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2023 LAF Medal & Founders' Award

Randolph Hester and the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) have been named as this year’s honorees.

Launched in 2016 in conjunction with LAF’s 50th anniversary, the LAF Medal and Founders’ Award are annual awards that honor those who have made significant and sustained contributions to LAF’s mission to support the preservation, improvement, and enhancement of the environment. The LAF Medal is awarded to an impactful individual while the LAF Founders’ Award honors a firm, agency, or organization. The 2023 recipients will be recognized at the LAF Awards Dinner on June 15 in Washington, DC.



Randy Hester smiles

The LAF Medal is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work over a career in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes. Honorees come from private practice, academia, nonprofit and public sectors, exemplify the values of LAF, and have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the landscape architecture discipline. The 2023 LAF Medal goes to Randolph Hester, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

A pioneer in the landscape architecture community, Randy’s long and accomplished career focused on democratic design with an emphasis on engaging communities. His research produced two dozen books, including Design for Ecological Democracy, and more than 200 articles and reports. Randy has contributed to the nurturing of healthy communities through pro-bono work, teaching, and professional practice. His influence and impact on landscape architecture, communities across the U.S. and overseas, and the built environment, will be felt for years to come.

Randy has employed landscape solutions to save endangered species and cultures, and to redistribute resources and power.

LAF Medal and Founders' Award Committee

In the 1980s, Randy began incorporating large-scale ecological principles with grassroots community approaches, as in the case of the Los Angeles greenbelt which provides accessible nature for 7 million people and interconnected habitat for native wildlife, including the mountain lion. In Taiwan, he is credited with saving the spoonbill from extinction. Now retired, Randy spends his time tending to the Tom Bowes Farm with his wife, Marcia, in Hesters Store, North Carolina. Over the past five years, he also has stayed busy creating the Shorty Lawson Museum of the Black Tenant Farmer.

“It is a most humbling honor to be recognized by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, an organization that creates a bold vision for the future and shapes that future through its programs,” Randy said. “It is this vision and these actions that make recognition from the Foundation a singular tribute.”

LAF is honored to recognize Randy’s distinguished career, commitment to democratic design, and contributions to the discipline with the award of the 2023 LAF Medal.



The SPUR logo

The LAF Founders’ Award is conveyed to a firm, agency, or organization that demonstrates a significant commitment to preserving, improving, or enhancing landscapes over a sustained period of time. The 2023 LAF Founders’ Award goes to the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), a regional non-profit that uses research, education, and advocacy to help create an equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future.

SPUR focuses on planning, housing, transportation, sustainability and resilience, economic justice, good government, and food and agriculture issues. The organization recommends action items for local government, regional agencies, and the private sector, and their initiatives empower communities to test scalable models and policies for sustainable concepts such as expanding the use of public land for urban agriculture and designing for rising sea levels.

SPUR tackles challenging topics that have regional impacts and that are difficult for an individual municipality to resolve on its own.

LAF Medal and Founders' Award Committee

With a history that dates back to housing advocacy in 1910, SPUR’s focus broadened over the years to include planning and fiscal policy. Today, SPUR is supported by more than 6,000 members and provides guidance and thought leadership on  subjects from transit and renewable energy to food security and guaranteed income programs. SPUR also provides annual analysis and voting recommendations on local and state-level ballot measures in California. They have helped drive legislation and action on a variety of issues that intersect with landscape architecture and provide tangible benefits for people and communities.

“SPUR has long recognized the critical role that landscape architecture plays in the vitality and vibrancy of our cities, and how important it is to human wellbeing to design for health,” said SPUR President and CEO Alicia John-Baptiste. “Indeed, the role of landscape architects has never been more central, as we reimagine cities in the face of major social change. We are so honored to receive this prestigious award and remain committed to a shared focus on people and place.”

LAF is delighted to recognize this critical and accomplished organization as we urgently work to tackle issues like climate change and inequity.



The LAF Board Emeritus Council manages the nomination and selection process for the awards. Members of the 2023 Awards Committee were:

  • Adam Greenspan, FASLA, PWP Landscape Architecture, Chair
  • Nate Cormier, RIOS
  • Susannah Drake, FAIA, FASLA, DLANDstudio
  • Kona Gray, FASLA, EDSA
  • Kendra Hyson, SmithGroup and The Urban Studio
  • Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Studio-MLA
  • Ann Mullins, FASLA, wjm design


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.