Letter from the Chair
by Susan Erickson, ASLA

This letter brings great news! This is our second newsletter during the 2009-2010 year. I am so very grateful to Editor Sally Shute for her expertise and hard work in compiling this issue. I am writing this letter in August, during one of the hottest and wettest summers on record here in Iowa. The first issue was published in January, one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record. No matter what the weather, it is always therapeutic to be outdoors, even if it is only for a few minutes. And if it’s in a natural setting, even better!  I hope you have been fortunate enough to get away from your daily routine for some therapeutic moments in a natural setting sometime during this summer.

One of the things I really like about the profession of landscape architecture is the diversity in practice types—from small design-build firms that specialize in outdoor kitchen design to international firms that design resorts in the South Pacific. There is a great breadth within this Professional Practice Network as well. Some of you are in small private practices that specialize in garden design for continuing care retirement communities, and some of you are employed in large firms that specialize in hospital design. Some of you operate design-build firms, and some of you teach others about therapeutic design in a university setting. Some of you are interested in the topic but are not actively involved in its practice.

There is something of interest for everyone in this newsletter issue. Jan Satterthwaite, in the article, “Golden Threads Weave a Sacred Space at VA Puget Sound Fisher House,” starts us out by sharing an exciting case study of the Seattle Fisher House, which provides extended overnight lodging for families of veterans who are being treated in the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. This article portrays a great example of the power of collaboration between academia and private practice to accomplish a community good. Jan has provides interesting discussion about what makes a therapeutic garden different from other gardens.

Lydia Stone Kimball shares a case study in her article, “Roof Gardens in an Urban Hospital.” She describes a $400 million expansion of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The project includes tree rooftop gardens, a street level landscape, and a master plan for the entire campus. We salute the hospital’s decision-makers, who made a commitment to quality, well-designed outdoor spaces at their new facility. I appreciated the three levels of health that formed the overriding principles for the design work: health of the building occupants, health for the surrounding and global community, and health for our natural resources. These three are interdependent, and should be considered in all our design work. Ms. Kimball completed her case study with comments about how the thoughtful design work in this project will affect environmental quality at the larger city scale. This reminds me that we should always use opportunities to celebrate the positive impacts that our work has on the larger scale—be it neighborhood, city, or region.

Vince Healy brings us something completely different in his article,“The Value of Multi-Sensory Elements in Contemplative Landscapes.” This article provides some unique insights into contemplative landscapes. It brings an enjoyable and deep look into how and why contemplation is encouraged. I particularly enjoyed this phrase: “designers [of contemplative landscapes] have as their primary goal seducing beholders into states of serenity.”  I think you’ll enjoy contemplating some of the ideas in this article! 

Finally, Susan Mazer’s article,“The Outdoors for an Inpatient” challenges our definition of “landscape.” In the hospital setting, it includes hallways, corridors, overpasses, and waiting rooms. She references new studies that I am planning to read further, and I suspect I won’t be the only one to benefit from her references. Susan finishes her article with three challenging questions about how landscape architects can address our service, our design work, and our research to further the cause of therapeutic landscape design.

Enjoy this issue of the newsletter, faithful readers!  And don’t forget to join us for the “Meeting Before the Meeting” in Washington DC in September! Details are provided in the a notice located at the end of the newsletter.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as chair of this PPN, my year is nearly finished. I have enjoyed my experience, and urge others to consider becoming actively involved as well.

Best regards,

Susan Erickson
Chair, Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN

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Jack Carman, FASLA, Chair (2013-2014)
(609) 953-5881

Past Chairs

Steve Mitrione, ASLA (2012-2013)

Rick Spalenka (2011-2012)

Susan Erickson, ASLA (2008-2010)

Angela Pappas (2007-2008)

Marguerite Koepke, ASLA (2005-2006)

Naomi Sachs, ASLA (2002-2004)
Therapeutic Landscapes Network

Mark Epstein, ASLA, Co-Chair (1999-2002)

Jack Carman, FASLA, Co-Chair (1999-2002)