ASLA Hispanic Heritage Month Webinar Series

Linda JewellTop Left: Ricardo Austrich; Top Middle: Lina Maria Escobar Ocampo; Top Right: Ricardo Riveros
Bottom Left: Maria Bellalta; Bottom Right: Saul Alcantara Onofre

In 2020, ASLA offered the following webinars in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month:

 Cultural Diversity through the Latin American Landscape

On September 24, ASLA kicked-off its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with the Cultural Diversity through the Latin American Landscape webinar. This webinar session provoked the landscape architecture and design discourse through an engaging debate evidenced through distinct and shared experiences from professional and teaching fields in Latin America. The recognition and power of diversity was explored as the basis for collaboration in planning through multiple geographies and scales, demonstrating the enormous potential existing through cultural heritage.

Learning goals covered during the webinar:

  1. Illustrate examples of local landscapes, culture, and lore that each educator references in their country.
  2. Explore the areas of overlap and distinction among various Latin American country’s professional practice.
  3. Understand the socio-political challenges for landscape architecture in Latin America.
  4. Gain knowledge of where the practice of landscape architecture in Latin America is heading in the 21st century.
  5. Examine the role of collaborative planning in Latin America and the U.S. as an opportunity to expand the knowledge and breadth of the landscape architecture discipline in developing countries.


  • Ricardo Austrich, ASLA, President, BSLA, BSC Group, Boston/Cuba, Webinar Moderator
  • María Bellalta, ASLA, Dean/Faculty, School of Landscape Architecture, Boston Architectural College, Boston/Chile
  • Lina Escobar, Director, Master of Landscape Architecture program, Escuela de Arquitectura y Diseño, Universidad Pontifica Bolivariana, Medellín, Colombia
  • Dr. Saúl Alcántara Onofre, Professor, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, President, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), México
  • Ricardo Riveros, President, IFLA Américas, Director Corporación Patrimonio y Paisaje, Professor, Landscape Architecture, Universidad Central Santiago, Chile


Saul Alcantara Onofre

Saul Alcantara Onofre

 The Spectacular Nature of the Ancient Mexico  

In this webinar session, Saul Alcantara Onofre presented the rich aspects of the Mesoamerican Pre-Hispanic people and their thoughts regarding the sacred vision of nature: mainly that of the living souls of trees. In Ancient Mexico, indigenous cultures used the trees for their religious connotations. The tree, with its derivatives, was a protector-being, a father, and the cosmos. The Pre-Hispanic society was identified by its harmony and sacred Domini from nature, as a premise of freedom, and the spiritual content was the landscape. The Pre-Hispanic codices Vidovenense, Selde and Ferjévráry.

Mayer, drawn one hundred years before the Spanish invasion in 1521, hold a crucial testimony of the connection among humanity and nature. Those codices describe trees and birds as deities, which deserved respect and veneration.

Learning Goals:

  1. Learn from the Mesoamerican Pre-Hispanic culture that nature, mainly the trees, are sacred.
  2. Realize that nature is the melting pot of the intangible heritage.
  3. Explore within the ancient codices the cultural and spiritual massages from the trees.


Maria Bellalta, ASLA

Maria Bellalta
On Social Urbanism and Reframing Spatial Design in Latin America

Through her upcoming publication, Social Urbanism - Reframing Spatial Design - Discourses from Latin America - María Bellalta offered a comprehensive analysis of the foundational geography of Latin American landscapes as the instigator for urbanization processes that have impacted the continent over centuries. By tracing the historical patterns of colonization and modern planning strategies that have promoted a legacy of exploitation, Bellalta presented an alternative view that reveals the Latin American landscape as a potent “cultural space”, engendering a model of urbanization through Social Urbanism.

Learning Goals:

  1. Illustrate the geographical and cultural and spatial heritage of Latin American countries.
  2. Understand the socio-political structures that have been defined through the landscape.
  3. Expand the breadth of urbanization frameworks and explore community-based planning strategies that promote equitable urban development.

New book from Maria Bellalta: Social Urbanism: Reframing Spatial Design – Discourses from Latin America .


Ricardo Riveros

Ricardo Riveros


Climate Change, Landscape, Cultural and Natural Heritage - Challenges of Landscape Architecture and How IFLA Can Support These

By reviewing a fire disaster caused by climate change in the context of a heritage, port city, Valparaíso in Chile, Ricardo Riveros proposed ways to expose the current challenges of landscape architecture in processes of reconstruction of cities, regeneration of identity, and of mitigation strategies to prevent future natural disasters.

Learning Goals:

  1. Comprehend the challenges of landscape architecture in terms of climate change through a specific and real time example.
  2. Review the impact that climate change has on heritage cities and their landscapes.
  3. Gain knowledge of how IFLA AR can support local initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change through its alliances.



Ricardo R. Austrich, ASLA

Ricardo has more than 25 years of experience in landscape architecture. His ability to work closely and effectively with stakeholders, municipal departments, and review bodies, through the facilitation of group meetings and other engagement programs is at the core of his practice. Ricardo’s work in professional landscape architecture maintains a focus on design, including but not limited to parks, streetscapes, cemeteries, historical landscapes as well as site planning. Specifically, Ricardo has worked on numerous, multidisciplinary master plans and design efforts for non-profit groups. He brings additional knowledge with commercial & developer driven projects. These experiences effectively exemplify Ricardo’s specialization in plant-centered approaches. Embracing methods that encompass sustainable plant solutions characterized by both pleasing aesthetics and performance. Ricardo’s work both illustrates and is informed by his past experiences as educator in landscape architecture at The Boston Architectural College, in Chile as a Fulbright scholar and in Australia as a visiting lecturer. He is president of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects and has focused his efforts on increasing the diversity and visibility of the profession.  

María Bellalta, ASLA
María Bellalta is dean and faculty, School of Landscape Architecture, Boston Architectural College (BAC), where she teaches design theory and interdisciplinary studios on social urbanism with a focus on the emergence of Medellín, Colombia and developing cities in Latin America.  Maria holds academic collaborations with Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) in Medellín, and Centro Metropolitano de Arquitectura Sustentable (C+) in México City.  María received her MLA from Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, with prior studies in Environmental Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.  She has held positions as design director with Martha Schwartz Partners, and designer with Sasaki Associates, Inc., and Copley Wolff Design Group, in addition to her own design office, LTX Urban Landscapes Studio.  She chairs the Committee on Education, American Society of Landscape Architects.  María is originally from Santiago, Chile.

Lina Escobar Ocampo
Lina Escobar is Director for the Landscape Architecture program at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellin, the only existing master’s program in Colombia.  From there she has had the opportunity to interact with professors from different countries exchanging experiences about teaching Landscape architecture in the Latin American.

Following her degree in Architecture and Urbanism in 2001, Lina has been involved in landscape architecture and conservation projects throughout Colombia, including the development of a new nature reserve for Medellín in the ‘green belt’ around the city to promote ecological and social wellbeing. Researcher and international keynote speaker in Landscape, her research interests cover city border landscapes, green infrastructure, landscape, and territorial planning. She sits on the academic counsel and the Curriculum Committee of the Architecture Faculty at UPB.  

Saúl Alcántara Onofre
Saúl Alcántara received his architecture degree from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM). He specialized in “Restoration of Monuments and Historic Centres”, CECTI, Florence, Italy. He received his master of landscape architecture from the Universitá di Genova, Italy, and his Doctoral degree from UAM. Titular Professor at UAM. Titular Member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana, founded by Frida Kahlo in 1942. Emeritus Member of the National Academy of Architecture of Mexico. Expert of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) to evaluate 11 site candidates to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Advisory Member and past vice-president of ICOMOS-IFLA. President of ICOMOS Mexico. He has published 3 books and 120 specialized articles. He has executed 30 projects focused on the restoration of cultural monuments and landscapes.

Ricardo Riveros, IFLA
Ricardo Riveros Celis studied landscape architecture at INACAP Chile. Later he graduated as a Master in Urban Planning at the Universidad de Chile. He is currently enrolled in the Doctorate in Architecture and Urbanism of the National University of La Plata, Argentina. President of IFLA AR (Americas Region).

Past-President of the Chilean Institute of Landscape Architects ICHAP, member of IFLA, Executive Secretary of the Forums of the Latin American Landscape Initiative LALI and Director of the NGO Patrimonio y Paisaje (Heritage and Landscape) in Chile.

Professor for 15 years in schools of Landscape Architecture in Chile, currently at the School of Landscape Architecture of the Central University of Chile.

Associate professor of the Research Core: Urban Biodiversity. Central University of Chile.
Researcher and international keynote speaker in Landscape, professor of international workshops on Landscape, public space, and community participation.


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