DESIGN AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS

Landscape architecture projects may differ in scale and complexity, but they all begin with research and questions that evolve into a big idea. Creativity has no beginning or end—it is fed by the publics we serve and how we engage with them, by the sites themselves and their broader context, and by collaboration across disciplines. How do various creative methods translate visionary ideas into reality? How does the design process influence outcomes in our built environment? We invite proposals that share insights on how research methods, site documentation, engagement, ideation, experimentation, design decision-making, and design execution tell a story of creative discovery.

Topics within this track might focus on:

  • Creative ideation tools and methods
  • Transformative engagement tactics and community-driven design approaches
  • Gaps in creative practice between academia and practice
  • Power of storytelling and narratives that build agency and advocacy for design and design identity
  • Building consensus and making decisions with interdisciplinary and collaborative teams
  • Social and cultural landscapes, land acknowledgement, and indigenous ways of seeing
  • Accessibility, universal design, and equity
  • Research-based methodologies
  • Health, safety, and welfare
  • Partnership approaches, programming, and financial strategies

DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION

Material selection, specifications, and maintenance guidelines allow landscape architects to ensure that their designs are faithfully and successfully brought to life. How can landscape architects be empowered in the studio and on the construction site? How do client needs and wishes influence design choices and outcomes? We invite proposals that share tools and methods for communicating design intent through successful documentation, innovative strategies, and new technologies for the design, construction, and post-construction life of projects.

Topics within this track might focus on:

  • Design detail and material innovation
  • Technical documentation and specifications
  • Construction, constructability, and construction administration practices
  • Maintenance and operations
  • Standards, codes, and permitting process
  • Technology and software
  • Planting design and selection, soils, and irrigation
  • Sustainable products, materials, and carbon footprint
  • Monitoring long-term maintenance, management goals, and design intent
  • SITES® strategies and performance metrics

JUSTICE, EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION

ASLA is committed to advancing equity and inclusiveness in all aspects of landscape architecture, and raising the diversity of voices in our profession. As landscape architects strive to improve the livability and viability of communities through thoughtful design, we are grappling with both our evolving understanding of equity, and our preparedness to enact it. Through this track, we invite proposals that explore the challenges of embracing this ethos in practice, to promote just futures for all.

Topics within this track might focus on:

  • Intentionality in ADA and universal design
  • Design for accessibility as a social justice issue
  • Trends and methodologies in community-first design
  • Diversity and resilience—promoting environmental justice at different scales
  • Placing inclusivity at the intersection of public health, safety, and welfare
  • Cultural sensitivity, appropriateness, and appropriation
  • Designing for all ages: age disparity and inclusion
  • Socioeconomic impacts of environmental and land-use decisions
  • Bridging socio-cultural divides in engagement
  • The role of landscape architects in elevating social justice discourse

LEADERSHIP, CAREER DEVELOPMENT, AND BUSINESS

The pandemic has not only challenged business but also revealed new opportunities. Which tools, techniques, and systems have allowed your business to thrive? How have you nurtured existing relationships and built new ones? Share the lessons you’ve learned around maintaining office culture and quality control while working remotely—what new opportunities are you seeing for a post-pandemic practice?

Topics within this track might focus on:

  • The future of the flexible office
  • Utilizing consultants and/or experts for operations and business development
  • Small-business strategies for mentorship, career development, and just futures (specifically, anti-racist action plans, gender equity plans, white supremacy culture, and anti-racism policies)
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion in public and private practice
  • Ingenuity and new technologies in a post-pandemic practice
  • Transition and legacy planning for small business
  • Best practices for new start-ups from the perspective of existing businesses and new businesses
  • Emerging professional voices on leadership, mentorship, and entering the profession
  • Collaboration and communication techniques among colleagues, clients, and stakeholders
  • Forecasting opportunities for landscape architecture in a post-pandemic environment

PLANNING, URBAN DESIGN, AND INFRASTRUCTURE

2020 revealed with great clarity the pervasive inequities of our social, environmental, and economic systems, along with the need for new approaches to shaping communities through planning, urban design, and infrastructure. How are landscape architects leading the charge for more equitable, healthy, safe, and resilient investments? How do we secure a public realm that protects and celebrates uniqueness? What will the urban fabric of diverse, inclusive, resilient, and beautiful places look like? We invite proposals that explore strategies, policies, projects, and programs that respect ecological and cultural systems, promote economic development, embrace equity and environmental justice, and create more sustainable communities.

Topics within this track might focus on:

  • Resilient and equitable investments in the public realm
  • The racist legacy of planning, housing, urban development, and transportation
  • Community-based approaches to climate action
  • Regulatory and design solutions in response to COVID-19
  • Innovations in housing affordability, urban form, density, and mobility
  • Environmental and racial justice in infrastructure investment
  • Connecting communities with natural resources
  • Streets and public spaces as places of protest
  • Linking infrastructure and systems with people and place
  • Community engagement and public process

RESILIENCE AND STEWARDSHIP

Climate change is intensifying the negative impacts of previously accepted development practices, putting people and communities at risk. Landscape architects have the responsibility to address these challenges in practice, advocacy, education, and research. We need a new paradigm for building and enhancing communities that works in harmony with natural systems and considers the needs of all.

We invite proposals that highlight design and development processes that align with the functions of healthy ecosystems. We encourage proposals that share effective, resilient landscape planning, and projects that help communities prepare, adapt, and rebuild in response to a changing climate.

Topics within this track might focus on:

  • Sustainable SITES Initiative, landscape performance measures/metrics
  • Green stormwater infrastructure
  • Resilient design
  • Soils
  • Plant communities
  • Climate policy impacts on design and communities
  • Site adaptation for climate resilience
  • Biodiversity/habitat restoration
  • Regenerative food systems

TECHNOLOGY

Technological advances in both design software and data sources have opened exciting new avenues for design exploration. Technology is thoroughly entrenched as an essential tool for designers and is both a technical and cultural force impacting our profession. Landscape architects are using technology to aid communication among interdisciplinary design teams, provide opportunities for greater participatory design, and make cities smarter and safer.

We encourage proposals that demonstrate the current state of software use in the profession and the innovative integration of new technologies into site design, construction, and programming.

Topics within this track might focus on:

    • Using technology to improve communication, collaboration, and community engagement
    • Strategic planning for bringing new technology to a firm, including tools for construction administration or project management
    • Using social media to drive design and advocate for the profession
    • “Smart” systems in landscape architecture: using technology for monitoring performance data to calibrate both design and long term operations and management infrastructure
    • 3D modeling / Visualization and animation of landscapes
    • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
    • Building information modeling (BIM)
    • Computer-aided design (CAD)
    • Digital fabrication in landscape architecture
    • Drone / unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications
    • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    • Parametric and other algorithmic design methods