Buildings and Places, Design, landscape architecture, World Landscape Architecture Month

In celebration of World Landscape Architecture Month in April, we’re sharing stories about how landscape architect-designed spaces can advance resiliency, build social equity and help communities grow together.

Our Landscape Architects are tasked with designing resilient and equitable places around the globe. We’ve asked some of them to share their perspectives on what it means to create meaningful, lasting legacies in our communities. Read their stories here.

Katie Barsanti, Landscape Designer, U.S. East

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? Landscape architecture plays a role in shaping a majority of the spaces we interact with daily. It not only shapes the aesthetic, environmental, and social aspect of these spaces, but also helps create opportunities in how we interact within them.

What is your favorite place you’ve designed and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? My favorite project to be involved with was the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project. It has since been divided into a series of projects that I have also been lucky enough to be a part of, but to be able to analyze, design for, and address such a pressing and important issue, at such a large scale, is incredibly rewarding. Because it is in an area of New York City that is home to the world’s leading financial center while also being an underserved neighborhood that heavily utilizes their public spaces, we designed to simultaneously protect Lower Manhattan from coastal flooding while enhancing public spaces for both the people that visit and the ones that reside there.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? It is important to adopt a whole systems approach, where all systems at a neighborhood scale are considered together, in order to be resilient in numerous ways. An integral part of that approach is to gather input from the community these spaces sit within through a public, shared decision-making process as a means to co-create equitable spaces.

Christian Lynn, PLA, ASLA, Urbanism Practice Lead Ohio, U.S. West

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? Landscape Architects play the unique role that requires us to holistically consider a wide range of social, spatial, environmental, and economic factors as we seamlessly create places that either directly or indirectly contribute to improving the quality of our collective lives.

What is your favorite place you’ve designed and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? Soon after starting my career at AECOM, I had the opportunity to work on the Fleet Avenue Corridor Redevelopment project in the Slavic Village Neighborhood of Cleveland, OH. A unique aspect of this project included the transformation of several vacant parcels into a community-focused stormwater pocket park. Through my involvement on the project, I was also afforded the opportunity to work with the Community Development Corporation to design and collaborate with a fabricator to install several pieces of public art that have become integral to this community space. I visit this project almost any time I am in the area and I am often overjoyed to see people using this small, but relaxing space in so many ways. As designers, we often lose touch with places we have had a hand in creating but I think it is so important for us to revisit them and reflect on their experiential evolution.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? Building adaptability and flexibility into design is paramount if a place is to remain a useful piece of social infrastructure long into the future. Overly prescriptive designs will inevitability become outdated and even inappropriate if they’re too overly designed for a specific activity or audience.

Manqing Tao, Senior Landscape Architect, U.S. East

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? The work of Landscape architects will continue to minimize the impacts of growing population through sustainable design to protect the fragile ecosystem by building resilient environments that mitigate and adapt to climate change.

What is your favorite place you’ve designed and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? As a team, we designed various phases of the Ningbo Hi-tech District Waterfront park which provides more than 90 acres of public open spaces along the river to the adjacent high-density communities that used to be “parkless” for over 10 years. With wetlands, rain gardens, and green swales, the park acts like a dynamic sponge to mitigate the long-standing flooding issue in Ningbo.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? Design multi-functional outdoor places that bring environmental, social and economic benefits to all communities. Designing with nature will connect people with nature.

Lee Parks, Director, Landscape, APAC

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? Landscape IS the world around us, shaped by natural forces bigger and more critical than us. Human impact on our world (the Anthropocene) requires a shift in mindset from engineering the planet for human gain to re-storing the planet for all species. Landscape Architecture plays a critical role in shaping the world to reconcile the relationship between us and nature – most urgently in our cities.

What is your favorite place you’ve designed and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? I led the design for the competition-winning waterfront scenic belt at Nanjing Eco-Island, China. I believe the nature-based solutions for flood resilience, habitat creation, nature conservation and scenic placemaking has created a meaningful legacy for the island community and for the city of Nanjing.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? Acknowledge we are facing a climate emergency. Then start designing for, and considering all living things and natural systems. Resilient and Equitable design is one that cares for all genders, race, age, ability, AND species.

Patricia Fonseca, Principal, Landscape Architect, U.S. West

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? In my view, landscape architecture is one of the unique and meaningful ways we can engage with our environment, whether it is natural or manmade. And we’re not only shaping the world around us, but it’s shaping us because we learn so much from nature.

What is your favorite place you’ve designed and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? We recently completed Crane Cove Park in San Francisco and I can witness firsthand how it’s changed the lives in the neighborhood’s communities. We created a space that provides a profound connection to the water and the city’s rich maritime history.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? The first step is to listen. To truly listen to the community we’re designing for; and ideally, it’s a community we’re designing WITH.

Newcome Edwards, Landscape Architect, U.S. East

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? Landscape Architecture serves as an important connection between the natural environment and the built environment. Landscape Architects can play a critical role in the creation of healthy, livable environments and are at the forefront of confronting challenges of our time in particular issues surrounding Urban Growth and a lack of accessible public space. Alongside our colleagues in other professions, we can work together for a better future.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? The favorite project I have worked on is the University of Central Florida’s Recovery Cove Project. Not only did the project include a 470-foot-long lazy river, it included a connected pool, 2 volleyball courts, bocce ball, and various other recreation facilities. Once built, it will offer students, athletes & alumni a fun place to play and relax while leaving a positive legacy for all to enjoy for years to come.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? As Landscape Architects, we have a duty of care to both the environment and people of all backgrounds and faiths. By replacing the status quo with more resilient and people-curated design, together we can find ways to provide stronger and more ethical infrastructure to local communities. Here in Florida, we are at the forefront of many environmental impacts and our team is fully committed to tackling these issues as efficiently as possible.

Michelle Inouye, PLA, LEED AP, Associate Principal

How does Landscape Architecture play a critical role in shaping the world around us? Landscape Architecture is the world around us once we step out the door. As designers, we consider all aspects of the built environment at small and large scales, and as a continuous context for culture, activity, representation and modification.

What is your favorite place you’ve designed and how has it created a meaningful legacy in the community? I recently worked on a project to create ten small scale “stormwater landscape” sites on vacant parcels in two Chicago neighborhoods. Active community engagement generated the programming for each site, which includes passive gardens, active recreation areas and public plazas that accept water from streets, alleys and adjacent properties. The project demonstrates the impact that smart, integrated implementation of green infrastructure can have on livability through open space amenities that expand community space, build ownership and reduce flooding.

How can you design places to be more resilient and equitable? Resilient and equitable projects require a participatory design process that engages a diverse range of local representation across all stages of development. A robust community engagement process can transform people (designers especially!) and spaces.

To read the first part of our Landscape Architects blog, click here.

Originally published 04.5.2021

Author: AECOM Editors