Updates from ASLA

ASLA 2019 Professional General Design Honor Award. Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park Phase II. SWA / Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi >

Land Matters: Time for a Checkup

 We at Landscape Architecture Magazine appreciate the time that about 1,000 of you spent answering our 2015 reader survey, which opened online for a month in late October. It’s a detailed survey and collects a vivid picture of our readership. A fair amount of the survey’s information is useful to our advertisers—we can demonstrate great value in an audience with the expertise ours has. We can show that LAM is a good bet both to new and to loyal longtime advertisers, many of whom support ASLA in other important ways.

The real meat for us as editors, of course, comes in the editorial feedback you provide—the lab results, if you will, that show the progress we have or haven’t made since 2013, when we last conducted our survey. And since so many of you took the trouble to tell us what you think, the least we can do is play back what we heard. Most of it, I must admit, is pretty good, but there are some signs of things we can be doing much better than we have.

We learn how long people have read LAM (nearly 60 percent have read it for more than 10 years); how they read it (for the full magazine, 13 percent read it on a digital device through Zinio; the rest is print, or both; and 25 percent of readers read the LAM blog that Kat Katsma, ASLA, manages at; how soon they begin reading it (38 percent read it the week it arrives; 20 percent read it the first day, bless them); and how long they keep it (60 percent keep an issue a year or more).

Then we get to your measure of our journalism. The functionality of the magazine is important to us. We asked a number of questions about various elements that need to work well. There were five rating choices, excellent, good, average, below average, poor. I look for movement in the past two years in the combined excellent and good ratings, a fair measure of satisfaction. Our typography, the work of our excellent art director, Chris McGee, made among the greatest gains, 13 points this year, to 69.4 percent satisfaction; it also scored highest for combined below average/poor ratings at 8.2 percent. The next highest ding, at 7.8 percent dissatisfaction, is “usefulness of information on the job.” We are glad to see that people like the expanded technical detail, for which we got a 13 point bump to 73.37 percent satisfaction. Our biggest drop in satisfaction, 15 points, came under the range of topics we cover, which will be a source of thought for us.

As for the things we cover specifically, we asked whether you thought a range of topics needed more or less coverage or whether they are covered about right. We performed mostly quite well among readers. A few hot spots of concern: 33 percent of you said you would like more coverage of practice management issues; 39 percent want more coverage of construction; 35 percent called for more climate-related design. We also see a desire for more stories about urban design and development trends. We certainly invite our readers to fill in the lines more. You know stories we don’t, so pass them on to us; our e-mails are on the masthead, and we always love to hear from you.

We have a big year ahead at LAM and at ASLA. Once we wrap this issue, we are packed and moving for several months over to Metro Center in downtown D.C. while we renovate this wonderful brick box we call our home in Chinatown into the new ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture, scheduled to open in late 2016. We’ll have a beautiful, bright, more efficient interior by Gensler and a new take on our beloved lower garden by Oehme, van Sweden. The street-level lobby and gallery will seat 100 people. LAM is planning a speaker series. The building will eventually interlock with ASLA’s new Chinatown Green Street Demonstration Project for our block of Eye Street NW. And, not least, we will have the green roof overlooking it all. The ASLA Fund has received many generous donations from members and supporters to help finance the project, toward a fund-raising goal of $1.5 million. We are not there yet, so if you would like to help support the creation of the new center with a tax-deductible gift, visit A lot of great things are coming. Happy New Year. 

Bradford McKee
Editor in Chief
Landscape Architecture Magazine

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