Updates from ASLA

ASLA 2020 Residential Design Award of Excellence. Marshcourt, Cambridge, MA. Reed Hilderbrand >

Urban Design Selected as Stand-Alone Award Category for National ASLA Awards Program

ASLA 2018 Honor Award in General Design, Chicago Riverwalk | State Street to Franklin Street / Sasaki and Ross Barney Architects / Photo by ©Christian Phillips Photography

“The new Urban Design Category honors built projects that mediate social equity, economic viability, infrastructure, environmental stewardship, and inspiring place-making in the public and private realm. The creation of an Urban Design award celebrates the craft and beauty that landscape architects add to the daily lives of people and communities in dense urban places. This category, for both professional and student awards, recognizes that urban design is the framework that gives form, shape, and character to our cities and, when successful, catalyzes remarkable places for all. Additionally, the Honors and Awards Advisory Committee is pleased that this award offers the opportunity for landscape architects to highlight the collaborations that are at the heart of the best urban design projects.”


–2019 Honors and Awards Advisory Committee

ASLA’s Honors and Awards Advisory Committee has recently acted to identify urban design as a stand-alone award category for submissions of suitable work by professionals and students of landscape architecture. Clearly an important and welcome development for landscape architecture, this addition to awards designations will commence with the 2020 ASLA honors and awards cycle. 

Baseco A New Housing Paradigm
ASLA 2018 Student Award of Excellence in Residential Design. Baseco: A New Housing Paradigm. Julio F. Torres Santana, Student ASLA; Yinan Liu, Student ASLA; Aime Vailes-Macarie. Photo by Julio F. Torres Santana, Yinan Liu, Maggie Janik (model photographer)

In considering this addition, the Committee, in partnership with the Urban Design Professional Practice Network, concluded that within our era of urbanization the great work done by landscape architects in enhancing urban environments dating to the earliest days of the profession is deserving of focused recognition. Therefore, this significant addition to the national awards program now gives ASLA members the opportunity to be recognized for outstanding work concerning the urban design, urban form, and place within an urban context. This is particularly significant given the profession’s abilities in shaping truly dynamic urban environments in the 21st century. When compared with the allied professions of architecture and urban planning, whose professional associations - along with the Urban Land Institute and the Congress for New Urbanism - already identify urban design for award recognition. Previously, the ASLA, while awarding urban design achievement, has done so within the broader framework of the “General Design” category.

Lower Rainier Vista & Pedestrian Land Bridge
ASLA 2019 Professional Honor Award in General Design. Lower Rainier Vista & Pedestrian Land Bridge. GGN. Photo by GGN

Landscape architecture demonstrates meaningful and sustainable urban design in a broad, established, and important body of work. This includes urban parks, public spaces, and greenways; mixed land use; complete and interconnected streets; urban waterfronts; understanding three-dimensionality in urban form; and urban agriculture. These achievements also reflect the profession’s understanding of human scale, public health, public safety, and dynamics of natural systems inclusive of cities, neighborhoods, districts, a host of individual sites, and connectivity through human-made and natural corridors. With urban design identified as an award category, landscape architects, and those aspiring to be landscape architects, now have the opportunity for recognition of their capabilities and accomplishments in the complex cross-professional environment that shapes our urban environments. This interdisciplinary collaboration is critical in improving communities’ resilience to climate change and creating healthy and equitable communities.

In making this change to the awards program, the Honors and Awards Advisory Committee and the Urban Design Professional Practice Network encourage submissions of work that will give greater recognition to landscape architecture’s approaches to realizing the quality of life in the urban realm that is creative, sustainable, resilient, and meaningful. 

Leading this effort was Doug Hoerr, FASLA, representing the Honors and Awards Advisory Committee, and Thomas Schurch, ASLA, Co-Chair of the Urban Design Professional Practice Network. The 2020 Call for Entries for both the Professional and Student Awards will open late fall.


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