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AMERICAN SOCIETY DF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS Ë3G EYE STREET NW. WASHINGTON. DC 20Ü01 3736 202 098 2444 FAHOZ-HH-ZZK Mfflilff to our eyes it had some serious problems. The waterways were terribly eroded, there were no fences between cattle pasture and water bodies, and normative invasive plants were choking the understory of the forests.

When we were hired for this project, we told the client we would like to use it to generate baseline data for biodiversity before beginning the farming and conservation master plan. Over the past 13 years our firm's designs have restored many acres of native bunchgrass meadows and wetlands, reforested degraded land, and completed water-quality projects that are also meant to improve habitat for birds and animals. But when j)eople ask us how many native birds did the design bring to the site, all I can say is: "More...a lot more." Until recently, wedidn't collect baseline data before we began our work,and since we don't know what we started with we can't quantify how much the habitat has improved.

So I approached scientists at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, New York. I talked with James Gibbs, professor of conservation biology and wildlife management, and Don Leopold, a forest ecologist and chair of the faculty of environmental biology, and asked, "Would you guys like to work with a whole team of designers on a landscape master plan? We've just been hired for this project and I'd like to do a baseline survey of plant and animal biodiversity before we start the design process." We were interested in working with PhD candidates on this property, sharing the data publicly, maybe even writing joint articles that are peer reviewed. Then, together with our scientific consultants, we could produce a plan for this property that promotes conservation of wildlife as well as best farming practices in the context ofadesigned landscape.

They said, "Yes, we would love to do that." They have a design department at SUNY ESF but do not have much of a history of collaboration. And they wereexcit-

"When people ask us how many native birds did the design bring to the site, all I can say is: 'More...a lot more.' Until recently, we didn't collect baseline data."

ed that we wanted to do this field research up front before we dove into the design aspects of this project.

So we did some of the groundwork ahead of time. We documented the conditions of the streambanks in 50-foot increments. We installed sensors that will collect temperature data every hour for two years. We're going to map the temperature over the whole property so over the years we can see if temperature is a factor in increased biodiversity. We put in weather stations, wildlife monitoring stations, hydrologie sensors, exclosures to measure the seed bank, and salamander monitoring stations.

The team from ESF came for a week this past summer and camped out on the farm for what we called a "biobl itz." We had 20 PhDs—a combination of candidates and graduates—including specialists in moths, native birds, native bees, reptiles, amphibians, plants, beetles, and ri parian and forest ecology. These scientists were taking big drag nets through the ponds to identify amphibians and reptiles, dragging cloth through meadows to measure tick populations, and setting out hundreds of bowls of sugar water to quantify native bee populations.

For six months leading up to this, I had regular telephone conference calls with this team of scientists. I told them, we really want to learn from you, so I'm going to ask when you do your scientific analysis on your individual species that you include a list of design recommendations and we will implement those. They had heard that, but over the week together in the field, as each one realized that we could really do something about it as we shaped the land and managed the forests and water bodies, you could see their excitement grow.

One of the guys said, "We aren't seeing any leopard frogs, and we really should in this environment. If only the slopes were about 15 percent, it would be perfect—hey, you guys can do that, can't you?!" So we now have a manual of specific design guidelines that each of the scientists gave us related to their particular species. In the months after the bioblitz the design team at Nelson Byrd Woltz incorporated the scientists' recommendations into a landscape master plan. The result for our firm and for our client is a working document that is carefully tailored to the biological webs present on the site and in the region and one that will respectfully accommodate a more sustainable farming operation far into the future.

GRAFFAM At OLIN, we often incorporate research information from external consultants or researchers (both academic and professional). Typically, we do this on a project-by-project basis—for example, our firm collaborated with {William] Holly Whyteon the redesign of Bryant Park. In such cases, the information is primarily


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"So in our office, we have invested in a knowledge base that acts as a kind of ramped-up Wikipedia and serves as a mash-up aggregator of information. We hope to include not only project information but also data on different materials, __ construction methodologies, and so on." ^^ V


flowing in one direction (toOUN) and for die purpose of addressing a specific design challenge. These interactions enrich our projects immensely.

However, we've also experimented with a more collaborative, two-way model that might suggest a way to encourage the sharing of research across academiaand practice. For OLLN, urban soils are really one of the most critical and challenging components of the design process. Making soils work in cities involves a great deal of specialized knowledge—not only about the mixing of soils but also their installation. Over a period of 20 years, we have been collaborating with some of the true experts in the field: Nina Bassuk, James Urban, FASLA, and Philip Craul. These three pioneers were critical in transcending the traditional view of soils and construction in urban environments and bringing that soil knowledge to landscape architects.

By the late 1990s, we were actively keeping that collaboration going in between projects. When one project finished, we would continue the dialogue, sharing feedback and data. We'd get to know about their latest thinking, and, over time, we were also able to direct some of their research inquiry. The two-way street is incredibly important, and I think it's a potential model for how research and practice can be fused.

One of the things we're starting to talk about at OLIN is what to do with this research when we've finished a given project.

In the practice world, a lot of time is spent reinventing the wheel. We're often trying to find information we generated from a project six months ago or two years ago.

So in our office, we have invested in a knowledge base that acts as a kind of ramped-up Wikipedia and serves as a mash-up aggregator ct information. We're < just starting it, but we hope to include not J only project information but also data on it different materials, construction method- i ologies, and so on. One discussion point 1 ™ wanted to make is, could this model be ap- j plied on a much larger scale to share infor- 8

Outdoor spaces can be
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mation between ail practitioners ant! academics and between research and design?

Models for Sharing Research

MEYER: One of the things we're interested in starting a discussion about today is how these exciting new models, like the kinds of research that are being developed either systematically at OUN Studio or on a project thematic base at Nelson Byrd Woltz, might be part of a bigger palette of communication about design and research. I wanted to throw out the possibility that there are other models besides solely focusing on the single research expert who comes in on a project—because there are many more landscape architects than experts.

Some of you may know that some very big firms like ARUP are currently folding back in a percentage of their profits to a research nonprofit within their organization, so that's one model. It's difficult to think about during a recession, but an interesting model in terms of long-term sustainability. Landscape Architecture

Foundation is not only building a case study database, but they want to begin publishing best management practices from a variety of sources from conservation biologists to practicing landscape architects. The Cultural Landscape Foundation is launching a site called "What's Out There" that will essentially be a cleanng-house for all sorts of projects and project research on cultural landsca]>es. The Sustainable Sites Initiative also has a database for practitioners to tap into.

But one of the things 1 think is most promising and just on the horizon is the involvement of several members of ASLA in the new National Academy ofEnvironmen-tal Design (www.naeiknlim.m-g). It's a group of academics and practitioners representing 500,000 people who have established a new academy, like the National Academy ofSci-ences, that would become a vehicle for supporting research in the design fields.

I want to leave you with a model that is much more informal and Ix)ttom up. Students at UVA are creating a wiki to share research with one another. They find that the challenges that are ahead of us in terms of sustainable design are so profound and exciting that they don't have the time to waste reinventing the wheel, project by project, firm by firm. I'm struck by conversations I've had with students who are really frustrated with the culture of not sharing across boundaries in the profession. It's not only the boundaries between university and practice; I would argue it's between practice and practice.

This lecture, which originally included PowerPoint presentations, was transcribed by Landscape Architecture and edited for length and flmt\ Some changes were necessary to make what had been a visual presentation work in a written fornurt, hut all changes were reviewed by tlx speakers prior to publication.


■ "Twenty-Five Years of landscape Journal: An Analysis of Authorship and Article Content," by Matthew N. Powers, ASLA, and Jason B. Walker, ASLA; LandscapeJournal, vol. 28, no. 1,2009.

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ANY PEOPLE DREAD winter. Sure, the first gentle snow is a lot of fun: 'Hie kids run out and make snowmen and toboggan runs, and the grown-ups get all dewy-eyed in the chill moonlight. But then comes actual winter, with the ice collecting on tlie sidewalks, the shoveling, the bundling and unbundling, the extra 30 minutes to get out the door with litdeones, and the teeth-chattering cold. Yes, many people dread winter—but not all.

"I have always been struck by the experience and aesthetics of winter,'' says Tom Robinson, ASLA. "There's something about the light and colors. All the senses become engaged more during winter. The acoustics are incredible: the way a blanket of snow can deaden the sound. Sight lines emerge in the cold season that simply aren't there in summer. All these new things can be revealed, and new connections can be made."

The winter months create both challenges and opportunities for landscape architects. By Adam Regn Arvidson, ASLA

Robinson's Robert Frostian paean to the dark months comes despite plenty of practice in one of the snowiest cities in America. He's a landscape architect with Environmental Design and Research (EDR) in Rochester, New York, which averages 92 inches of snow each year. "I like the challenge of winter," he says. 'The whole world

At Meridian Fields Ecological Park in upstate New York, the landscape architects visited the site in winter to discover the sun pockets, long views, and wind tunnels ttiat appear during tiie cold season.

shifts. Places that are very gentle and accessible in the warm season suddenly are a little more exciting and challenging in the wintertime. You have to recognize both sides of a place when you design. Winter causes hardships and accessibility problems that we have to deal with as landscape architects,'» Throughout the United States and Canada, designers are embracing the snow, the ice, and the slanting December sun and creating landscapes that work in all seasons. Yet few stories or photos of winter landscapes are being shared in public. Conversations with dozens of designers in regions with long winters revealed that many don't have a single photograph of their projects in winter. There emerged, however, some Common themes, gleaned from images and site visits of projects with excellent winter aesthetics and function, as well as those less successful. Deliberately left out are detailed

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