ASLA announces professional and student award recipients for 2016

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced its professional award recipients for 2016.

Selected from 456 entries, the awards honour top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications and research projects in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. Two Canadian projects were recognized among the winners — Underpass Park in Toronto by PFS Studio (General Design Category, Award of Excellence) and Corktown Common: Flood Protection and a Neighbourhood Park in Toronto by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. (General Design Category, Honour Award).

The professional awards jury included:

  • Kona Gray, ASLA, Chair, EDSA, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Keith Bowers, FASLA, Biohabitats Inc. Baltimore
  • Jennifer Guthrie, FASLA, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Seattle
  • Mami Hara, ASLA, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia
  • Christopher Hume, Architecture Critic, Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario
  • Lee-Anne Milburn, FASLA, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California
  • Willett Moss, ASLA, CMG Landscape Architecture, San Francisco
  • Suman Sorg, FAIA, DLR Group | Sorg, Washington, D.C.
  • Laurinda Spear, ASLA, ArquitectonicaGEO, Miami

Underpass Park
Photo by Tom Arban. Courtesy of ASLA
Photo by Tom Arban. Courtesy of ASLA

Underpass Park by PFS Studio is a highly imaginative public space in a rather unexpected place. Located beneath a complex of existing highway overpasses in Toronto’s downtown, an otherwise forgotten and derelict remnant has been transformed into an active public park providing diverse recreational and social opportunities while connecting new and existing local neighbourhoods and nearby parks.

This unique public space is part of Waterfront Toronto’s revitalization efforts of the celebrated new West Don Lands neighbourhood. It serves to link Corktown Common, River Square and the neighbourhoods of both sides of the overpass complex through the provision of safe and animated public realm design. At a time when urban open-space resources continue to dwindle, and city populations and densities increase, taking advantage of unexpected opportunities, such as the underbelly of an overpass, has proven to be both visionary and essential for the overall health and vibrancy of this area of the city.

Corktown Common: Flood Protection and a Neighbourhood Park
Photo by Nicola Betts. Courtesy of ASLA
Photo by Nicola Betts. Courtesy of ASLA

Corktown Common is an urban park that establishes a model for integrating civic park design into urban flood protection. Below the surface of a biodiverse park replete with Ontario’s native flora is a four-meter high clay substructure that reshapes the Don River’s floodplain, shielding Toronto’s post-industrial West Don Lands from potential inundation by shunting flood waters south toward the lake.

The riverside prairie portion of the park, with its minimal, passive programming, is designed to accept floodwater, whereas the west-facing side is designed to remain dry, with 9 higher acres of space programmed for recreational activities. As a reconstructed brownfield site and the first completed piece of the West Don Land urban plan, Corktown Common is a successful instance of landscape-driven development. Its entirely constructed nature has made a discarded outer edge of the city a desirable destination and has established a new benchmark for ecological diversity in Toronto’s parks.

The ASLA also announced its student award winners for 2016.  Selected from 271 entries representing 71 schools, the awards honour the top work of landscape architecture students in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. The Canadian winners include Shan Yang, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, for the project PHYTO-Industry: Reinvigorating the North Vancouver Waterfront Through a Phased Remediation Process (Analysis and Planning Category, Honour Award; and Jordan Duke, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto for the project The Digital & The Wild: Mitigating Wildfire Risk Through Landscape Adaptations (General Design Category, Honour Award).

The student awards jury included:

  • Laura Solano, ASLA, Chair, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Ned Crankshaw, ASLA, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Terrence DeWan, FASLA, Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, Yarmouth, Maine
  • Janelle Johnson, ASLA, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, Chicago
  • Jeffrey Lee, FASLA, Lee and Associates Inc., Washington, D.C.
  • Elizabeth Miller, FASLA, National Capital Planning Commission, Washington, D.C.
  • Forster Ndubisi, FASLA, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • Trinity Simons, Mayor’s Institute on City Design, Washington, D.C.
  • Barbara Swift, FASLA, Swift & Company Landscape Architects, Seattle

PHYTO-Industry: Reinvigorating the North Vancouver Waterfront Through a Phased Remediation Process
Photo by Shan Yang. Courtesy of ASLA
Photo by Shan Yang. Courtesy of ASLA

PHYTO_Industry seeks to develop a phased remediation strategy that combines existing industrial land-use with future urban development, revealing the social and ecological potential of the site. Shoreline dynamics and ecology; industrial operation and evolution; historical context and economic development; and in-situ site remediation will drive the creation of a multi-functional green belt that supports resilient shoreline ecologies, urban redevelopment and a variety of social spaces.

The site of exploration is a 12-kilometre long industrial belt currently in operation along the North Shore of Burrard Inlet in Metro Vancouver, B.C. The waning industrial area along North Shore is prime territory for future urban development with its large tracks of waterfront land in close proximity to the down town core of Vancouver. However, the legacy of contamination must first be overcome. Applying a site remediation and ecological design framework earlier in the operational phase of an industrial waterfront experiencing decline has the potential to shorten the required remediation timeline, while integrating contemporary urban and ecological design theories and progressive phytotechnology applications.

The Digital & The Wild: Mitigating Wildfire Risk Through Landscape Adaptations
Photo by Jordan Duke. Courtesy of ASLA.
Photo by Jordan Duke. Courtesy of ASLA.

Fire plays a critical role in the ecological processes of the Australian landscape. But when wildfires become uncontrollable, human lives and infrastructure are put at risk. Rising temperatures and fewer rainfall days resulting from climate change is extending the wildfire season, making wildfires even more difficult to contain. Using Cleland Conservation Park in South Australia as a testing ground, this thesis hypothesizes mitigating wildfire risk through digital environmental monitoring sensors paired with short and long term landscape adaptation strategies.

An ongoing feedback loop of data compresses our reaction time to outbreaks from reactionary to preemptive. On a longer timescale, data processing can adapt landscapes by tweaking ecological processes on site to generate fire breaks, windbreaks and reduce fuel loads. These didactic devices employed across the site register environmental phenomena previously invisible to the eye, triggering human behaviour changes while generating new approaches to fire management and a new park typology. By establishing frameworks of negotiation with ecology – not controls – the thesis contemplates our evolving relationship between nature and the digital world.

All professional and student winners will receive their awards at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans on Monday, October 24 at the New Orleans Ernest M. Morial Convention Center.

To view the full list of professional award winners, please click here.

To view the full list of student award winners, please click here.