2015 Symposium Recap

The annual ASLA Oregon Symposium was once again a huge success! The Emerging Professionals Committee put on a lovely social the night before the big event, allowing our community to meet the many speakers who came near and far to lead sessions at our event. Thank you to Madeline Carroll and the other volunteers for organizing this wonderful opportunity to mingle.

The Symposium kicked off bright and early Saturday morning. Designers, landscape architects and allied professionals filed into Portland State’s Shattuck Hall abuzz with discussion about which sessions they were looking forward to.

Each speaker presented a wonderfully different perspective on the topic of liveable cities. How do we engage youth in our communities? How do we ensure the health of our rivers endures for all future generations? Attendees explored the relationship between personal health and the natural environment. And we learned more about local transportation initiatives that aim to make Portland a more hospital city.

Our gracious sponsors had tables set up in the middle of the main session room, making it easy for attendees to get the latest product news and information. We hear year after year from our members how much they enjoy reconnecting with their local plant nurseries, site furnishing manufacturers, and more.

David Rubin of Land Collective delivered an engaging keynote address that explored the role empathy plays in the success of cities and open space. The session was lively, educational and cross disciplinary in nature – exactly the balance the Symposium planning committee strives for every year.

Thank you attendees, sponsors and volunteers for your participation again this year! Everyone’s energy and enthusiasm helped make this annual event a success yet again. See you next year!








2014 Symposium Recap

via Madeline Carroll, ASLA Oregon Chapter Emerging Professionals Organizer and Symposium Volunteer 

April 14-15, 2014 | Portland State University

The ASLA Oregon Chapter’s 2014 Symposium, “Intervene” drew over one hundred participants from around the state, who enjoyed provocative talks from a dynamic set of “interveners” and soaked up the wit and wisdom of Richard Haag, our esteemed keynote speaker.

Speakers, sponsors, and attendees mingled over drinks and hors d’oeuvres Friday evening at a kick-off social, which featured an exhibition of Richard Haag’s influential design concepts.

After tasty pastries and coffee Saturday morning, Mickey Fearn gave a moving and wittily hopeful talk about the complex and sometimes tense relationship between the environmental justice and ecological conservation movements, and their ties to civil rights and issues of race in the U.S. Meanwhile, Sean Hogan spoke eloquently about the effects of vegetation on the built environment, and the boundless possibilities provided to designers by the palette of modern horticulture.

In the mid-morning session, Will Levenson inspired his audience to take matters into their own hands with his how-to on community landscape intervention, which included a live performance of his original song about the joys of swimming in our very own Willamette River, and quotes from the late, great Harold Ramis. Meanwhile, Michael Lamb gave us his fascinating inside take on the balancing act required to steward a cultural landscape—both to preserve its history and to give it life in the present day.

After a delicious lunch, Kelty McKinnon used gorgeous imagery to describe three innovative Canadian landscapes involving the public realm. Meanwhile, Dr. Mark Paul Frederickson shared the challenges encountered and brilliant successes achieved by the Tejido Group in their quest to develop an international, interdisciplinary, collaborative community outreach program harnessing the power of both academic and professional institutions.

The cherry on the proverbial sundae, Richard Haag finished the day with a participatory keynote wherein audience members were encouraged to shape the content of his presentation by asking him questions regarding some of his vast and varied areas of expertise. I’m sure I speak for more than myself when I say we could have listened to his stories, insights, and sharp jabs of humor well into the wee hours of the night.

Thank you to everyone who came to participate, and a huge thank you to our generous sponsors, with whom we always enjoy talking shop and seeing the new plants, materials, furnishings, and technologies in store for the season. See you next year!

Check out more photos and share your favorite moments from the INTERVENE Symposium at the ASLA Oregon Facebook page.

Photo credit: Robin Wilcox, ASLA Oregon Chapter Vice President and Symposium Volunteer 




2013 Symposium and Charrette Recap

By Rebecca Wahlstrom

I recently saw a query on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) LinkedIn site that stirred up a lot of comment. The question was asking about the social life of an engineer. Our ASCE friends had a variety of answers, but one reply was repeated throughout…the amount of social interaction you experience is dependent on you. Get out and do something! I would agree and would apply that same thought to landscape architects, with a slight twist. Get out and learn something!

I hope you didn’t miss it, but there was just such an opportunity to explore and learn with other landscape architects and associated professions at the 2013 Charrette and Symposium, ‘The Nature of Space’. The event was held on June 14-15 at two sites, PSU and the Left Bank Annex, with around 20 people attending the charrette and about a 100 people coming to the symposium – a lot of people getting out and learning something!

The charrette was held Friday at Shattuck Hall, on the PSU campus. Being that it is summer, the students were mostly absent from the halls, but they did leave behind enough of their drawings and models to create an environment of learning and creativity. Delicious breakfast treats and coffee were provided, followed by an engaging talk by Melanie Poe, PLA. All this was enough to jumpstart foggy brains for the task ahead; work in groups to create a ‘Street Seat’ design on a choice of three locations before 4 pm, followed by a presentation to invited guests. Street Seats is a program which is still in its infancy at the City of Portland – many things are still being worked out in policy and implementation. The charrette participants were excited to have the opportunity to get involved and help shape this interesting way to bring people into the street life.

On Saturday, a bright sunny morning dawned and the 2013 symposium began. Vendors, presenters, and attendees all mingled in the main room, eating more delicious breakfast treats and coffee until the morning sessions began. It was difficult to choose among all the interesting presentations. Subjects ranged from including food in urban design to participatory urbanism, looking at access to play in Chicago and the recent development in south waterfront, here in Portland. Participants discussed how the nature of different spaces can affect things so wholly that the same variety of wine can taste drastically different region to region, and then connecting the same thought to include people and design ideas. Designing a park means something different on the east side of Oregon than designing a park on the west. Same label, different regions, different outcome.After all the wonderful vendors and the interesting presentations, people are already looking forward to what next year holds. What subject does Oregon ASLA want to explore and learn? What new ideas would expand your design practice beyond your current ideas? What would make you get out and learn something? Food for thought; please convey any future symposium ideas to the members of the executive board. Many thanks to the organizing committee – long hours and countless emails all culminated in one awesome event.

Find Out More About Portland’s Street Seats Program Here

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