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American Society of Landscape Architects


July 2007 Issue

2007 ASLA Awards
Intense. Stressful. Exhausting. Challenging. Exhilarating. Entertaining. Rewarding

2007 ASLA Awards Steve Lee

Each describes the extraordinary range of emotions the jury experiences during its three-day sequestration. Having been on a professional jury and a student jury within the past three years, I clearly knew what to expect, but the experience still surprised me. It seemed new and fresh. I attribute this feeling to the incredible panel of jurors with whom I shared the experience. Our jury this year seemed to overflow with depth, experience, energy, and personality. It was an incredibly diverse and balanced group—leaders of some of the most prominent landscape architecture firms in the country, previous recipients of hundreds of design awards, leadership from some of the best academic programs, industry leaders, authors, publishers, community advocates, and radio hosts—all unselfishly sharing their broad base of talent in research, planning, design, and communications. Sure, there was the occasional feisty debate and disagreement. That kept things entertaining. Amazingly, this jury was resolutely focused on the task at hand, tireless, patient and accepting of the process, passionate and challenging in their enthusiastic review of the entries, and extraordinarily generous in their praise of each of the awardees. At the end of our three-day journey, we felt that each of the 515 submissions was fairly judged and the best of the best rose to the top.

The competition in each category was very deep, and the diversity of the entries was clear testimony to the broad spectrum of important and valuable work by landscape architects around the world. Also, the quality of the submissions themselves had improved dramatically over my previous experience as a professional awards juror in 2004. But there is still considerable room for improvement. I’m still amazed by the number of entries with poor photography, sometimes pathetic graphics, and rambling text. There is no doubt that several entries might have navigated their way through the challenging review process and won awards with professional photography, strong graphics, and a concise, focused narrative that directly addressed each of the criteria being evaluated by the jury.

The jury was excited and impressed that there were 53 international submissions in the program this year. Two of the five Awards of Excellence and 16 percent of the total awards in four different categories were for international projects. Each represented the unique context of their cultures and public realm. Recognition of work in China, Lebanon, Mexico, and Germany demonstrated the extraordinary reach and influence of our profession and the important work of landscape architects on a global scale. This is a growing profession without boundaries.

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