Skip to main content

2023 LAF Symposium and Awards Dinner

The 2023 Symposium stage.

Thank you for joining us June 15 in Washington, DC to help showcase and celebrate leading-edge thinking and achievements in landscape architecture and sustainability.

A full recording and individual presentations from the Symposium can be found here. The symposium was approved for 2.0 Professional Development Hours (PDH) through the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) and meets the health, safety, and welfare requirements (HSW). Livestream viewers must successfully complete a short quiz to earn these credits.

Event Sponsors

  • Title Sponsor

  • Major Sponsor

  • Supporting Sponsor

  • Supporting Sponsor

2024 Sponsorship Opportunities are Available
LAF Symposium and Awards Dinner sponsors help celebrate transformational leadership and share the impactful work of the LAF Fellows with the world. For information on becoming a sponsor of the 2024 LAF Symposium and Awards Dinner, contact Cara Chard at cchard [at] (cchard[at]lafoundation[dot]org)  

LAF Innovation + Leadership Symposium

The six 2022-23 LAF Fellows presented their projects, which addressed carbon accounting, AI, leveraging climate adaptation finance, landscapes of incarceration, mega-eco projects, and graphic novels to introduce new audiences to landscape architecture. 

Photo: Emma Weiss

The Symposium program sits on a table

This powerful event showcased leading-edge thinking in landscape architecture to address a breadth of current issues within and beyond the discipline.

The symposium was the culmination of the year-long LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership, a unique program and $25,000 award that supports mid-career, senior-level, and emerging professionals as they develop and test new ideas that will drive the future of the landscape architecture discipline. Presentations were followed by a cocktail reception where guests mingled and met the Fellows.


Scaling Up Our Carbon Conscience
Christopher Roth Hardy, Senior Associate, Sasaki

Headshot of Christopher Roth Hardy

To help address the climate crisis, Christopher developed the Carbon Conscience tool, which can be used by designers, planners, municipalities, and others to create spaces with reduced carbon impacts in mind. The tool builds on previous research as part of an effort to produce verifiable information that can be used in project planning and design phases to show how landscapes, architecture, and planning can work together toward a sustainable future.


Leveraging Climate Adaptation Finance to Realize the Value in Vacant Land
Erin Kelly, Director of Special Projects, Lambert, Rotherstien & Associates

Headshot of Erin Kelly

With climate change impacting communities across the country, Erin examined how better stewardship of vacant land could help with mitigation and adaptation efforts. By leveraging climate adaptation financing, the lives of people living near thousands of these vacant properties could be improved. Erin is working to create a national atlas of vacant land within the millions of acres managed by land banks and land trusts to illustrate the opportunity and facilitate investment, research, collaboration, and advocacy at the national level.


Mega-Eco Projects: Engaging on Large-Scale Nature-Based Solutions
Robert Morrow Levinthal, PhD Student, University of Pennsylvania

Headshot of Robert Morrow Levinthal

The world faces two existential crises – biodiversity loss and climate change – that require large-scale environmental restoration and construction endeavors to adequately address them. Many of these projects already exist, and future endeavors promise to be larger and costlier. Robert examines these mega-eco projects and their impacts on communities and the environment, with a goal of helping landscape architects play a more prominent role in developing and delivering them moving forward.


Future Problems, Now: Landscape Architecture in the Age of AI
Phillip Fernberg, Instructor and PhD Candidate, Utah State University

Headshot of Phillip Fernberg

As artificial intelligence (AI) improves and its use increases, many landscape architects are apprehensive. Phillip examined AI and its place in the discipline to help designers better understand, prepare for, and use it in the future, with a call to engage in shaping the technology to align with best practices and values. The result is a new frame of thinking for landscape architecture practice fit for a new technological era.


Landscape, Incarceration, and Rehabilitation
Daniel Winterbottom, RSLA, FASLA, Professor, University of Washington

Headshot of Daniel Winterbottom

By examining the history, function, and landscape environments of prisons within the U.S. and abroad, Daniel highlights the most – and least – effective of those incarceration models as part of a large-scale effort to improve carceral facilities and offer rehabilitation to those behind bars. His work illuminates the therapeutic implications of differing carceral environments and how nature-based solutions can be positively perceived, used, and designed to facilitate healing, growth, and transformation.


A New Literary Landscape: Graphic Novels to Inspire Landscape Architecture’s Next Generation
Joe James, RLA, ASLA, Principal, Joseph James Landscape Architecture

Headshot of Joseph James

From vivid drawings of the built environment to a storyline highlighting landscape architecture’s wide-ranging impacts, Joe aims to expose and attract a young and diverse audience to the discipline with a new graphic novel. Landscape architecture plays a key role in the story, from the setting to the characters to the social issues Joe addresses. The goal is to appeal to popular culture audiences, support existing education efforts, and recruit the next generation of designers.

2023 LAF Awards Dinner and Presentation

Immediately following the symposium, the awards dinner recognized the 2023 recipients of the LAF Medal and Founders’ Award, which honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant and sustained contribution to the LAF mission of supporting the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment.

Randy Hester, an accomplished pioneer in democratic design, was presented with the LAF Medal. The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), a nonprofit public policy organization focused on regional issues, received the LAF Founders' Award.

Photo: Randy Hester accepts the award from Kendra Hyson.

Randy Hester and Kendra Hyson hug during the Awards Dinner

The LAF Awards Dinner recognized the 2023 recipients of the LAF Medal and Founders’ Award.

These awards are LAF's highest honors for individuals and organizations that have made a significant and sustained contribution to the LAF mission of supporting the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment.

In addition to hearing from the awardees, the dinner was an opportunity to continue conversations with the 2022-23 Fellows, meet the 2023-24 Fellowship cohort, and mingle with the LAF Board of Directors and other invited guests.



2023 LAF Medal

The LAF Medal is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work over a career in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes. 

Randy Hester smiles

Randolph Hester

Randy’s long and accomplished career focused on democratic design with an emphasis on engaging communities. A professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, Randy has contributed to the nurturing of healthy communities through his research, pro-bono work, teaching, and professional practice.


2023 LAF Founders' Award

The LAF Founders’ Award is conveyed to a firm, agency, or organization that demonstrates a significant commitment to preserving, creating, or enhancing landscapes over a sustained period of time.

The SPUR logo

San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)

SPUR is a regional non-profit that uses research, education, and advocacy to recommend action items for local government, regional agencies, and the private sector and to empower communities. SPUR focuses on planning, housing, transportation, sustainability and resilience, economic justice, good government, and food and agriculture issues.

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.