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2020 LAF Innovation + Leadership Symposium

This two-part virtual event showcased leading-edge thinking in landscape architecture to address a breadth of pressing issues.

The six 2019-2020 LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership recipients presented their projects on design activism, resiliency planning near New Orleans, working landscapes in the Middle American city, overlooked writings from varied disciplines as a geopolitical study of land, indigenous knowledge leading design interventions in the Salton Sea, and heterogeneous realms of knowledge in landscape relating to equity and resilience.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Featuring: Jeffrey Hou, Elizabeth Camuti, and Diana Fernandez

Thursday, June 18, 2020
Featuring: Nicholas Jabs, Pierre Bélanger, and Hans Baumann


Event Sponsors

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Watch the Presentations and Symposium Recordings

The full 1.5-hour event recordings from each day as well as each Fellow's ~15-minute  presentation can be viewed on demand. By watching Part 1 or Part 2 of the symposium (or the component presentations), you can earn 1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW) following successful completion of a short quiz.

If your design firm, organization, class, or student group is interested in viewing the symposium or its component presentations, we've created a discussion guide to help prompt follow-up conversations around themes of justice, inclusivity, the role of landscape architecture, and new ways of working. Groups can view the videos on their own or “watch together” in a way that is safe and appropriate for their area, then dedicate time during their next (virtual) meeting or class to talk through the points on the discussion guide. 

A woman watches a presentation on her large monitor while writing and interacting with coworkers on a laptop.

The symposium is the culmination of the year-long LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership, and each day featured presentations from three of the Fellows.


3:00pm    Welcome + Opening Remarks
3:15pm    Presentations
4:00pm    Moderated Audience Q&A
4:25pm    Closing Remarks
Times in EDT

In addition to their presentations, the 2019-2020 LAF Fellows were compelled to address the unique challenges of the present moment through a powerful opening statement, which you can watch below.

June 16 Presentations

Design as Activism: Educating for Social Change

Headshot of Jeff Hou

Jeffrey Hou, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of Urban Commons Lab, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Facing environmental and social crises on a global scale, how can landscape architecture education prepare students to become changemakers in meeting these challenges? Working with a group of educators around the United States and using findings from an online survey and interviews with practitioners and program leaders, this project presents a framework of actions to reposition and transform landscape architecture education for social change. 

Out of Many, One: Reimagining Resiliency Projects from Proposal to Practice in South Louisiana

Headshot of Liz Camuti

Liz Camuti (2018 LAF National Olmsted Scholar, Graduate), Landscape Designer, SCAPE, New Orleans, LA

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) largely define the potential of resiliency projects. Unfortunately, parameters set forth in these documents aren’t usually conducive to input from designers on particular structures and traditions of the communities said projects seek to “assist.” With a specific focus on the Resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles, Liz's work questions: 1) how criteria for a “successful” project might evolve through a different form of RFP, and 2) how designers can adapt their own roles in order to break historical cycles of erasure and control that have shaped environmental history in Louisiana.

Heterogeneous Futures: Design Thinking Alternatives for Anthropologically and Ecologically Diverse Landscapes

Headshot of Diana Fernandez

Diana Fernandez, Associate, Sasaki, Watertown, MA

"Heterogeneous Futures" is at the nexus of anthropological and ecological biodiversity as a means for creating a more resilient public realm. The work exposes the interconnected relationship between difference in the ecology of the environment, and the social, cultural, and linguistic spatial mechanisms, to imagine and create public spaces that embrace a palimpsest of histories as well as spatial constructs that embrace heterogeneity as a landscape process. Learn more


June 18 Presentations

Working Landscapes and the Middle American City

Headshot of Nick Jabs

Nicholas Jabs (2018 LAF National Olmsted Scholar Finalist, Graduate), Associate, PORT, Philadelphia, PA

Nick's research explores the past and present condition of Middle American cities through the evolution and intersection of their working landscapes and public realm. The project positions the Green New Deal within this context and seeks to amplify the influence of the design profession by actively engaging with spatial, political, and economic drivers of their urban condition. Learn more

Landscape as Foundation for Revolution and Resistance

Headshot of ​​​​​​​Pierre Belanger

Pierre Bélanger, Landscape Architect, Urban Planner, & Settler Scholar, OPEN SYSTEMS / Landscape Infrastructure Lab, Boston, MA*

If landscape is a foundation for revolution and resistance to dominant forms of spatial control and political hegemonies, then the design disciplines must confront their legacy rooted in dispossession, domination, and exploitation. So, what if environmental justice was our ground zero? Who then, would we be accountable to? Landscape architects must decide if they want to champion change by engaging in deep dialogues about spatial injustice and racial erasure to rise up against legacies of white supremacy and dismantle settler colonialism. Opening a lens on the past to better understand the extreme climate of oppression and inequalities today, overlooked voices from the past 25 years shed light on alternative worlds, reciprocal ways of working, and just relations for the next generation.
*Traditional lands of the Massachusetts people, unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Wampanoag and Nipmuc Nations

Immaterial Outcomes: Tribal Sovereignty and Design Collaboration at the Salton Sea

Headshot of Hans Baumann

Hans Baumann, Independent Landscape Architect, Los Angeles, California

Hans reflects upon his long-term collaboration with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, sharing how landscape can act as a medium of communication between design methodology and Indigenous knowledge. His work presents the case for why landscape architects must engage with North America's diverse tribal peoples during an era of unprecedented ecological change. Learn More

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.