Climate change, transportation, urbanism: 2019 ASLA Student Award winners tackle pressing landscape issues

Sunken Plaza, "Engaging Hallowed Ground: Re-envisioning the Arrival Ground of Arlington National Cemetery" by Amanda Ton (MLA '19), winner of an Honor Award in the General Design Category.

The American Society of Landscape Architects has honored six projects by nine Harvard University Graduate School of Design students with 2019 ASLA Student Awards. Selected from 368 submissions, this year’s GSD winners tackle a range of topics, including climate change, transportation, urbanism, public space, and participatory design. Each project offers its own bold vision for the future of landscape.

Ton’s proposal includes a sunken welcome center lined by a waterfall that acts to separate mourners from tourists and other guests while acknowledging their co-existence.

Winner of an Honor Award in the General Design Category, “Engaging Hallowed Ground: Re-envisioning the Arrival Ground of Arlington National Cemetery” by Amanda Ton (MLA ’19) uses elevation changes to create unique spatial experiences for tourists, mourners, and other guests visiting the sacred site each year. “This proposal both refines and redefines the currently fragmented and uninspiring arrival experience at Arlington National Cemetery, one of the most sensitive landscapes in the country, and is an example of the power of visual storytelling through landscape architecture,” writes the 2019 Awards Jury. Faculty Advisor: Martin Poirier.

Models showing how densification can occur along new and existing infrastructures.

Completed for the Spring 2019 core studio Landscape Architecture IV: The Near-Future City, “Retreat Yourself: Moving Ground, Preserving Place” by Andy Lee (MUP ’19, MLA ’20), Chelsea Kilburn (MLA ’20), and Kari Roynesdal (MLA ’20) received an Honor Award in the Residential Design Category. Using the Boston suburb of Quincy, MA, as its case study, the project offers an alternative to our understanding of existing property rights in the face of coastal retreat precipitated by climate change. “We advocate for a near future city in which homeowners have the right to leave and the right to stay in place,” states the project narrative. Faculty Advisor: Danielle Choi.

Axonometric Master Plan.

Recipient of the Award Of Excellence in the Analysis and Planning Category, “Mobility As Equality: Building Towards the Olympic/ Post-Olympic LA Transit” by Amanda Ton (MLA ’19), WeiHsiang Chao (MAUD ’20), and Xin Qian (MAUD ’19) uses the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics as an opportunity to launch a new-generation bus system built to service much needed public housing in the Olympic vicinity and neighboring communities. “This thoughtful, layered, and strategically developed plan is made stronger by its sophisticated understanding of the nature of decision-making in the complex political and social environments of Los Angeles,” writes the 2019 Awards Jury. Faculty Advisor: Andres Sevtsuk.

“This public information project, infused with a spirit of optimism, is as much about preserving a distinctive history and culture as it is about these special trees,” writes the 2019 Awards Jury.

Stone Wall Trees 2040: A Critical Discussion of their Alternative Futures” by Anson Ting Fung Wong (MLA ’19) is a call to action around the future of Hong Kong’s iconic Stone Wall Trees. Winner of an Honor Award in the Communications Category, the project’s public campaign includes an information packet (print and digital), a documentary film, an exhibition (debuted at the GSD in spring 2019), and a website. Wong’s project was the recipient of a Penny White Project Fund grant in 2018. Faculty Advisors: Montserrat Bonvehi Rosich, Paul Yuen King Chan, and Alistair McIntosh.

Each game begins with a Project Card which establishes a site for that round.

Also receiving an Honor Award in the Communications Category, “Landscape Games: Tools for Collaboratively Shaping Our Environment” by Christin Hu (MLA ’19) seeks to explain landscape design processes to the public through the language of an open-source game. “The adaptable game concept that takes players through phases of thinking about the environmental, social, and material aspects of both imaginary and real landscapes is an effective tool for stakeholder interaction but also serves as a hands-on lesson in interpersonal communication, collaboration, and participation, all critical components of the landscape architecture process,” writes the 2019 Awards Jury. Faculty Advisor: Craig Douglas.

Site plan at full build-out.

A joint project by the GSD’s Matthew Macchietto (MLA ’19) and Zhicheng Xu, Alan Sage, and Shiqi Peng of MIT, “The CincyStitch” won an Honor Award in the Student Collaboration Category. It takes a multidisciplinary approach to developing an area of Cincinnati, strategically situating a stretch of its waterfront at the city’s center, rather than on its edge. “Through four threads—Culture and History, Public Realm, Transportation/Infrastructure, and New Economies, the proposal strategically links and develops a formally vacant downtown site to create connections and break down barriers across geography, time, demographics, and perception,” states the project narrative. Project Credits: Josh Brooks and Eran Ben-Joseph. Faculty Advisor: Dennis Pieprz.

The Student Awards will be presented at the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego, November 15-18. Additionally, a number of GSD faculty and alumni will be honored with ASLA Professional Awards.

The 2019 Conference will also recognize this year’s ASLA Medal winners. Among those honored are Doug Reed (MLA ’81), who will receive the 2019 ASLA Design Medal, and the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), led by Chief Executive Officer Barbara Deutsch (LF ’06), recipient of the 2019 Medal of Excellence. This is the third year in a row that a GSD alumnus/a has received the ASLA Design Medal, meant to “recognize an individual landscape architect who has produced a body of exceptional design work at a sustained level for a period of at least ten years.” Mikyoung Kim (MLA ’92) was the 2018 winner and Gary Hilderbrand (MLA ’85), Peter Louis Hornbeck Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, received the 2017 Medal.