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2016 Landscape Performance Education Grant Recipients Announced

As landscape architects increasingly engage in addressing complex challenges like climate change, urbanization, and public health, it is critical that they be able to communicate the measurable benefits of design solutions.

This year the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) included “landscape performance” and many measurement-related requirements its revised LAAB Accreditation Standards for all bachelor’s and master’s level landscape architecture programs. In their training, students must now learn skills necessary to predict outcomes, assess alternatives, defend design proposals, and evaluate environmental, social, and economic performance of landscape projects.

To help university landscape architecture programs integrate landscape performance into their curriculum, LAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants allow select university faculty to develop and test models in standard courses. Their teaching materials and reflections are then shared through the Resources for Educators section of LAF’s

For the Fall 2016 semester/term, five $2,500 mini-grants were awarded for the following courses:

  • Kenneth Brooks, FASLA, FCELA, PLA, Arizona State University
    Design Research Methods (MLA/Interdisciplinary Research Methods)
    A traditional lecture course that explores a range of research methods, techniques and strategies applied to the enterprise and advancement of design. The class is a required core course for 85 graduate students in professional design programs of architecture (MArch), interior architecture (MIA), industrial design (MID), landscape architecture (MLA), visual communications design (MVCD) and urban design (MUD).This course is designed to give Design and other students an intellectual framework and experience in conceptualizing, conducting and applying research methods and strategies that will permit them to advance the knowledge base and practice capabilities of designers and problem-solvers. A primary focus of the course is cultivating scholarship, inquiry and evaluation that enhances and enriches the effectiveness and performance practice of professional design.
  • Brad Collett, ASLA, RLA, LEED AP, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 
    Operative Landscapes (MLA Seminar) 
    Contemporary challenges posed by urbanization, climate dynamics, evolving economies and social paradigms have changed the demands we place on the designed landscape. Landscape architects in North America and around the world have risen to this challenge, revealing new possibilities for the economic, social and environmental performance of landscapes in public, private and infrastructural territories. Operative Landscapes examines the historical contexts and emergent theory driving this shift in the practice of landscape architecture, and surveys contemporary projects as a basis for understanding multi-scalar design approaches, technical details and maintenance regimes. An emphasis is placed on built landscapes and living systems as integral parts of site stormwater management approaches and regional water resource infrastructure.
  • Kirk Dimond, MLA, LEED AP, University of Arizona 
    Site Engineering (MLA Site Engineering) 
    Site Engineering for landscape architects requires students to develop the comprehension and skills necessary to maintain health, safety, and welfare through the manipulation of topography and water. To reinforce this, knowledge objectives with associated performance measures, organized under the four natural elements of earth, water, fire and air, will challenge students to develop technical competency through lectures and exercises that also provide the means to measure and evaluate their decisions through understanding landscape performance.  Culmination of the material is tested in a comprehensive final project requiring a full grading plan that demonstrates evidence of responsible design decisions.
  • Joseph Ragsdale, ASLA, FAAR, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
    Design Theory and Exploration Focus Studio (BLA Studio)
    This third and fourth year vertical studio links technical competencies with design explorations and applied landscape architecture theory studies.  For sites located on the university campus, students will establish current performance criteria and metrics, propose design ideas in connection with an updated master plan, and evaluate changes in performance metrics of proposed design solutions.  The course is structured around three activities, a technical module focusing on landscape performance, a design module emphasizing design exploration and a theory seminar reinforcing contemporary landscape architecture theory.
  • Rebekah VanWieren, MLA, MS, Montana State University
    Advanced Landscape Design Studio: Landscape Design Scenarios for Water Conservation in the Middle Rockies (Landscape Design BS Studio)
    This studio will integrate landscape performance principles and metrics with a design project for the City of Bozeman, Water Conservation Division. Students will analyze the ecology and lifecycle of designing landscapes through field explorations around four themes: water, vegetation and soil, energy, and human health and well-being. These findings will be applied to design performance alternatives for water resource resiliency in the semi-arid West.

Over the last three years, LAF has awarded a total of $37,500 in Landscape Performance Education Grants to university faculty with five mini-grants awarded each year.

LAF is grateful to the many individuals and organizations that provide financial support towards fulfilling our mission to support the preservation, improvement, and enhancement of the environment.

Much of what LAF is able to accomplish would not be possible without the thought leadership and financial investment of our major supporters, including ASLA, which provides over $125,000 of in-kind support annually.