President's Letter - July - A Little Something for Everyone



"A little something for everyone." You may recognize this as Hershey's marketing slogan. It also describes our challenge as a chapter to serve landscape architects from a broad spectrum of practice types and to choose the right pieces of content from a mix that spans an incredibly broad spectrum of knowledge. Let me elaborate.

MEETING THE NEEDS OF PRACTITIONERS FROM A BROAD SPECTRUM OF PRACTICE TYPES

The diversity of practice types really showed itself at the one-day conference the chapter organized on June 24. When we had a meeting a few days later to review the event, I remarked to my colleagues on the board that there were a number of attendees whose faces were relatively new to me. My colleagues offered the explanation that while larger firms can help their staff members get CEUs through lunch and learn and similar activities, smaller and solo firms don't often have the same opportunities to gain professional development credits. We had attendees who really needed the credits we offered on June 24 and the take-away is that we have to be ever-mindful as a chapter of our audience and of its diverse needs. We have a great challenge to provide "a little something for everyone," which is why, if you attended, I hope you will complete the survey about the event that is forthcoming.

OFFERING A SMATTERING OF CONTENT FROM A HANDFUL OF MILEPOSTS ALONG A BROAD SPECTRUM OF KNOWLEDGE

Since the role of any person in my position is "to define reality and say thank you," let me get on with this task. One reality that surfaced for me as an attendee and a relative newcomer to the profession, is its incredible breadth. From lighting to green infrastructure to technology for design to the "wicked problems" associated with redesigning an industrial city, the subject matter of the various presentations touched on topics at a variety of points on a broad spectrum of knowledge related to practicing the trade.

A REDUX ON THE CONFERENCE SESSIONS

National ASLA President Vaughn Rinner

I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a few more details for the benefit of those who couldn't attend. We began with ASLA President Vaughn Rinner, who traveled all the way from Seattle, Washington to be with us. Vaughn spoke to current national objectives, including the re-birth of the Center for Landscape Architecture at ASLA headquarters in Washington, D.C., underscoring our chapter's sponsorship of the Center's green roof.

Andrew Hojnacki from Landscape Forms on Pedestrian and Pathway Lighting: Design, Technology, Ecology

We then moved on to Andrew Hojnacki from Landscape Forms, whose talk on LED lighting revealed why safety in footcandles is the bane of lighting designers and a major challenge in designing spaces for pedestrians. More light is not necessarily better. Rather, we should evaluate a luminaire based on its ability to render color, manage heat, and minimize light pollution. Andrew underscored the fact that LEDs are an excellent choice for managing these considerations.

Barbara Deutch from LAF on the new Landscape Declaration

Barbara Deutch from the Landscape Architecture Foundation discussed the new Landscape Declaration, a document modeled on the 1966 Declaration of Concern and produced by over 700 landscape architects who gathered at the University of Pennsylvania last June. The document proposes a new vision, i.e., a "call to action," for landscape architecture in the 21st century. In summary, it states that:

  • The landscape is humanity's common ground. Hurting it, hurts humanity and the profession charged with its design is landscape architecture.

  • Climate change and accelerating consumption, urbanization and inequity are real challenges with real consequences that will affect us all.

  • The positive in all of this is what we have learned about natural systems and humanity's role in their perpetuation.

  • Landscape architects can play a central role in redesigning communities, enabling them to adapt to climate change and mitigate its root causes, and bringing related professions together to address these challenges.

  • As landscape architects, we vow to create places that serve the higher purpose of social and ecological justice for all peoples and all species. To fulfill this and related promises in the document, we will:

  • strengthen and diversify our global capacity as a profession

  • cultivate more inclusive leadership, advocacy and activism

  • raise awareness of the profession's vital contribution

  • support research and champion new practices that result in design innovation and policy transformation

Barbara is seeking to meet with every ASLA chapter in the country for the purpose of ensuring that the new declaration finds its way into chapter policies and activities. She also asks that we all go online to sign the declaration. You can do that by navigating to https://lafoundation.org/news-events/2016-summit/new-landscape-declaration/

Jim Cooper and Aiman Duckworth on Multidisciplinary Environmental Restoration

Jim Cooper and Aiman Duckworth of Biohabitats, Inc. looked at how landscape architects can facilitate an integrated, interdisciplinary design approach that balances aesthetics and experience with ecology and engineering. They offered two case studies exploring the differences in an ecological design approach to naturalized stormwater treatment systems and urban LID applications. They also discussed how adaptive management strategies can facilitate project success from an ecosystem perspective.

A Panel Discussion on LID: Technology, Innovation, and Application

Harris Trobman, a green infrastructure specialist from the University of the District of Columbia, served as moderator of a panel discussion entitled, "LID: Technology, Innovation, and Application." Serving on the panel were Neil Weinstein, Executive Director of the Low-Impact Development Center, Matthew Espie, Environmental Protection Specialist in the Stormwater Division at District Department of Energy & Environment and Dustin V. Smith, a Senior Associate at Rhodeside and Harwell. The panel covered current initiatives to design and implement more effective LID systems, and the challenges and opportunities for landscape architects to lead the charge. Practices addressed included rain gardens, micro-bioretention, vegetated swales, tree plantings, and rainwater harvesting.

Eric Gilbey on Sustainable Sites and Technology

Eric Gilbey from Vectorworks, Inc. presented on integrating sustainable site design with technology. Eric's spoke to how integrating GIS within digital design workflows can aid in both site selection and assessment. He also addressed how site information modeling (SIM) features such as informative polygons, 3D digital terrain models, hybrid plant data objects, plant databases, solar animation, custom reports and many other tools can help to meet the objectives of a sustainable site and document LEED and SITES credits.

Klaus Philipsen on Reinventing Legacy Industrial Cities

The day was rounded out by Klaus Philipsen a local architect, transportation planner and author of a new book entitled, Baltimore: Reinventing an Industrial Legacy City. Klaus took us beyond questions of physical design and planning to those surrounding equity and social justice. Drawing on examples from Baltimore and elsewhere, Klaus outlined how some past planning paradigms had inadvertently resulted in racial exclusion. He underscored a need to shift paradigms and empower people to overcome the forces that keep so many from achieving their potential.

To shift paradigms, we have to engage in system thinking, breaking open silos to allow for interdependencies between disciplines. An example of such an interdependency is the sustainable communities collaborative involving several federal agencies, including Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. The bottom line is that in this paradigm shift, no single discipline can do it alone.

Any successful paradigm shift must harness disruptions to address equity. For example, some predict that self-driving cars will substantially reduce the need for parking. As much as 30% of that space would need to be re-designed and re-dedicated for other purposes.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to the above-mentioned presenters and to Larissa Torres, Ben Boyd, and Jennifer Kirschnick, who did the heavy lifting for the chapter in organizing the event. I also want to recognize, thank and encourage your support of our event sponsors:

ANOVA

Copper Moon

Landscape Forms

Vectorworks

Victor Stanley

Please also take the time to fill out our forthcoming survey so that we know your needs and interests before we organize next year's conference.

Thank you for your continued support. As always, if there is something that the chapter or I can do to assist you, I hope you will reach out to me at barbara@neighborspacebaltimorecounty.org or at 443-377-3760.


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