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2024 LAF Symposium and Awards Dinner

2024 Symposium


These two events showcased and celebrated leading-edge thinking and achievements in landscape architecture and sustainability.

Our annual LAF Innovation + Leadership Symposium and Awards Dinner took place in Washington, DC.

Thursday, June 6, 2024
4:00pm   LAF Innovation + Leadership Symposium
6:15pm   Cocktail reception
7:15pm   LAF Awards Dinner

Howard Theatre
620 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001



Leadership Programs Sponsors

  • Silver Sponsor

  • Silver Sponsor

Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts for their support of the LAF Fellowship and to our symposium sponsors: Community Strategy Partners, Tournesol, and Vectorworks

LAF Innovation + Leadership Symposium

The six 2023-24 LAF Fellows will presented their projects, which addressed shade equity, K-12 STEM engagement, insect biodiversity, the cultural significance of basketball courts, reducing carbon through material selection, and designing for neurodiversity.

The symposium is 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). You can view the full recording of the symposium or watch the six individual presentations to earn 2.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW) following successful completion of a short quiz. 

LAF Fellows posed

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

The symposium is 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.



Cool Conscious Cities: Promoting Cool Equity for All
Kimberly Garza, Principal, Atlas Lab

Kimberly Garza

Across the country, ever-increasing heatwaves, for longer durations, are becoming the norm. Studies show that people of color and those living in poverty experience hotter temperatures in 97% of U.S. cities compared to white people and the wealthy. The Cool Conscious Cities campaign highlights the pressing need for heat mitigation solutions in disadvantaged communities and provides research, tools, and solutions for city leaders, policymakers, planners, and allied design professionals to design and promote cool cities for all. 


Engaging K-12 STEAM Public Education Efforts for Future Landscape Architects 
Douglas Williams, Lecturer and Film/TV Artist, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Doug Williams

Landscape architecture is a critical profession for solving climate and social challenges faced by disadvantaged communities. However, relatively few African Americans pursue it as a career path. How can this audience discover this essential field alongside existing K-12 STEAM educational efforts in a major urban city like Chicago? This project uses ethnographic methods to film, document, and analyze educational programs and events aimed at building interest and relationships for a career in landscape architecture.


The NeuroScapes Design Collective
Kathryn Finnigan, Designer and Qualitative Researcher

Kathryn Finnigan

Approximately 15-20% of the worldwide population is estimated to fall under the umbrella of neurodivergence, with sensory sensitivities commonly impacting the experience of designed outdoor environments for these user groups. Building on qualitative research insights and the resounding call from study participants with lived experiences in neurodiversity to co-create neuro-inclusive environments, Kathryn founded the NeuroScapes Design Collective with several co-founders. This grassroots initiative aims to advance the conversation on the intersections of landscape and urban design with neurodiversity and sensory sensitivities by creating content, fostering awareness, and community building.


The Biodiversity Victory Garden: Mitigating Global Species Loss with the 21st Century City
Betsy Peterson, Owner, August Design Collaborative

Betsy Peterson

Inspired by the success of Victory Garden campaigns during WWII, this project similarly animates research into grassroots action, offering hope during a global crisis. Human activities have brought about the sixth mass extinction event and conservation alone will not save species from decline; habitat must be stitched into our cities to achieve the global 30 x 2030 challenge. The Biodiversity Victory Garden movement offers simple actions to activate home gardens and interstitial, urban spaces into a rich network for biodiversity.


It Started in the Park: Preserving the Cultural Identity of Basketball Courts
Johnny Shakir Macon, Lecturer, Morgan State University

johnny macon

Johnny's cultural landscape research examines how basketball courts, situated in urban parks in major cities, served as place-makers and incubators for the development of Black culture. These performative spaces produced an intertwined development of sport, music, dance, fashion, and social aspiration. This will enable landscape architects to convey the value of these places and acknowledge their role as shapers of culture. 


Material Shift: Facilitating Radical Change in Site Construction Materials and Details 
Meg Calkins, Professor, North Carolina State University

Meg Calkins

As 80-90% of the carbon footprint of a constructed site comes from the materials used to build it, landscape architects must radically change their material specifications and details to realize carbon-zero sites by 2040. To inform this shift and give landscape architects accessible and practical information, Meg has researched and compiled performance information on substantially modified material mixes, alternative materials, and new detailed approaches for reduced environmental footprints.

2024 LAF Awards Dinner and Presentation

Immediately following the symposium, the awards dinner recognized the 2024 recipients of the LAF Medal and Founders’ Award, our highest honors for individuals and organizations that have made a significant and sustained contribution to the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment.

Fritz Steiner, renowned ecologist and Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, was presented with the LAF Medal. The International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit working to build an ecologically-minded and restorative world for all people, received the LAF Founders' Award.

Lucinda Sanders, recipient of the 2024 LAF Legacy Award, was also recognized for extraordinary service and contributions to LAF.

A lively room full of guests seated at tables enjoying dinner

The LAF Awards Dinner recognized the 2024 recipients of the LAF Medal, LAF Founders’ Award, and LAF Legacy Award.


2024 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. 

Fritz Steiner

Frederick “Fritz” Steiner, FASLA
Fritz is a renowned ecological planner, author, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, and Co-Executive Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology. Previously, he served at The University of Texas at Austin for 15 years. He has written, edited, and co-edited 18 books.


2024 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.


International Living Future Institute 
The International Living Future Institute (IFLI) is a nonprofit working to build an ecologically-minded, restorative world for all people. ILFI runs the Living Building Challenge, the Living Community Challenge, and the Reveal, Declare and Just labels.


2024 LAF Legacy Award

The LAF Legacy Award recognizes past members of the LAF Board of Directors who have provided extraordinary service and contributions to the organization and its legacy. 

Headshot of Lucinda Sanders smiling in front of a bookcase

Lucinda R. Sanders, EdD, RLA, FASLA
Lucinda served on the LAF Board of Directors from 2008-2016, holding several positions, including Vice President of Finance and President. In 2013, she took on the role of Vice President for LAF’s new Leadership Committee, and this work led to the creation of the LAF Fellowship for Leadership and Innovation.


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.