LSU Landscape Architecture Professors Win National Award for New Orleans Project

(Baton Rouge) Two faculty members at the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture have received one the highest professional awards in their field for an urban farm they designed in a Vietnamese community in New Orleans East.

Elizabeth Mossop, who serves as director of the School, and assistant professor Wes Michaels have received the Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for the Viet Village Urban Farm.

The Viet Village Urban Farm project represents an effort to reestablish the tradition of local farming in a community that was among the hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Mossop and Michaels led a team that spent much of the past year designing a 28‐acre farm that will be a combination of small‐plot gardening for family consumption, larger commercial plots focused on providing food for local restaurants and grocery stores in New Orleans, and a livestock area for raising chickens and goats.

They also designed a market for the site that will provide individual farmers with a place to supplement their income as well as serve as a central meeting space for the larger Vietnamese community along the Gulf Coast. Specialty vegetables and foods used in Vietnamese cuisine will be sold at the market, and local Vietnamese restaurants will have a space to sell prepared food.

One of the underlying goals of the project is to bring together the different generations within the community through the shared endeavor of the farm, and to ensure that the traditional skills and practices of the culture brought from Vietnam to America are passed down by the generation of elders. With that in mind, Mossop and Michaels designed a farm that will act as a community center, with areas for sports and playgrounds.

“The community sees this project as the centerpiece for the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans East,” says Mossop. “We are honored to be able to play a significant role in such a meaningful project that is not only professionally rewarding but also beneficial to this community in countless ways.”

Judges were impressed with the project for that very reason. In their comments, they called the project a “terrific urban farm,” and noted that “the landscape architect has evoked the strong tradition of gardening within the Vietnamese community and will strengthen the cultural identity of the neighborhood.”

The first round of funding for the farm project has been applied for and committed to in principal to complete approximately 15% of the project. Mossop and Michael’s design team will continue to provide site‐specific design assistance with individual projects as they are funded.

“This prestigious award serves as yet another example of why the Robert S. Reich School of Landscape Architecture consistently ranks among the top five in the nation,” says Dean David Cronrath of the College of Art and Design.