A Recap of the ASLA 2013 Annual Meeting and EXPO

A Recap of the ASLA 2013 Annual Meeting and EXPO

I arrived in Boston during the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 15, hopped a cab to the hotel, and took a quick nap prior to the launch of the 2013 edition of the ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO. I have attended this conference since 2009; each year has been more enjoyable than the last. This year was no exception. Upon entering the main entrance doors, I was greeted by a gigantic, widescreen Jumbotron happily scrolling ASLA Professional and Student Award winning projects from 2013.  Crowds of conference goers waited in line to obtain their badges, and the anticipation grew.  For first-timers, the initial experience can be daunting — it certainly was for me in 2009 — however, the best approach is to place your uneasiness aside and “dive in.”

2013 ASLA

Main entrance at the 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO

A Few Tips When Attending

I’ve learned to sit near the front for the education sessions, to introduce myself to the presenter(s), to not be shy when I encounter a famous landscape architect, and to absorb as much content as possible, let it distill, and implement it into my practice.

Key Takeaways

If the nature of the education and field sessions is reflective of the pressing topics in landscape architecture, then there is no doubt public health ranks high on the list.  Based on my count, 16 sessions presented topics about promoting healthy communities by way of active transportation, accessibility to local food, and opportunities for diverse public space amenities. Although this observation is a key concern in the United States, do similar topics hold true in other countries throughout the world? How has your country addressed public health? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

2013 ASLA

Portland Transit Mall

Education Sessions That Resonated With Me

Throughout the conference, I attended a handful of education sessions. While I found them all to be beneficial, two in particular really hit home. Drawing: Lost & Found Presenters: Warren Byrd, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects; Michael Vergason, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects; Laurie Olin, OLIN These three rock stars of landscape architecture presented work from their sketchbooks and distinctive, yet similar, approaches to why hand drawing is critical to the development of design.  Perhaps the collective of big names drew a standing-room-only audience, yet I think with more schools shifting their focus to nearly entirely digital graphics, students and emerging professionals are realizing they must look to other avenues to bolster their hand-drawing skills.  What better way to gain inspiration than from the masters!

2013 ASLA

Laurie Olin

Playing It Too Safe Presenters: Jane Chermayeff, Architecture Playground Equipment, Inc.; Philip Howard, Common Good; Harry Harbottle, and Julian Richter, Richter Spielgeräte GmbH First, I would like to praise this group of presenters for not resorting to a predictable PowerPoint presentation. Instead, they interjected professional experience and research into the mix, and Julian ultimately turned it into a passionate and entertaining sermon — one of my most memorable education sessions! Since half of the group was from Germany and the other half from the United States, the presentation provided a contrasting, yet agreeable, view of play — that it’s become too safe and, as a result, has stifled children’s interest in play.
2013 ASLA

Children playing on the queen swing

Julian Richter, the proprietor of Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, one of Germany’s largest play equipment manufacturers, noted that about 94 percent of injuries from play are due to a child’s actions, while only 6 percent of injuries are accredited to the equipment. This finding further demonstrates that by making play too safe, society is severely compromising the mental, physical, and social development of children — ultimately limiting children’s ability to assess risk. 

Why you should of went to ASLA 2013

For those who have attended the ASLA 2013 Annual Meeting & EXPO, this may be redundant to you, but the reason I continue to come back to this particular conference is simple: Great people, informative and compelling education sessions, and because it’s the best gathering of landscape architects in the world! While the years pass, I view this conference as a time to reconnect with old friends, fellow studio mates, and past professors, as well as a prime opportunity to create new friendships. Although licensed landscape architects view the Annual Meeting as an outlet to obtain more than 21 professional development hours (PDH) and maintain licensure, to me, it will always serve as a way to remain at the forefront of the industry. See you next year in Denver! Title: ASLA 2013 Annual Meeting & EXPO Dates: Nov. 15-18, 2013 Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Venue: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center Attendance: 5,700 (the second-largest in ASLA history) Future Annual Meetings: Denver, Nov. 21-24, 2014 (Colorado Convention Center); Chicago, Nov. 6-9, 2015 (McCormick Place) Article written by Brett Lezon.

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