Centering Perspectives: Discussion of Black Equity in Landscape Architecture
The importance of our shared public spaces—for both respite and protest—has been illuminated during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. It is now essential to ask who is designing these spaces, and who are they designed for?
In solidarity with continued protests across America, the ASLA New York Chapter and the ASLA Student Chapter have initiated a discussion with a small forum of Black professionals within landscape architecture, students, and alumni to reflect on their experiences within the discipline and offer pathways toward future Black equity. In recognizing the power and importance of landscape architecture, a student-led discussion will expand on questions of how academia and the profession can support a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.
Andrew Sargeant, ASLA
Founding Member + Board Vice-President The Urban Studio.
Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, is a landscape designer and a design technology pioneer in the field of landscape architecture. He will be the first-ever Rose Landscape Architecture Fellow with the Enterprise Foundation and will be starting his work with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress in the fall of 2020. He is also an Olmsted Scholar and Olmsted scholar fellow with the Landscape Architecture Foundation, Vice president of the board of The Urban Studio, a board member of BlackLAN, a part of the ASLA’s Digital Technology PPN Leadership.
Andrew is a systems thinker, whose pragmatic approach to innovation can sometimes be in conflict with conventional design theory. His push for widespread adoption of innovative design technology is centered on core values of efficacy, equity, and community. Andrew is a two steps ahead designer, striving to bring about a lasting change in the profession of landscape architecture.
Elizabeth J Kennedy, RLA, ASLA, NYCOBA-NOMA
Founder and Principal of EKLA.
Elizabeth Kennedy, ASLA, leads EKLA PLLC, an open space management-consulting firm. A Design Trust for Public Space research fellow, she is a recognized expert in the interpretation of cultural sites through landscape design, and is also known for innovative work in green infrastructure. EKLA PLLC’s work under her direction has received awards for excellence in design, storm water management, and preservation. Her aesthetic approach is based on a clear analytical perspective that derives from construction industry experience, training in environmental psychology, site design expertise, and the practical insights of a small business owner. Her diverse personal, academic and professional background lends her an alternate point of view and ability to create frameworks for thinking differently about the possibilities that can be achieved through landscape architecture.
Kofi Boone, FASLA
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, NC State University
Kofi Boone, FASLA is a Professor of Landscape Architecture at NC State University in the College of Design. Kofi is a Detroit native and a graduate of the University of Michigan (BSNR 1992, MLA 1995). His work is in the overlap between landscape architecture and environmental justice with specializations in democratic design, digital media, and interpreting cultural landscapes. His teaching and professional work have earned numerous awards including student and professional ASLA awards. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Corps Network as well as the Landscape Architecture Foundation where he is Vice President of Education. He is a frequent speaker at national conferences and events. His published work is broadly disseminated in peer-reviewed as well as popular media including The Conversation, and Landscape Architecture Magazine.
Mercedes Ward, RLA
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Mercedes Ward graduated from Penn State with a B.L.A. in Landscape Architecture in 2011. She is a licensed Landscape Architect and works for NYC Parks, where she has been for over 7 years, passionately changing the face of Brooklyn Parks. She’s been project lead for several parks with playgrounds, plazas, water play areas, outdoor fitness, courts, fields, etc totaling over $24 million. She has also assisted on several large and award-winning projects. Her work often involves collaboration with various city agencies, elected officials, private LA firms, engineering firms, and local community groups. Mercedes previously served as a member of ASLA-NY chapter’s board, and as the Education committee chair. She has participated in various events at City College including guest critiques, portfolio reviews, and speaking engagements. Mercedes was a member of the ASLA National Diversity Summit that met annually in DC. She also served as one of 12 jurors for the 2017 National ASLA Student Awards. Mercedes also volunteers for her local community garden in layout, planting, harvesting, and composting.
Garrett Ray, ASLA, ISA – Landscape Architect at SiteWorks, Certified International Arborist, 2019 CCNY MLA Graduate
A Queens native Garrett Ray has always had a penchant for design and detail. After pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in landscape contracting at The Penn State University, he completed the Masters of Landscape Architecture program at the City College of New York. His education paired with nearly a decade of experience has exposed him to a wide range of skill sets. Garrett currently works at SiteWorks Landscape Architecture, and practices as an internationally certified arborist.
Jeana Pearl Fletcher – 2nd Year MLA Student CCNY, ASLA Student Chapter Treasurer , LEED® Green AssociateTM
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