With more entries that exhibit fresh perspectives of traditional
landscape issues, this year’s student awards were marked by
increased originality and groundbreaking challenges to the profession’s
By Jennifer Dowdell
It was another record-breaking year for the 2003 ASLA student awards
competition. Once again the number of entries received this year
surpassed past years—up 44 percent from last year. This year’s
210 entries came from 43 schools in the United States and Canada.
The University of Guelph sent the most entries, with 30 total, but
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, had a
record 22 entries, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sent
11. Six schools—including Harvard Graduate School of Design;
the University of California, Davis; Auburn University; and the
State University of New York at Syracuse—sent entries for
the first time this year.
In "Active Discovery
Education," Shawn Balon, Patrick Kelly, Mark Stuermann,
and Laura Voetz created an entry made up of nine puzzle pieces.
The jurors had o assemble the pieces to learn about the project
and its underlying design philosophies.
The increased competition allowed this year’s jurors to be
more demanding in their judgments. Forty-four awards were given
for what juror Laura Miller described as “condensation, creativity,
and courage” in innovative research and design. As juror and
current ASLA president Paul Morris, FASLA, explained, the winners
showed “a lot of attention to multi-objective problem solving,
and integrating social, environmental, and urban development issues.”
Use of digital media also increased this year. Fifteen entries
relied totally on digitally animated or PowerPoint presentations
in both the research and design categories, and three won awards
of commendation. For the most part, the jurors felt that many digital
entries looked as if the students got caught up in the complexities
of the technology and lost sight of the basic tenets of the research
and design formats. For example, in several projects, whole boards
had simply been scanned to fit the computer screen, resulting in
text that was so small it was barely visible. Morris explained that
the use of digital technology was successful only in those instances
where the media was the best way to present the material.
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