Attending the 2017 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Chapter and EXPO Meeting in Los Angeles was my second opportunity to go to an ASLA conference. Here are a few takeaways I brought back with me to Raleigh and hope to use in my work as a Landscape Designer at CLH design.
Going to this event provides an opportunity to learn from landscape architecture colleagues across the country. As a student who came to the U.S. from Iran to pursue a landscape architecture degree, I think visiting various places and meeting new people is an excellent way to understand the culture of other areas. Best of all, the ASLA conference provides a platform to collectively meet different people from places all over the world with unique perspectives of our industry. This year I decided to attend a variety of educational sessions and the Expo tour rather than focusing on one subject area of the conference. The first session I attended was, “Aren’t We All Children? Considering Play in the Public Landscape”. This session was led by internationally renowned landscape design firm West 8 and focused on how to design beyond playgrounds and stretch the idea of play. It is not just about designing for children, but for a whole range of ages. The speakers led a great discussion on the approaches to designing friendly spaces utilizing local material and thinking about play and its process differently to encourage vigorous and creative play. The results of this type of design leads to more healthy and happy individuals.
One of the most inspiring lectures I attended was “A Glimpse into the Future of Design” by Natalie Jeremijenko. For me there are always questions about how to combine art and science to better design spaces. The presentation was just what I expected, a lively discussion about blending design, engineering, and environmental issues with the goal of designing for a desirable future. Her ideas on environmental health were inspiring, creative, and interactive for all, especially those interested in the collision of art and science.
The most interactive session I attended was the panel discussion “Landscape Architecture and Working Families: A Plan for your Work Life”. The session focused on best management practices for flexibility at work, including flexible hours and teleworking. Each panelist told their personal stories as designers and their workplace experiences. The audience then participated in round table discussions to share their stories. This session helped me learn tactics on how to best manage a full-time job and make time after work for hobbies and activities to stay productive and creative. The next session was a great discussion with Diana Fernandez, ASLA of Sasaki Associates and Kristina Snyder, ASLA of Giraffa Studio Design of the Women in Landscape Architecture and Diversity in Design group. This was a great opportunity for me to participate in a group focused on increasing women’s contribution to the profession of landscape architecture.
I also had the opportunity to attend several tours focusing on sustainable design and development. In one tour we visited Coldspring, a natural stone producer company and DeepRoot Green Infrastructure, which discussed planting in an urban environment, soil amendments, and the use of silva cells. Then I was able to tour Vectorworks, Inc., and learned how this relatively new software can help landscape architects make terrain models, calculate the amount of cut/fill, and conduct slope and drainage analysis.
Another experience was a visit to the sketch lounge, where all participants created hand sketches from their favorite built projects in the United States. These sketches will be published as the ASLA Activity Book for Teens and Adults. I really enjoyed drawing sketches from my two favorite landscape design projects.
My last stop was a visit to the EXPO bookstore. There I purchased a copy of the “New Landscape Architecture Declaration” book which I am very excited to read. This book asked a diverse group of the world’s leading landscape architects to reflect on the last half-century and present bold ideas for what the discipline of landscape architecture should achieve in the future. My purchase of this book was a great final stop on my journey of landscape architecture exploration at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles. Since I explored and learned many things during this interactive conference, I too can take all that knowledge and apply it both in my work at CLH design and at home.