FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, October 10, 2005– The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) kicked off their 2005 annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. with more than 5,000 attendees -- a record attendance. Charleston, S.C., Mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr., Honorary ASLA, was the keynote speaker at Saturday's opening session.
Riley has been the mayor of Charleston for over 30 years and is considered one of the most visionary and highly effective governmental leaders in America. He has an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, arts and culture, children's issues, the creation of park and other public spaces, and economic revitalization and development. Riley spoke Saturday on urban design and livability issues, specifically addressing his efforts to restore the "heart" of the city of Charleston, including the dramatic rebirth of King Street, Charleston's main retail area.
Riley said, "There's no excuse to build anything that doesn't add to the beauty of a city. Humans and cities need memories." Riley's words ring true for his city, as Charleston has become one of the most vibrant and productive downtowns in America.
Other notable speakers include Laurie Olin, FASLA, who spoke of the social aspects of design in landscape architecture, including the important role landscape architects play in security design. Olin was instrumental in the redesign of the landscape architecture surrounding key areas in our nation's capital, including the Washington Monument and the White House. Olin stated that since 9/11 our country's landscape needs have changed, but that hopefully in the next 20 to 30 years this is a need that will become less prevalent.
ASLA annual meeting attendees have also been discussing possible responses to the recent disasters along the Gulf Coast. Members, including chapter leadership from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, met to discuss potential community recovery plans. Louisiana Trustee Chad Danos, ASLA, suggested that rebuilding efforts need to focus not only on the areas hardest hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but also on dealing with the population shifts to cities such as his native Baton Rouge where the population almost doubled in the weeks following the hurricanes. Members made a number of suggestions for assisting communities in need, including the idea that schools and firms could "adopt" communities to assist in their reconstruction. ASLA plans to use these discussions as a starting point for developing a long-term rebuilding and preparedness plan.
Remaining events at the meeting include the closing session, featuring keynote speaker Nora Lee who will share her knowledge of the "Experience Economy" with attendees. Lee is the author of the recently published The Mom Factor: What Really Drives Where We Shop, Eat, and Play. ASLA will also present its annual awards in the professional and student categories on Monday, the final day of the meeting.
Media registration for the annual meeting is free. For more information contact Ashley Owens at 301-466-4495.