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

BY NINON SCOTTO DI UCCIO

FROM THE MAY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Last winter, Dana Tinio, Student ASLA, a graduate student in landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, responded to a prompt the National Association of Minority Landscape Architects (NAMLA) posted to its Instagram account: “What do you think is the biggest challenge for minorities in obtaining leadership roles in landscape architecture? And what would you propose to remedy this challenge?”

The prompt was part of NAMLA’s first mini-scholarship campaign for students, and it carried a tempting prize of $500.

“Landscape architecture in the U.S. is a historically white profession guided by Western pedagogy, thought, practice, and bias,” wrote Tinio in her winning submission. “This fact underlies the biggest barrier for minorities to achieve leadership roles in the field. Though the discipline is growing more diverse, changing dominant structures and perspectives is a challenge.” (more…)

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

BY JANE MARGOLIES

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When the novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, gave away more than $4.1 billion at the end of 2020, she didn’t bestow funds upon Ivy League schools and other elite universities that are often the recipients of large gifts. Instead, Scott, whose fortune comes from shares of Amazon stock she received after her divorce, handed out money to a handful of community colleges, among many other deserving institutions, based on the “vital services” such groups provide, as she wrote in a Medium post.

Community colleges also came up recently in connection with Dr. Jill Biden, the new First Lady, after a Wall Street Journal opinion piece criticized her for using the honorific before her name because she is not a medical doctor. Biden, whose doctoral dissertation was on maximizing student retention in community colleges, has long taught at such colleges and plans to continue to do so now that she and her husband, President Joseph Biden, have moved into the White House.

Community colleges may be making news of late, but these institutions, open to all and costing a fraction of the tuition of four-year colleges, have long played a crucial role. They are the places where many Black, Latinx, low-income, and first-generation students embark on higher education. And they are often stepping-stones for high school graduates who haven’t yet decided what they want to do with their lives. Smaller classes allow students to get individual attention from professors who focus on teaching, not their own research. Community colleges offer two-year associate’s degrees or certificate-based programs, and from there students can transfer to four-year schools to continue their education. Several community colleges have programs in landscape design or related fields, but they are not always perceived as channels into the profession of landscape architecture.

The profession, long dominated by white males from comfortable backgrounds, now seeks to be more inclusive and diverse. Students who come from community colleges to four-year schools can bring fresh perspectives that can broaden and enrich the practice of landscape architecture. Some argue that it is precisely students like these that the profession needs. But how does that transition play out in practice? Let’s look at New Jersey for clues. (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Hollander Design’s new fellowship for landscape architecture students steps up the support for underrepresented groups.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A summer of collective soul-searching over the systemic nature of racism in America has spurred new investments in the education of young designers of color. Among them is the new Hollander Design Fellowship, a $4,000 annual academic scholarship available to students enrolled in the graduate landscape architecture program at the City College of New York’s Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.

Established in August 2020, the new fellowship will be awarded to three graduate students per year for each year they are enrolled, for an annual total of $12,000. It is available to MLA candidates who identify as Black or African American, Latinx, or Alaskan Native or American Indian, or as a member of another cultural or ethnic group that is underrepresented in landscape architecture, including the LGBTQ community. The first three recipients, Miguelina Portorreal (class of 2021), Jeana Fletcher, Student ASLA (2022), and Mathew Brown Velasquez (2023), were announced in October. Three additional students received a one-time Hollander Design Award of $4,000. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, the director of City College’s graduate landscape architecture program, says the smaller award was established to respond to the large number of high-quality applications the school received. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When Jaz Bonnin, Heidi Brandow, Elsa Hoover, and Zoë Toledo walked through the doors of Harvard University’s Gund Hall, they weren’t aware they were making history. The women arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) with diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging interests, from affordable housing to the spatialization of resource extraction. Still, the women had one thing in common: heritage that stretches back to well before Western contact. Brandow is Diné and Kanaka Maoli (known more commonly as Navajo and Native Hawaiian); Toledo is Diné; Hoover, of mixed Anishinabe and Finnish heritage; and Bonnin, of mixed heritage that includes Yankton Sioux and Blackfoot.

The students’ arrival at the GSD in fall 2019 marked the first time in the school’s nearly 100-year history that four students of Native ancestry have been enrolled at the same time. It’s an illustration of the near-total absence of Indigenous voices within the design and planning professions. For Brandow, a painter who is pursuing a master’s degree in art, design, and the public domain, such experiences are all too common. “As a Native person, being at Harvard, or anything you do, you accept that you’re probably going to be the first, or one of a handful of people,” she says. “You accept that Harvard is 500 years behind on this. But you also recognize that’s an opportunity to get the work done. To create these spaces, to increase visibility, to make this declaration of our presence and the necessity of more recruitment of Indigenous people.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Landscape architects can do more than talk about diversity—they can act.

FROM THE MAY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The high school students were pretending to be plants. They crouched in front of giant, wall-sized pieces of parachute cloth, china markers in hand, and slowly grew, black lines following suit. Recalling the movement of the prairie grasses just outside, they waved and swayed and curled in on themselves, a collective interpretive dance that evoked the native grasses and wildflowers that they had been studying all morning. Quickly a mass of black lines became a monochromatic prairie, a temporary mural inspired by the small patch of native grassland visible from the hallway window.

Leading the drawing exercise was Erin Wiersma, an artist and associate professor in the art department at Kansas State University. Wiersma is best known for her massive biochar “drawings,” which she makes by dragging huge sheets of paper across freshly burned prairie. The exercise at J.C. Harmon High School, located in the largely Hispanic Kansas City, Kansas, neighborhood of Argentine, was part of Grassland Interview, an interdisciplinary art and ethnography project created in collaboration with the landscape architect Katie Kingery-Page, ASLA, the associate dean of Kansas State’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Design. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

The River and the Real World (Education)
A Cornell studio meets the streets when Josh Cerra, ASLA, has his students tackle
Hudson River towns.

FEATURES

   On-Ramps, On Time
Talk about diversifying the profession and capturing young talent is plentiful. Some landscape
architects are making bigger moves.       

Big Bend in the Road
In Far West Texas, people are willing to travel a lot of miles for art and nature—as well as for plentiful oil and gas and a clear path to the border with Mexico. A road project by Texas DOT has people thinking about the costs of a busier future in the state’s last wild place.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

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.

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

Credits: “Big Bend in the Road,” Jessica Lutz; “On-Ramps, On Time,” Evert Nelson; “The River and the Real World,” Kevin Kim. 

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