Rejoice, lovers of landscape architecture, because the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has published their 2018 ASLA Professional Awards and awarded their top honors to projects across the U.S. and Canada.
The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates–designed Brooklyn Bridge Park, a project twenty years in the making but closing in on the finish line, took home the Award of Excellence in the General Design category. The transformation of a formerly-industrial landscape into a leisure-oriented waterfront park that simultaneously knits together formerly disconnected communities paved the way for an entire generation of similar projects.
Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki’s revitalization of the Chicago Riverwalk, another urban landscape project that has been heavily lauded in the past, was recognized with a General Design Honor award.
The ASLA chose a wide variety of winners this year. West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture’s master planning and landscaping of the Main Fountain Garden at the Longwood Gardens was honored alongside a culturally sensitive native cemetery in Nunavut, Canada, and an international sculpture center in the grasslands of Fishtail, Montana.
In the Residential Design category, the Word + Carr Design Group’s Balcones Residence in Austin, Texas, received the Award of Excellence. The landscape balances positive and negative space and creates a dialogue with the house’s boxy, concrete forms while requiring little maintenance.
The top prize in the Analysis and Planning category went to A Colorado Legacy: I-25 Conservation Corridor Master Plan, a master plan by the Design Workshop – Aspen which created a strategic vision for a 17-mile-long stretch of Interstate 25. Other than offering solutions to the urban sprawl surrounding the interstate, the plan serves strategies for preserving up to 100,000 acres of open space while promoting sensible development.
Three projects received Honor awards in the Research category, each tackling resiliency in one form or another. The University of Pennsylvania’s interactive Atlas for the End of the World – Atlas for the Beginning of the Anthropocene tracks the decline of biodiversity worldwide as conservation clashes with development and climate change; Mahan Rykiel Associates tracked the 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment dredged from Baltimore Harbor in Design with Dredge: Resilient Landscape Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay; and Ayers Saint Gross explored sustainability strategies for the National Aquarium in Baltimore with their Urban Aquatic Health: Integrating New Technologies and Resiliency into Floating Wetlands project.
In the Communications category, the Landscape Architecture Section, Knowlton School, The Ohio State University took the Award of Excellence for their free, online library of historical landscapes. The database, 100 Years of Landscape Architecture at The Ohio State University, offers virtual tours of historical and contemporary landscapes around the world, inlcuding in virtual reality, and is meant to serve as both a teaching and landscape architecture recruiting tool.
Last but certainly not least, Design Workshop received the Landmark Award for their From Weapons to Wildlife: The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Management Plan. The ambitious plan demonstrates how a 17,000-acre Superfund site could be converted into one of the country’s largest urban wildlife refuges. Now in its third phase, the plan was put into implantation in 1992 as the U.S. government and Shell struggled to remediate what was once a testing ground for biological and chemical weapons.