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Tribute: Kristen Richards (1952-2021)

Kristen Richards, Hon. ASLA / Jared Green

Kristen Richards, Hon. ASLA., co-founder and editor of (ANN), passed away at 69 from cancer. Richards raised the profile of landscape architecture in broader conversations about cities, equity, and climate change, and championed emerging landscape architects and design journalists.

For nearly 20 years, Richards edited and produced ANN, one of the first e-newsletters covering the architecture, landscape architecture, and planning professions. She provided the service for free because she was committed to making planning and design news as open and accessible as possible.

Early every weekday morning, she curated the news, weaving together a coherent picture of the most important themes and arguments. Richards also made sure to integrate landscape architecture into narratives about the critical role of planning and design in achieving a more equitable, sustainable world.

ANN reached 16,000 subscribers, and among those were much of the design media, who found her e-newsletter an essential read.

Voices from the landscape architecture community reflected on Kristen's life and legacy:  

"Kristen was a wonder. Her expansive grasp of the design fields was nothing short of brilliant. She had a marvelous capacity to weave and integrate design disciplines together into narratives that were incisive and compelling and always with an eye towards moving the conversation forward. She was a treasure and frankly, a soulmate of mine."
— Signe Nielsen, FASLA, principal, MNLA 

"I am saddened by the loss of Kristen as a personal friend and friend of the landscape architecture profession. Over time, she deftly navigated ArchNewsNow coverage to reflect the growing need for a holistic approach to the urgent resilience and environmental issues of our time and highlighted the important role landscape architects play in landscape infrastructure."
— Thomas Balsley, FASLA, design principal, SWA/Balsley

"Kristen was a passionate advocate for landscape architecture and architecture whose zeal was infectious and persuasive, a person with whom you immediately became a lifelong friend, and the best companion for a hardhat tour. We are so grateful for Kristen's support, great humor, and above all her honest and genuine character."
— Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF)  

"Kristen loved to connect people and ideas; she was an essential hub in the design media ecosystem. She was kind and generous to everyone she encountered, but especially to emerging landscape architects and budding design journalists. Kristen lifted up so many young writers, giving many their first exposure to the broader design media, and was constantly expanding the circle of the design community."
— Jared Green, editor of The Dirt blog  

Richards was also the editor-in-chief of Oculus, the quarterly journal of The American Institute of Architects New York from 2003 through 2016.

According to Architect magazine, in addition to being an honorary member of ASLA, Richards was also an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, recipient of the AIANY Service to the Institute Award, the AIANY President’s Commendation, and the Society of Marketing Professional Services—New York/SMPS Media Honor Award.

Richards is survived by her husband and co-founder, George Yates.

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