LSU Students and Alumni Receive 2019 ASLA Awards

LSU landscape architecture students were awarded American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA) LA chapter 2019 awards for their projects studying the environments of Louisiana.

MLA students Hayden Hammons, Taylor Jacobsen, Nguyệt Nguyen, Betsy Peterson, Tanvi Shah, Xi Stich, and Andrew Wright received the ASLA student honor award for their project The Hungry River, investigating the often-overlooked impacts of improper sand and gravel mining practices along waterbodies across the United States, focusing on a section of the Amite River in southeastern Louisiana pockmarked with over 15,000 acres of mines.

“The timeliness of this project is significant, as influential academic, governmental, and political stakeholders are studying the primary factors that contributed to the severity of the August 2016 floods throughout the Amite watershed,” said Betsy Peterson, MLA candidate who worked on the group project. “This project reveals how the lack of post-mining reclamation of floodplain sand and gravel mine pits contributed to excessive sedimentation and increased floodplain footprint downstream.”

White model of terrain, dark background

CNC Routed model of the Amite Region

Through mappings, simulations, aerial drone imagery, site visits, and personal testimony, the class, led by assistant professor Brendan Harmon, studied fluvial, cultural, and economic dynamics and developed solutions that are applicable on site-level, regional, or national scales. The individual projects offer opportunities to improve human and ecological health and resilience, develop more sustainable models to support the region’s economy, and create artful expressions of mining’s impact on the landscape. Designed to reach multiple stakeholder groups, the team’s compilation of research and design solutions complement current efforts to raise awareness about the impacts of sand and gravel mining and redirect the course of the Amite’s future.

“The Hungry River brings light to a highly local industry that lies at the nexus between ecology, industry, resource extraction, culture and safety: sand and gravel mining,” Peterson said.

“Compelled to respond to 2016 floods in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this report investigates the impacts sand and gravel mining had on the severity of the record-breaking flood waters through mappings, simulations, aerial drone imagery, site visits, and personal testimony,” the project overview states. Group members explored the geospatial, temporal, and fluvial dynamics of sand and gravel mining along the Amite River, the cultural, political, and economic forces driving the industry, and the industry’s impact on surrounding communities and ecosystems to inform design solutions for abandoned mine pits in the Amite watershed. 

MLA candidate Mai Nguyen won a student merit award for her project Reclaiming Common Ground, which explores public city-designed greenspaces in New Orleans. Professor Lake Douglas was the project advisor.

“As part of an urban systems studio that tasked students with evaluating public parks and proposing re-designs, my interest in healing landscapes led me to focus on greenspaces that could enhance human well-being,” she said. “Noticing numerous parks in close vicinity to other services and institutions – such as schools, daycares, hospitals, health clinics, and shelters – I saw these instances as significant opportunities, that upon some investigation, have been either unsuccessful or unexplored.”

“My focus on Amelia Park, Van McMurray Playground, and Margaret Place Park were based on the desire to demonstrate compassionate design on three scales, in three different neighborhood contexts, with uniquely complex sets of issues, considerations, and opportunities. The corridor that these sites form and connect to further inspired the idea of a establishing a central care network in New Orleans, that highlights and support the city’s community resources by enhancing the common spaces between them.”

Learn more about Designing for Open Space Equity in New Orleans.

Additionally, LSU landscape architecture alumni-led firms received professional awards this year, including: Reich Associates, who received the USGBC Excellence Award for Lee Magnet High School; Reed Hilderbrand and Reich Associates received an honor award for the design of City Hall Plaza; Carbo Landscape Architecture received the USGBC Honorable Mention for the Mirabeau Gardens Phase 1 Master Plan, and honor awards for the Cane River residence Fern Glade and Hill Country Village Residence; Carbo Landscape Architecture and Suzanne Turner Associates received a merit award for the Bienville Square Park Master Plan and an honor award for The Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail; Dana Brown & Associates for the New Orleans Riverfront Master Plan; Joey Furr Design Studio received an honor award for the Electric Depot Adaptive Reuse Master Plan; and Design Workshop and Reich Associates received the President’s Award of Excellence for the Downtown Greenway design.

Learn more about the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture.