ASLA Announces Newest Honors Recipients

Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, to receive ASLA Medal, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. wins Firm Award


The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) today announced its 2017 honors recipients. Selected by ASLA’s Board of Trustees, the honors represent the highest awards ASLA presents each year. The honors will be presented at the president’s dinner on October 23, held during the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, October 20–23, in Los Angeles.

2017 Honors
Charles Birnbaum
ASLA Medal: Charles Birnbaum, FASLA

Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, will receive the ASLA Medal, the Society’s highest award for a landscape architect. Over the years, Birnbaum has methodically dedicated himself to the task of preserving designed landscapes and the narratives and individuals responsible for their creation. As the CEO and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), he has developed a powerful vehicle that is an important advocate for the profession and has grown tremendously in influence. Ultimately, what Birnbaum and TCLF have been able to accomplish is transformative in recognizing the potential of landscape to thrill, heal and inspire.

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Gary Hilderbrand
ASLA Design Medal: Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA

Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, will receive the ASLA Design Medal in recognition of his exceptional design work. Hilderbrand is an extraordinarily gifted designer, teacher, critic and author. The projects he has designed with his partner Doug Reed and their Reed Hilderbrand staff are memorable and moving, fitting and unexpected. Hilderbrand has successfully realized the highest level of craftsmanship, design excellence and responsible sustainability across a broad spectrum of project types including public and private gardens, campuses, museums and urban spaces. Projects under his design leadership include Arnold Arboretum Leventritt Garden in Boston, Long Dock Park in Beacon, N.Y., and Clark Institute in Williamstown, Mass.

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Elizabeth Meyer
Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal: Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA

Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA, will receive the Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal for significant and sustained excellence in landscape architecture education. She is a renowned teacher whose critical thinking, student mentoring and inspiration have catalyzed outstanding practitioners across generations. Meyer began teaching at the University of Virginia in 1993 after positions at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, George Washington University and Cornell University. At the University of Virginia, she has not only demonstrated a tireless commitment to advancing pedagogy but also served as chair of Landscape Architecture three times and as Dean of the School of Architecture.

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Kenneth Bahlinger
LaGasse Medal – Landscape Professional: Kenneth Bahlinger, ASLA

Kenneth Bahlinger, ASLA, will receive the LaGasse Medal for contributions to the management and conservation of natural resources and public landscapes. He is an award-winning landscape architect who has worked for the state of Louisiana restoring coastal wetlands for 26 years. Through his professional work, he has made significant contributions to the management and conservation of natural resources through work he has done and leadership he has provided on the Coast Vegetative Planting Program, the Christmas Tree Program, as the landscape of record on vegetation plantings on state restoration projects, and more recently as a senior project manager of multiple large-scale restoration projects.

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Janette Sadik-Kahn
LaGasse Medal – Non-Landscape Professional: Janette Sadik-Khan, Hon. ASLA

Janette Sadik-Khan will receive the LaGasse Medal for contributions to the management and conservation of natural resources and public landscapes. As commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007 to 2013, Sadik-Khan led one of the greatest transformation efforts within the public realm of New York City in over 50 years. Today, she has become an influential voice for making bicyclists and pedestrians a priority with the urban environment and transportation network. As chair of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), and other influential organizations, Sadik-Khan continues to advocate and share her vision for making urban spaces better for all. This award also conveys honorary membership in the Society, as noted by the suffix above.

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Atlanta Belt Line
Olmsted Medal: Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

The Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and Atlanta BeltLine Partnership will jointly receive the Olmsted Medal, which recognizes individuals, organizations, agencies or programs outside the profession of landscape architecture for environmental leadership, vision and stewardship. Both are a very effective team in the advancement and implementation of the Atlanta Beltline project, which is connecting a green “beltline” around Atlanta through the creation of 22 miles of streetcars, 33 miles of multi-use trails and 2,000 acres of parks on old rail corridors. As the largest public project in the country, the Beltline and its leadership have proven the transformative role this project has played, and will continue to play, in the future of Atlanta.

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Central Park Conservancy
Medal of Excellence: Central Park Conservancy

The Central Park Conservancy (CPC) will receive the Landscape Architecture Medal of Excellence. The award recognizes significant contributions to landscape architecture policy, research, education, project planning and design, or a combination of these items. The mission of the CPC is to restore, manage and enhance Central Park in partnership with the public. The Conservancy strives to build a great organization that sets the standard for and spreads the principles of world-class park management—emphasizing environmental excellence—to improve the quality of open space for the enjoyment of all. The CPC is committed to sustaining this operating model to provide a legacy for future generations of park users.

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Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd
The Landscape Architecture Firm Award: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. (GGN) will receive the Landscape Architecture Firm Award, the highest honor ASLA may bestow upon a landscape architecture firm in recognition of distinguished work that influences the profession. GGN was founded in 1999 by Jennifer Guthrie, FASLA, Shannon Nichol, FASLA, and Kathryn Gustafson, FASLA. As a collaborative firm deeply committed to the creation of landscapes that are beautiful, responsible, functional and innovative, GGN has produced a body of work that defines the best of the landscape architecture profession. Projects include Lurie Garden in Chicago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus in Seattle and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

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John T Lyle Center
Community Service Award – Organization: John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies

The John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies will receive the Community Service Award for providing sustained, pro bono service demonstrating the sound principles or values of landscape architecture. The Lyle Center has been a force in facilitating community change, community education and community action since its construction on the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona campus in 1994. It was the life’s work of Cal Poly Pomona emeritus professor of landscape architecture, John T. Lyle, FASLA (1934-1998). Thousands of visitors tour the facility each year, learning about sustainable principles, and the center places students into communities to help organize and empower social and landscape change.

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2017 Honorary Members

Honorary membership is among the highest honors ASLA may bestow upon non-landscape architects in recognition of notable service to the profession. Since its inception in 1899, ASLA has inducted only 215 honorary members.

Eric Garcetti
The Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles

Since his first election as city councilman in 2001, Mayor Garcetti has been an advocate for parks and public spaces. He has made tremendous strides towards advancing catalytic projects for the Los Angeles landscape – including his unparalleled support for the Los Angeles River restoration, a robust Great Streets campaign and sponsoring the City’s first Sustainable City Plan, a plan that sets ambitious goals for increasing local water and energy supplies, improving mobility and air quality, creating green jobs and addressing environmental justice.

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Robin Karson
Robin Karson, Library of American Landscape History

Robin Karson is the founder and executive director of the Library of American Landscape History (LALH), a nonprofit whose mission is to foster understanding of the fine art of landscape architecture and appreciation of North America’s landscape heritage through books, exhibitions and online resources. She is the author of several books and more than 100 articles about American landscape history. LALH books include the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Centennial Reprint Series. LALH served as a major partner in the in the development of this ten-volume series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of ASLA.

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Andy Lipkis
Andy Lipkis, Tree People

Andy Lipkis is the founder and president of TreePeople, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that has spearheaded the citizen forestry movement. TreePeople is a global leader in adapting cities for sustainable living. Under Lipkis’ leadership, the organization’s proven programs blend the science of urban forestry with an understanding of human behavior, inspiring and empowering people to take personal responsibility for achieving a sustainable future through localized ecosystem management. Since its founding, TreePeople’s efforts have resulted in the planting of over two million trees in forests, urban neighborhoods and school campuses.

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Michael O'Brien
Michael O’Brien, American Society of Landscape Architects

Michael O’Brien has had a profound influence on ASLA for the past nine years as its chief financial officer. His extraordinary leadership and business acumen has allowed ASLA to improve its financial position for long-term success, expand its programs and increase its assets. He has been a key leader in both organizing and implementing the Baldridge Initiative, a performance excellence program. In this capacity he has led ASLA through a transformative review of its operating procedures that will guide it for many years to come.

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Mitchell Silver
Mitchell Silver, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Mitchell J. Silver became commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in May 2014. He is also an award-winning planner and the immediate past president of the American Planning Association (APA). As commissioner, Silver has elevated awareness of the importance of parks for public and environmental well-being in New York and beyond. His groundbreaking initiative, Parks Without Borders, brings new meaning to parks for all people. As commissioner of the nation's largest employer of landscape architects, he leads the design and stewardship of land and communities—a vision shared by all ASLA members.

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Emma Skalka
Emma Skalka, Victor Stanley Inc.

Emma Skalka is the vice president of sales and marketing for Victor Stanley, one of North America’s largest manufacturers of site and street furniture that are the standard for most major cities in all fifty states, as well as in over 20 international countries. Under Skalka’s leadership, Victor Stanley has been a major contributor, advertiser and exhibitor with ASLA, winning awards from ASLA for their creative and thoughtful advertising campaigns. She has built strong relationships with landscape architects all over the world, and is a member of the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s board of directors.

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Fred Stanback Jr
Fred Stanback Jr.

Fred Stanback is a landscape conservation hero that few people have ever heard of. Born into the Stanback Headache Powder family, he has quietly and strategically enabled the conservation of many of North Carolina's iconic landscapes, particularly the Blue Ridge Parkway. He has provided tireless advocacy and support for the cause of protecting critical landscapes adjacent to the Parkway that is beyond the scope of any other individual contributor. Through his contributions, countless landscapes along the Parkway will stay protected for years to come. His motivation reflect and support the goals of landscape architecture.

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High-res photos of the 2017 recipients are available. Please contact Karen Grajales at (202) 216-2371 or

About the American Society of Landscape Architects

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 15,000 members in 49 professional chapters and 72 student chapters. Members of the Society use "ASLA" after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Landscape architects lead the stewardship, planning and design of our built and natural environments; the Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship.


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