Since the early 20th century, members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) have taken leadership positions in national and local D.C. governments and played a central role in shaping the modern capital, designing and building memorials, parks, and transportation infrastructure, along with preserving historic local landscapes.
The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Washington, D.C.
The Washington, D.C. Chapter of ASLA (later re-named the Potomac Chapter) was formed in 1938. Now, the Potomac Chapter has some 300 members working in government, non-profit, and the private sectors.
ASLA's national organization has also had a long history in the nation's capital: Founded in 1899, ASLA's national headquarters moved to the city in 1960. Just this past year, in recognition of the work of ASLA on green roof education, ASLA was honored to be selected as Environmental Partner of the Year by the Washington, D.C. Department of the Environment (DDOE).
Through its major local initiatives, ASLA remains engaged in strengthening the health and well-being of D.C. residents and improving the sustainability of the built environment:
In 2012, ASLA launched The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Washington, D.C. This online, mobile-friendly guide helps visitors and locals discover more than 75 historic, modern and contemporary landscapes in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va. Expert commentary and more than 800 photos are provided by 20 landscape architects. The guide is divided into 16 distinct tours in all four quadrants of the District, as well as a tour of the new D.C. bicycle network. Each tour covers multiple neighborhoods and includes a printable walking or biking map. Each of the 20 guides were asked to explain the sites from a landscape architect’s point of view and show how the design of these sites influences how people interact with or even feel about these places.
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Washington, D.C. leadership requested input from a range of organizations as it develops a new “unified vision” and “comprehensive framework” for a more sustainable Washington, D.C. The end goal: to connect sustainability with economic development and become the number-one, most sustainable city in North America. Washington, D.C. is currently ranked eighth in a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by Siemens. To participate, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) polled members from its Potomac, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland chapters and incorporated their input into a set of bold recommendations in the priority areas identified by the city government.
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ASLA Green Roof Education
For more than 200 years, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. has served as “America’s Front Yard.” Visitors from across the nation and around the world come to experience some of the nation’s most important civic, cultural, and historic places and events. It’s time for all of us to take a stand for a place so culturally significant and emotionally resonant to help reverse years of neglect, abuse, and just plain wear and tear. The National Mall is also one of the leading works of landscape architecture in the world. To contribute the perspectives of the major design professions to its restoration, ASLA convened a panel of leading landscape architects, architects, and planners from around the country to assess and respond to the National Park Service’s most recent report.
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ASLA educates residents of Washington, D.C. about the benefits of green roofs through weekly tours of its headquarters green roof. To date, some 5,000 people, including 450 students have come through to learn more about how green roofs actually work. As a part of this program, ASLA created a Web site dedicated to green roof education, and has worked with local schools to integrate learning about green infrastructure systems into curricula.
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