LANDbytes: River Time

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

As a rower on a master’s crew team, I have been on the Portland portion of the Willamette River most times of the day and most times of the year. In the spring, fishing boats dot the river in clusters, moving between a slow crawl and a frantic rush to the next great fishing spot. When the fishing season ends there is a brief quiet time until the weather turns warm and the river really gets to be a busy place when kayakers, swimmers, rowing teams, water skiers, jet skiers, sailboats, dragon boaters, pirate ships, outrigger canoes, stand up paddlers, jet boat tours, and Portland Spirit tours, industrial barges, motor boats, and wildlife all want a part of the Willamette River.

With all this river action, one would think that there is a great deal of public access to the river. Not necessarily the case. The amount of public access to the river remains spotty at best. With the seawall, industry, and private land covering much of the river edge in Portland, the public has little option other than to crowd to the remaining access points. Trying to get a rowing shell out on the water on a sunny afternoon requires a certain amount of determination and loss of reason. The one major public dock in the downtown area becomes standing/sprawling room only with people wanting to get next to (or in) the water. The shallow access under the Hawthorne Bridge becomes a spot for people to wade in and little kids to throw sticks in the water. People try to pick their way through the rip-rap on the west shoreline along the concert bowl, looking for access. Tourists lean on the seawall railings and look down at the water like they would really love to be there, but can’t figure out how. Whether you are of the opinion that the river going through downtown is filled with contaminants or not, these people want to interact with the water.

How can we, as landscape architects, get the public safely to the water? Not just gazing at it from afar, but actually get people to the water. The development around the river shore in the Portland area is intense and there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of flex, but I wonder if clever landscape architects, working together with water enthusiasts and the city, can figure out how. The more people who can connect to our natural surroundings, the more likely they will care about preserving the natural spaces in Oregon. After all, that is a large part of what we do as landscape architects; preserve places, rebuild environments, and re-connect people to their surroundings.

See you on the river.


LANDbytes: Favorites

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

I always think it is interesting how people tie places, feelings, or attitudes to plants; one type of plant can instantly transport a person to a happy memory, while another will only remind one of gas stations. In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I’d write an article about feelings and plants. Once again, I turned to my facebook friends to answer my question; what plant or flower do you see as the most romantic and why?

The facebook friends did not disappoint – while there was no clear ‘winner’, there was a clear sense that favorites were ones that were connected to good memories. Plants that had a lovely scent were particularly popular, one said that the sweet smell of daphne meant that spring was just around the corner. Another remembered that her mother would collect these sweet blooms as small bouquets and place them around the house. Evening primrose reminded another of warm summer nights. Lilies, gardenias, pansies, grape vines, lilacs, passionflower, orchids, and tulips all made the list.

So what does this all mean to landscape architecture? While our designs may not depend on the above mentioned plants, I think it is valuable to remember how people have such a connection of time and place to plants. Take a moment to think of a few plants and see if you immediately picture it in a certain place…junipers and barberry usually end up in parking lots and gas stations, ornamental grasses usually end up in urban settings, and daphne usually end up in a residential setting. For the most part, plants become popular in a particular setting because they have performed well in the past, although available nursery stock, budget, and design time constraints all are part of the mix as well. I wonder how much of the decision is based on our own categorization of what should be seen in a certain place; it would be interesting to see if some of these plants could move into new settings. To have someone come out of a downtown high-rise and catch sight of a plant that, for a moment, transports them to a more relaxed time and place. To have a more urban and spare look at a residence that might serve to be a calming influence on a hectic life. We all have our favorites (plants or materials); maybe it is time to see some favorites in a new way – to move some plants into unexpected places.


LANDbytes: Uncovering Your Career

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

If you ever had to search for employment, you are familiar with the ritual of sending resumes to prospective employers. During this time it’s easy to feel that your resume is just a small piece of information in an ocean of applications. Not only are resumes handed out, they are emailed, posted, and dissected by computer programs looking for key words; now more than ever, the right words matter. We need to work so that our profession is one of those key words being searched for by those who hire.

Are people with a landscape architecture degree not being considered for jobs beyond a traditional landscape architecture position? Design job advertisements list desired fields that include architecture, civil engineering, and planning, but rarely list landscape architecture (usually buried under the heading ‘other related fields’). What can be done to move the our profession into a place where landscape architects, armed with proper training and experience, will be viewed as marketable in today’s job market?

I’ve frequently gotten this response when someone looks at my resume or finds out what I do; ”Oh! That sounds fun! You must love plants!” Yes and no. While I do love plants, that is not the extent of my interests or training. You know that – I know that – but do people who hire know that? Saying that landscape architects must love plants is akin to saying that architects must love wood. While architects might admire wood and its properties, it is just one piece of the bigger picture.

Is a planner or architect more sought after for jobs than a landscape architect? Is it true? One might question if it is simply a residual perception of an outdated class system, or a real breakdown in the training of landscape architects. It seems that a dialogue needs to take place between the people that hire and the people who educate to ensure that new graduates get the tools they need to survive in today’s work world. Not to say that the landscape architecture profession needs to redefine itself, as one can never be all things to all people, but we need to actively foster a change in professional perception and review our current system to make sure new graduates are able to get meaningful work.

Moving the landscape architecture profession from the job where people assume they will be periodically out of work, to one where landscape architectural training is seen as an asset to projects and therefore enormously valuable to the workplace, is critical. Just think of all the sectors of industry, construction, ecology, and policy that could benefit from people trained to think and create for the environment using whole systems in simply elegant ways. It’s fascinating to think of all the changes that could happen, but doing so will take energy and persistence to break through professional barriers. One might say it is the growing pains of a profession that is constantly striving to find new ways to make a difference. The theme for the 2014 Landscape Architecture Month in April is ‘Career Discovery’; with that topic in mind, let’s work to make sure that landscape architecture is a robust and vital career choice for these new students and practitioners.


LANDbytes: Design Dynasty

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

I recently had the opportunity of doing some historical research, which involved digging into old documents like United States immigration logs from the late 1800’s. Among the various facts gleaned about new arrivals was the amount of money they were bringing into the country and their occupation. It may be that people came into the country with only three dollars, but they brought skills and talent from all over the world. It’s pretty fantastic to think the occupations listed in that careful handwriting have since developed and matured into modern professions of today. One generation after the next has passed on their skills through mentorship and example, ensuring that others can use the lessons of the past to reach even greater heights.

“I love my work and that is what I would love to pass on to others. There are so many imaginative and innovative ways to make landscape architecture happen. If you love to draw or write, if you can conceptualize and solve problems, and if you can let your imagination run wild, you will likely find solutions to so many of the challenges facing our environment and humanity. “– Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy, FASLA

When landscape architecture practitioners across Oregon were asked “how and what will you pass on to the next generation of designers?” they replied that they would like to effect the next generation by sharing their ideas and their enjoyment of the profession. It is heartening to see busy professionals make a point to clear a few hours to be accessible to younger designers. A big “thank you!” goes to out to all those practitioners who give of their time and talents to provide good examples for young designers. That generosity is huge and incredibly important to both the strengthening of our profession and helping those young designers feel like they matter.

“Participating in landscape architecture studio design critiques is always an opportunity to both inspire and be inspired by the exchange of ideas, elicit feedback on designs, and to provide supportive critiques to our future colleagues.” – Kurt Lango

Taking part in studio critiques is a great way to contribute and make a difference to the next generation of landscape architects. Another way to ensure that knowledge and skill are being passed along to the new practitioners is to take part in mentorship programs, like the ASLA/University of Oregon (U of O) Shadow Mentor Day. This is an invaluable experience for students in the landscape architecture program at U of O, as they get to see the inner-workings of a local LA firm. Contact Brigitte Huneke if you or your firm would like to be involved in this important part of the U of O curriculum.

“The ability to make things happen through being organized, strategic, and inspired are important tools that you will need early on in your career. Being entrepreneurial in your approach to finding funding and support for your ideas is key. Finding your voice and using the arts, storytelling, cultural traditions, and the humanities are critical pieces for delivering conservation messages that make landscape architecture the most important profession in the world.” – Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy, FASLA

ACE Mentor Program is another wonderful program, aimed at high-school students interested in careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. For just 30 hours during the school year, mentors guide students through the workings of their profession. The website says that the mentors inspire the students, but you can be sure that the students end up inspiring the professionals as well. Find out more about the ACE Mentor Program at the following link:http://www.acementor.org/495.

The ASLA has a number of resources for mentor/mentee opportunities, found at the following link:http://www.asla.org/ContentDetail.aspx?id=33642 and is also explored in Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy’s white paper that explores the mentorship in the ASLA:http://www.asla.org/uploadedFiles/CMS/Education/LA%20Mentoring%20Program.pdf. If you explore these ideas and still don’t find the opportunity that excites your interest or need contact information, please contact any of the ASLA executive members and they will get you in touch with other options and the appropriate people. The practitioners of tomorrow thank you for your time!

Visit the ASLA Mentor/Mentee Page!


LANDbytes: Continued Inspiration

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

More surprises as we continue our look at sources of inspiration in a landscape architect’s life. During the last month I asked fourteen people across the State of Oregon to respond to the question: “How do you keep yourself inspired to investigate less-traveled ground, to keep relevant and ready for new challenges?” Only one person responded.

After I finished stomping around, I started thinking about the reason behind the silence. It is difficult to stay inspired. Long hours, keeping bosses/employees happy, complying with the intricacies of clients/permits/codes, and tight budgets start to dull the once shiny gleam of school. Demands of life begin to take precedence over finding inspiration and people settle into a sort of trudge or sprint to survive each day.

How does one cram creative motivation in amongst all the daily demands? I suspect everyone’s answer will be as varied as their schedules. The ASLA Executive Committee is working hard to provide opportunities for growth and inspiration in 2014. The Hood River Section’s Urban Green and the EP planning teams have worked to offer stimulating and interesting events throughout the past year. The Willamette Valley Section held regularly scheduled luncheons where practitioners can connect and learn during the work day. The High Desert Section has held two charrettes; both events were led by Bend-area landscape architects and promoted community regeneration and pride. Keep alert for upcoming offerings from Oregon ASLA in the new year.

How will you stay inspired during the upcoming year? If you can carve out two hours a week for nine weeks, a ceramics class could encourage a whole new approach on how you shape space. Painting, drawing, or photography classes might open new ways to frame views and look at color. Writing classes have the potential of improving how you organize your thoughts and ideas. If the demands of home/work life are too complex to take a class or attend an event, inspiration might be found by shaking up the everyday by trying something new in small doses. Investigate new pursuits and dust off old talents; but the main point is to be curious. Keep enriching your life with new experiences. As Calvin said to Hobbes in the venerated comic strip, ‘Calvin and Hobbes’; “It’s a magical world. Hobbes, ol’ buddy…let’s go exploring!”

Next month we are looking at the following question; who do you inspire (how and what will you pass on to the next generation of designers). Get ready for more surprises!


LANDbytes: Inspiring Others

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

There is a danger in asking questions as the answer may not be the one you expected. Such was the case in this article. The start of the school year also heralds the beginning of many new designers journey through formal schooling; I became interested in how the designers and landscape architects associated with the ASLA executive committee became inspired to be landscape architects and who has helped form their career. The assumption was that there would be many responses about professors, books, and structured course-work, but instead responses were filled with experiences that were mostly driven by life and people. People got inspiration from exploring and being in learning situations. Leaps were made when people saw a spark in another and reached out to encourage them to take a challenging new path. As these stories show, one does not simply drop from the heavens a fully formed landscape architect/designer; life’s path is full of people and experiences that help shape us into designers.

“My best friend is Brenda Lam, a long-time leading landscape architect in Hawai’i. We were the first all-women landscape architecture and planning firm in Hawai’i. Brenda is also a landscape contractor and an active builder with Habitat for Humanity. She has been involved with the Hawai’i State Agricultural Leadership Program as an orchid farmer and organizer for Kona Outdoor Circle’s Hawai’i Native Plants conferences. She has been a huge inspiration to me as she was the one who encouraged me to attend an accredited graduate program in landscape architecture. We were both mentored by Beatrice Krauss of Lyon Arboretum, the foremost ethnobotanist in Hawai’i, and hiked many mountains and valleys in search of Hawai’i’s native plants. Our years of playing on Hawai’i’s first women’s soccer teams together were valuable in terms of appreciating well-designed sports venues and discussing our future roles in shaping and improving outdoor recreational spaces. Not everyone has a best friend who is also a landscape architect, so I have been lucky from the very beginning.” –Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy

“I have to credit my mom for my direction into Landscape Architecture. On the brink of dropping out of Engineering at University of Florida, I told my parents that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew It wasn’t Engineering. My mom told me to check out the Landscape Architecture department. I thought it was random but worth a shot. When I went to visit one of the department heads to see what it would take to transfer, I was asked if I had a pulse and some creativity. I knew I had at least one of those criteria, but at the time wasn’t sure which. To this day, I am humbled by the intellectual challenges and creativity that is required of us as Landscape Architects, and I could not have imagined doing anything else. Thanks mom!”-Ben Johnson

“The basis of who I am as a landscape architect comes from both my mom and my sister. We went camping and hiking all the time as a young family, and my sister was my co-explorer. From the most minute details in a mushroom, agate, or shell to the way water flowed through our suburban open-drainage ditch, we admired it all! We climbed trees, made forts, and ate every edible thing nature could provide. Back at home, my mom always had a vegetable garden and we canned and preserved food every year. The lessons were in the doing, and there was an agricultural aesthetic mixed in with color theory and planning.” -Arica Duhrkoop-Galas

“Paul Morris, FASLA (former ASLA Oregon and ASLA National President) has been an important mentor, shaping who I am as a landscape architect. In our work together at PB PlaceMaking, he was always positive, a great communicator, engaging and flexible. He remains an inspiration to this day as he leads the Atlanta Beltline project and I undertake a challenging new role with Belt Collins International in Singapore.” –James Hencke

“I am a landscape architect in part because I loved talking architecture with my architect uncle – Uncle Randy. But I became a landscape architect after the Peace Corps when I wanted to stay in a design field but felt that public space, open space and fusion of outside and inside was really much more interesting. People living in villages in Africa understand the importance of landscape architecture even without knowing what it is.” –Rachel Hill

“My design paradigm completed shifted when a pair of Russian architects came to town to rally support for a Takoma pedestrian bridge (unrealized) and they exhibited some artifacts and prints at the Portland Art Museum. They are collectively known as Brodsky and Utkin and their influence has continually pushed me to strive for work that is more meaningful and poetic.” –Jeff Schnabel

Alexander-Brodsky-and-Ilya-Utkin-A-Monument-of-the-Year-2000-1990

There is power in knowing that there are many people and experiences who have helped build a strong foundation of design and exploration in your career. It calls to mind the old Verizon commercial, where the guy is standing there with all the people who make the whole thing work standing right behind him, ready to help. Reading the essays of the contributing designers, other questions develop – who will you inspire? How do you keep yourself inspired to investigate less-traveled ground, to keep relevant and ready for new challenges? Stay tuned in the coming months to hear how some of the landscape architects throughout Oregon answer these questions. You might be surprised with the answers.


LANDbytes: The Grass is Always Greener

By Ben Johnson

In the middle of summer, when my lawn is turning brown, I look forward to my after work ritual of walking to the nearby park. I am fortunate that this happens to be Columbia Park, one of Portland’s vintage open spaces, embodying the quintessential Pacific Northwest park. While meandering along the half-mile looped path, I’m instantly calmed by the shade of the century old trees and an abundance of lush green grass. But my peace is soon interrupted by an internal debate: is green grass better than brown?

I allow my lawn to turn brown and crunchy every year, while the park down the street fulfills my aesthetic need for green grass. In the age of pursuing sustainable practices, I understand that irrigating with fresh, clean water to keep my neighborhood park green isn’t the best use of resources, but honestly, I’m not too excited about the prospect of having to give up all the lush green. My internal debate on sustainable practices versus the aesthetics of a vibrant, lush lawn has prompted me to see if I’m the only one who struggles with this conflict of values.

To learn more about Portland Parks and Recreation’s perspective on this issue and gain a more in depth look at their work on sustainable practices, I met up with Emily Roth, a planner for Portland Parks and Recreation, who is leading the committee to develop the Ecological Sustainable Landscapes Park’s initiative. Below is a synopsis of our conversation:

Ben: What is a sustainable park and what is Portland Parks and Recreation doing to create a sustainable park system?
Emily: Right now we are in the planning and development stages and have put together a “White Paper” that defines, sets goals and strategies for our Sustainable Parks Initiative that looks at a number of elements within our parks system to make them more ecologically sustainable landscapes. We will also be looking at additional initiatives including green fleet and energy efficiency to name a few. From an ecological perspective, we are looking at continued water reduction, reduction in herbicides, seasonal versus weekly mowing to reduce gas consumption, establishing plant biodiversity, and increase soil health. These would be for passive open areas that are difficult to mow or maintain versus programmed sports fields. Sports just have a different level of service needs that you can’t put the same restrictions onto.

We originally focused on providing more nature into parks, but now it’s more about looking at ways to continue to reduce irrigation and other inputs. We will do outreach to learn peoples perspective change in the landscape at the park. We will continue to keep passive open passes green. We also use computerized central controls that precisely monitor the weather and help so that we irrigate when it’s absolutely necessary. We’re looking at using different lawn seed mixes and discussing with maintenance personnel about tall grass mowing and reducing herbicides. We want to increase biodiversity by connecting parks to nearby natural areas. All these things are being looked at system wide so we can institutionalize these sustainable practices.

Ben: Are there any examples of an extreme sustainable park within system?
Emily: Kelly Point Park is a good example. There is a mix of natural and passive areas that are lower maintenance than your average neighborhood park with open lawns. There is no irrigation and a palette of all native plants. For an urban example, we are starting to look at making the Park Blocks more sustainable by adding shrub beds and making the soil healthier.

Ben: From a pure maintenance perspective, what’s better – lawn or a native plant bed?
Emily: In the beginning it’s more expensive to install native plant beds versus lawn. Maintenance is becoming more involved in the planning phases, so our planting designs will be more maintenance friendly. We’re also looking at plant density and phasing planting areas. Wider plant spacing is less expensive, easier to maintain, and allows for an initial understory to prevent erosion and give plants more room to grow. Once the plants are established, then we would infill in a subsequent phase. The verdict is still out on the costs and we hope to track costs as we make changes.

Ben: In an area where water (Bull Run) is plentiful, does it really consume a lot of energy and resources to irrigate lawns or are we swayed by more national thinking that water is scarce?
Is it primarily cost of water driving the need to reduce irrigation use?

Emily: Parks pay the same water rates as any landowner and they are increasing. This, budget cuts, and the desire to be a sustainable park system made our irrigation practices evolve.

Ben: Do you personally own a house, and if so, do you have a lawn that is irrigated?
Emily: I do have a house and yard, but I don’t have any lawn. Our front lawn is certified habitat, and our backyard is all edibles and cut flowers. I have one tiny 5’x5’ patch of grass that I let brown under the clothesline. This year I removed all turf from the driveway strip and planted native plants which are thriving, and I have not watered since the hot weather in May.

Ben: What do you say to change people’s minds when they value green grass more than the sustainable practice of water conservation?
Emily: You have to involve the public in the decision making process and explain why you are doing what you are doing. We have to let them know, if we turn off the water, maybe the lawn will be a little brown, and have some weeds in it, but that’s ok. The grass will turn green again soon.


LANDbytes: Perusing Past Design Award-Winning Projects

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

With the days passing at an ever-quickening rate, the date of the 2013 Design Awards will soon be upon us.  Curious readers might be asking who will submit their projects and what kind of work will represent the Oregon ASLA. The hope of the executive committee is that the upcoming Design Awards Soiree on November 1 will truly be a celebration of design in Oregon, and that firms from each of the sections consider an entry.

In thinking about the upcoming awards, it is natural to start wondering about the projects that have won Oregon Chapter awards in the past – beyond a two year time frame. Please take a moment to look at some former award-winning projects. It is interesting to see that some years it was all about dealing with water, other years it was about denser and more urban projects. Times and tastes change, as do the needs of the clients. The firm names are not included in this article; if you are interested but have no spare time, please Google the project and explore more details. Better yet, if you find yourself near one of these projects, make sure you explore and draw your own conclusions about how the designs have stood the test of time. This was not meant to be an exhaustive list of award winners, but more a retrospective of trends and projects. In the midst of preparing for the future, enjoy this look back in time. The Oregon Chapter of the ASLA has high hopes for the next award winning projects – see you November 1!

Honor Awards
1988 – Mt. Hood Community Re-Entry Program
1998 – Water Pollution Control Lab
2000 – South Waterfront Park
2004 – Oregon Convention Center Expansion
2006 – Santi-ya Outdoor Sculpture Galleries
2010 – Hotel Modera
2011 – Steel Bridge Skatepark

Honor and Sustainability Award
1994 – Gabriel Park Stream Rehabilitation Project

Merit Awards
2002 – Holladay Park
2006 – Tanner Springs Park
2006 – 10th @ Hoyt Courtyard
2008 – Rivers East Center
2010 – 10th Street Green Street

Award of Excellence
2004 – Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade
2008 – Wildhorse Ranch

Presidents Award
1990 – NEC Corporate Campus
1994 – Port of Seattle, Pier 69 Administration Headquarters

Presidents Award for Community Service
2008 – Friends of Ross Island
To find out more about the upcoming design awards soiree, explore the following link;

Detailed Info for the Design Awards Soiree!


LANDbytes: Fear of Failure

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

Who doesn’t want to be a winner? Winners get contracts, bonuses, and the admiration of all who flock to their door.  People like to hang around winners; the sun is shining and life is good (possibly on the verge of being great) and they want some of that sunshine and good life to rub off on them.  People immediately want to mimic whatever the frontrunner does to win so that they, too, may be winners. What about the people who didn’t win that contract, award, or job?

“I have marveled often at the thin line that divides success from failure.” – Ernest Shackleton

No one wants to experience losing, as it rarely brings a happy outcome. Not winning a project might mean furloughed or laid off employees. Hundreds of applicants who fail to land a particular job will need to bolster their morale and tighten their belts. Failure is not a welcome guest in any home; when failure makes a short stay, people bring casseroles-but when the stay is protracted, people tend to not visit anymore.

You’ve heard the term, ‘failure is not an option’, but I believe that failure is always an option. We all know it is something we desperately want to avoid, but are there any good aspects of failure? ‘National Geographic’ (NG) had a writer look at the different failures in exploration and when it is because failure is an option that people are spurred onto even greater heights. As landscape architects, we aren’t planning a massive trip to Antarctica or Nepal, but we can still learn from our failures. As climber, Pete Athans, said in the NG article, “Failure gives you a chance to refine your approach. You’re taking risks more and more intelligently.” The author adds that sometimes too much success can lead to failure, as in the 1996 climbing season on Everest. People had started to think of the mountain as a bit of a cakewalk and no big deal…they were proven wrong when 12 climbers died in one horrific season. As NG writes, “Failure keeps you on your toes.”

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

During a walk through the Portland Japanese Garden with the garden curator, it was explained that sometimes success comes slowly. He said that the Sand and Stone garden was not designed in a traditional manner; that it broke the rules that had previously dictated this style of design. One wouldn’t say that the garden was a failure, but for years, when Japanese garden masters would visit, they would shake their heads and comment on the deviation. 50 years later, visitors are travelling to the garden to see this ‘new’ style, and our Japanese garden enjoys the honor of pushing boundaries and being the frontrunner in this approach. In design, fear of failure can be a death knell for creativity and inspiring new ideas.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” – Bill Cosby

It seems a delicate balance; a healthy fear of failure will keep you on your toes, but too much fear and one just stays frozen in place and ends up not doing anything new. One thing that encourages people to branch out into new territory is to feel that they are equipped with the right education and support to make the gamble work. Autumn is approaching and with it comes ASLA Oregon elections and a new chapter president. What do you hope to see happen here in Oregon and how can you be a part of a successful upcoming year? How can ASLA become an even greater champion for landscape architecture? It might mean connecting emerging professionals for LARE study groups or it might be promoting opportunities for professionals to gain meaningful PDHs; make your voice heard and be willing to be part of the solution.

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe

The 2013 Design Awards is another event that is fast approaching, a time when a jury will decide what projects showcase the best Oregon has to offer and when we celebrate the Oregon design community. ASLA Oregon wants to see the courageous, new work of the membership – consider entering the project(s) that express how you are making Oregon a great place to live, work, and play. Be on the lookout for more event details coming soon, but in the meantime, get ready to show people what you can do. Be bold.


LANDbytes: Bend’s Byway Visitor Center

By Robin Lee Gyorgyfalvy, FASLA

A long envisioned dream for a new Visitor Center at the entrance to the Deschutes National Forest is quickly becoming a reality. This new portal to public lands will be located on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway west of Bend, Oregon, which is home to 80,000 people. The Byway is a magical pathway that flows through a volcanic landscape full of sparkling alpine lakes. Visitors can easily access many outdoor adventures such as sightseeing, biking, hiking, skiing, kayaking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing. Bend’s new Byway Visitor Center is scheduled to open its doors and outdoor interpretive features in time for the summer season of 2014.

Currently, Central Oregon communities and the Deschutes National Forest have been very fortunate to receive funding from the Federal Highways Administration for several projects. This is primarily due to having a comprehensive master planning approach and strong community support as demonstrated by the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway’sCorridor Management and Interpretive Plan. The sustainability and credibility of this plan are due to its grassroots origins and tremendous efforts to continually involve the community through open houses, partnerships, and cultural tourism events.
Working closely with the Deschutes National Forest Scenic Byways Program is a Scenic Byway Community Group that provides innovative ideas for partnerships, marketing, funding, visibility, and education. Also, a great deal of credit must be given to the extraordinary on-the-ground expertise of the Bend/Fort Rock District Interdisciplinary Byway Planning Team. A unique and critical feature of the entire planning process has been to incorporate the Bend 2030 Community Vision and Action Plan with the Corridor Management and Interpretive Plan.

The Bend 2030 Community Vision and Action Plan is the result of a City of Bend planning process which began in 2006. One in seven citizens contributed opinions and ideas in order to create a road map and picture of how their community should look and feel in the year 2030. Several Bend 2030 Action Plan items incorporated into the Byway Plan include multi-modal connectivity, stewardship and conservation education through partnerships and dialogue-based collaborative processes, and cultural tourism events with community partners.

Recent accomplishments on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway that support the Community Vision and Action Plan items incorporated with the Corridor Management Plan goals and strategies are the following:

1. In August 2012, the Transportation Research Board held its Landscape and Environmental Design Committee’s Mid-Year Meeting “Multi-Modal Transportation and Community Connections” on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and Deschutes National Forest with many transportation leaders throughout the country and Pacific Northwest coming together to collaborate on cutting edge efforts for multi-modal transportation.

2. Stewardship and conservation education are the focus of new outdoor interpretive panels along an accessible entry walkway to be installed soon at the new Visitor Center with learning through the visual arts, tactile sculpture, and creative writing. With an interpretive theme based on hydrology and “Following the Water,” the storylines are based on sub-themes on climate change, culture, geology, volcanoes, ethnobotany, wildlife, vegetation, fisheries, and history.

3. Cultural tourism events being planned this September 2013 by award-winning writers Kathy Bowman and Susan Whitney will be the fourth in a series of “Haiku Highway Writing Workshops” which began in 2010. This year will feature partnerships with the Forest Service’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Employee Association and the Haiku Society of America.

Scenic Byway Partners such as Central Oregon Visitors Association, Visit Bend, all the Central Oregon Chambers of Commerce, to name just a few, are actively engaged in supporting and marketing the Cascade Lakes and creating stewardship opportunities to protect the Byway’s intrinsic values for both residents and visitors. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this has been through the creation and widespread distribution of the colorful and enticing Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway Brochure. Featuring whimsical artwork by local artist Dennis McGregor and a special “Tour of Interpretive Sites,” this light-hearted brochure invites Byway travelers, especially families and children, to see and hear what nature has to offer, a scenic feast for the senses.

Local Bend firms involved in the design for the site and building are Eileen Obermiller, ASLA of Dappled Earth Landscape Architects, BBT Architects, and HWA Engineers.
Stay tuned for a ribbon-cutting event for Bend’s Byway Visitor Center coming soon in 2014!!!

For information, please contact Robin Gyorgyfalvy, Deschutes National Forest Scenic Byways Program Leader atrgyorgyfalvy@fs.fed.us.