Landscape Architect Quarterly 10/
Publication # 40026106
Features POPS Quiz Round Table What Do You Think? Design Matters and Civic Literacy An Interview with Donna Hinde, OALA From the Ground Up Fall 2014 Issue 27
Up Front Information on the Ground Engagement:
POPS Quiz Public or private? COMPILED AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY TODD SMITH, OALA
Round Table What do you think? CO-MODERATED BY KATE NELISCHER AND NETAMI STUART, OALA
Design Matters and Civic Literacy Shaping the future TEXT BY DESIRÉE VALADARES, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURAL INTERN
Targeted and Tailored An interview with Donna Hinde, OALA CONDUCTED BY KATE NELISCHER
From the Ground Up An interview with Denise Pinto CONDUCTED BY ERIC GORDON, OALA
Sites of Value A modernist masterpiece: the CNIB Fragrant Garden TEXT BY MARK AFFUM
Book Corner A review from the margins: Landscape Architecture in Canada REVIEW BY NINA-MARIE LISTER
Notes A miscellany of news and events Artifact Tai Chi Tree TEXT BY JONAS SPRING
Fall 2014 Issue 27
Editorial Board Message
Editorial Board Message
OALA membership continues to grow. At the 2014 Annual General Meeting in March, we were at more than 1,200 members. Continuing an upward trend, the OALA recently received applications for new membership and welcomed another 22 Associates and ten Full Members! As our Association grows, the OALA remains committed to supporting professional development. Programs for Associate Members have been established to assist in career development towards becoming a landscape architect. Some of the support programs already in place include coordination of the Associate Professional Development Program; OALA representation at the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB); support for the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE), such as the provision of study sessions and maintenance of the OALA library and LARE resource material; as well as hosting a variety of social-networking activities, educational events, and more. The Associate Representatives are the voice of Associates on Council and advocate on their behalf.
My term as Chair has come to a close, and I’m handing the reins over to Todd Smith, OALA. I leave full of gratitude, inspired by the little group that produces this incredible volume on landscape architecture every quarter.
In September, the landscape architecture programs at the universities of Guelph and Toronto opened their doors to new and returning students. The OALA provides outreach to the programs at both schools by visiting in the fall/winter and providing an in-class presentation with an overview of the profession and of the OALA. On Council, the universities are each represented by one faculty member and a student representative. Our Association is proud of its strong ties to the BLA and MLA programs at the universities and provides annual financial support in the form of student scholarships, endowments, and lecture series sponsorship. The popular OALA Annual Golf and Ski Day events generate the funds used to contribute to students of landscape architecture. I wish to extend a sincere thank you, on behalf of the OALA, to the many volunteers and attendees who make these events a success.
On behalf of the Editorial Board, a warm thank you to Denise Pinto for her energy, passion, creativity, and savvy. The magazine grew richer with her on the job.
The renewal of the OALA Strategic Plan project continues with the target to provide the membership with opportunity to review and provide feedback and comment on the draft document, as we move our profession forward and guide the future direction of landscape architecture in Ontario. SARAH CULP, OALA OALA PRESIDENT
In the past year, we’ve had a number of new faces join the Board and have been building toward more editorial engagement online and off. At the last OALA AGM, we released a readership survey. We’ve heard a clear call for more interviews, more coverage of landscape architecture projects from every corner of Ontario, and more practitioner profiles. Please engage with us! Simply email email@example.com or send us a tweet @GroundMag. Send article ideas, take photos, let us know what projects you’re working on. However you choose to engage, thank you for being a thoughtful reader. All that’s in these pages is for you. DENISE PINTO FORMER CHAIR, EDITORIAL BOARD
On the subject of this issue’s theme—engagement—it is probably safe to say everyone likes to be heard, and everyone likes an explanation. Though this is often hard in practice, it is nevertheless at the core of healthy dialogue. When this dialogue turns to design matters, there needs to be space for the views and questions of those participants who lack specialist knowledge to exchange with those possessing specialist knowledge. As landscape architects engaging with the public, we understand that often the timelines can be restricting, politics can cloud the issues, and human nature can lead to a controlled participation rather than an empowering one. As our cities densify, our infrastructures remodel, our streets become shared, and public space moves to front of mind in a maturing city, there will be more and more reasons and opportunities for all of us to have dialogues about how good design works and why it’s worth talking about. TODD SMITH, OALA CHAIR, EDITORIAL BOARD
Editor Lorraine Johnson
2014 OALA Governing Council
Photo Editor Todd Smith
President Sarah Culp
OALA Editorial Board Doris Chee Eric Gordon Jocelyn Hirtes Han Liu Karen May Kate Nelischer Denise Pinto Maili Sedore Todd Smith (chair) Brendan Stewart Netami Stuart Dalia Todary-Michael
Vice President Doris Chee
Art Direction/Design www.typotherapy.com Advertising Inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org 416.231.4181 Cover Photograph by Desirée Valadares. See page 20. Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly is published four times a year by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects.
Treasurer Jonathan Loschmann Secretary Jane Welsh Past President Joanne Moran Councillors Alana Evers Sarah Marsh Chris Hart Associate Councillor—Senior Katherine Peck Associate Councillor—Junior David Duhan Lay Councillor Linda Thorne Appointed Educator University of Toronto Elise Shelley
Ontario Association of Landscape Architects 3 Church Street, Suite 407 Toronto, Ontario M5E 1M2 416.231.4181 www.oala.ca email@example.com
Appointed Educator University of Guelph Sean Kelly
Copyright © 2014 by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects All rights reserved ISSN: 0847-3080 Canada Post Sales Product Agreement No. 40026106
University of Guelph Student Representative Amanda Glouchkow
University of Toronto Student Representative Matthew Perotto
About the OALA
Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly is published by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and provides an open forum for the exchange of ideas and information related to the profession of landscape architecture. Letters to the editor, article proposals, and feedback are encouraged. For submission guidelines, contact Ground at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ground reserves the right to edit all submissions. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the writers and not necessarily the views of the OALA and its Governing Council.
The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects works to promote and advance the profession of landscape architecture and maintain standards of professional practice consistent with the public interest. The OALA promotes public understanding of the profession and the advancement of the practice of landscape architecture. In support of the improvement and/or conservation of the natural, cultural, social and built environments, the OALA undertakes activities including promotion to governments, professionals and developers of the standards and benefits of landscape architecture.
Upcoming Issues of Ground Ground 28 (Winter) Underground Ground 29 (Spring) Trash Deadline for editorial proposals: November 21, 2014 Deadline for advertising space reservations: February 2, 2015 Ground 30 (Summer) Sound Deadline for editorial proposals: March 9, 2015 Deadline for advertising space reservations: April 27, 2015 Ground 31 (Fall) Cost Deadline for editorial proposals: May 18, 2015 Deadline for advertising space reservations: July 27, 2015
OALA Staff Registrar Linda MacLeod Administrator Aina Budrevics Marketing and Communications Coordinator Joanna Wilczynska
Ground 32 (Winter) Creatures Deadline for editorial proposals: August 17, 2015 Deadline for advertising space reservations: October 26, 2015
Advisory Panel Andrew B. Anderson, BLA, MSc. World Heritage Management Landscape & Heritage Expert, Oman Botanic Garden John Danahy, OALA, Associate Professor, University of Toronto George Dark, OALA, FCSLA, ASLA, Principal, Urban Strategies Inc., Toronto Real Eguchi, OALA, Eguchi Associates Landscape Architects, Toronto Donna Hinde, OALA, Partner, The Planning Partnership, Toronto Ryan James, OALA, Senior Landscape Architect, Novatech, Ottawa Alissa North, OALA, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Principal of North Design Office, Toronto Peter North, OALA, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Principal of North Design Office, Toronto Nathan Perkins, MLA, PhD, ASLA, Associate Professor, University of Guelph Jim Vafiades, OALA, Senior Landscape Architect, Stantec, London
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A number of errors appeared on page 17 of Ground 26 in the article “The Habitat Influence”: Jay Meneely’s last name was spelled incorrectly and he was referred to as a BCSLA (British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects) member. Jay Meneely is not a BCSLA member. Surrey, B.C., is a city, not a town.
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project urban fabric When the 2014 B.C. Land Summit coincided with the 50th anniversary of the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA) earlier this year, members knew they had a wonderful opportunity to mark the occasion. Hosted once every five years, the Summit is an interdisciplinary conference organized by the B.C. Appraisal Institute of Canada, the B.C. Institute of Agrologists, the BCSLA, the Planning Institute of B.C., and the Real Estate Institute of B.C. With more than 1,200 delegates, the summit provided a high-profile venue for the BCSLA to mark its anniversary. “We wanted to do something that wouldn’t just be a celebration among members,” said BCSLA President Jacqueline Lowe. “We wanted to engage the public.” A ten-member working group was formed, chaired by Lowe, to guide the project.
Up Front: Information on the Ground
For the week of the summit, the BCSLA was granted permission to occupy the Sheraton Wall Centre Vancouver courtyard, a parkette designed by PFS Studio nearly twenty years ago. The space is located at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Vancouver, and played host to the conference in May, 2014. A series of design charrettes organized by the working group led to a concept for a public art installation that would draw attention to the profession and advocate for the BCSLA. The resulting Project Urban Fabric saw twenty members volunteer to string up large ribbons throughout the space, and implement temporary seating and lighting. “We wanted to highlight the various layers of landscape architecture,” notes Lowe. The pink ribbons represented the profession’s consideration for landscape and form; the blue seating, planters, paving, and stage identified the importance of programming; and the white lighting drew attention to the ephemeral and sensory aspects of a space. The installation garnered substantial media attention and won praise from BCSLA members and summit attendees, but Lowe notes that the real success of Project Urban Fabric was its ability to engage the public. “What we loved more than anything was that when we were installing it and taking it down, we had approximately 200-300 people stopping us on the street and asking us questions about it. That provided us with the opportunity to tell them what landscape architects do.”
This successful engagement encouraged the BCSLA to extend the life of the project. The mobility of the installation will allow for it to be reapplied in different spaces throughout the anniversary year. Once complete, the materials will be donated for re-use. You can follow the project on Twitter: @projecturbanfab. TEXT BY KATE NELISCHER, COORDINATOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AT THE CITY OF BRAMPTON AND GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER.
A public art installation in Vancouver was organized by the BCSLA to bring attention to the profession of landscape architecture.
board, which is primarily concerned with confirming the client’s genuine need and determining whether or not a landscape architect would be the right professional to appropriately assist them. Currently, Sprout is focusing on groups that are looking for assistance with funding proposals; the role of the landscape architect is to help them develop their project in concept and bring it to a level that is well thought-out, achievable, and more attractive to potential funders.
sprouting good connections It can be argued that landscape architects share a number of common traits, including a love of design, excellent problem-solving abilities, an understanding of and interest in complex natural and social systems, and a concern for the well-being of the environment and its human inhabitants. Landscape architects are often able to use these attributes on a day-to-day basis in our projects. However, sometimes our “bread and butter” work threatens to become our only meal, and we yearn for something that satisfies our neglected interests. A start-up organization named Sprout is looking to help landscape architects address this void by connecting them to deserving groups that are in need of expertise on a pro-bono basis to help make improvements to their community. Sprout first came about in 2011 when then recent MLA graduate Jon Woodside found himself underemployed and looking for an opportunity to put his skills to work with a
The volunteer group Sprout helps connect landscape architects to community groups in need of pro bono assistance.
Courtesy of Jon Woodside
community in need. More easily said than done, as Woodside notes: “I spent a great deal of time just trying to find an appropriate community group to join.” These efforts brought to light opportunities for mentorship, and the need to connect the profession to such groups for mutual benefit. Sprout really grew roots within the OALA Council, where Woodside (then a Council member) worked with fellow Councillors to try to develop the concept into a workable model. Ultimately, it was agreed that Sprout would operate more effectively if it were independent of the OALA.
Once Sprout has identified a suitable client, the mission is to match them with a landscape architect who best fits the task. To do this, Sprout draws on people who have expressed interest in providing pro-bono services, and approaches them to discuss the project in question and their availability. Depending on interest, Sprout then arranges for the initial meeting with the client. Sprout’s involvement in any given project, once under way, is minimal, as their focus is on facilitating the client/landscape architect relationship, not on providing any professional services.
Since then, Woodside has been moving on with Sprout with the assistance of likeminded volunteers/board members, including Victoria Bell, OALA, and Adrienne Hall, Landscape Architectural Intern. The concept is simple in many respects: connect a skilled professional with a client in need. The implementation is more complex, though doable, and it has the potential to grow. Sprout gathers interest from would-be clients who are looking for guidance and expertise to help turn their group’s goals into reality through the creation of a clear vision with manageable phasing. The groups—would-be clients—are typically community-based and non-profit organizations that are keen to make particular improvements to their community but lack the funds to acquire professional services. Each potential client is reviewed by Sprout’s
Sprout has already had successful pilot projects involving organizations such as Park People, the City of Toronto, and Projexity. In one example, Park People had identified certain needs and goals for a large west-end Toronto park; the landscape architect helped to identify what steps and tasks would be involved in reaching their goals and to outline a schedule they could work towards. Sprout is in good company with initiatives such as “The 1%,” which connects architects with non-profit organizations in need of pro-bono assistance and is based on the idea that offering 1 percent of work time toward such endeavours is an easy, yet impactful action. (One percent of a 40-hour work week amounts to just 24 minutes per week.) Sprout doesn’t mandate a specific time commitment, but encourages landscape architects to extend their services to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them. When matching landscape architects to projects, Sprout also looks to attach a student or landscape architectural intern in an informal mentorship arrangement. This provides the mentee with invaluable “realworld” experience, and enables them to build their portfolio with a wide variety of project types.
Offering pro-bono services yields many benefits to the landscape architect’s business as well. As Adrienne Hall points out, “Getting involved with local projects is a great way to promote your business in the community and gain the attention of future clients, especially ones who may not be familiar with the profession. A lot of offices do this already through word-of-mouth, and Sprout would be a great platform to connect the right project to the right firm.” Benefits expand to the profession at large, including improved awareness and respect. Sprout also has the potential to guide the profession forward in a more inspired direction: “Our hope is that Sprout will help engender a greater tradition of philanthropy in the profession,” says Hall. Sprout’s model is a win-win-win-win: for the group in need, for the landscape architect, for the student or mentee, and for the wider profession. Currently, Sprout is run by a handful of volunteers including five board members who have been working with the assistance of a $1,000 Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation grant issued in 2012. They are hoping to acquire non-profit status in order to open up grant opportunities that will help them establish in a more permanent and sustainable manner. Victoria Bell explains their expansion goals, saying, “Ideally we would like to expand beyond the GTA as the program develops, but right now logistics
are keeping us local.” Sprout is certainly a model that one can imagine spreading wide and far, with potential to expand its services to other professions and clientele. Sprout is currently looking for volunteers to help it grow into a widely known, well-used, and well-loved organization. TEXT BY ERIC GORDON, OALA, A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT WITH OPTIMICITY, AND A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD.
in Italy discovered this trick ages ago, and some consequently apply salt water to tomato plants to intensify the fruit’s flavour.
rooftop farm As winter sets in and access to fresh, locally sourced produce dwindles, one Montrealbased farming company offers a local taste of summer year-round, with a twist. The food is grown on rooftops. Since 2011, Lufa Farms has cultivated produce year-round in a climate-controlled greenhouse atop an office building in Montreal’s Ahunstic neighbourhood. The 3,445-square-yard (0.29 hectare) glass enclosure deploys hydroponic growing techniques to produce tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and other sought-after crops without the use of soil. Recirculating nutrient solutions designed to meet the needs of each crop allow a remarkable number of plants to thrive within a small farm footprint. In 2013, Lufa Farms expanded to a second location that occupies the 4,775-square-yard (0.40 hectare) roof of a commercial/industrial building in Laval, Quebec. The Laval location alone yields 120 metric tons of produce each year for local residents. Lufa Farms’ business model is simple: grow food near where people live, sell that food through a user-friendly online marketplace, and distribute the food to strategic drop-off points around the city. The end result is
essentially a blend of community supported agriculture (CSA) and online shopping, whereby customers buy a 12-week subscription for one “basket” of farm goods per week and can then customize each basket’s contents online with a few easy clicks. In addition to rooftop produce, baskets include goods from local partner farms that offer fruit, nuts, mushrooms, legumes, eggs, dairy products, baked goods, pasta, and value added products such as pickles and jam. With more than 150 drop-off points, Lufa Farms provides local food access to approximately 6,500 Québécois throughout the year. Lufa Farms Founder and CEO, Mohamed Hage, appreciates the winter produce (such as stored apples and potatoes) that has been available from local farms since before his company’s establishment. “We see our role as expanding out this offering to include things like heirloom tomatoes during the winter,” explains Hage, “while also partnering with great local farmers to make the fresh produce that is available easily accessible to [Québécois] 12 months of the year.” Growing rooftop produce hydroponically during winter months is easier than you may think, according to Greenhouse Director and Founding Member, Lauren Rathmell. “Winter is actually the easiest time for us because pest pressure from the outside is low and we can better control the climate conditions.” Rathmell and her fellow growers carefully calibrate temperature, humidity, light levels, and nutrient concentrations to create optimal growing conditions for each crop. “Tomatoes can be particularly flavourful [when grown hydroponically],” says Rathmell, “because the salt content of the solutions can influence flavour.” Farmers
In addition to taste and freshness, Lufa Farms prioritizes sustainability in each rooftop farm’s design and day-to-day operations. Each greenhouse was carefully designed to operate efficiently and maintain a low energy footprint, “by capitalizing on synergies with the base building,” says Hage. While Lufa Farms uses natural gas to heat the greenhouses on cold winter nights, the thermal mass from the buildings below helps to reduce the need for supplemental heat. Energy curtains along the greenhouse glass automatically deploy on cold nights to further trap heat, and vents automatically open to encourage passive ventilation when temperatures rise. The irrigation systems were also engineered to recirculate water within the hydroponic system, allowing each greenhouse to use between 50 and 90 percent less water than a hydroponic farm that does not recirculate water. In terms of agricultural practices, Lufa Farms does not apply synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides to crops, so customers can feel good about what they’re eating. Lufa Farms’ blend of urban farming and sophisticated technology suggests a truly sustainable approach to agriculture: one that provides access to fresh, nutritious food while remaining economically viable. Hage hopes to open additional rooftop farms in Montreal, and has looked toward cities in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. “There’s definitely been a lot of interest in Toronto,” adds Hage, “and hopefully we’ll be able to launch an initiative there in the coming years. As with any new location, we’re just trying to find the right partner.” TEXT BY LAUREN MANDEL, ASSOCIATE ASLA, MLA, A PROJECT MANAGER AND ROOFTOP AGRICULTURE SPECIALIST AT THE PHILADELPHIA-BASED GREEN ROOF FIRM ROOFMEADOW WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE DESIGN OF MORE THAN 50 GREEN ROOFS AND AUTHORED THE FIRST FULL-LENGTH BOOK ABOUT ROOFTOP FOOD PRODUCTION: EAT UP | THE INSIDE SCOOP ON ROOFTOP AGRICULTURE (NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS, 2013); VIEW HER WEBSITE AT EATUPAG.COM.
At Lufa Farms’ Laval, Quebec, location, produce is cultivated year-round in a climate-controlled greenhouse on the roof of a commercial/industrial building.
Courtesy of Lufa Farms
youth and urban design “Youth engagement” is a phrase that crops up regularly. Most people agree that involving youth in planning and decision-making is vital; strategies for engaging young people in urban design issues are varied. Catherine Vlasov embodies the best-case outcome of participating in a youth program designed to foster involvement in city issues. The Grade 11 high-school student was inspired to write to Mitzie Hunter, then CEO of the alliance organization CivicAction, about joining the alliance’s Regional Transportation Champions Council two years ago after participating in the Maximum City summer program. This two-week summer program
issues.” However, Vlasov remains the only high-school student on a CivicAction committee. She suggests that it’s not due to lack of interest on the part of the organization, which has a number of youth-focused initiatives, but with a difficulty in presenting urban issues: “City issues are not usually marketed well to students, so they don’t feel like it’s something that really affects them.” This is what inspired teacher Josh Fullan to create the Maximum City Program. According to Fullan, “Students are hungry to learn something that feels relevant to their lives. We use ‘authentic problem solving,’ picking something like a park in their neighbourhood that isn’t being used well, and we’ve found that students are hungry to engage with something that isn’t just theoretical.”
teaches urban literacy through contact with experts in architecture, design, and transit, as well as charettes, model-making, and site visits. For Vlasov, it was a departure point for activism. Seeing a photograph of the Regional Transportation Champions Council’s mostly older male membership, she felt that a youth voice would add to the discussion. CivicAction agreed, and Vlasov has been raising awareness about transportation issues and acting as a de facto transit resource for her peers ever since. Pointing out that she and her peers use transit to commute to school every day, Vlasov says, “The feedback I’ve been getting from my friends and [young] people I’ve met is that they are very interested in transit
The two-week summer program was the earliest iteration of Maximum City, a pilot project initiated to fit into a gap between civics and geography. Later it was expanded to a curriculum teachers could use in the classroom. Maximum City has been implemented in schools across the GTA, but Fullan hopes to see it continue to scale up and expand beyond city limits. “We have an audience that will inherit a galaxy of prob-
lems, but the school system and political system don’t do a good job of preparing them. We’re not trying to create architects, but to increase urban literacy, and to get the next generation involved in city building.” Implementing this type of hands-on learning is an achievable goal, as demonstrated by a recent exhibition at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, Imagining my Sustainable City. Curated by No9 Contemporary Art & the Environment, a charitable organization that uses art and design to raise awareness about environmental issues, it was comprised of select models made by Grade 7 students as part of their city-wide workshop. One class in each of Toronto’s 44 wards redesigned a problematic block in their area using sustainable methods. Emerging urban literacy is evident in collaged green roofs atop cardboard buildings and shops added to the first floors of corrugated towers. It’s interesting to see that a demographic too young to drive reprogramed parking lots with community spaces and added green space along their walks to school. Another organization committed to this kind of engagement is Youthful Cities, which operates on a global scale to engage millions of youth in building better cities. According to director and co-founder Sonja Miokovic, the initiative strives to develop the world’s first and largest reservoir of urban youth-centric knowledge, the YouthfulCitiesINDEX. This global cities index uses more than one hundred unique indicators to rank cities from a youth perspective. Key to the initiative is the “30Network,” which Miokovic describes as “a pop-up think tank that brings together 30 young leaders under 30 from diverse disciplines to create new ideas on how to improve their cities.” The ideas are informed by the results of the YouthfulCitiesINDEX. “It’s vital that young people realize their value to the urban landscape—as citizens, employees, taxpayers, etc. Cities that are able to retain and attract youth talent within their boundaries will be at an advantage.” BIO/ KATIE STRANG IS A MASTERS OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE CANDIDATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO WHO WILL BE DOING ALL HER TRAVELING VIA GOOGLE EARTH UNTIL HER THESIS IS DONE.
Maximum City is a two-week summer program that engages youth in urban literacy.
Courtesy of Maximum City
(*) POPS = privately owned public space
COMPILED AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY TODD SMITH, OALA
When the Editorial Board first started talking about this issue’s theme, Engagement, it quickly became clear that most of our focus would be on various forms of engagement with public space. And that got us thinking: what happens when all is not as it appears to be, when spaces we think of as public are actually privately owned? So we offer the POPS Quiz and invite you to guess which of these spaces is privately owned and which is publicly owned. (Answers and site locations are at the bottom of this page. All sites are in Toronto.) BIO/ TODD SMITH IS PHOTO EDITOR OF GROUND AND CHAIR OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD.
06/ 07/ 08/ 09/ 02/ 03/ 04/ 05/ 01/
181 Wellington Street West, just east of the Ritz Carlton Hotel – private Grange Park – private Jimmy’s Coffee, 84 Gerrard Street West – private Front and John streets – private Simcoe Park, Front Street West, west of University Avenue – private Queen’s Park – private 700 Evans Avenue – private 2 St. Clair Avenue West – private Courthouse Square Park, 10 Court Street – public
Our Round Table panel explores ideas about encouraging meaningful community engagement CO-MODERATED BY KATE NELISCHER AND NETAMI STUART, OALA
Large projects, such as Ontario Place in Toronto, often involve extensive public consultation.
HELENA GRDADOLNIK IS AN ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR AT WORKSHOP ARCHITECTURE, RECIPIENTS OF THE OAA’S 2013 EMERGING PRACTICE AWARD AND A 2013 TORONTO URBAN DESIGN AWARD OF MERIT FOR THE GREEN LINE VISION. HELENA HAS A MASTERS IN ARCHITECTURE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO AS WELL AS EXPERTISE IN PLANNING, URBAN DESIGN, PUBLIC ART, POLICY, AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. SHE WAS A SENIOR ARCHITECTURAL ADVISOR FOR THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT FROM 2006-2009; SHE DEVELOPED ONE OF THE MAJOR CULTURAL PROGRAMS FOR THE 2012 OLYMPICS AND A PUBLIC ART PROGRAM FOR THE CITY OF MISSISSAUGA. HELENA IS A MEMBER OF THE TORONTO SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTS’ EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, THE ACTIVE NEIGHBOURHOODS CANADA ADVISORY COMMITTEE, AND TORONTO’S PUBLIC ART COMMISSION. SHE IS THE CO-AUTHOR OF TOWARDS AN ETHICAL ARCHITECTURE AND THE CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN METROPOLIS.
Netami Stuart (NST): Why do landscape architects roll their eyes when they hear about having to do public consultation as part of a design process? Why is it so gut-wrenching? Is there a better way of doing consultation? Patrick Morello (PM): The bottom line is: what is the purpose of the consultation? I think there’s a misunderstanding about the role of participants. What are they participating for? Is it to develop criteria? Program? It’s not really to develop a design; that’s the role of the designer. But I think it all gets mixed up and people have different expectations, and it starts things off with the wrong approach. So much can be fixed if the approach and the purpose and criteria and everything else are all ironed out from the beginning.
PATRICK MORELLO, OALA, IS A FOUNDING PRINCIPAL OF LANDINC AND HAS GUIDED THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIRM FROM A SMALL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE PRACTICE IN 1999 TO AN INTEGRATED MULTIDISCIPLINARY FIRM TODAY. HE LEADS IN THE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND PROCUREMENT OF THE FIRM’S PROJECTS IN CANADA AND THROUGHOUT NORTH AFRICA, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND INTERNATIONALLY FOR BOTH THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS. PATRICK HAS WORKED ON AND LED PROJECTS IN DIVERSE CULTURAL AND GEOGRAPHIC ENVIRONMENTS DEALING WITH PUBLIC REALM, OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION PLANNING, CITY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, INSTITUTIONAL AND CORPORATE CAMPUS PLANNING, AND RESORT DEVELOPMENTS. IN ADDITION TO HIS DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP, PATRICK CONDUCTS PROFESSIONAL VISIONING AND DESIGN WORKSHOPS FOR COMMUNITIES AND PROFESSIONALS THROUGHOUT CANADA AND INTERNATIONALLY. KATE NELISCHER IS THE COORDINATOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR THE CITY OF BRAMPTON. WITH A BACKGROUND IN JOURNALISM AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, KATE HAS WORKED IN BOTH THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS TO INVOLVE STAKEHOLDERS IN THE DESIGN PROCESS. KATE IS A CERTIFIED CHARRETTE FACILITATOR UNDER THE NATIONAL CHARRETTE INSTITUTE, A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL YWCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD.
Nicole Swerhun (NS): Clear roles would make it easier on everybody. The other thing is that when you get hired by government, you become an extension of government and, as a result, you’re functioning in a public service. So the strength of your recommendation and your design is only as strong as the constituency that agrees the design should move forward. If the people who live in the neighbourhood don’t think it’s a good idea, then it doesn’t matter how good a design it is, in some respects.
DARREN O’DONNELL IS A NOVELIST, ESSAYIST, PLAYWRIGHT, DIRECTOR, DESIGNER, PERFORMER, AND THE ARTISTIC AND RESEARCH DIRECTOR OF THE PERFORMANCE COMPANY MAMMALIAN DIVING REFLEX. HIS BOOKS INCLUDE: SOCIAL ACUPUNCTURE (2006), WHICH ARGUES FOR AESTHETICS OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, AND YOUR SECRETS SLEEP WITH ME (2004), A NOVEL ABOUT DIFFERENCE, LOVE, AND THE MIRACULOUS. HIS STAGE-BASED WORKS INCLUDE WHITE MICE (1998), [BOXHEAD] (2000), AND ALL THE SEX I’VE EVER HAD (2012), ALL PRODUCED BY MAMMALIAN DIVING REFLEX. HE HAS JUST FINISHED A M.SC. IN URBAN PLANNING AND IS SHARING THE COMPANY’S METHODS THROUGH A NEWLY MINTED RESEARCH AND CONSULTANCY WING: METHODS FOR MAMMALS. NETAMI STUART, OALA, IS A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD. NICOLE SWERHUN HELPS CONNECT DECISION-MAKERS IN THE PUBLIC AND NON-PROFIT SECTORS TO THE CONSTITUENCIES THEY SERVE. SHE HAS BEEN WORKING IN THE PUBLIC- AND STAKEHOLDER-ENGAGEMENT FIELD FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS; TEN YEARS AGO SHE ESTABLISHED A SMALL FIRM (FOR MORE INFO, SEE WWW.SWERHUN.COM). THE SWERHUN TEAM WORKS TO MAKE COMPLEX, OFTEN CONTROVERSIAL AND HIGH-PROFILE, MULTI-STAKEHOLDER PROJECTS CONSTRUCTIVE AND MANAGEABLE. THEY DO THIS BY CREATING PROCESSES THAT GET INFORMATION FLOWING BETWEEN ALL THOSE INVOLVED, ADDRESSING THE ISSUES PEOPLE CARE ABOUT, AND PUTTING A HEAVY FOCUS ON DEMONSTRATING HOW DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND PRIORITIES INFLUENCE THE END RESULT. MANY OF THE FIRM’S PROJECTS FOCUS ON PARK, OPEN-SPACE, AND PUBLIC-REALM DESIGN. NICOLE HAS WORKED EXTENSIVELY IN CANADA, THE UNITED STATES, AND INTERNATIONALLY WITH PROJECTS THAT RANGE FROM COMMUNITY BUILDING IN POST-KATRINA NEW ORLEANS TO REVITALIZATION OF TORONTO’S WATERFRONT.
Youth participation is particularly important for encouraging engaged citizens.
Ontario Place public consultation
Helena Grdadolnik (HG): I think designers find consultation difficult because it often happens late in the process. It doesn’t fit
with the schedule you’re pushed to deliver and there aren’t the proper resources— whether that’s time or money—to do it in a way that’s meaningful. Or decisions have been made before you even get there. The best time for consultation is as early as possible. A lot of the municipalities I’ve worked with shy away from consultation until the last possible stage. But then it’s not consultation anymore. So don’t bother—just call it information. It would be much better to have consultation at the beginning of the brief, even before you hire the designer in some cases. NST: Darren, can you imagine some of the work that you do being a part of a consultation or an engagement process for public space? Is that something you could imagine using theatre for? And if so, how? Darren O’Donnell (DO’D): It’s important to not think of what we do as theatre, because that gets kind of rigid. We want to make projects and collaborations with non-artists and have those projects be located in particular places and tack on relationships between businesses and cultural institutions or NGO-type institutions to create relationships with people who can change the social dynamic and facilitate the desires of the people who are involved in our productions and our events. To some degree, a lot has to be sorted out before we start, so in terms of consultation with public stakeholders—that’s a bit of a challenge. But once people are involved, then it does have
the potential for that. I’m trying to figure that out now—how to engage with more practical questions, such as place-making or city building, rather than simply creating a fun and provocative event.
PM: We often get involved in an informal consultation process. We’ll go down the street and stop and interview bikers and people who don’t come out to the formal meetings.
NS: I was on a Jane’s Walk and, at one of the stops along the walk, actors explained the history of the site. It would be awesome if a public consultation had actors re-enacting life and if that was used to inspire people’s ideas about the stories the park could tell.
HG: I think that gets to the point of going where people are; that’s what we’re not good at right now. Someone has set up a meeting from 7-9pm in some room in city hall. And who’s going to go there? Recently, we did the public art plan for the City of Kingston; the budget was tiny for that whole project and we hadn’t set up a lot of time for our consultation, but we wanted to do something meaningful. We sent out a call for five local artists to be paid $1,000 each to create temporal artwork to inspire people in Kingston about the possibilities of public art and to spur them to give their feedback for the public art plan. We had one artist chanting at the Ferry Terminal, two dancers performing in a shopping mall, and an inter-
NST: I would love it if a park that I had to design had twenty teenagers who had been occupying it and being in it and using it for the last ten years and they could tell me about it. I could make use of that for the design...
active art-making session involving coloured duct tape at Queen’s University. In each case we had signage letting people know about the development of the public art plan and details about the online survey. We got way more feedback from the nonartist population than we would have otherwise. It got some local press. It was cheap and dirty and just three days of my time and a bit of money. But it shows how, as designers, we could be more creative about how we look at consultation. DO’D: I’m curious: how much of a “site visit” normally happens in a landscape architecture project, where you gather data on the use of the place just through observation or through talking to people? Is there a kind of casual consultation that occurs?
inspire people about the possibility of place. And to get people excited without having to give their opinion. It would be about inspiring, about saying these are the kinds of things we, as landscape architects, think about; and look at all of the amazing things you can do here, and then people would be like, “Wow.” And then a couple of weeks later, you’d say, “why don’t you come and talk to us about it?” But we try to push it too hard sometimes . PM: And that’s when we’re most successful because we go through this education process and we show precedent. You really have to educate people about parks around the world and how people are interacting and engaging, and that’s when it becomes fun.
NST: It depends on the designer. Everybody’s got their own background research methods. Between the time you get the job and when you actually start to design, a lot of people will just go and hang around. Others will talk to people. But I think we have an over-reliance on quantitative data rather than qualitative data, so we sort of wait until we’re asking the question of everybody who shows up to the meeting, and then tabulating the results. To me, that doesn’t render any better information or any more reliable information than if you just went to the park and asked a few people. Helena just talked about hiring artists to be in places, and I think that idea of consultation being site-based is really valuable. Maybe that means partnering with local organizations. But can you imagine other methods to make projects more alive and more visible in the community? DO’D: I would caution against assuming that some processes might save you time; valuable processes often create a situation in which more time is what you need. When I start a new project in a given locale, I’ll spend a week there kind of wandering around and talking to people, trying to figure things out. I don’t know if there’s much of a shortcut if that’s going to be done effectively.
HG: There’s a tool called Space Shaper, developed in England by CABE [the government advisor on architecture and public space], and what’s interesting is that they invite people who are most vocal about a place, say a park, and who are on different sides of the equation, and who represent different positions. They take them through what actually happens in the park space itself, and make them work together and work through some of the problems and come up with some ideas you wouldn’t ever expect as a designer. Rather than the week that Darren is talking about, they were there already; these people had been in the community for twenty years. It took time over months of that group getting engaged more and more through that design process, and they saw some of what was involved as the design went on. They didn’t have those reactions you have with mostly finished designs getting presented to the public, where they say, “Oh, I want this instead of that.” Rather, they were helping to present it back to their own communities. I’m not saying it was a perfect thing… Each project needs its own solution for consultation. NS: It might be boring and old school, but I think it might make sense to hitchhike onto somebody else’s meeting, where people are already coming or at a local event, to
NST: There’s a lot of literature about how to do popular education in ways that are really meaningful and transformative. And they don’t have anything to do with the landscape architecture budget. They’re just popular education, or popular theatre even. DO’D: One of the things we do with young people, in particular, is that we pay really close attention to the things they like to do naturally, and we try to sew an artistic frame around it. So, for example, we just launched a series of films where a group of teenagers interviews some famous Canadian cultural icons, like Ann-Marie McDonald, Atom Egoyan, and Dan Hill, and these kids interview them about their sex lives. That came about because four years ago, when I was hanging around with these kids, when they were 14, they kept asking me really crazy questions about…well… questions like, “How do you not pee when a penis is inside a female?” Crazy questions. Spending a lot of time with them sort of led to various artistic innovations. But basically the process is that I spend time and see what’s going on with them, and then try to find artistic content or an artistic form. I don’t know how you would do that in a landscape architecture context, but it takes a lot of time 04/
There are creative ways to involve everyone in space planning.
Art events such as Nuit Blanche encourage public engagement with urban issues.
and a lot of being in a place and being with people before ideas pop up, and that’s one method we use. NST: It would be interesting to think about that process, but rather than throwing an artistic frame around it, throwing an urban design or space planning or landscape design cloak around it and seeing how that could change a designer’s direction. KN: I’m wondering how to work flexible processes and really innovative tools around regulated consultation processes, such as the Environmental Assessment process, which is very strict about what kind of consultation can be done, when it has to be done, and how it has to be done. Nicole, I know you have the “discuss-decide-do” framework, and I’m wondering how you work that into these kind of set-out processes? NS: I find that most things within an EA are negotiable. The mechanisms for talking to people and the parts that are prescribed are things that we would support in any case. I’ve never felt constrained within that. In fact, sometimes it’s a relief that it gives me more power to influence the client about when they should be doing things. NST: In the planning department, you have to consult and have a public meeting if you’re going to change a zoning by-law; in parks, you don’t have to. So, if it’s a less visible project and it’s a small amount of money
we, the landscape architects, were very late to the game. Until we were there, there was very little visual coherence in terms of translating the engineering plan into what people would understand as how they would experience the space. I saw our job as taking the engineer’s options and saying, “This is what it’s going to be and feel like for you as a resident in this vision of the city: how do you like it?” And then also looking at creative ways of doing it. At one meeting, I had organized the design into themes and I asked people: Would you like your highway to be this theme (say, a savanna theme) or that theme (say, a rose city theme)? The idea was to get people talking.
and it’s somewhere tucked in a pocket somewhere at the edge of the city, perhaps the consultation process is less onerous. But perhaps we would benefit from having some rule saying, “You have to ask these people about this before you do it.” On the other hand, that kind of thinking doesn’t necessarily contribute to the creative design of a place. PM: The consultation process for Ontario Place started out because there was an EA and there was an opportunity to consult. But what ended up happening is that it became a more creative process. It was about asking people to bring their memories to the memory boards, and engaging people and almost building this interest at each meeting.
HG: We’ve tried out an approach of testing something out, putting something in the park and getting people’s reactions. It’s different from being in a meeting and showing pictures.
NS: And it was a platform. It was one woman who dramatically influenced the thematic direction of the park in the first meeting. She stood up and made a case for a First Nations, Aboriginal theme. Her idea was taken up by other participants at the public meeting and then carried forward by many people over the next three meetings. She created that momentum.
I worked for the City of Mississauga for a while and we did this culture node pilot project in the Port Credit area, testing out taking out the parking spaces. The BIA wanted more room for patios. The transportation people didn’t want to take away road space. So we worked together with all the different people involved and tested it out for one summer, and they’re still doing it now a few years later. But if we had said that we’re going to permanently take over these parking spots with patios, that wouldn’t have flown.
PM: The Ontario Place example is where I think facilitation and consultation were quite effective. First of all, it wasn’t the designer, it was a professional facilitator, so there wasn’t someone arguing for their own work. NST: I remember taking part in an EA process in Windsor, for the parkway, and
NS: We recently did work on Eglinton Avenue [Toronto], and we knew before we started that one of the main tensions would be between BIAs and cyclists about bike lanes. So in addition to doing a general consultation, we also went straight to the cycle advocacy groups and to every BIA along Eglinton. If you can combine a strategic, very laser-like focus on the players and the issues along with education and consultation with the broader public, then you probably have a good combination.
PM: I’d say it comes down to: what is the purpose? Is the purpose to create a successful built project or is the purpose to engage the public? I believe that engagement builds civility in our communities. HG: When I lived in England, the Mayor’s office in London ran a campaign across the whole city that was about getting people engaged with their parks. What they said was, “We’ve got this much money, and one park’s going to get it. Why should your park get it?” and they had a contest! And they had voting, they had all this engagement along the way where people talked about their own parks. They got a lot of information about parks across the city. And one park did get some money and that was kind of the prize money, but I think it was more—it was info about all London parks. Can we do something like that here where we help people feel engaged with their parks and then maybe they want to help make their own park better, they start cleaning up their park… NST: Let’s brainstorm on a specific project, the Green Line, which is a plan for a string of parks in the northwest end of Toronto, under a hydro corridor. Some of it is already park and some of it is not park, some of it is parking lot, some of it is inaccessible, some of it…well, there are all kinds of issues with it. If you were thinking
DO’D: I agree, but I would take it one step further: I would move into the neighbourhood. That’s the dream situation. I would live there for a few months. Being there for an amount of time that is a little bit unreasonable and a little bit over the top—that’s what yields interesting things. There’s something in the U.K. called BizFizz, and they have people who are there to help start small businesses. They don’t have an office, they use cafés as their office. And they spend a long time just sitting and getting to know people really intimately. That would be the approach I would take in terms of gathering information. But it would be expensive and labour intensive, for sure.
about a design project for that, what kind of consultation would you do in order to galvanize interest? One that generated design ideas? That built a constituency that would take care of the park for a longer time? What would be your dream consultation/engagement for the Green Line? PM: Well, we looked at the project and we went out there with an electro-magnetic reader, and we went through all the substations and the towers to get readings, and some of them were off the charts. So we thought maybe our approach here should be to raise red flags, to have these concentric circles showing the effect, just to excite the neighbourhood.
NST: In the Green Line example, let’s say we know somebody who already lives in the neighbourhood. What would you do to engage people?
NS: I would knock on everybody’s door. It’s hugely effective, but it takes a lot of resources. We did this up in Richmond Hill when we were doing a pilot project for the conservation authority…knocking on the door, explaining who you are, that you’re not selling anything, that you’re talking to them about something in their backyard, with some graphics and/or very short story about why it should matter to them. As you knock on every door, already potential leaders will begin to emerge and you make a personal relationship that you can follow up with. I’m a huge fan of face-to-face. It shows that I care what you think and that I’m a human being and you’re a human being, and we’re in this in an equal kind of way, it’s just that my role is different.
DO’D: I would get them to organize events at their house, get them to have parties to engage people. NST: I’ve always felt that beer and public engagement probably ought to hold hands more often. HG: A lot of the most successful public engagement is fun. And when people get excited about something, they’ll help you understand what you need to understand in order to make a success of a place. For the Green Line project, which our office initiated with the Davenport Neighbourhood Association, we have so little money that we need to be a bit more strategic about it. Our office went ahead and branded this hydro corridor the Green Line. We got a graphic designer to create an image of it and then we went out to the press and used the tools we had. We did a design competition and got 77 international submissions. We had a huge party; about 300 people showed up and we put the submissions in the space, and had them up for a month so people who were actually using the space could see that and feed back to us. Even though we’re designers, we’re not going to be the ones who are going to design the Green Line. But we’re designing a discussion around it. And what I like to start with is getting people excited about it.
NS: I think a huge issue is that there isn’t a connection between what people say during consultations and what they see in the finished design. And I always say, you do not, absolutely do not have to do everything everybody says—you shouldn’t. You wouldn’t build a bridge out of toothpicks if the public wanted to build a bridge out of toothpicks. But you need to explain why you did not. There needs to be a lot more courage in our governments, in the bureaucracy, and in elected officials, to explain things to people and explain what’s actually happening and why, for good reasons, things are and are not done. People are smart. They’ll get it and respect it. PM: I think the best-case scenario is when you have an objective, professional facilitator who can say things that other people can’t.
NST: I have a question about creativity versus consultation. As a designer, I’m often asked to make three options, and then people discuss them and we pick one, or we pick some good parts of one and other parts of another one. I’m not sure that this is the best way to design something. What alternatives are there to that approach? NS: I would insert pragmatism. Get people to talk about how they want to use a space. Inspire them with different ideas that have come from all over the place, and then go draft a design and explain it. That’s happened in lots of design charrettes I’ve been a part of for land-use planning, less so for parks. HG: One way we often tie in creativity is to say that we’re going to have a public art piece and there’s some budget set aside for the public art piece. But we often forget that capital budgets can be used for consultation fees. It would be great if we started to use the public art budget at the beginning and
have the public art be part of that consultation process. The artist can help with that— they’re very good at talking to people, working with people, and working with spaces. DO’D: From my perspective, a public art piece that gets produced at the end of the process is much less interesting than the public art piece being the project. NS: The art is not the result; the process is the art. Everybody says, “What’s the deliverable?” And I always say that the deliverables are the relationships you have at the end of the day, which means you’ve got trust to do something and credibility to do something. WITH THANKS TO KATE NELISCHER FOR TRANSCRIBING THIS ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION.
Site visits can help shape responses to proposed developments, etc.
Courtesy of Nicole Swerhun
Providing information to the public is an important part of consultation.
Design Matters and Civic Literacy
Shaping the Future
Urban density studies
Re-imagining a mixed-use city block
Modelling landform, topography, and glaciation
Re-imagining a mixed-use city block
Design Matters and Civic Literacy
TEXT BY DESIRÉE VALADARES, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURAL INTERN
As a part-time educator, I wanted to nurture the idea that children can gain civic literacy to become active participants in their cities’ planning processes. My role as an instructor in the Art Gallery of Ontario and Ontario College of Art and Design University’s Design Matters summer program, “Designing for the Green City,” was to nurture meaningful participation by enlisting the energy, ideas, and hopes of young people ages eight to thirteen. During the span of one month, Toronto became our laboratory and our playground. Daily lessons on landform, built form, urban density, wayfinding, adaptive reuse, and transportation were supplemented with design-build challenges using both traditional and digital media. Our studio grew impressively chaotic as we re-envisioned sites of debated development and gained confidence in voicing opinions and asking questions. Eleven-year-old Sara, an avid cyclist, was interested in more efficient ways to design streets. I watched as she carefully constructed a grid-like pattern of arterial streets followed by an intricate, interconnected network of bicycle lanes. “Why don’t we separate the bike lanes from the cars with a row of long planters?” she exclaimed excitedly as the rest of her teammates nodded furiously. Ben, a rambunctious nine-year-old with an active imagination, began building Lego cities at age five just so Godzilla (his “all-time favourite monster”) could wreak havoc on his creations. He warns his team that cities need to be resilient “in case of a natural disaster like a tornado, a volcano, a mass extinction…or Godzilla himself.”
Meanwhile, Jack and Claire tinkered with their prototypes for a public park and playground. “We don’t have enough shade,” Jack argued. “This just isn’t going to work!” A wish list for the city of Toronto was developed to record the flurry of ideas. “More playgrounds and more beaver tail shops,” yelled Connor in a single breath while the rest of his classmates opted for more sober suggestions. Housing for the homeless, more animal shelters, more gargoyles and historic architecture, more recycling bins, more green, open space, and fewer condos were frequently cited. “More chances for kids to help to redesign cities,” whispered Laura sheepishly from the back of the room. Her hope was that local governments everywhere would make a more conscious effort to educate and include children in the planning process to help shape the future of their cities. Certainly there has been a demand in recent years for such programs. A 2013 exhibit at Urbanspace Gallery in Toronto, titled Learning the City, highlighted several: Harbourfront Centre, ArchiTEXT, Maximum City, No.9 Contemporary Art & the
Environment, STEPS (Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space) Initiative, as well as the annual Design Exchange High School Competition. This year’s inaugural NXT City Prize, an under-30 competition to redesign public space in Toronto, was led by city officials and Distl Studio, and served as an excellent venue to empower and encourage the next generation of visionaries. These youth engagement strategies recognize young people as experimental, adventurous, and connected to the spirit of change, and serve to foster social and intergenerational equity. BIO/ DESIRÉE VALADARES IS A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURAL INTERN CURRENTLY BASED IN MONTREAL, WHERE SHE IS COMPLETING A POSTPROFESSIONAL MASTER’S DEGREE IN URBAN DESIGN AND HOUSING AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY.
Targeted and Tailored Engagement
An interview with Donna Hinde, OALA With three decades of experience, Donna Hinde, OALA, a partner with The Planning Partnership, has facilitated hundreds of public consultation programs for parks, waterfronts, downtowns, corridors, trails, and universities. Frustrated by the lack of input received through town hall meetings and open houses, she developed a more intensely collaborative approach based on building incremental support through tailored agendas and events targeted at addressing the phase-specific decisions required by the design team. Ground Editorial Board member Kate Nelischer sat down with Donna Hinde recently to discuss public engagement. Kate Nelischer (KN): Why does it seem that some landscape architects consider consulting the public in design projects to be a burden at times? Donna Hinde (DH): As a profession, we have to get over thinking that public consultation is a burdensome formality. By now, in 2014, we should know that it’s an integral component of our work programs. I can’t remember responding to a Terms of Reference that didn’t include public consultation.
Why do we think it’s burdensome? It’s an important part of understanding a place. We don’t think that undertaking a vegetation analysis is burdensome. We don’t think that understanding traffic patterns is burdensome. We inventory and analyze many conditions of our sites and their contexts. So we shouldn’t think that having a better understanding of the people who live, work, and play in and around our sites is burdensome. But we don’t do a good job of designing the process for gathering that input. Sometimes it’s left to the last minute, or we don’t use the right tools, or we don’t use the right forums to get input. The consultation process cannot be compartmentalized. It should be embedded in each stage of the design process, as it’s fundamental to the outcome. When you lay out the rationale for involving the public at each stage of the process, and have a thoughtful strategy of how you will engage the public, people understand the validity of the approach. It makes our designs better when we involve the public in meaningful, thoughtful ways throughout the process. Our plans are more grounded in the place and there is a higher likelihood of the plan being implemented, and of people taking ownership of the design and helping to push it forward.
KN: How should landscape architects involve the public? What is the role of the community in the design process? DH: We should be involving people at each stage of the process, at each decision-making milestone. If you think of a typical design process as three stages, we should gather input at the initial stage to help us create design principles and to make sure we’ve understood the place. We should then, having a common understanding of those design principles, move to a second stage where we can get feedback on options that the design team has put together. The public can weigh in on what they like and don’t like about those concepts. Then we can move to the next stage, where designers report back to the public about what they learned through their participation and ask whether or not the preferred option accurately reflects the public’s comments and addresses their needs. There are many, many ways and tools to use to gather feedback on our options and our designs without handing over the authority to design. We’re not asking the public to design the place, to actually pick up the pencil and be the designer, but they can absolutely respond to our concepts and help make them better.
Targeted and Tailored Engagement
There is a real danger of pigeonholing public consultation into only a single-step part of the design process. For me, it’s always about building support slowly and incrementally. You can’t expect to get broad-based support for the concepts if you haven’t first achieved broad-based support for the principles of the design. If you go one step further, you can’t expect to get broad-based support for your final plan if you haven’t involved people in a process of understanding what their choices are. KN: What approaches do you use to improve consultation and gather greater input into the design process? DH: It’s about thinking strategically about designing a sound process. What decisions are required by the design team to advance the project? It’s important to do a deep analysis of who the stakeholders are to find the best way to get their input, whether that be in small groups, large groups, face-to-face, online, interviews, site walks, whatever it takes. We’re intrigued by all the new engagement tools, including online tools that are available to us. But I don’t think it’s about
finding the next cool thing we can use to involve the public. We’ve found that one of the most important things is to have a conversation-based approach to consultation. When people come face-to-face and have conversations with others who may not share their opinions, and with people from different areas of interest, everyone can dive deeper into the discussion. When people have access to the experts in ecology, biology, and soil science, or the arborists or traffic engineers, then they have a greater understanding of the issues and of how decisions are made— what trade-offs are required. KN: Do you ever feel there is a conflict between your role as a landscape architect and a facilitator?
There is a huge opportunity for landscape architects in design offices to take on the role of the facilitator and develop that new area of expertise. You don’t have to be from another profession or from another office to facilitate community engagement. It would be terrific for more landscape architects to learn those skills and take on that role. Here’s a call to action for landscape architects: look for ways to build up that capacity in your own practices, and help broaden the reach of the profession to include facilitation. BIO/ DONNA HINDE, OALA, IS A FELLOW WITH THE CANADIAN SOCIETY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS AND PAST PRESIDENT OF THE OALA. SHE HAS TAUGHT IN THE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO AND UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH. KATE NELISCHER IS THE COORDINATOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR THE CITY OF BRAMPTON, AND PREVIOUSLY WORKED IN DESIGN COMMUNICATIONS AT THE PLANNING PARTNERSHIP. SHE IS A CERTIFIED CHARRETTE FACILITATOR UNDER THE NATIONAL CHARRETTE INSTITUTE, A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL YWCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD.
DH: On the projects that I’m involved in, I’m not the designer. When the facilitator is from the same firm as the designer, like at The Planning Partnership, distinct roles should be maintained. Our strengths as landscapes architects are that we understand decisions that have to be made in the process and what information designers need in order to advance the project. Because we understand this, we can think about the tools, the questions to be asked, and kinds of conversations that are required to achieve the input the designers need.
Donna Hinde leading a public consultation
Courtesy of The Planning Partnership
From the Ground Up
Eric Gordon, OALA, in conversation with Denise Pinto, director of Jane’s Walk, on the subject of meaningful community engagement Designers have long been skeptical about public engagement strategies, which are often prescribed exercises that simply satisfy minimum municipal requirements. Problems include lack of input from truly representative populations, short timelines, and underfunding. Frustration with these issues has led to some new approaches, including social media tools, creative marketing strategies, education programs, tailored public forums, and visualization tools, among others.
A Jane’s Walk focused on refugee issues in Toronto.
A Jane’s Walk explored the West Donlands and Pan Am Village sites in Toronto.
To explore these ideas, Eric Gordon sat down for a chat with Denise Pinto, former chair of the Ground Editorial Board and global director of Jane’s Walk—a very successful non-profit organization based on community involvement—as she offered up some interesting perspectives on how we engage the public.
From the Ground Up
Eric Gordon (EG): Can you tell us about Jane’s Walk?
In Winnipeg, Choi Ho climbs up on a bench to begin his Jane’s Walk tour about housing issues and rooming houses.
A Jane’s Walk tour weaves through gardens near an apartment tower in Scarborough.
Denise Pinto (DP): Jane’s Walk is a project that gets locals to lead community walking tours with their neighbours, to have discussions about what works in their cities and what doesn’t. It was inspired by activist and urbanist Jane Jacobs, who famously wrote that “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Our international festival runs on the first weekend of May every year. In May, 2014, we had more than a thousand walking tours in more than one hundred cities around the world! EG: What makes Jane’s Walk a good example of civic engagement in particular? 03
DP: It’s simple. And it’s fun! And it’s something that people already do; we’re just collecting it under one banner and
suggesting that it happen more often. People want to talk about their lives and the things they find meaningful. A town hall meeting isn’t always the most inspiring venue for that discussion. Even when public projects try to create interesting brainstorming sessions, for example, the context doesn’t feel natural—it’s a lot easier to go for a walk. On a walk, you’re pointing at something right there, in front of you. The way to genuine engagement is by opening up the process, leaving space and time for the surprising details of urban life to, well, surprise you. EG: Can you give us an example of an interesting walk? DP: One story I like to tell is about a Jane’s Walk through the East Kolkata Wetlands. If you visit India, and Calcutta specifically, you’ll no doubt get a tour there. But the local walk leader said that only five percent of Calcuttans have seen it. Think about that: this massive, sprawling, beautiful landscape right in the middle of their city.
From the Ground Up
EG: How do you know when civic engagement is successful? DP: I think there are indicators. We can look at how many young people are speaking up, we can look at whether new Canadians or other underserved groups feel they have a space to talk about what matters to them. A lot of civic engagement done badly is reactive. We have the plans, we have the design in mind, and then we go forward with outreach to the public. The right way to do this is to be more holistic. It requires reaching out to the public to help define neighbourhoods as they evolve, to keep a living record of experiences about civic spaces as a launch pad for articulating design goals. Let’s be responsive, not reactive. EG: What’s the most important aspect of a successful engagement strategy? DP: People need to be connected to each other at the neighbourhood level. It may be an old refrain, but it’s true. When we have the time and space to let organic conversations flow forward, all kinds of brilliance emerges. As an example, a Jane’s Walk in front of a Toronto community centre gave people insight into a unique programming model: When the outdoor pool is open for the summer, they fill the 05
Makes you consider what you might be missing in your own city, too. Everyone is an expert about some part of the city, we just need a way to crack it open and invite exploration. EG: Are many Jane’s Walks issue-based? DP: That’s really the heart of it. In Kisumu, Kenya, a woman decided that she would take her community on a Jane’s Walk to talk about gender-based violence. The community members broke into groups and each walked a two-hour route before reconvening to discuss ideas. Her neighbours came up with concrete ways to work together. It was basically a bottomup town hall. If you give people a loose format, you really inspire them to make it their own. That’s what good community engagement is all about. I’m sure that a public-realm plan in any North American city would benefit from that kind of community momentum.
Writer and activist Mary Jo Leddy talks about how to make neighbourhoods welcoming in her “Walking with Refugees” Jane’s Walk.
Students at OCAD lead a walk called “Convenience Stories,” in which they invite discussion of how convenience stores act as a microcosm for each neighbourhood in which they reside.
From the Ground Up
DP: Sometimes our timelines conflict with the moment when a community is really ready to get engaged and do it on their own terms. I think that, as landscape architects, we should do our part to encourage charitable projects and startups that are keeping the momentum going day-to-day. That way, when we are getting started on a design plan, there is a natural community-based infrastructure to link with. We can go in and say, “Take us for a walk, we want to know what we don’t know yet.” We should insist on having the engagement piece up-front, instead of producing concepts based solely on foreign precedents or briefing documents. And engagement doesn’t have to be targeted. It can include wandering, storytelling, observing, and ruminating—without an agenda.
indoor pool with trout so that inner-city kids can go fishing. You would never think to have a trout fishing program embedded into a community centre, but once you have this surprising bit of information, it can lead to a really innovative solution. You can build a physical landscape that responds, and plays off of activities that are highly local. Imagine how great that could be. EG: What are your thoughts on usercentred design, where the process asks the users what the best question is, before the designer helps to determine the best answer, essentially letting the users determine the brief. This shift in approach seems like a big undertaking when looking at current development processes. In particular, timelines must be an issue…
A Toronto Jane’s Walk focused on access issues in the city.
Neil Ross leads a group through his Junction neighbourhood in Toronto.
DP: True, we need flexibility in our timelines, or we need to do away with the separation of engagement and design altogether. The engagement can’t be a bracketed phase. It’s on-going, and has to be on-going. This could mean new ways of looking at maintenance regimes, too. Flexible timelines make people nervous, though. In design projects, you have to mitigate risk, and what’s more risky than not knowing how the design brief will change? But if you want to be innovative, you must take risks. Too many of the landscape plans we see meet just the base requirements for creating vibrant streets and public spaces. They draw from overused CAD blocks that describe cookiecutter experiences. EG: How do new projects take root in the community? DP: Again, time is a key ingredient. This isn’t the answer most people like to hear. It takes a long time—years—to develop a relationship with any community and bring them into the vision of whatever you’re working on. Actually, even better is to develop a common vision, get their ideas, and facilitate the growth of those ideas into design approaches. EG: Our current model of containerized work deliverables seems to encourage a top-down, controlled approach to engagement. How do you envision a more loosely based, ground-up approach that might be incorporated into future financial/project models?
EG: Do you have advice for landscape architects interested in incorporating more impactful or meaningful engagement processes into their projects? DP: Always, always redefine the brief. Build a discovery phase into every project to ask the community for broad insights before putting pen to paper. And, as a bonus, use that as a core part of how you brand your work. More and more, clients are looking for responsive, proactive designers. EG: Where do you think the practice of civic engagement is headed? DP: Towards actions on a small scale. If people don’t feel like they’ve had any effect, they won’t be involved. If the engagement strategy goes beyond passive reflection and actually makes something happen, you can learn a lot more. Walk, move, cycle, build, workshop. It’s about opening up the control and collaborating. Jane Jacobs talks about the sidewalk, saying that it’s like a dance, like a ballet. I believe her exact words were that it is “always replete with new improvisations.” Improvisation is a great way to look at it. BIO/ ERIC GORDON, OALA, IS A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT AND URBAN DESIGNER WITH OPTIMICITY, AND A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD. DENISE PINTO IS THE DIRECTOR OF JANE’S WALK, AND THE FORMER CHAIR OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD.
Sites of Value
02 TEXT BY MARK AFFUM
In April, 1956, when the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) opened its new headquarters at 1929 Bayview Avenue in Toronto, Ontario’s governor general, Vincent Massey, showed up to commemorate the occasion, and described the facility as “a fine tribute to the noble cause which they represent.” Among the amenities that caused a sensation was the “Fragrant Garden,” which occupied the courtyard. Designed primarily for the blind by Toronto landscape architects J. Austin Floyd and Helen Kippax, the garden was described as the first of its kind in Canada, and attracted thousands of Torontonians—both blind and sighted—to the CNIB. The garden also received significant media attention. It was featured in the magazines Canadian Homes and Gardens and Canadian Architect. The inaugural edition of Toronto Illustrated, an annual guide for visiting businesspeople and tourists, spotlighted the garden as a major tourist attraction, and
Landscape: The Fragrant Garden at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Toronto, Ontario Year completed: 1956 Landscape Architects: J. Austin Floyd and Helen Kippax
Raised planting beds with fragrant plant species, 1957
Courtesy of University of Calgary Canadian Architectural Archives
Aerial view, 1956
Courtesy of Canadian Homes and Gardens Magazine
Sketch of original landscape plan, 1956
Courtesy of Canadian Architect
Fountain at the Fragrant Garden, 1957
Courtesy of University of Calgary Canadian Architectural Archives
Sites of Value
Raised planting beds near the entrance of the administration building, 1957
Courtesy of University of Calgary Canadian Architectural Archives
Aerial view, 1957
Courtesy of University of Calgary Canadian Architectural Archives
Sites of Value
Current plan of the CNIB with the Fragrant Garden shaded in lime green, 2014
Courtesy of The Finlayson Practice
Raised planting beds of the redesigned Fragrant Garden, in 2014
Redesigned Fragrant Garden at CNIB, in 2014
CFPL-TV (CBC affiliate) carried newsreels about the garden in their end-of-year stories for 1956 and 1957. Uniquely, the emphasis in the CNIB garden was on scent, texture, sound, and the changing feelings caused by sun and shade: the landscape fed visitors’ visual appetite and refreshed their non-visual senses. Today, that fragrant garden is no more— another victim of the rubble club. This historically significant landscape was perhaps one of Toronto’s earliest, if not the first example of a modern institutional garden designed by J. Austin Floyd, arguably Canada’s first modern landscape architect. Born in New Brunswick and raised in Manitoba, Floyd
studied landscape architecture at Harvard at a time when the institution was a powerhouse from which European masters of the Modern movement disseminated design principles to North Americans. Their message was straightforward: design had to be purposeful and simple; ornamentation and decoration that added little to function had to be eliminated. This emphasis on functionalism spilled over to the landscape architecture classes. Floyd imbibed this modernist design philosophy religiously. When he returned to Canada to practise in the mid-1950s, modernism had emerged as the dominant design language and, in the wake of the postwar economic boom and unprecedented technological advancement, cities like Toronto had hesitantly jumped on the modernist bandwagon.
Floyd joined forces with Howard DuningtonGrubb and J. Vilhelm Stensson to form the Grubb, Floyd and Stensson firm. In early 1955, when the Toronto Garden Club contracted the firm to design a proposed garden for the CNIB, the responsibility fell on Floyd, partly because Grubb was vacationing in Spain and Stensson was already working on a major project. To help him deal with the planting design, Floyd partnered with Helen Kippax, one of Toronto’s first women landscape architects. The collaboration resulted in a modernist masterpiece. Floyd’s method was to visualize how the blind experienced space; his design was based on maximizing such an experience. An exercise walk took one through a series
Sites of Value
by Elizabeth Hahn) in the centre. To help blind users navigate the exercise walk, Floyd used a variety of surface materials— asphalt, crushed tile, Credit Valley sandstone, and pebbled concrete—for different parts of the garden’s walkways to provide natural transitions that the blind could feel through the tap of a cane. The Fragrant Garden became a huge success. Floyd was hired to design a similar garden for the CNIB in Hamilton (1963) and the Ontario School for the Blind in Brantford (1969). At the Toronto site, however, Floyd’s original garden has been replaced by a parking lot and a more modest “fragrant garden”—designed by the Finlayson Practice—adjacent to the new CNIB administration building. Though more common now, fragrant gardens designed to engage the non-visual senses of their users was once a novel idea. In its day, the CNIB garden was a textbook example of modern landscape architecture infused with the kind of idealism that characterized the modernist 1950s and 1960s. BIO/ MARK AFFUM IS A RECENT MASTER OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE GRADUATE WHO EARNED HIS DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH. HE IS INTERESTED IN THE HISTORY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE IN CANADA, PARTICULARLY THE INFLUENCE OF MODERNISM IN THE WORKS OF CANADIAN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS IN THE 1950S AND 1960S.
of straight and meandering walking paths with different attractions under various atmospheres. One walked out of the residence at the west corner, where pines formed a grove of evergreen cover. The walk was flanked by raised planting beds with fragrant shrubs and dwarf trees so occupants could smell or touch the plants at a comfortable level. Trembling aspen in the southeast corner were planted in such a way that air—cooled by evaporation from the leaves—dropped to the ground, travelled along, and rose to create a breeze. A prominent feature in the overall design was a fountain with a turquoise, butterfly-shaped canopy made of polyrein (plastic). Water travelled through pipes inserted in the corner supports, sprayed over the canopy, and fell gently onto a square pool (made of terrazzo) with a white marble figure (designed 10
our emergent culture and our evolving identity, we would have little collective sense of who we are, let alone who we are becoming. Indeed, with more than 80 percent of Canadians living in urban areas within two hours of the U.S. border, we are now an urban nation, and there is no question that the landscapes that shaped us are also the landscapes that must sustain us. In this context, Ron Williams’ widereaching text is the first critical history of landscape architecture in Canada, and a guide to the past that offers insights for today and questions for tomorrow.
Book title: Landscape Architecture in Canada Author: Ron Williams Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press, 2014
REVIEW BY NINA-MARIE LISTER
Ron Williams spent 14 years filling a gap— a chasm really—in the story of landscape architecture in Canada. Much of our national identity is tied to our collective interpretation (and memory) of the majesty and power of the landscape, from mountains to prairie to boreal forest, and from west to east to north coasts. But these associations are inevitably with the landscapes of nature and the wild, and rarely are they associated with the human hand and the imagination of design—and thus, the territory of landscape architecture. With no guide to the designed landscapes that shaped the founding of Canada as a nation, and which continue today to shape
Professor Williams’ journey to identify and chronicle the history, typologies, and significance of landscape architecture in Canada was no small task. He began in 2000, with a brainstorming meeting with his wife, Sachi Williams, and their friend, renowned Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. Rather than attempting to be encyclopedic, Williams chose to tell “a huge story in a coherent way” and to be thematic, oscillating between the temporal and the spatial to focus on pivotal periods in Canadian history and significant sites, illustrating the intimate relationship between landscape as cultural artifact and the fabric of nature. The result is 664 pages, divided into 24 thematic chapters and four parts that range from the heritage landscapes of the colonists and First Nations, to the growth of the urban and industrial era, to the challenges of war and Depression through the rise of modernism and the contemporary urban landscapes that define much of Canada today. Williams’ careful curation and documentation of historic through contemporary sites is complemented with archival and modern photographs, hand and digital drawings, historic plans, and a wide variety of maps.
He notably includes some projects that were speculative and unbuilt but remain nonetheless significant in relation to the contemporary urban landscape. His perspective on the rise of modernism and the urban renaissance is of particular interest, as it offers insights into the rise of landscape architecture as a profession in Canada and a sea change in the public perception of the designed landscape as integral to the modern city. Trained as both architect and landscape architect, Williams worked with John Schreiber (a student of Hideo Sasaki), in Montreal in the 1960s. Highlighted by the global influence of Expo ’67, this was among the most significant periods for Canadian landscape design and the emergence of new professional schools. Williams’ focus throughout the book emphasizes landscape design as a socialcultural art, yet he includes a variety of landscapes that were not designed by trained professionals. He observes that many of Canada’s significant landscapes are the vernacular, cultural landscapes that range in scale from national parks to cemeteries. At the heart of the work is a critical exploration of the history of the landscape idea, highlighting sites and projects that are at once beautiful and long-lasting. As such, the work is an important contribution to the scholarship of historical and modern landscape traditions of Canada. In the final four chapters, Williams opens the space for a new landscape conversation. He ends the book by identifying contemporary challenges that range from the banality and homogeneity of the suburbanizing landscape, to industrial agriculture, climate change, large-scale resource
extraction, and the densification of cities. Yet in this final section there is a missed the opportunity to highlight contemporary projects that do in fact suggest an assertive and critical turn in landscape design on a bold scale. This is significant, for example, in terms of the growing role and voice of Canadian designers who are increasingly working in international multidisciplinary practices on large-scale waterfront redevelopments and postindustrial conversion projects, for example. Similarly, one cannot underestimate the influence of the Downsview Park project that, while yet unrealized, has nevertheless ignited a potent paradigm shift in landscape architectural theory and practice, in which landscape is now understood as process as much as object, and which has affected a new prominence for the profession in the realm of regional planning and in post-industrial contexts globally. As Williams concludes the book, he observes the growing relevance of environmental science and the large-scale landscape impacts of resource extraction in Alberta’s tar sands and the boreal forest, and he questions the future of the Canadian wilderness. In doing so, Williams lays the groundwork for a renewed and more assertive voice of the landscape architect and the profession, suggesting that the scale of design effort and intention must be commensurate with the project. The implied question is an open one, and is paramount to our future: can we design with intention, with a collective and assertive voice and caring hands for the landscape that sustains us? BIO/ NINA-MARIE LISTER IS AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL OF URBAN & REGIONAL PLANNING, RYERSON UNIVERSITY, AND A PRINCIPAL AT PLANDFORM.
Ron Williams’ book Landscape Architecture in Canada is available in bookstores and online.
Courtesy of McGill-Queens University Press
Notes: A Miscellany of News and Events
parks Toronto Park People has partnered with the urban tree organization LEAF to produce a new manual for volunteers and park friends groups for Adopt A Park Tree. With the Adopt A Park Tree program, volunteers greatly improve the chance of survival for young, newly planted park trees, with basic tree-tending techniques such as mulching, weeding, and regular watering. The program has been pioneered in Toronto with groups such as Friends of Trinity-Bellwoods and has proven to be extremely successful in keeping new trees alive and building a community connection to parks and the tree canopy. Working together with LEAF, Park People is working with more than ten park friends groups in the city to deliver the program. A pdf of the manual can be found at www.parkpeople.ca/content/ park-group-help-centre/adopt-park-tree.
The Centre for City Ecology, based in Toronto, recently released a series of ten videos, called 10 No Brainers for Toronto. Consisting of simple, achievable ideas “to make Toronto more awesome right now,” the series includes Nancy Chater, OALA, advocating for more parkettes, and Victoria Taylor, OALA, advocating for activating laneways. To view the videos, visit http://vimeo.com/album/3039179.
The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects is proud to recognize and welcome the following new full members to the Association: Sherif Barsom
green roofs The GRIT Lab, a green roof research site at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto, recently launched the Green Roof Image Index, a photo application through which visitors can access photo documentation of Phase I of the lab’s research. The photo app displays time-stamped photos of the green roof test beds at the site, and is designed to highlight the development of the beds throughout the five-year study. For example, if you wanted to know how beds with meadow plants and a high proportion of compost perform when the only water they receive comes from rainfall, you can adjust the app’s variables to see how the test beds with no set irrigation schedule look during the peak summer months. To view the Green Roof Image Index, visit http://grit.daniels.utoronto.ca/ green_roof_image_index/#.
exhibitions Ravine Portal, curated by Megan Torza of DTAH, in partnership with New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture, explores the role that Toronto’s ravines can play in supporting an increasingly dense and urban city, and how environmental stewardship efforts can continue while access, use, amenity, and programming of the ravines is accommodated and increased. The exhibition takes place on the threshold of the Rosedale Valley, at DTAH’s historic building at 50 Park Road in Toronto, and transforms the entrance of the studio into a public exhibition venue visible by pedestrians, cyclists, and commuters. Contributors to the exhibition include Michelle Gay, students from the Daniels Faculty, and local arts and environmental organizations. The exhibition runs until November 21, 2014.
A young volunteer participates in the Adopt A Tree program in Withrow Park, Toronto.
Courtesy of Park People IMAGE/
Courtesy of Pollination Press
The exhibition Ravine Portal is on view at DTAH in Toronto.
Courtesy of DTAH
Courtesy of OALA
John H. Day
Courtesy of OALA
The book Pollinators of Native Plants is a guide to more than 65 Great Lakes native plant species and the pollinators they attract.
books Although there are many resources for general information about the relationship between plants and pollinators, specifics are more difficult to find. A recent publication solves this problem. Pollinators of Native Plants, by Heather Holm and published by Pollination Press, is a comprehensive guide to more than 65 native plant species (native to the Great Lakes region) and the pollinators, beneficial insects, and flower visitors these plants attract. The details found in this book are extremely informative and scientifically precise: for example, in the entry on hoary vervain (Verbena stricta), the author explains how the flowers develop (from the bottom upwards), the shape of the flower corolla and how this affects visiting insects, timing of pollen and nectar, and the bee species observed collecting nectar from this plant species. Beautifully designed and illustrated with more than 1,600 photos of plants and insects, the book underscores the crucial role that native plants play in supporting pollinators and is an essential resource for anyone concerned about pollinator populations. The author, Heather Holm, is a graduate of the University of Guelph. For information about purchasing this must-have book, visit http://www.pollinatorsnativeplants.com.
in memoriam The OALA is saddened to announce the passing of Irina Gorodskoy, a Landscape Architectural Intern since 2007, who passed away August 1, 2014, in Hamilton as a result of cancer, at the age of 53. Ira, as she was known to those closest to her, began her career as an architect in Kiev, Ukraine. In 1990 she immigrated to Israel with her family. There she flourished as an architectural designer, taking part in the design of several hotels in the southern resort city of Eilat and David Park in Ramat Gan, a city near Tel Aviv, which has become a major landmark. In 2000, she immigrated to Canada where she pursued her Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph; her research work looked at how centuries of European pilgrimage has shaped the landscape of Christian landmarks in Jerusalem. She last worked at Arbor Memorial Inc. She also actively participated on the OALA Social Committee from 2009-2012. Irina would want to be remembered as a vibrant woman who loved life, nature and gardening and who truly cared about the environment. She had a special appreciation for the Niagara Escarpment and its myriad waterfalls. She leaves behind her husband Yuri, her three children—Maya, Alex, and Ilaneet—and her mother, Tamara. A tree will be planted in her memory by the family in Hamilton. As is the OALA’s custom, a book will be added to our library and a Memorial tree will be planted at the Guelph Arboretum Wall-Custance Memorial Forest in Irinas’s name.
in memoriam The OALA is saddened to announce the passing of John H. Day, a former member and Past President of the OALA, who passed away in Georgetown, Ontario, on October 2, 2014, following a courageous battle with cancer. A dynamic man in his 68th year, John was a dedicated husband to Gretchen, proud father to Amaranth (husband Jason) and Trevor, and adoring grandfather to Scarlett, Isabella, and Olivia. He is survived by his mother Kathleen, brother Jim and sister Liz, and was predeceased by father Harold and brother Andrew. John was the president of the OALA from 1975-1977, at the age of 29. He worked for a long time at the City of Mississauga. In 1998, John started his own landscape architecture practice. John will forever be remembered for his never quit attitude, generous spirit, warm heart, and infectious smile. He will be greatly missed by his fitness and church communities, as well as the many who were blessed by his dedicated friendship. Donations can be made in John’s memory to the Cancer Assistance Services of Halton Hills. As is OALA’s custom, a book will be added to our library and a memorial tree will be planted at the Guelph Arboretum Wall-Custance Memorial Forest in John’s name.
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An old man makes thousands of trips around this Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’ tree. His arms are held outstretched towards the tree as if to hold its chi in his arms. He circles the tree again and again, creating a ringed groove in the grass with his feet. The tree itself has a huge wound that runs like a gash up the trunk, and should not have survived this long. Many people dislike this imported tree, whose dense canopy makes growing plants around its base very difficult. It also self-seeds profusely. But this man doesn’t seem bothered by any of this. He has spent untold hours patiently, slowly walking around this tree.. BIO/ JONAS SPRING HAS OWNED AND OPERATED ECOMAN (WWW.ECOMAN.CA), A RESIDENTIAL LANDSCAPING AND GARDENING BUSINESS IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO, SINCE 2003.
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