2012 Symposium & Design Charette Recap

via Rebecca Wahlstrom, ASLA Oregon Chapter LANDbytes Editor and Symposium 2012 Attendee

mailer graphic for web 1_12Organizing a symposium, a design charrette, six breakout sessions and a keynote speaker can be a stressful endeavor for any committee; will speakers want to participate, will people come, will people like it are all questions that would be going round and round in my head. I can imagine the team’s relief and sense of satisfaction when it was all over and the evaluations of the sessions came back with phrases like, “Terrific and useful”, “Great inspiration for current projects”, and “Very well done”. To further illustrate how the charrette and symposium progressed, Jeff Schnabel, James Hencke, and Marianne Zarkin submitted the following summaries:

Overall Summary
via Jeff Schnabel, President, ASLA Oregon Chapter:
The 2012 ASLA OR Symposium, “Enlightened Landscapes” was an enormous success by all measures. Nearly 100 attendees were treated to a diverse array of speakers who probed the edges of Landscape Architecture and provided new insights on traditional landscape architecture themes. The weekend began with a design charrette that produced three provocative schemes for the northernmost park block in NW Portland. The Symposium ended with a keynote address by Seattle artist Dan Corson who transforms landscapes with lights, lasers, video, and musical instruments. In between, attendees were treated to diverse sessions and a record number of exhibitors who shared their latest products. The quality of the speakers combined with the richness of the conversations that followed indicated that this symposium has become a premier event for the advancement of landscape architectural thinking.

In the session titled “New Opportunities for Lighting the Built Environment”, Jeff Schnabel challenged the validity of streetlights as our primary means of illuminating the city. Zachary Suchara provided foundational thinking for light strategies that enrich the built environment. Andrew Smith demonstrated how digital mapping and light projection technologies can be used in the landscape to transform nighttime human experience.

In the session titled “Developments in Digital Design Strategies” Aaron Whelton, Joshua Stein, Kyle Caldwell, and Bill Taylor provided insights into the power of parametric and computational design methods transform the way in which designs are conceived and fabricated. The illustrated projects, whose richness and complexity are only possible through these technological advancements.

North Park Block Design Charrette
via James Hencke, Immediate Past President, ASLA Oregon Chapter:
On Friday April 20, members of ASLA Oregon joined forces with staff from Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R), Metro, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) to explore design ideas regarding a new North Park Block. The event included presentations from both PP&R and Metro staff, a site walking tour, a design break-out session, and final presentation of three concepts. ASLA Oregon and agency staff concluded the event with a lively discussion of the three ideas, and since the event, a final PowerPoint document has been transmitted to PP&R for their use. Event feedback has been very positive, and PP&R is already using the ideas in discussions with PNCA and others about the future of the site. Great work ASLA Oregon members!

Nature Play Session
via Marianne Zarkin, Vice President of Chapter Services, ASLA Oregon Chapter:
Anita Van Asperdt and Michelle Mathis presented research findings and case studies, in addition to local projects that illustrated the wide range of natural play facilities. The session provided insights into the need for these types of play facilities – one fascinating slide showed the mobility limitations placed on children over the past fifty years. Where children were once typically given miles to roam, they now may only be allowed to wander to the end of their residential street. The session continued with definitions of nature play and the range of natural elements that can help facilitate play and also included a discussion of risk v. hazards and materials. To end the presentation, Michelle explained the Oregon Natural Play Initiative’s goal of supporting and promoting natural play in our state.

Select Attendee Evaluations

Session A-1
“Great inspiration for current projects”
“Very well done”
“New realm of thinking for projects”
“An amazing presentation, eye-opener”

Session A-2
“fun, informative, & interactive session”
“Inspirational topic and discussion”
“very informative”
“groundbreaking in the way to look at the design process”

Session A-3
“terrific and useful!”

Session B-1
“Pretty awesome”

Session B-2
“Fun! ”,
“presentation was well designed”
“Very helpful”
“Great and so timely!”

Session B-3
“Excellent innovative information”
“very informative”
“’real world’ perspectives”
“humorous and succinct

After reading the summaries above, I would happily venture that the design community in Oregon is willing to get out there and craft things that are unique and innovative. All throughout the day, one could see people demonstrating that we are indeed one big design community. In this age of increased digital communication, it’s easy to forget how important it is to have that human connection – to actually be there to shake hands with friends and chat about what you’ve just learned. Webinars are fine and good, but being able to sit in the actual room and see who is presenting and being a part of the questions and answers is far more interesting to my mind. Thank you to all the presenters and the organizing committee – job well done. I’m sure we are all looking forward to what we will learn at next year’s symposium.

Rebecca Wahlstrom, ASLA Oregon Chapter LANDbytes Editor and Symposium 2012 Attendee