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Member Profiles 2010: Housing and Community Design, and Women in Landscape Architecture PPNs

This article is the third in a series profiling members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), based on responses to the 2010 Annual PPN Survey. 

Housing and Community Design PPN

Members of the PPN who responded to the survey listed the development of communities as their primary work. Their most repeated concern was the impact of the economy on housing-related projects. Below is more detailed information about some members of this PPN. 

Rob Parker, ASLA, is a principal and director of design at RGA Landscape Architects Inc. in Palm Desert, California. As a practitioner in the Desert Southwest for 20 years, Parker has seen a large shift in his company’s practice away from primarily golf course- and resort-related developments that used golf as an enticement to sell homes. With increased water restrictions, he notes that these projects are no longer viable and many developers are exploring other open space amenities rather than golf. Alternatives include small-scale, high-density projects with more of an urban feel. Even larger-scaled master planned communities have areas of higher density so there is more room for multiuse shared open space amenities in lieu of large "private" spaces. The developers now have to plan these spaces as well as provide meaningful and usable private areas.

Jeff Chamlee, ASLA, is director of production at Architerra Design Group in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He notes that housing-related projects have dropped from about 60 percent of the firm’s revenue to less than 10 percent since fall 2007. Chamlee says that his company has compensated somewhat for this reduction by focusing more on education, private, city, and county projects. He believes that, to kick-start the economy and provide for jobs in many sectors, it is critical to get housing projects back on track.

Leslie H. Smith, ASLA, is a professor of landscape architecture at Ball State University and is principal of Equestrian Design Services in Muncie, Indiana. Smith teaches housing and community design studios at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Ball State University. He also maintains a small practice in design of private equestrian estates and planned unit development/mixed-income equestrian/residential communities.

Women in Landscape Architecture PPN

Members of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN work across the gamut of landscape- and land-management-related professions. Of those who responded to the survey, the most common field was residential landscape architecture. Members also repeated that a valued skill in their professions was collaborating with other professionals and interested parties on projects to find common goals. The members also frequently mentioned the economy as having adversely affected their projects and careers.

The following individuals provided more details about their activities and interests.

Terry W. Ryan, FASLA, is a partner at Jacobs/Ryan Associates in Chicago. Her recent projects include the Chicago Riverwalk, in which a former dump site was transformed into an accessible river walk; Serta International Headquarters, which re-created prairie and savanna modern landscape for a corporate headquarters; and a high-end Winnetka, Illinois, residential project on a Lake Michigan bluff with access to beach.

Among Ryan’s honors are Friends of Downtown “Best New Open Space—2010”; Chicago Architecture Foundation Patron of the Year (2009); Midwest Construction Magazine Project of the Year (2009); Illinois Chapter ASLA Honor Award (2009); American Institute of Architects Award (2009); the Illinois ASLA Folio Award (2009); and the Chicago Architecture Foundation Patron of the Year (2008).

Kathryn Gleason, ASLA, is associate professor of landscape architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. One of the highlights of her career has been working with an interdisciplinary team on the excavation of a first century BC public garden in Petra, Jordan, which was recently designated one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It is exciting to see a site developing from survey to excavation to presentation to the public within the national park and the culture of Bedouin life.
Gleason’s “Forensics of Ancient Landscape Architecture: Methods and Approaches to Excavating Relict Gardens and Designed Landscapes” was recently announced as recipient of a 2010 ASLA Research Honor Award. She worked on the recently published American Academy in Rome excavations at the villa of the Roman poet Horace in Licenza (near Tivoli, Italy).

Susan Kemenyffy, Associate ASLA, is the principal of the firm SCPP in McKean, Pennsylvania. As an artist working in many media over many decades, she practices landscape design as a larger, more complex, more demanding studio medium. Kemenyffy will complete a three-year residential client project in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, by summer’s end 2010. She is a trustee of the Erie Community Foundation, a past president of the Carrie T. Watson Garden Club, and a member of the Garden Club of America. In 2009, and again in 2010, she organized a North Coast/Erie County national Garden Conservancy Program that included a tour of six cross-county private gardens. Kemenyffy’s personal work includes a 35-year+ restoration of Raku Place, a 47-acre formerly neglected and bruised residential property in rural Erie County, Pennsylvania.

Jill Cowley, ASLA, works for the National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the lead for the National Park Service Intermountain Region Cultural Landscapes Program. In that role, she assists parks with documentation, analysis, management, and interpretation of a wide variety of park cultural landscape resources.

Cowley is also interested in the field of gender dynamics and the influences of gender on historic preservation priorities and methods. She coauthored (with Shaun Eyring) the chapter "Women's History and Cultural Landscapes" in the 2003 edition of Exploring a Common Past: Researching and Interpreting Women's History for Historic Sites. In 2006, Cowley completed a PhD focusing on landscapes, art, and ecofeminism.

Kristina Hyland, ASLA, works as a planner and coordinator at the Flint Hills Regional Council Inc. in Fort Riley, Kansas. Although she is not currently working in landscape architecture, Hyland finds the shift to planning to be challenging but rewarding. She is the only staff person in a new area of work, and it can be challenging to figure out what needs to be done, who to see about it, and when it needs to be accomplished. She has found the process as a whole very satisfying, especially to see so many individuals in a large geographic area who are willing to sit down and talk about the best course of action for the community.

Susan Ayers, ASLA, is a principal at Ayers Landscape Design & Contracting Company in Sea Girt, New Jersey. Ayers notes that she was project manager for a residential project for which she received variances to construct a gunite pool and deck that minimized disturbance on a sloping site in New Jersey. She worked with Dave Peterson of the Genesis Design Group, who is an engineer and expert in hydraulics. Ayers coordinated the site planning and plan revisions with a surveyor, structural, civil and geotechnical engineers, and legal experts, and assembled the various cost estimates for the project. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints and the economy, the pool and deck project has been put on hold indefinitely.

Ayers is currently involved with other high-end projects that trend toward expanding outdoor living spaces with outdoor kitchens and rooms. She is in the process of obtaining certification in New Jersey to install rain gardens for environmentally sensitive and sustainable landscapes.

Heather Greenaway, ASLA, is the principal at Heather Greenaway in Killingworth, Connecticut. She described the renovation of a small town green (initially a thumbnail sketch plan to help out a friend) as a challenging project due to the constraints of different constituents—townspeople, veterans' groups, and tree lovers.

Emily Keesey, Associate ASLA, works for LANDesign in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She is a recent landscape architecture graduate from Ohio State, has recently worked on a major memorial park project, and assists with city planning projects throughout northeast Ohio. She also helps manage and operate Ohio Stream Preservation, a land conservancy organization dedicated to protecting and preserving Ohio’s streams and wetlands.

Alana Evers, Associate ASLA, works at Dillon Consulting Ltd. in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Evers has found her projects and internal and external opportunities at the firm to be both rewarding and challenging.

Vella Chan, ASLA, of New York City found 2009 to be a job search challenge. After being laid off right before Christmas 2008, she was able to find a position that lasted for three months. But despite her dozen years in the profession, she struggled in the current economy to find job openings and interviews. Mostly, she met other professionals looking for new clients and projects through her networking.

While she was concerned about finding sources of income and transferring her skills, Chan remained optimistic about 2010. She focused on branching out to fields other than landscape architecture, while continuing to volunteer with her local ASLA chapter. Her persistence and flexibility paid off. She was able to secure a position at a local urban cemetery this year. Chan notes that, while out-of-work individuals may have to do whatever is necessary to make ends meet until there are more job openings, including taking a job outside the profession, they should become or remain active in ASLA somehow.

Visit the Housing and Community Design PPN and the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN for more information about these PPNs. To learn more about ASLA's other PPNs, go to the PPN home page, or contact Rachel Shaw, ASLA's manager of Professional Practice, at

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