OCASLA Members Featured in The Dirt

    Jerry Smith, FASLA of  SMITH | GreenHealth Consulting and Yumin Li, ASLA of POD Design have been working together on an American-style senior living development in China. Read about their exciting new project in The Dirt.

    U.S. Congress Passes The National Park Service Centennial Act

    ASLA is excited to announce that the U.S. Congress heard your voices and passed H.R. 4680, the National Park Service Centennial Act.

    The bipartisan legislation celebrates the National Park Service's 100th year of existence and provides tools and resources to safeguard America's iconic natural and historical treasures. The Centennial bill also establishes the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund to finance signature construction, maintenance, and educational projects by matching private contributions with federal dollars. The Fund will be essential to help protect and preserve America's national parks, which are facing incredible challenges.

    ASLA supports the mission of the NPS to preserve the natural and cultural treasures and the values of the national park enterprise for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of current and future generations. Landscape architects have a deep connection to our national parks and the profession played a key role in the passage of the National Park Service Organic Act, legislation that established the NPS in 1916.

    For the past two years, ASLA advocates have voiced strong support for passing NPS Centennial legislation, including sending thousands of messages to Congress and advocating for the issue during the annual ASLA Advocacy Days. Once again, your voice played an essential role to achieve this legislative accomplishment on behalf of NPS. Thank you for your unwavering advocacy efforts. 

    Wet or Electronic Stamp: Ethical Considerations

    Wet or Electronic Stamp: Ethical Considerations by Luther L. Liggett, Jr., Partner, Korhman Jackson & Krantz

    As technological advances race onward to achieve previously unimaginable computerized applications, design professional practice laws remain conservative in order to insure the highest level of professionalism and protection to the public.

    Before the age of computers, traditional practice and law required crimping or signing over a design professional seal, usually with colored ink to identify an original. But paper is a tool of the past, and today’s project owners develop construction documents on computers for ease of correction and transmittal.

    Ohio law accommodates electronic seals, provided that an Architect follows several different sets of rules promulgated for different purposes. This article will review those provisions of law.

    Click here to read the full article

    Landscape Institute launches `Be A Landscape Architect` careers website

    Posted: 14 Sep 2015 03:08 AM PDT

    Now, the Landscape Institute has just launched another initiative profiling rising stars on its Be A Landscape Architect careers website.

    Be A Landscape Architect  is the Landscape Institute’s new look careers website.  It acts as an information resource for school leavers, undergraduates, post-graduates and career changers thinking about becoming landscape architects.  As well as providing details of how to study in the UK and abroad it includes inspirational content about working in the profession.

    The post Landscape Institute launches “Be A Landscape Architect” careers website appeared first on World Landscape Architecture.


    Press Release: Mayor Coleman and Partners break ground on the City’s first Urban Tree Nursery


    September 15, 2015



    Erin Miller, Mayor’s Office, 645-0815

    John Ivanic, Columbus City Council, 645-6798

    Web – Facebook – Twitter


    Mayor Coleman and Partners break ground on the City’s first Urban Tree Nursery

    Mayor Michael B. Coleman joined today with Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther, the Weinland Park community and more than 20 non-profit organizations to announce a pilot program for an urban tree nursery and to unveil a community wide effort, Branch Out Columbus, whose goal is to plant 300,000 trees throughout the city by the year 2020.

    For the first time in the city’s history, a thorough Urban Tree Canopy Assessment was conducted. The study was led by the Columbus Recreation & Parks Division of Forestry and prepared by consultant, Plan-It-Geo.

    The study shows that the urban tree canopy in Columbus covers 22% of the land, at a total of 31,171 acres. These trees provide a multitude of economic, environmental, and social benefits, conservatively valued at more than $12.1 million annually.

    “The City of Columbus is committed to a 27% tree canopy by 2020, but we cannot do it alone. That is why we are branching out by creating the “Branch Out Columbus” campaign calling for community wide action,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

    An executive order will be prepared by Mayor Coleman to preserve and restore trees on all city led construction projects.  To help residents on private property, through our GreenSpot Backyard Conservation Program, the City will pay up to a $50 rebate to plant native trees on their property while supplies last (currently there are enough funds for approximately 400 trees).

    The city, through the Recreation & Parks Foundation, has set up a fund at the Columbus Foundation where businesses and residents can donate money towards the planting of trees in the community.

    “Trees are an important part of improving the quality of life in Columbus,” said Council President Ginther.  “From cleaning the air and water to improving property values and fighting greenhouse gases, trees make Columbus a great place to live and work.”

    Mayor Coleman and residents of the Weinland Park neighborhood also announced a pilot program for an urban tree nursery. The vacant land, owned by the City of Columbus’ Land Bank and Campus Partners, on 8th Avenue near 5th Avenue will be the city’s first Urban Tree Nursery. The vision is for the nursery to be a place where trees can grow to be planted in the neighborhood and where residents can learn about the importance of trees and how to properly care for them.

    The Mayor announced the goal is to have at least four urban tree nurseries established in our target neighborhoods by the year 2020.

    For more information about the Branch Out Columbus- 300,000 trees by 2020 campaign, and to see a copy of the Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, please visit .


    GBCI Launches SITES, its Newly Acquired Rating System for Sustainable Landscapes

    GBCI Launches SITES, its Newly Acquired Rating System for Sustainable Landscapes

    Author: Marisa Long
    Published on: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    SITES addresses global concerns such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and resource depletion through sustainable landscape design and management

    June 10, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) – Today, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) launched its newly acquired SITES rating system, the most comprehensive program and toolkit for developing sustainable landscapes.

    SITES was developed through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. The rating system can be applied to development projects located on sites with or without buildings - ranging from national parks to corporate campuses, streetscapes and homes, and much more. 

    “Landscapes knit together the fabric of our communities,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO, GBCI. “And sustainable landscapes are critical in their ability to reduce water demand, filter and reduce storm water runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities. SITES is an important addition to our toolkit, and GBCI appreciates this opportunity to support this additional contribution to healthy, thriving communities and neighborhoods.”

    “It is exciting to see years of work developing and field testing SITES culminate with the availability of this rating system,” said Fritz Steiner, FASLA, dean of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin. “The depth and breadth of approaches that were implemented by pilot projects demonstrates how valuable SITES can become for revolutionizing our relationships with built landscapes.” 

    “Landscape architects and members of all the related design and planning fields know that the issues addressed in SITES are increasingly important to creating livable and resilient communities,” said Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). “GBCI will take SITES to the next level and ensure its future growth and influence, and ASLA is pleased to provide continued education and communications support.”

    “SITES is a powerful tool for enhancing built landscapes precisely because it puts ecosystem services, the benefits humans derive from functional ecosystems, front and center,” said Ari Novy, executive director of the United States Botanic Garden. “This approach will help maximize our collective ability to create sustainable and healthy communities. Making SITES available through GBCI will be a great boon for the quality and resilience of our built landscapes.”

    The SITES rating system uses progressive industry standards for landscape design and incorporates additional recommendations from technical experts in the fields of soil science, botany and horticulture, hydrology, materials, and human health and well-being. Some of the credits for sustainable landscape performance have been developed in alignment with similar credits in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, the world’s most widely used green building program. 

    SITES, originally modeled after LEED, includes best practices in landscape architecture, ecological restoration and related fields as well as knowledge gained through peer-reviewed literature, case-study precedents and projects registered in the SITES pilot program.

    “Adding SITES to GBCI’s rapidly growing list of certification systems and credentials it supports not only expands GBCI’s capabilities, but it also helps us to further our mission to enact global sustainable change,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, GBCI.

    SITES draws on the experience gained from a two-year pilot program involving more than 100 projects. Forty-six of these pilot projects have achieved certification, including landscape projects at corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and private homes.

    Interested project teams can visit for more information and to register their projects and access the SITES v2: Rating System For Sustainable Land Design and Development, a guide that provides best practices, performance benchmarks and tools for creating ecologically resilient landscapes and rewards successful projects through certification.

    The Wildflower Center and ASLA will help GBCI create and implement SITES credentialing and certification offerings such as training project reviewers and will provide educational opportunities for pursuing SITES certification.

    Join ASLA: Membership Benefits

    Visit the ASLA National membership page:

    For more than 100 years, ASLA has promoted the practice of landscape architecture and advanced the profession through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship. ASLA members enjoy many benefits and discounts with their annual dues but the value of membership extends far beyond discounts. Joining ASLA is an asset to your professional development.

    Check out this video to see why you should join ASLA today!

    Green Infrastructure: Nature’s Way

    Wade Trim

    West Creek Stream Restoration Project, Parma, Ohio by Wade Trim

    A natural approach to the problem of stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflow has been the idea of green infrastructure—systems and practices that use or mimic natural processes to infiltrate, evapotranspire, or reuse stormwater and runoff on the site where it is generated.

    Many regions and municipalities are working on projects right now that address the important issue of combined sewer overflow. Many older cities must reduce the amount of stormwater that overflows into their sewer lines, as mandated by the Clean Water Act.

    The problem with the combined system is that when the rainwater system gets overwhelmed, it can put raw sewage directly into the storm runoff receptacle. That means streams, rivers and Lake Erie are seeing more sewage than they bargained for.

    Landscape architects are uniquely positioned to help solve this problem.

    “Our approach with green infrastructure is that it’s not a silver bullet,” says David Anthony of Cleveland-based Wade Trim. “It is a part of a toolbox as you explore a long-term control plan for combined sewer overflow.”

    Anthony says it’s a challenge for communities to pay for these projects over a declining population base—many of which have been decreed by the Department of Justice. And they need creative ways to address the problem.

    “It’s a situation where … green infrastructure and a gray solution, that combined solution hasn’t been fully vetted yet,” he says. “The new technology we’re working on has pretty small data sets. We need more data to prove that the technology works to achieve the end product to remove stormwater from the combined system.”

    Wade Trim is in the early stages of working with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District on the management of its stormwater program.

    Green infrastructure can also be seen as a modification of a gray infrastructure: streets, roofs, parking lots, and city storm water and sewer systems.

    In addition to countless municipal projects underway throughout the state, one of the most recognizable examples of a green infrastructure project is at the Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden in Bexley, which has been a showcase of sustainability for the past 15 years.

    The use of permeable pavers in the driveway and parking lot are a great example of green infrastructure, according to Gary Meisner of Meisner + Associates/ Land Vision in Cincinnati. Rather than water flowing quickly off of a paved surface and into the storm drains, permeable pavers allow water to flow to plant-covered ground where it can be slowly absorbed.


    Springfield Regional Medical Center Green Roof, Springfield, Ohio by Meisner + Associates

    Meisner also worked on the green roof at the Springfield Regional Medical Center in Springfield, Ohio. “It’s combining functional storm water management with aesthetics, which is important for planning and design.”

    Hospitals have been setting standards for this kind of work, Meisner adds. “There are many different ways to be green. Each assignment has its own potential.”

    Anthony notes: “As we move forward in the next five years, we will use green infrastructure as a way to create stormwater features that fit within the context of neighborhoods.”

    If your firm has a green infrastructure case study it would like to share, please contact us at:

    [email protected].

    Transportation Enhancements: Building a Better Future


    Euclid Avenue Corridor Healthline, Cleveland, Ohio by URS Corporation

    The public funding appropriated to Transportation Enhancement projects has given landscape architecture a vibrant role in the design of streetscapes, multipurpose trails and environmental and scenic revitalization.

    With Ohio landscape architecture firms at the helm, local entities are getting funding assistance, design leadership and guidance to see their projects come to fruition.

    One of Ohio’s largest Transportation Enhancement Program projects in recent history was the Euclid Avenue Corridor Healthline enhancement in downtown Cleveland. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and the City of Cleveland commissioned URS Corporation to conduct the conceptual and preliminary design of an improved streetscape.

    “It was built to enhance transit by shortening the ride, but also as an economic development tool,” said Thomas M. Evans, Manager, Landscape Architecture/Green Infrastructure Design Services at URS in Cleveland.

    Landscaped medians and sidewalk streetscape design improved the physical appearance of the corridor and the public transit experience. The area has seen multibillion-dollar business investments since the project was finished.

    URS also worked on the adjacent E. 14th streetscape, commissioned by PlayhouseSquare and partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to continue the Euclid Avenue urban aesthetic. The north sidewalk was widened by four feet to allow pedestrian flow and room for outdoor cafes, and more than 100 in-ground LED lights add a theatrical feel to the PlayhouseSquare District.

    The Panhandle Passage Trail in Dennison, Ohio, is being developed by Akron-based Floyd Browne Group as an initiative of the Tuscarawas County Trail and Greenspace Plan. The plan will provide for a multipurpose paved trail linking the Twin Cities of Uhrichsville and Dennison along the Little Stillwater Creek Greenway.

    Dennis Mersky, Senior Principal at Floyd Browne Group, said it’s a great example of federal dollars filtering down to local planning projects: “This involves a series of initiatives, including the Ohio & Erie Canal Coalition and Tuscarawas County. There are many partners and we serve a design leadership role.”

    The project is aimed at stimulating tourism in a rural area as well as providing residents with green space and protection of Little Stillwater Creek.

    Mersky said the transportation enhancement program is an innovative segment of landscape architecture. “It’s providing an alternate way to experience the landscape, to find forgotten sights.”

    From restoration to urban growth and development, the Transportation Enhancements program provides the opportunity for innovative and constructive thinking. Ohio landscape architectural firms are playing a key role in changing and reinventing how people get to work or school, run errands and experience their everyday journeys.

    There have been efforts made recently by some government officials to reduce or eliminate the TE program funding. At this time, those efforts await legislative action. ASLA strongly supports the reauthorization of the TE program, as the benefits of this program provide key opportunities for both community transportation projects and landscape architects alike. The continuation of this program will allow Ohio landscape architectural firms to continue to “move” the next generation.

    If your firm has a TE program case study you would like to share please contact us at:

     [email protected]

    Public Health: Application and Trends in Landscape Architecture

    Scioto Mile

    Scioto Mile, Columbus, Ohio by MSI/KKG

    The notion of “Public Health” in the past has referred to health, safety and public welfare. The meaning has expanded to achieving health of mind, body and soul. Promoting public health has come to the forefront of societal awareness, so much so that it has even been incorporated into the criteria for landscape architecture projects. Open space recreation systems have emerged throughout the public and private sector, as evidenced by pocket parks, bike trails, walkways, gardens and scenic spots of reflection that have been created in cities, with the idea that these spaces would promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

    And in places where there is and has been much development, creating and maintaining these spaces is critical for a city to thrive, according to Ohio landscape architects.

    “Great cities are defined by what degree of balance they achieve among systems that comprise the city, including open spaces,” says Keith Myers, FASLA, principal at MSI/KKG, a landscape architecture firm in Columbus. “ In Europe, there’s always some open space system that emerges, from piazzas in Italy to parks in England and gardens in France. These open spaces have become part of the city’s vocabulary.”

    In the United States, one cannot consider New York City without thinking of the 800-acre Central Park, and similarly, or Chicago without Grant Park. Cities such as these have become defined by their open spaces — free and accessible parks where people can walk, jog, bike, picnic, play sports, walk dogs, roller blade and more outdoors in fresh air. The open space provides a refreshing escape from urban city life, a function that dates back to the industrial age when landscape architects envisioned systems where people could go to clear their lungs from unsanitary city conditions.

    In the past decade, emerging research has spread awareness about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, leading to programs geared toward combating obesity and promoting sustainable practices to further lessen environmental impact of development through the accepted LEED building standards. Since 2007, the definition of sustainability has been broken down even further by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, a rating system consisting of five components: vegetation, hydrology, soils, materials and human health and well being.

    This is an expected trend, says Jerry Smith, FASLA, owner and principal of Smith/Green Health Consulting and member of the Sustainable Sites Initiative Technical Core Committee and Human Health & Well-being Subcommittee.

    “Human health is at the forefront of our work,” says Smith, who has a background working in health care architecture firms. “We’ve always said a garden is wonderful for its beauty, but research from the last 20 years has brought to light a [health] trend. We’re seeing more community projects encouraging people to get outside, walk more and climb stairs.”

    Adding the health and well being component happened when Smith and his fellow committee members focused on the role health care played in a LEED sustainable rating system.

    “We applied health intent to see if there were health outcomes based on the design of a built environment — in this case, health care facilities,” Smith says. “What we found was that stress is such a prevalent negative factor on health that by providing an open space [for patients] with positive distractions helped relieve stress, shortened length of stay in the hospital and reduced the amount of pain medication required … prevention is the best medicine we can provide.”

    The study also showcased positive outcomes, as well as economic benefits, through the space’s effects on staff.

    “In facilities where gardens are provided for staff, the [employee] retention rate is higher,” Smith says, adding that potential hires also are attracted to the facility because of nicer outdoor environments. “There are fewer medical errors where this exposure to nature and sunlight occurs. And all that pays off in the final ROI [reports] for these facilities.” By providing health gardens and green spaces, it’s a “win-win” situation for both patients and providers.

    And even in a downward facing economy, Smith is optimistic about the present and future of these spaces.

    “There has been more focus on parks than even before.”

    A prime example is in downtown Columbus, the site of the new Scioto Mile. Completed in 2011, the project, which was led by MSI Design, transformed a crumbling riverfront into a revitalized multi-use path and park that welcomes thousands of visitors.

    The large investment made may not yield a large ROI, as the area is free to the public, but Myers says that there are other ways to benefit economically. The Scioto Mile’s restaurant Milestone 229, pays rent to the city, which owns the Mile, and that money is used to help offset maintenance costs. Myers also looks to the growth of the Arena District as an example of how a park has helped an area thrive: simply the presence a proposed two-acre park in MSI’s Arena District Master Plan was attractive to potential tenants, who didn’t hesitate to move in.

    “It drove home the point that even a simple open space can create real economic value,” Myers says.

    Metroparks have also experienced demand, even though grant funding is scarce these days. As Jon Zvanovec, ASLA, landscape architect at Metroparks of the Toledo Area, sees the situation, it’s the budgeting of the past decade that has made activity in open space recreation systems more appealing than ever.

    “People who weren’t previously park users are becoming such — they’re not hopping in their cars, they’re not taking vacations,” he says. Instead, they’re turning to the rail-trail conversions, expanded trails in metroparks nearby, where landscape architects have designed multi-use paths that have become viable circulation routes, allowing users to walk, run and more for miles.