Landscape architects are doing their part to combat the climate change crisis, conjuring creative and of course beautiful solutions to issues such as rising oceans and extreme weather conditions as they design projects throughout the nation.
Jacquelyn Bianchini, a spokeswoman at Washington, D.C.’s American Society of Landscape Architects, says that people in this profession have been focusing on sustainability for a while, but are now intensifying that focus—perhaps more so than any other design field.
Landscape architect Kate Orff heads the company known as Scape, renowned for ecologically centred projects throughout the nation. She focuses in particular on projects that revolve around the concept of sustainability.
She says that people in her field have labored in a carbon-driven world since the field’s beginnings—making lovely gardens as the surrounding globe collapses in the background. She wants to reverse the dynamic, so that landscape artists consider ecological systems, policy ideas, and infrastructure when they work.
Orff is the lead designer of a $60 million barrier reef and shoreline restoration project near Staten Island, New York, known as Living Breakwaters. The project involves oyster reefs, wetlands and strands to alleviate the results of storm surges. In Atlanta, her firm is working on a 100-mile trail connecting communities across many miles to facilitate mobility, equity and sustainability.
While landscape architects often concentrate on sizable community projects, they say that the care for the environment must start at home, when people are coordinating their own yards and gardens. In tending their own home gardens, they also must tend to the environment.
Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections at the New York Botanical Garden, believes that those tending gardens have always been on the frontlines of the climate crisis—always coping with plant adaptability problems.
Forrest, who once taught a course titled Gardening and a Changing Climate, says that every individual should think about what they should do to salvage native biodiversity throughout the globe. Their gardens must be designed in a way that respects the environment and reduces carbon emissions.
At the botanical garden, landscape designers have been experimenting with the placement of plants native to southern mid-Atlantic states, such as the Long Leaf Pine. The emphasis is on plants that can handle worsening tropical storms and extreme weather conditions.
In 2017, the American Society of Landscape Architects put together a blue-ribbon panel regarding “Climate Change and Resilience” which resulted in a collection of suggested strategies and policy guidelines. And in 2019, the organisation focused on 20 case studies of projects that put the report’s advisements into action. That “Smart Policies for a Changing Climate’’ exhibition is being shown currently at the Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington and at climate.asla.org.