Letter from ASLA-NY President Laura Starr

To the American Society of Landscape Architects:

On November 1st I will be ending my tenure as the President of our New York Chapter and welcoming President-elect Nette Compton in succeeding me. It has been an honor and a challenge to serve in this position.

My goal as President was to rebuild our organizational infrastructure, recreate our image, and improve our relationships with sister design-related organizations, so as to enable the ASLA better to promote our profession and serve both its members and their clients. Toward this end, I took steps to address a number of challenges that had long plagued the New York chapter.

The chapter lacked the organizational infrastructure necessary to effect lasting change. With limited funds we could only hire our directors part-time. This meant that the President and volunteer board were faced with the lion’s share of responsibility, and had to expend time and effort at an unsustainable rate. Since the Presidency changes every year, our ability to undertake and follow through on long-term initiatives was impaired: with each new leader, however good, continuity and momentum was lost. Furthermore, without a full-time director, fundraising and public relations suffered. We had little money with which to do anything.

But there was a still more fundamental problem that we faced: landscape architecture simply wasn’t taken seriously enough by clients, potential sponsors, or the city–especially when compared to other design professions. However good our work was, it was largely ignored in press coverage, opening presentations and various print and online sources. The architects and engineers got the credit, by implication, for our work. This lack of attention and appreciation was ironic at a time when landscape architects were leading some of the most important projects in the city; Brooklyn Bridge Park, The High Line, and the ongoing upkeep and development of Central Park would not have been possible without us.

This problem in turn was due, in part, to the ASLA’s lack of a clear public image. It appeared to me that the first order of business was to revise our logo and website to project the crisp optimism and elegance shown by our profession and by our sister organizations, to attract the elite decision makers and funding sources and be properly recognized by the press.

Not only would creating a more vibrant identity for ourselves help raise our public profile, it might also help the organization’s view of itself. Additionally, we needed a fulltime Executive Director to offer the continuity and energy to help guide our volunteers and ease some of the impossible burdens on members who might otherwise be daunted by the prospect of getting more involved with the organization.

I was determined to address these problems by raising enough money to hire a full time director and revamp our image. The instrument chosen to raise money was our annual benefit gala, the ASLA Dinner. I personally called suppliers, contractors, engineers and architects I knew and got them to be sponsors and attend the dinner. I honored the Architect’s Newspaper for covering the leadership role landscape architects were playing in leading the game-changing projects in New York. And I honored Central Park Conservancy President, Doug Blonsky, who had been my colleague when I was Chief of Design of Central Park. His board and staff came in full force to support him, and very generously supported our event. The third honoree was the Commissioner with the most money at hand to hire landscape architects, DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland. In conjunction with honoring Commissioner Strickland, Nette Compton and I met with him and urged him to include landscape architects in green infrastructure projects; it worked, and we are continuing to push to have landscape architects be given a strong leadership role there. Finally, to make the event even more enticing, and to start the re-imaging process, I recruited Keith Helmetag of the world-class design firm C&G Partners to design the

The dinner succeeded in attracting the largest number of guests the ASLA had ever had, and in doubling our revenue. The large audience and the experience of being honored inspired The Architects’ Newspaper to establish an annual issue devoted to landscape architecture, with the ASLA sharing in the advertising revenue.

With our new funds, I sought to hire a full-time executive director who could bring continuity and, with professional administrative skills, ease the impossible burdens on our volunteers. Out of a wide array of talented applicants, we selected Kathy Shea, an attorney and administrator with a proven track record of transforming small nonprofit groups operating under the public radar into prominent enterprises accessible to city-wide audiences. Through her skills in executive strategy, public relations, marketing, and fundraising, she has already helped to do the same for us. We reestablished and renegotiated our relationship with AIA NY. We celebrated the holidays last year with the Van Alen Institute, and co-sponsored a Sandy-recovery speaker series with the Museum of the City of New York. We are continuing to expand our collaborations with other organizations, including the Municipal Art Society and The Cultural Landscape Foundation and will do even more going forward.

With Kathy here full-time, and the continued work of the programming committee under Nette’s direction, we have vastly expanded and improved our own programming. Better and larger events are attracting a larger number of sponsors, as well as talented collaborators in architecture, planning, and engineering. Our new funds also allowed us to create a new dynamic and communicative graphic identity that will aid us in all our efforts. Again, the design gurus at C&G Partners were an invaluable resource, dreaming up fresh, new logo and website designs. The new designs have already given our weekly newsletter, which Jennifer Nitzky has so thoughtfully and tirelessly assembled, a snappy look to match her great work. These visual elements make it palpable that landscape architects are green; we’re urban; we’re leaders and collaborators; and therefore we’re uniquely positioned to lead multidisciplinary teams–for example, those addressing pressing issues of climate change.

To foster the public’s deeper engagement with our work, we are also creating a new Open Spaces app that provides information on some of the city’s parks, plazas, and greenways from the designer’s point of view. More such services are in the works, so stay tuned.

I have tried to address the challenges facing the ASLA and our profession in a way that will create a basis for continued expansion and positive change. As my tenure comes to an end, I would like to express the hope that my efforts will help generate a lasting awareness of the benefit landscape architecture brings to our city, and that it will help give our profession momentum that will continue into the next mayoral administration and beyond.

Thank you all for entrusting me with these decisions. I would like to extend my gratitude to my predecessor, Denisha Williams, for her patience in helping me get up to speed, to our board members for their unending dedication, to President-elect Nette Compton for organizing all of our programs, to Jennifer Nitzky for tirelessly drafting our newsletter every week, to Marcha Johnson for her advocacy work, to Adrian Smith for his role in negotiating with the DOB, and to all who participated in the director selection and graphic design committees.

I will remain heavily involved in the ASLA-NY and wish it every success moving forward.

Laura Starr
Outgoing President of the ASLA-NY
Partner, Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, PLLC



from Broadwayworld.com

NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White today joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol and Council Member Stephen Levin to cut the ribbon on a brand new headquarters building with community space and an accessible green roof in Bushwick Inlet Park. The $31 million construction project, funded by Mayor Bloomberg, also includes a new playground, and the creation of public access to the waterfront at the water’s edge. The additions to Bushwick Inlet Park build on the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning which creates a framework to provide continuous public access to the area’s shorefront.

“All over Brooklyn – from Shore Road Park in the south to Bushwick Inlet in the north -waterfront parks are attracting pedestrians, picnickers, and sports enthusiasts to spend time outdoors,” said Commissioner White. “The new waterfront Bushwick Inlet Park complements the existing soccer field by accommodating community art exhibitions, community meetings and public programming, a kitchen for catering public events, playground, public comfort stations and Parks district headquarters.”

The facility includes an accessible green roof, which connects the multipurpose field area with a hilltop recreational space and playground. It is designed to achieve high environmental performance standards with a highly efficient heating-cooling system that uses geothermal wells, heat pumps and radiant floors, a green roof with a shade structure composed of photovoltaic cells that will provide solar energy power to the building, and a rainwater collection system to provide irrigation water to the green roof. This project is on track to receive LEED Gold or higher certification for its innovative sustainable design. The building was designed by Kiss + Cathcart Architects with Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects.

Bushwick Inlet Park lies from North 9th Street to North 10th Street, between Kent Avenue and the East River. The site, a former rental car storage lot, is situated at the southern end of the planned park, and is adjacent to East River State Park. The first phase of Bushwick Inlet Park included the construction of a synthetic turf multipurpose field for soccer, football, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, and ultimate frisbee. The soccer field opened in January 2010.

The Park received a 2008 Design Award from the Public Design Commission of the City of New York and the 2013 Honor Award from the NY Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

The 28-acre planned Bushwick Inlet Park is comprised of approximately 5.5 blocks along the bustling East River Waterfront. The first two sites that make up the park have already been acquired and the acquisition of a third parcel (Bayside Fuel) is underway and expected to be complete in 2015. With extensive community input and public review throughout the planning and development process, Bushwick Inlet Park is part of the City’s historic investment in the creation, improvement and expansion of parks in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, as a result of the 2005 rezoning.

high res photos





DEC Accepting Applications for Urban Forestry Projects

Grants Will Add and Enhance Green Space In Cities Throughout the State

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is now accepting applications for urban forestry project grants that can be used to enhance landscapes and provide green spaces in urban areas across the state, Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

“Trees and green space are an important part of a community, even in densely-populated urban areas where such resources are limited,” Commissioner Martens said. “Governor Cuomo and members of the State Legislature understand the benefits of community and urban forests in protecting our air and water and improving the quality of life, and these grants are a valuable tool to support local projects to develop and manage these resources.”

Trees, parks, and other green space found in cities and high population areas are important to the fabric of the community by supporting wildlife habitat, helping to protect against storm damage from hurricanes or floods, alleviating high local temperatures caused by the “heat island effect,” reducing energy use and stormwater run-off, and minimizing noise.

Under the Urban Forestry Grant program, communities can apply for tree planting, maintenance grants or invasive pest studies in cases involving an infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer or the Asian Long Horned Beetle. Grants are available to municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts and not-for-profit organizations that have a public ownership interest in the property or are acting on behalf of a public property owner. Awards will range from $2,500 to $50,000, depending on municipal population, and have a 50/50 match requirement. Additionally, tree inventories, management plans and $1,000 Quick Start Arbor Day grants – which have no match requirement – will be available to help communities generate support for new municipal tree programs. The grants are available through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and will be managed and allocated by DEC.

Urban forestry grants complement DEC’s ongoing initiatives to address issues of climate change, environmental degradation, environmental justice, and urban sprawl. Grant proposals should detail the scope of work to be done and how the project will provide environmental, economic, and/or social benefits in the community. When applicants select projects, consideration should be given to underserved neighborhoods, as well as targeting local environmental issues. Applicants are also encouraged to form regional partnerships and submit proposals that help to implement watershed protection and Smart Growth initiatives with green solutions that will have the support of their Regional Economic Development Council.

DEC foresters are available to provide applicants with technical assistance (see contact information below). DEC staff will review the completed grant applications and select recipients based on established rating criteria, including cost-effectiveness, projected benefits, use of recommended standards in implementation, community outreach, education, support, and regional economic impact.

Applicants may obtain all necessary directions and forms for the Urban Forestry Grant program on the DEC website. Paper copies of the application are required to be submitted. Applications will be accepted at the DEC Central Office by mail or hand delivery until 4:00 p.m. on December 5, 2013. Mail or hand deliver grant applications to: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Urban Forestry, Division of Lands and Forests, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4253. For more information, call DEC at (518) 402-9425.10-7-13

Download the Brief Here: DEC Announces Deadline Extension for $45 Million In Water Quality Improvement Grants

Call for Volunteers: ACE Mentor Program

NY ASLA is looking to steward the landscape architecture community’s involvement with ACE Mentoring. 
ACE is a free after-school program that engages high school students (9-12) in a project that focuses on Architecture, Construction, and/or Engineering. Typically, an architecture, construction, and/or engineering firm hosts a group of 12-25 students that meet twice a month at their office between October – June to develop technical skills and design around a chosen project, and then the group presents their project in June. Though there is a Host Firm, there is also a supporting cast of mentor firms that participate on each project as well and help to inform students of the professional relationships involved in building a project.

ELA Launches New Webinar Series Free “A Focus on Sustainability”


ELA is launching a free webinar series on sustainable landscaping for professionals beginning on September 17th.

The interactive webinars will be taught by experts from across the country who are known for their expertise in specific areas of sustainability. Topics covered include a deeper look into soils, native and invasive plants, water management, designing a sustainable landscape, sustainable maintenance, organic lawn care, the “good business” of sustainable landscaping, and sustainability as a healthy landscape option.

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Design Opportunities (“DO”) proposed building projects: Designers Needed

“DO” comes to you courtesy of the American Society of Landscape Architects-New York

under  agreement with National Building News

What is “DO”?

Design Opportunities is a monthly listing of Proposed Building projects or renovations for which owner or developer will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) … a proposed design … within the near future.

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Volunteer to do a OHNY Weekend Landscape Architecture Tour

Open House New York (OHNY) weekend is an unparalleled citywide cultural event in October that showcases hundreds of NYC’s most architecturally and culturally significant spaces and places, many not usually open to the public, in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.  OHNY weekend attracts over 45,000 diverse visitors who are interested in learning more about architecture, engineering and design in NYC.