Below are frequently asked questions about eligibility, expectations and the application and selection process.
If you have questions about the Case Study Investigation (CSI) program that are not covered here or elsewhere on our website, contact Megan Barnes at mbarnes [at] lafoundation.org.
How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the CSI program in 2021?
The application form requires that applicants consider the below factors and explain how they plan to successfully participate in the CSI program under the current circumstances.
- Site performance. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought many changes in the way the built environment is used and the benefits it offers. Evaluating a project during this unique time offers opportunities and limitations for understanding site performance. It is important that applicants have considered this and can speak to it in the application.
- Site access. Because ground truthing is an important part of the performance evaluation process, it is preferable that CSI Faculty Fellows and Student Research Assistants are located geographically near their site or able to travel to it. This year, it is understood that CSI Faculty Fellows and student Research Assistants may be in different locations so that only one member of the research team is able to visit the site.
- Site operating status. If a prospective CSI project site is not open to the public/its typical user group at the time of application due to the COVID-19 pandemic or related circumstances, we recommend that the project not be submitted for CSI this year.
- Faculty and student status. Due to uncertain academic schedules and circumstances at many universities regarding virtual and in-person learning, faculty and students should be prepared to undertake CSI work during the entire period from February 3 to August 4 under shifting circumstances if necessary. Aside from site visits, all CSI work may be completed remotely.
CSI Research Fellow Applicants
Does my proposed project need to be geographically near me?
Because ground truthing is an important part of the performance evaluation process, it is preferable that CSI Faculty Fellows and Student Research Assistants are located geographically near their site or able to travel to it. This year, it is understood that CSI Faculty Fellows and student Research Assistants may be in different locations so that only one member of the research team is able to visit the site. LAF also understands that local regulations and circumstances related to travel may change. If you anticipate that visiting the site will be a challenge, you should clearly outline your plan for gathering information with or without site visits and how this will impact your research strategy.
Will applying with one or two projects (or one or two partner firms) affect the competitiveness of my application?
No. LAF considers the merit of each proposed collaboration and project.
I am interested in applying to produce two case studies. Do both projects need to be designed by the same firm?
No. You may apply in partnership with one firm to study two of their projects, or you may apply to study a project from each of two partner firms.
My university’s Facilities and Administration (F&A) rate is higher than 12%. Can LAF allocate a higher amount to over those costs?
No. LAF’s Indirect Cost Policy states that the maximum rate we will disburse is 12%.
I can’t find a project or firm partner that would be a good match for me and the CSI program. What can I do?
LAF may be able to assist in matching prospective CSI Research Fellows with prospective firms/projects based on geographic proximity, common interests, and relevant expertise. Potential applicants wishing to be matched should contact LAF well in advance of the application deadline to discuss. We also suggest looking at regional ASLA, ULI, and other awards programs to identify potential exemplary projects in your area.
Can a CSI team have more than one faculty CSI Research Fellow?
Yes, however, one faculty member must be named as the primary contact and liaison for LAF. Contact us if you would like to include an additional faculty member in your application.
Can I work with more than one Student Research Assistant?
Yes. You may designate up to three Student Research Assistants to participate in CSI. However, the stipend amount remains the same ($4,500 for one case study, $9,000 for two case studies) and may be divided among Research Assistants as determined by the academic team. Contact us if you would like to include an additional student in your application.
My project is still in the design phase. Is it eligible for CSI?
No. Proposed projects must be built and open for use for at least one year by the time the CSI program begins in February. Wherever possible, CSI aims to assess projects based on actual, not intended, performance.
I have a historic landscape in mind – are older projects eligible for CSI?
Past efforts to evaluate historic landscapes within the CSI structure have not been successful. We recommend that projects are no older than 10 years, although exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. Because landscape performance is measured against design goals/intent and the Case Study Brief narrative addresses the decision-making process and lessons learned, it is important that project documentation, original design team members, or other stakeholders are available to share this information. This institutional memory is often lost over time. In addition, built projects are typically modified over time, and these changes are often not documented.
How do I connect with a potential faculty partner to study my project? My firm does not have those relationships already in place.
LAF may be able to assist in matching prospective firms/projects with prospective CSI Research Fellows based on geographic proximity, common interests, and relevant expertise. Potential applicants wishing to be matched should contact LAF well in advance of the application deadline to discuss. We also recommend contacting the landscape architecture department at a university near the project to see if any of their faculty would be interested in participating in CSI.
I want to have a project studied through CSI, but I am not the designer of the project. Can I submit a Firm/Project Proposal?
The CSI program relies on the designer to provide information about the goals and design intent of the project, design process, challenges, and lessons learned. For this reason, the landscape architect of record for the project must be involved in the CSI collaboration. That being said, entities like nonprofit organizations, government agencies, “friends of” groups, facilities teams, or other entities that engage landscape architects may apply to CSI, provided that they played a primary role in the design and implementation of the project.
I don’t have a “Before” image for my project. Can I still apply to CSI?
Possibly. The Case Study Brief template requires a compelling Before/After image pair, and strong consideration is given to how well these images convey the transformation of the site through design. Having a “Before” image is a hard requirement, but if one does not exist, there are some possible solutions. Contact us for advice.
Can I submit more than the "Before/After" images of my project?
No. If needed, LAF staff will follow up with you for more images during the deliberation process. Please do not submit collages.
Why am I being asked to list performance benefits for my proposed project in the application? Isn’t that what the CSI program is for?
The academic team works with the Firm Liaison to identify potential environmental, social, and economic benefits of the project. In order to quantify these, the researchers may rely on baseline data, modeling, and other information collected by the design team. Designers may also know of information collected by other project stakeholders. For this reason, at the time of application we ask firms to think through which benefits have strong potential for quantification. This helps us ensure that the projects selected for the CSI program are viable and likely to yield compelling Case Study Briefs.
Contact Megan Barnes at mbarnes [at] lafoundation.org.
Case Study Investigation (CSI)
CSI Research Fellows
CSI Firms and Projects