Reviewing The Future: ASLA Awards Jury
I recently had a very rewarding experience serving on the 2016 ASLA Awards jury representing the Northern California Chapter. This year, the chapter reviewed submissions from the Potomac Chapter (covering the Washington D.C. area). The jury consisted of seven individuals with varying backgrounds and levels of professional and academic experience. One jury member happened to be one of the most accomplished landscape architects of our generation. So to say I felt a little awestruck would be an understatement!
The Potomac Chapter submitted a total 42 projects in 4 different categories (Design – Built Work, Design – Unbuilt Work, Analysis & Planning and Communications). The project types ranged from parks, institutional, civic, city planning, open space to residential, multi-family housing, resort and everything in between. While I can’t yet reveal award-winners, I can tell you there were a number of stellar projects to review. In reviewing these projects, I was reminded how landscape architects play a vital role as stewards of the built environment, whether in an urban setting or in the countryside. And a common thread evident in the submitted projects was a commitment to sustainable design. There were park projects that accommodated heavy program needs while being sited in and around sensitive environments. The treatment of these built edges included meadow and stream restoration, among other techniques. Multi-family housing projects incorporated green roof design and captured rainwater and condensate from mechanical systems to irrigate on-site landscape. Day use areas utilized regenerative eco-sound walls to creatively resolve the problem of a noisy roadway nearby. In addition to the sustainable aspects of the designs, there was also a consistent pattern language of form and space among project submissions. Many designs exhibited striking rectilinear forms, expressed in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional ways.
Reviewing these projects, it was also clear how important graphics and high quality photography are to “telling the story”. I have no doubt there were good projects that didn’t get award consideration because the graphics were muddled and confusing to the jury. Also, projects with high quality photography that depicted a project’s key features in a prominent way were more likely to keep the jury’s attention. For those considering submitting a project for award, remember these tips. It has to be a good project that elevates landscape architecture, but it also needs to tell the story in a graphically impactful way.
After spending the good part of a Saturday with such talented people, my biggest takeaway was that landscape architecture is a fun, yet noble profession that’s critically important to our future. I left feeling excited about continuing my career pursuits. And serving on the jury was a joyous reminder of the type of work that got me excited about landscape architecture in the first place!
Dave Rubin, Project Manager