LAF is proud to invest in the people and ideas that will drive the future of the landscape architecture discipline.
Each year, LAF selects 3-4 Fellows and 2-3 Olmsted Scholars for the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership, a year-long transformation program to develop ideas that have the potential to create positive and profound change in the profession, environment, and humanity.
2022-2023 LAF Fellows
The sixth fellowship cohort runs from June 2022 to June 2023.
Scaling Up Our Carbon Conscience
Landscape architecture is unique among the design professions in the ability to design economically viable carbon sinks through carbon sequestration by living systems. This project builds upon previous research, particularly the Pathfinder tool and Carbon Conscience App, to further vet and refine these tools to enable the design industry to make better decisions regarding carbon. An extended literature review and peer and stakeholder engagement will produce datasets that address known gaps and weaknesses with the aim of enabling continuity and/or integration across platforms and scales. To help solve the climate crisis, we need to have verifiable information that can be viewed in unison with architectural interventions, to show how landscapes, architecture, and planning can work together towards a sustainable future.
James, RLA, ASLA
Joseph James Landscape Architecture
A New Literary Landscape: Graphic Novels to Inspire Landscape
Architecture’s Next Generation
Landscape architecture is nearly absent in popular culture, and the field struggles to attract a diverse population of students and practitioners. Promoting landscape architecture as a career option and fostering diversity in the profession have been objectives of the field's capacity organizations, yet strategies seem to focus on didactic materials aimed to further educate those already interested. This project aims to expose and attract a young and diverse audience through the visual format of the graphic novel. It will weave an introduction to the profession through a universally appealing story, using landscape architects as relatable protagonists. Content and messaging will be developed in conjunction with existing awareness programs in order to amplify the message, extend reach, and expanding the impact of current efforts.
Director of Special Projects
How can Landscape Architecture Leverage the Impact of Climate Adaptation Finance by Collaborating to Structure Opportunities Nationally for Vacant Land?
Nationally, thousands of acres of publicly-owned, vacant land are managed on a shoestring budget by 200 land banks. This project explores how landscape architecture might join forces with climate adaptation finance and mobilize enhanced land stewardship in weak market real estate communities where property supply outpaces demand. The vision is to develop a national atlas that makes this opportunity visible. The impact of this work will be to create a platform to structure and direct climate finance investment; to launch a forum to spur new, interdisciplinary landscape research and professional collaborations; and to support advocacy and collective impact at the national level.
Winterbottom, RSLA, FASLA
University of Washington
What role does, and can, landscape architecture play to reduce the effects of incarceration and containment?
Human-nature interactions offer many established psychological and physical benefits. As intentionally designed places of healing, therapeutic gardens restore users, lower rumination, increase focus, lower stress, and reduce depression. Those most bereft of nature interactions, such as those in correctional facilities, mental hospitals and detention camps, may benefit most. Through archival research, expert and user interviews, surveys, case studies, and observations gleaned from site visits, this project explores: What role does, and can, landscape architecture play to reduce the effects of incarceration and containment? How can landscapes of incarceration and mental health be made more ecological and therapeutic? What are successful models that reduce the traumatic effects of incarceration and hospitalization using nature-based interventions?
Utah State University
AI-LA: A Knowledge Sharing Platform for Artificial Intelligence in Landscape Architecture
From smartphones to search engines and the conundrum of social media driven public discourse, artificial intelligence (AI) has pervaded the way we work, travel, legislate, recreate, and live in our homes. It has also affected landscape design, with capabilities to carry out project management tasks, perform analysis and optimization, and even autonomously engage in creative acts. However, existing applications and attempts at AI integration remain scattered and singular, with no theoretical framework to understand what AI is more broadly and to what extent it might influence the future of landscape architecture practice, if not redefine practice itself. This project attempts to establish such a framework by creating an open knowledge sharing platform to compile literature, case studies, and applications of AI related to landscape architecture.
PhD Student, City and Regional Planning
University of Pennsylvania
Mega-Eco Projects: Developing an Academic Study and Professional Practice of Large-scale Nature based Solutions
Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are an important tool in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Discourse on NbS cites the need to rapidly upscale these projects, often ignoring the past, present, and emerging large-scale projects that fit within this definition. These Mega-eco projects cannot afford to follow the same trajectory of megaprojects which have a well-documented history of being over budget, over time, unsustainable, and underperform. This project seeks to build a community of landscape architects to work and aid in these project's development and implementation.
2021-2022 LAF Fellows
The fifth fellowship cohort ran from June 2021 to June 2022. See the final presentations from each of the six Fellows at the 2022 LAF Innovation + Leadership Symposium here.
Florida International University
LLAMA: A Call to Connect Latinx Designers and Collaborators to Amplify Their Voices Across the Americas
Landscape as defined by the discipline of landscape architecture is rooted in a European understanding of human relationship, design, planning, and land stewardship. However, across the Americas, an understanding and relationship with tierra (earth) is ancient, multifaceted, and rooted in a different set of values. LLAMA is a grassroots colectivo that challenges problematic hierarchies in our practice and seeks to establish horizontal leadership in the discipline. It aims to connect Latinx designers, students, educators, and collaborators across North, South, and Central America, the Caribbean, and beyond to uplift and address shared gaps in histories, heritage, and landscapes.
Return to Community: Building Practice and Advocacy for Community Wealth Building
As the wealth gap expands, alternative systems of closed-loop community wealth building are emerging. These strategies center community-based organizations and can include building long-term relationships between designers and communities. Through a rigorous process of inquiry, this project seeks to develop recommendations that can grow and direct advocacy for the catalysts supporting closed-loop community wealth building as an anti-displacement strategy; increase landscape architecture’s relationship with the social justice community; make plain the relevance of practice for new generations seeking meaningful work; and reshape our collective expectations of the reciprocal value between lived experience and design-thinking.
LaGro Jr., PhD
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Advancing the Science of Landscape Architecture
Expectations in higher education for research and scholarship have steadily increased as university administrators face growing pressures to augment revenue streams, boost rankings, and expand their institution’s impacts on pressing societal challenges. This project surveys the small but growing number of landscape architects in North America who have earned doctoral degrees. Findings are anticipated to inform revisions to research methods requirements for MLA program accreditation, spur professional development programs to increase the research capacities of faculties, and expand opportunities for doctoral education and mentoring in landscape architecture.
University of California, Davis
Diversity by Design: Addressing Diversity and Inclusion in Landscape Architecture Curriculum and Pedagogy
To help ensure the landscape architecture profession remains relevant to the diverse public it serves, this project seeks to address the need for greater diversity within the profession through an examination of current introductory landscape architecture theory and design. Goals include an assessment of representations of diverse and inclusive narratives and an acknowledgment of the profession’s role in addressing racial and social equity. The resources developed from this research would inform new texts, influence future accreditation standards, better reflect the US’ cultural diversity, and increase the accessibility of the profession to under-represented racial and ethnic minorities.
2019 Olmsted Scholar
Curtis + Rogers Design Studio
Cyclical Arrest: Breaking the Cycle of Recidivism
The US prison system is a revolving door of criminal action and reaction. This project explores how landscape architecture can play a role in breaking the cycle of recidivism, using design to create supportive, post-incarceration networks that reduce the tendency towards reoffending. The overarching strategies look at repurposing vacant structures and land to include revitalization proposals that feed into cities’ climate action plans and the triple-bottom line of sustainability. The proposal aims to determine guidelines that will empower designers to establish connections between recently-released (or, rather, newly-integrated) citizens and available services, foster a sense of place, and build bonds with the surrounding community.
2016 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ
Roadsides, the Public Good, and the Nature of Power in Landscape Architecture
This project examines the nature of power in landscape architecture — where it is derived, how it is used, and how it can perpetuate or challenge systemic inequalities. Research will focus on landscape architects within state highway agencies where, historically, landscape architects have exercised significant power in this setting. Today, however, that power has dwindled and varies from state to state, posing far-reaching social, environmental, and cultural effects on the nation’s ubiquitous roadside landscapes. Given the ongoing reckoning within the discipline and the centering of discourse from Black and Brown communities, developing a framework for the theory of power within landscape architecture can help align the field with ideas from critical race theory, indigenism, and others.
Principal and Partner
Indigenous settlers built amphibious agricultural societies around 1300BC on the Bogota River’s middle basin floodplain known today as the Sabana de Bogotá which is today a monofunctional flood control network of canals and remnant wetlands, erasing histories of agriculture, tradition, and local ecology. This project understands the importance of the flood control infrastructure and seeks to reimagine it. The research will compile historical documentation, redraw the evolution of the system, and show the existing conditions in the form of an interactive atlas and exhibition along with a set of design proposals for parts of the system, based upon the need to reconcile uncontrolled urban growth and biodiversity preserving the structures and adjacent districts, elements of local cultural, social, economic, and political history.
San Juan, PR
El río está vivo… y nadie lo sabe! (The River is Alive… and Nobody Knows!): Re-envisioning Flood Control in the Urban Watershed of the Río Piedras
Two years after the 2017 hurricane season, Puerto Rico is still struggling to rise from the debris. As recovery planning and funds have come to a halt, landscape architects have the unique opportunity to propose ways to re-envision the future of the island and help create a resilient, equitable, prosperous, and climate-ready environment – if they can get a seat at the table. Using the Rio Pedras Watershed as a case study, this project seeks to understand the barriers between communication and action towards a resilient recovery process led by landscape architects.
Associate Professor and Program Director
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
Food Justice and Landscape Ethics in California’s Central Valley
In August 2019, the UN released the report, “Climate Change and Land,” which focused most particularly on the impacts of climate change on our global food supply. This project focuses on a landscape of production that has long fed that global demand – California’s Great Central Valley, specifically its southern portion, the lower San Joaquin Valley. The SJV is a nexus of some of the most pressing environmental questions of our day, particularly as they pertain to global food production. This project seeks to catalyze environmental change in the Central Valley, assert landscape architecture’s leadership role in addressing these questions, and generate replicable strategies for challenging current economic and environmental paradigms.
2015 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist (Graduate)
Terreform Center for Advanced Urban Research
New York, NY
Power to the People: Designing for Social Agency of Energy Networks
While popular media tends to portray political obstacles and technological feasibility as the only major roadblocks to renewable energy transitions, integrating variable sources beyond the site scale precipitates a cascade of design and planning questions. As we shift from large-scale engineered infrastructure to decentralized networks, this project will investigate the ways in which the landscape architecture discipline can reinforce community movements that are interacting with physical infrastructure in new and creative ways. It will use community solar projects in New York City as a lens for analysis.
Associate Professor and Department Head
University of Oregon
Like wicked problems, the notion of including animals in our design thinking is both critical and profoundly problematic. How we approach the agency and presence of our more-than-human companions on this Earth is critical to sustainable, resilient, and just cities and landscapes. Through two events, this project will examine the role that animals play in shaping current and future landscapes at multiple scales, from puddles to forests, and will seek a path for designing with animals rather than for animals. The outcomes of these events will be compiled into an edited volume of essays, interviews, and projects to expand the reach of the events and disseminate the results to a wide audience of professionals and academics in landscape architecture and affiliated fields.
2018 LAF Olmsted Scholar
Los Angeles, CA
Design with Disabled People Now: A Toolkit for Landscape Architects and Planners to Create Accessible & Inclusive Landscapes
It’s critical to design for diversity, particularly for disabled people who are often overlooked in the design process. Landscape architects, designers, and planners are tasked with designing public spaces for all. Designers must always ask who we design for, who is doing the designing, and how we understand their needs. Thus, it is critical that a disabled person completes this work. A Deaf woman, Alexa aims to create a toolkit for landscape designers and planners to follow, made by and for disabled people, to come to a better understanding of the disabled community’s needs in the built environment. This Universal Design graphic toolkit will specifically consider the larger scale of urban landscapes, filling a void unaddressed by current Universal Design books or landscape architecture-specific resources.
Independent Landscape Architect
Santa Monica, CA
Position Vector Salton Sea
Hans will pursue a site-specific landscape intervention in partnership with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe. Engaging with Tribal lands, knowledge, and creative resources, the project will culminate in the construction of a monumental artwork in the landscape that measures the disappearance of California’s Salton Sea, the homeland of the Cahuilla since time immemorial. Using landscape as a medium of communication between Western design methodology and Indigenous knowledge, this project will leverage the uniquely interdisciplinary tools of landscape architecture to draw attention to an emergent environmental catastrophe.
Landscape Architect, Urban Planner, & Settler Scholar
OPEN SYSTEMS / Landscape Architecture Lab
Boston *, MA
LANDSCAPE AS REVOLUTION: A Contemporary, Historiographic Inquiry into the Subtexts, Pretexts, & Contexts of Landscape Architecture Since 1993
Emerging from an overlooked body of work in the past twenty-five years, the project aims to create a book publication that brings together a range of landscape practitioners, including botanists, arborists, historians, hydrologists, anthropologists, and activists. Through a series of original translations, archival texts, and overlooked writings by landscape activists, the main vision of the project involves the revival of the geopolitical study of land as a contemporary, transcultural subject for greater publics.
*Traditional lands of the Massachusetts people, unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Wampanoag and Nipmuc Nations
2018 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate)
New Orleans, LA
Resiliency Planning at the Territorial Scale of the United States’ Caribbean Islands
Climate change is already affecting the planet, yet the public is often limited in their ability to provide input on plans to address the problems it causes because of engagement models have not kept pace with a rapidly changing world. This project will seek to bridge that gap by employing multimedia installations that merge cultural literacy and community engagement. These interventions will allow audiences to engage in play and problem-solving to gain a greater understanding of landscape solutions and provide meaningful feedback.
Heterogeneous Futures: A Framework for Ecologically & Culturally Diverse Landscapes
Historically, the profession of landscape architecture has innovated practice models through distinct periods, such as the national replications, modernism, and landscape ecology movements. Today, the natural progression for our profession is to enable social, cultural, and linguistic knowledge to be an integral part of the design process. This project seeks to gather these realms of knowledge through case studies and a book manuscript to promote truly resilient landscapes that reflect the collective experiences of the people who will inhabit the spaces.
Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington
Educating Design Activists in Landscape Architecture
Design activists employ a range of techniques to advocate for social and ecological justice, but, for many, landscape architecture is an unknown. This project will assemble a group of leading educators and practitioners to produce a white paper and resource guide on educating design activists and leaders in landscape architecture. The results will be shared with educators and educational institutions around the world and disseminated through lectures and presentations at major conferences.
2018 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist (Graduate)
Working Landscapes and the Middle American City
Nicholas will build on his thesis work to explore the environmental and economic performance of working landscapes in the cities of Middle America. Guided by past research, the project will question the future of work in a region defined by manufacturing industries, propose a new approach to manufacturing as a design problem to be known as ‘working landscapes,’ and develop a network of designers and non-designers who can unite their efforts to create alternative futures for the working landscapes of Middle America. The knowledge generated will be shared widely with the goal of leveraging change, especially in the political and economic arenas.
2018-2019 LAF Fellows
The second year of the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership ran from May 2018 until June 2019. See the final presentations from each member of the cohort here.
CMG Landscape Architecture
San Francisco, CA
Climate Postive Design: Going Beyond Neutral
To improve the impact of our projects on the planet, we need to better understand their landscape carbon footprints. To date, no publicly available carbon calculator for landscape architecture exists. As landscape projects contain trees and plants, they possess the power to sequester carbon. That said, can landscape architects do better than carbon neutral? Can we instead strive beyond neutrality to do “net good” and contribute to the fight against global warming? To do this, we must understand how to measure our contributions. With a carbon calculator specifically designed for landscape architecture, we can actively set goals for ourselves as a profession to combat climate change.
de la Cruz
2017 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate)
Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
Los Angeles, CA
Community-based Storytelling: Los Angeles' Neighborhood Design
Through film, Daví will archive the built environment of Los Angeles by exploring the land uses that affect communities and point to the potential of landscape architecture paired with on-site phytoremediation as a way to address sites that are polluted. This project is intended for high-school classrooms to explore topics of both environmental and social sciences while simultaneously grounding the built environment experiences of high-school-aged youth from working class families. In partnership with extensive advocacy work, this film will also point to landscape architecture as a profession fit to address environmental justice issues.
2017 National Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate)
Lauren will continue her thesis explorations at Virginia Tech to explore the future of coal ash ponds and research successfully remediated wastescapes in the U.S. and abroad. Lauren plans to collect precedent case studies through the documentation of site visits, discussions with stakeholders, and the collection and study of existing remediation strategies. Lauren looks forward to the support of the fellowship cohort to help her develop and refine a strategy for further research on disturbed sites. Participation in the fellowship will be valuable in guiding her research and building her leadership skills to allow her to propel her advocacy work from academia into the public realm.
Belonging: Identity and Landscape Narrative
Maisie will produce a documentary series that seeks to uncover feelings of belonging or exclusion in the landscape to help elucidate how socio‐economic factors affect landscape interpretation. This project will examine how different types of people interpret the same landscape by creating short web documentaries that explore the concepts of belonging and trespassing in high‐profile DC landscapes, both public and private. The project will document DC residents from diverse backgrounds in Dumbarton Oaks, Washington National Cathedral grounds, Meridian Hill Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Gotelli and Asian Collections of the U.S. National Arboretum.
Senior Landscape Architect
Decades of diminished federal funding and limited capital improvements have left millions of Americans in deteriorating 50s-era housing in a landscape hindered by dated urban design ideas. Recent restructuring of federal support for public housing has generated billions to fund capital improvement projects. Landscape architects have an opportunity to lead developers and public housing officials in solving long-standing problems of social isolation while creating a new vision for public housing. To support this, The Landscape of Public Housing will combine site visits, interviews, and analysis to illustrate current conditions in a documentary video and create design resources for those engaged in the rehabilitation of public housing communities.
2016 University Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate)
Landscape Designer/Visualization Specialist
The Aesthetic of Proof
Andrew seeks to emphasize and clarify the benefits that immersive technologies offer the profession of landscape architecture. Immersive technologies, specifically augmented reality and virtual reality, provide greater potential than all previous rendered visualizations of landscape. Although traditional means allow us to prototype, with immersive tech, designers are provided a more direct experience by being able to walk, fly and interact with their prototypes, either in a VR or AR environment. Andrew plans to conduct survey research and use it to garner partnerships with stakeholders to create and make available solutions for landscape architects to use in the design of and advocacy for public space.
James Corner Field Operations
New York, NY
Volume for Water: Rethinking Frameworks for Urban Coastal Resilience
As coastal cities grapple with sea level rise and more frequent occurrences of flooding, it is necessary to codify standards for open space in waterfront developments, with zoning laws and codes that focus not only on area but also on volume provided for water. Public-private partnerships will continue to be responsible for urban development projects that will shape our cities and coastlines in the years to come. It is incumbent on our profession to question and critique existing legislative frameworks that govern these developments and to propose replicable and incremental mechanisms that allow public open space to perform a role beyond its traditional social and ameliorative characterizations.
2017-2018 LAF Fellows
The inaugural year of the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership ran from May 2017 until May 2018. See the final presentations from each member of the cohort here.
2014 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist (Graduate)
Shifting Perceptions: Reconceiving Public Space in the American South
A Native Tennessean, Harriett (2014 Olmsted Scholar Finalist) explores the opportunities of public space in the South to catalyze social resiliency and reconciliation. She is interested in the power of place to shape our personal narratives and its ability to expand and reshape those narratives through sites of conscience.
2016 University Olmsted Scholar (Graduate)
Hahn Horticulture Garden
The (Large) Space Between: Reimagining Highway Corridors as Performative Landscapes
Scott (2016 University Olmsted Scholar) investigates alternative uses for the maintenance-intensive highway corridors. His work includes a review The Ray, an 18-mile section of Interstate 85 in southwest Georgia that serves as a testing ground for new ideas and technologies to transform transportation infrastructure.
Mia Lehrer + Associates
Los Angeles, CA
For the Love of Teenagers: Advocating for Safe, Restorative High School Environments
Claire is leveraging her journalism and landscape architecture experience to advocate for high school environments that support student mental health and well-being. Using Los Angeles as a case study, she is working with students, educators and administrators, designers, non-profits, city agencies, and community members to develop policy and design recommendations that reflect a sense of love and safety rather than security and fear.
Director of Landscape Architecture
MIG l SvR
Making Space: Optimistic Strategies for Urban Homelessness
What is the role of public space in confronting the growing challenge of homelessness? Through the HomeLandLab project, Brice Maryman explores the ways that the connective tissue of our cities—our public spaces—can be shaped, programmed and managed to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness.
University of Florida
Critical Places: Design Interventions to Address Water and Other Issues in Rural India
Alpa’s work in India aims to prototype a process to address critical issues such as water scarcity and waste management through design strategies and small-scale, physical interventions to create a stronger, more cohesive and forward-looking community.
Cotleur & Hearing
Cultivating Future Landscape Architects: Career Discovery in K-12 Education
Who will shape the future of landscape architecture? Nicole explored how the continued development of her nonprofit, Future Landscape Architects of America (FLAA), can help to grow and diversify the profession in the coming years.