Honors & Awards

2004 The ASLA Community Service Award Recipient
West Philadephia


WASHINGTON, DC, August 16 , 2004—The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced the West Philadelphia Landscape Project as the recipient of its 2004 Community Service Award, which will be presented during the ASLA Annual Meeting, October 29-November 2, in Salt Lake City.

The West Philadelphia Landscape Project has employed the knowledge, skills, technology, and methods of landscape architecture to redesign and rebuild the landscape of an inner-city neighborhood. Since 1987, numerous landscape architects and others, led by Anne Whiston Spirn, ASLA, have provided pro bono landscape architecture services to an under-served community as part of a larger action research project that integrates practice, research, education, and service. Making service integral to teaching and linking it to a larger research agenda has made it possible to sustain the project for 17 years, during which long-term partnerships have formed. For example, partnerships with a local school, a neighborhood coalition, and a community garden have spawned new projects within and among those groups and with city agencies. The program has been cited as a model of academically based community service by diverse institutions in Philadelphia, the United States, and abroad.

In selecting the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, the nine-member jury said “the long-term nature of the effort is impressive; continual commitment is what distinguishes this effort above others . . .engagement with and impact on high school kids from inner city is outstanding.”

The ASLA Awards Program is administered by the ASLA Library and Education Advocacy Fund, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization established by ASLA in 2001. The ASLA Fund is dedicated to expanding the body of knowledge of the landscape architecture profession, to promoting the value of landscape architecture, and to increasing public understanding of environmental and land use issues and principles.

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects representing more than 14,200 members. Landscape architecture is a comprehensive discipline of land analysis, planning, design, management, preservation, and rehabilitation. ASLA promotes the landscape architecture profession and advances the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship. Learn more about landscape architecture online at www.asla.org.

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Aspen Farms Community Garden, seen here in 1993 and 1999, is one of dozens of landscape projects designed from 1987-1991. The design was produced as part of a studio course in fall 1988 and built in spring1989 (the construction itself was provided by another organization; the designersí services were provided pro bono). The garden is a neighborhood landmark and has won a city-wide award for ìbest community gardenî several times. Although most of the gardenís 50 members are seniors, it has become a place where generations meet.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)

Aspen Farms Community Garden, at the corner of Aspen and 49th Streets.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)

Since 1995, WPLP and Aspen Farms have been partners in developing and implementing an urban watershed curriculum for Sulzberger Middle School, which combines local history and landscape design and planning. Sulzberger students use the garden as an outdoor classroom, including a pond designed by landscape architecture students in a studio at the University of Pennsylvania.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)

Design of new curriculum for Sulzburger Middle School.
(Image: West Philadelphia Project)

From 1996-2001, students in classes at the University of Pennsylvania helped develop a new curriculum for Sulzberger Middle School, which is located on the buried floodplain of Mill Creek. Organized around the urban watershed, the experimental curriculum combined environmental design, community development, and water resource management. Students went into a Sulzberger classroom once a week to help seventh and eighth graders read the neighborhood landscape as the result of natural and social processes over time and to devise designs for the future. Penn students helped the Sulzberger students prepare presentions of their ideas to staff of public agencies.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)

A worksheet on local landscape history developed from the Power of Place classes taught at Penn from 1997-2001, where students taught in Sulzberger Middle School classrooms once a week as part of their own learning about the role of landscape history in urban design and community development. This is one example among many of the materials developed at later used with adults. (Illustration: West Philadelphia Project)

Photos: West Philadelphia Project

In 1997-1998, the design program was for Mill Creek Mini-Golf, where each of the eighteen holes was to be designed to tell some aspect of the neighborhoodís history and to detain stormwater. In response to a request by Sulzberger teachers that they integrate math into the watershed curriculum, students were asked to develop a business plan as well as a design for Mill Creek Mini-Golf. A retired profesor of economics and business showed Penn students how to create a business plan (financial plan, management plan, and marketing plan), and the Penn students taught the eighth graders. This led Sulzberger to establish a new Entrepreneurship Small Learning Community the following year, using as the foundation for the curriculum the business plan framework developed for Mill Creek Mini-Golf.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)

The work with children and teachers at Sulzberger Middle School (SMS) led to an invitation by the Mill Creek Coalition (MCC) to engage in collaborative projects around vacant land, the buried floodplain of Mill Creek, subsidence, and community development, which in turn led to collaboration among WPLP, MCC, SMS, and the Philadelphia Water Department.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)

Recognition: President Bill Clinton visited Sulzberger Middle School in 2000. Here, a student is showing the President a topographic model of the watershed, along with other illustrative material on the Mill Creek Project at Sulzberger.
(Photo: West Philadelphia Project)


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