate yourself and earn professional development hours in programs, field sessions, deep-dive inquiries, the invigorating general session, the ASLA awards, and the huge ASLA EXPO bustling with your favorite products, services, programs, and people.

ASLA has measures in place to ensure attendees a safe and enjoyable meeting, with the uncertain factors of the novel coronavirus pandemic first in mind. In a recorded message to prospective attendees, ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA, said, “These are not normal times, and this will not be a normal conference. But as of today, we are proceeding and adapting our plans for this fall.”

The ASLA staff is working closely with local meeting and tourism officials, convention industry experts, and the host chapter, ASLA Florida, to monitor guidance for large gatherings regarding group sizes and distancing provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local agencies. If the conference proceeds as planned, registrants who find they later wish to cancel will receive refunds minus a $100 processing fee. However, after August 10, registration fees are not refundable. Tickets for special events and field sessions are not refundable. Hotel deposits will be refunded if reservations are canceled three days before your arrival—check details with your hotel.

If the conference must be canceled, your registration fee will be fully refunded, as will the processing fee and costs of tickets to special events. Hotels will also refund your deposit. For airfares, you should check with your airline about reimbursement or credit policies.

Miller expressed optimism that ASLA can gather in Miami Beach within the bounds the pandemic imposes. “If you’re a conference veteran, you know how powerful the experience can be,” she said. “And we are committed to bringing that experience to our members again this year.”

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

With regular business upended by the novel coronavirus, landscape architecture principals plot, wait, and wonder.

 

There was a moment on Friday, March 13, when the novel coronavirus changed everything at the office, says Annette Wilkus, FASLA, the founding partner of SiteWorks in Manhattan. “I walked in on Friday, and one of the staff who’s usually solid had this look in her eye and said, ‘Annette, it’s getting really crazy.’” By Monday the 16th, everyone at SiteWorks was working from home, the day that schools, businesses, and Broadway were closing and the S&P 500 fell by 12 percent, the Dow by 13. New York City was bracing for what would swell into the country’s largest wave of COVID-19 cases.

Around the country at the same time, principals of landscape architecture firms were hurrying to get people home to work safely while they sorted out office logistics, took the pulses of clients and their projects, and mentally packed for a weekend that could last months—just as spring was arriving to cold climates where construction otherwise would be firing up. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Honolulu’s popular Queen Kapi‘olani Park is closed as of Friday, March 20. Photo by Timothy A. Schuler.

It could have been a scene from any number of dystopian films: a group of skateboarders, their faces obscured by bandanas or other makeshift masks, slaloming down an otherwise empty street, the landscape around them—the wide beach, the grassy lawn, the parking lot—deserted. In reality, the scene was one of many strange tableaux in Honolulu this past Friday afternoon, following the closure of city parks and beaches in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Hawaii is regularly ranked as one of the healthiest states in the nation, and Honolulu is a bustling city with a noticeably active population. Over the past 96 hours, it has become a ghost town. On Saturday, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 48 (which in two days would nearly double), Hawaii’s governor instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all incoming travelers. The next day, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell ordered residents and visitors to “shelter in place” and leave their houses and apartments only for essential services, an order that was later expanded to the entire state. By Monday, Waikiki’s famed hotels sat mostly empty, its shops shuttered as if preparing for a Category 5 hurricane. Along Waikiki Beach, yellow caution tape fluttered from trees and lampposts, encircling public areas and blocking access points as if the entire beachfront were one giant crime scene. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

Robert Hewitt, FASLA, at Clemson University leads students and colleagues through a studio project where they designed a satellite city outside Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. Image courtesy Robert Hewitt, FASLA.

Even before the latest round of social distancing efforts and shelter-in-place orders began to shut down American communities, colleges and universities were making plans to finish their semesters online. And for some courses, the transition is trickier than for others. Students and teachers in landscape architecture design studios are facing the same day-to-day meeting and communication questions as everyone else. But they’re also facing challenges to the long-standing culture of the studio, where casual interactions are encouraged and friendships are formed, professors give in-person feedback to students in real time, juries convene to evaluate student projects that take months to complete, and students experiment with materials and fabrication techniques. At the same time, educators at nearly a dozen schools of landscape architecture in the United States say the technology needed to carry out the most critical functions of design studios is largely available, and most schools are well-positioned to switch to online learning, at least temporarily. 

“The conversation around the shift to remote instruction has always found this uncomfortable relationship with how you do that for a design studio,” says Roberto Rovira, ASLA, an associate professor and the chair of landscape architecture at Florida International University. “In some ways, I see this as an opportunity to really test that, and see how we can bring about a paradigm shift that is no longer really a choice but rather a need. That is something we all saw coming, but now we have to respond to it.” (more…)

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