ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture

“Designing Shared Spaces”

Music City Center, Nashville

November 19 – 22, 2021

Tom Mroz, FASLA, President

Tom Mroz, FASLA, President American Society of Landscape Architects

If there is anything the past year has reinforced, it is the value of our relationships, both personal and professional. With the world opening up and the industry changing at a breakneck pace, I am proud to announce that registration for the 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture is now open. This is an opportunity for our community to gather in-person to discuss what lies ahead for our industry, as we seek to design shared spaces for a post-pandemic future. I look forward seeing you in Nashville, Tennessee.

Welcome to the 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Tennessee

Follow Tom’s journey to Nashville!

Stop 15: Nashville, Tennessee

I finally made it to Nashville! I am visiting a 2018 Tennessee chapter award winning project by LOSE DESIGN: Riverfront Park.
The first phase of development on Nashville’s East Bank Parks involved the Cumberland Park, a development of unique playgrounds, splash features, trails, and an amphitheater. Following its success, the second phase involved the development of tailgate parks around Nissan Stadium (home to the NFL’s Titans), a riverfront lawn for the launching of small watercraft, and improvements to larger boat docks.  Lose Design worked with Hargreaves for constructability of the first phase of the project, and was the primary consultant for later phases.
I have a few days before the conference were I hope to see everyone. But it just dawned on me: how am I getting home?

Stop 14: Millersburg, Kentucky

I am visiting Mustard Seed by CES Group (formerly CMW) in Millersburg Kentucky, a 2019 Chapter Award Winner.

Like many small towns in America, Millersburg, Kentucky is a small rural community experiencing a population decline. Their largest employers have shut down operations, a bypass has re-routed traffic around the town, and the 113-year-oldMilitary Academy synonymous with the town closed in 2006, leaving a 14-acre campus to fall into decay.

Understanding how important the Millersburg Military Institute was to the community, Community Ventures, a non-profit community development corporation, purchased the property out of bankruptcy and vowed to save the campus.  Community Ventures had a vision for transforming the former military boarding school into an economic engine for the community.  Their vision included establishing a multi-purpose event venue, a secondary school with dormitory, a restaurant, a bed & breakfast as well as a business incubator.  Community Ventures renamed the campus Mustard Seed Hill.

The century old buildings on the site were preserved and restored, while the pedestrian and vehicular elements were completely reimagined.  Pedestrian circulation became the primary design objective, moving vehicular circulation to the perimeter of the campus.

Significant earthwork activities were required of the entire site in order to create usable spaces and accessible connections between buildings.  Three formal lawn areas were created for both aesthetic appeal and event gatherings. Similar materials of brick and limestone were used throughout the site improvements to connect to the original architecture of the buildings.  All utilities were placed underground, while the mature trees in the front lawn along Main Street, were preserved.  What had become a symbol of a dying town, has become a beacon of pride and the hope of new prosperity in Millersburg, along with the embodiment of nothing being impossible, if you just have the faith of a mustard seed.

Stop 13: Louisville, Kentucky

Christy’s Garden by Shadley Associates is a 2020 Kentucky Chapter Award Winner, located in a post-industrial brownfield district near downtown Louisville. Christy’s Garden is a beautiful, welcoming oasis and outdoor public space. It supports a dynamic year-round event calendar in conjunction with the new, abutting Paristown Hall music venue. The garden also incorporates environmental resiliency along with its main function which is to encourage diverse cultural interaction and enrichment through the arts.

Christy’s Garden has thrived as a new public park, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its programs and numerous site features include free simulcast outdoor performances, frequent free events in the outdoor pavilion, an outdoor ice-skating rink, and moveable chairs and restaurant services under a pleasant grove of large new trees. In addition to its cultural significance, Christy’s Garden is notable for its transformation from a totally impervious site into a half-acre aquifer recharge area.

Stop 12: Goshen, Kentucky

A 2020 Chapter award winning project by Booker Design Collaborative, Hermitage Farm, is my first stop in Kentucky:
Kentucky is known throughout the world for its picturesque landscapes, thoroughbred horses, and of course, delicious bourbon. Hermitage Farm has become a heritage tourist destination by transforming a working farm into an authentic and immersive sustainable environment.

Programmatic elements that the team considered:

  • Multiple outdoor wedding venues
  • Overnight accommodations in the original historic home
  • Private tours of the broodmare barns
  • A visitors’ center, restaurant, productive gardens, greenhouse, orchard, strolling gardens
  • An immersive art experience on a boardwalk along a wooded stream
  • Careful consideration of vehicular and pedestrian circulation and accommodations for increased utility infrastructure requirements

Stop 11: Cincinnati, Ohio

I am visiting another Ohio Chapter award winning project, Ziegler Park, by Human Nature

Bridging two dynamic neighborhoods, Ziegler Park is the “backyard” of the community. Thematically, it is a blend of the landscape terracing down Liberty Hill and the vibrant street grid of the revitalizing urban core. Functionally, it is a series of outdoor rooms for a variety of outdoor recreation. With Ziegler Park’s transformation, the community now has an open space asset that reflects and supports the economic, social, and physical vitality of the neighborhood.

Stop 10: Westerville, Ohio

I am visiting two projects by the Ohio Chapter award winning firm POD design:

First, I am seeing the Westerville First Responders Park. It  developed through a collaborative effort between community members representing emergency services and the design team. The park features a piece of steel bestowed from the World Trade Center and a statue honoring a local firefighter, and is a backdrop for each visitor to find meaning, solace, and remember those who respond first every day.

My second stop is the Johnston-McVay Parka 6.7 acre-parcel that fulfills a long time need for a neighborhood park. It was conceptualized to provide a unique space which preserves the environment, excites the imagination, educates visitors, and honors past property owners. Again, the result of extensive collaboration between the design team, environmental scientists, and community members created a cohesive park with specialized thematic elements throughout.

Stop 9: Columbus, Ohio

I am visiting Columbus Commons, a 2016 Ohio Chapter Merit Award Winning Project by EDGE. Columbus Commons is a shining example of the potential of public/private partnerships as the catalytic centerpiece of a multi-million dollar reinvestment in downtown Columbus. Built upon an existing parking garage, the green roof lawn provides flexible open space for a wide variety of events. The park also includes half an acre of gardens, a grove of 26 native oaks, two restaurants, and a state-of-the-art concert pavilion.
Columbus Commons has successfully hosted over 2,000 events and 2.5 million visitors in the nine years since its completion.

Stop 8: Indianapolis, Indiana

In this video, my colleague, David Rubin, FASLA, introduces his session Ensuring Wellness in 21st Century Society: Equity and Inclusion at Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis.

Through a nationally-recognized, LEED Gold hospital case-study, learn how landscape, identity, art, and wellness attributes are interwoven to define a comprehensive, inclusive approach to community health. How do you define an environment of inclusive healing that attracts citizens whether seeking hospital services or not?

Stop 7: Carmel, Indiana

My seventh stop is in Carmel to see the Monon Boulevard & Midtown Plaza by the Indiana Chapter award winning firm Rundell Ernstberger Associates, another great example of this year’s theme Designing Shared Spaces.

Monon Boulevard & Midtown Plaza
This project is an expansion and transformation of a shared-use pathway into a multi-modal boulevard that forms an organizing framework and connective tissue for a new urban fabric of mixed use development, public spaces and amenities.

Stop 6: Chicago, Illinois

I am talking to Hana Ishiwaka, Afffiliate ASLA, about her session:        
Green Schoolyards: Nature that Builds Community, Wellness, and Learning
Green schoolyards provide daily access to nature and are critical to supporting the wellness of kids and communities while providing important green space, particularly for under-invested communities. Using Chicago’s Space to Grow model, Hana’s session will highlight innovative partnerships and the benefits green schoolyards provide to schools, students, and communities.

Stop 6, near Chicago, Illinois

My second stop near Chicago is an Illinois Chapter award winning project by Lardner/ Klein Landscape Architects, P.C. After reintroducing the American Bison to its Nachusa Grasslands Preserve, the Nature Conservancy, Illinois Chapter, needed to manage the influx of new visitors. Lardner/Klein met the challenge by creating a visitor center located on a wind-swept knoll, metal roof reflecting and disappearing into the endless sky. The facility draws visitors into an interpretive rich shelter framing distant views, telling the story of the vast prairie beyond and emphasizing the significance of nature in people’s lives.

Image 1 “Site in fall”  Photo Credit: Dee Hudson, Image 2. “Children playing at pump” Photo Credit: Dee Hudson, Image 3. “Site in winter – snow covered” Photo Credit: Charles Larry, Image 4. “Interpretive Visitor Use Facility” Photo Credit: Dee Hudson, Image 4. “Site in summer – yellow flowers” Photo Credit: Dee Hudson

Stop 6, near Chicago, Illinois

My third stop near Chicago is an Illinois Chapter award winning project by Mariani Landscape. The owners of this new French-inspired estate wanted a master plan that would take advantage of the property’s stunning lake views and mature oak trees.
The lake side of the home features picturesque gardens, an open lawn, hundred year old oaks and breathtaking views.
The bluff was completely restored. Dune grasses and native plants help prevent erosion of the bluff and provide habitat for wildlife and migratory birds. The bluff terrace is located strategically in the middle of the bluff to provide a seating area completely surrounded by nature and allow access to the lake.

Stop 5: Cleveland, Ohio
Behnke Landscape Architecture: East Flats River Park
The 1,200’ long public boardwalk, known as the Riverwalk, serves as the front yard to the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. Conversely, it serves as the backyard for the residents and visitors to the new Flats East Bank development. Strategically located at the mouth of the river where it flows into the lake, the “Riverwalk” offers unparalleled views of the lake, its famous river, and the historical starting point of the City of Cleveland.


Stop 4: On my way to Nashville, I decided to swing by The Andersons Corporate Headquarters in Maumee, Ohio.  project was designed by The Collaborative, focusing on balancing the needs for the company’s headquarters in keeping with their desire to promote environmental health. The final result is a landscape both functional and attractive, and one that aesthetically reflects its northwest Ohio location.

I took a brief stop on my journey to Nashville and met with Ernie (Ernest) Wong, FASLA, the 2021 ASLA Community  Service Award winner. “We make life better for people,” Ernie said and that “his mission is to create greenspace for urban areas and bring beauty to city living.” 

You can read about Ernie’s community service here.

Stop 3: Tom visited Promenade Park, by MKSK Studios. It is an ASLA Ohio Chapter award-winning project in Toledo. A beautiful example of how one of our members project brings this year’s ASLA Conference theme “Designing Shared Spaces” to life.

Stop 2: Detroit, Michigan. Tom talked to Brian Staresnick, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP ND about his session:

Old Redford, Exploring Equity, Engagement and Empowerment in Northwest Detroit.

Friday, November 19, 2021
1:30 PM – 4:30 PM CDT

Stop 1: Check out Tom’s conversation with Kenneth J. Kokroko, ASLA. Tom talked to him in Ann Arbor, Michigan on his running journey to Nashville. Kenneth is presenting this amazing session you do not want to miss:

Storytelling Through Design: Honoring Diverse Voices

Friday, November 19, 2021, 3:45 PM – 5:00 PM CDT

ASLA Conference Education Advisory Committee

Tom Mroz, FASLA

Jeannie Martin, FASLA
The Ohio State University

Larry Mizzell, ASLA
Volkert, Inc.

Alisha Eley, ASLA

Duane Border, ASLA
Duane Border Design

Kevin Burke, FASLA
Atlanta BeltLine

Susan Cohen, FASLA
Susan Cohen Landscape Architect

Nick Fobes, ASLA
Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architecture

Gina Ford, FASLA
Agency Landscape + Planning

Kendra Hyson, ASLA
The Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission/ The Urban Studio

Elizabeth Kennedy, ASLA
Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect, PLLC

Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA

Maura Rockcastle, ASLA

Andrew Sargeant, ASLA
Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow/ The Urban Studio

Jean Senechal Biggs, ASLA
City of Beaverton, OR

Juanita Shearer-Swink, FASLA
Triangle Transit (Retired)

Steven Spears, FASLA
GroundWork Development Company

Michael Stanley, ASLA
Stanley Design Group, LLC.

David Yocca, FASLA
Green Infrastructure/Living Systems Consultant

Tennessee Host Chapter Leaders

Host Chapter Co-Chairs
Larry Mizell, ASLA
Alisha Eley, ASLA

Field Session Co-Chairs
Michael Pavin, ASLA
Tipton Fowlkes, ASLA

Public Relations Co-Chair
Michelle Ye, ASLA
Nathan Oliver, ASLA

Women in Landscape Architecture
Walk Committee Co-Chairs

Sarah Newton, ASLA
Lindsey Bradley, ASLA

ASLA/ACE Mentor Program
Legacy Project Co-Chair

Tylor Fischer, ASLA
Daniel Boutté, ASLA

Host Chapter Booth Chair
Owen Harris, ASLA