Students Describe their Experience at ASLA Conference in New Orleans

WASLA awarded scholarships for two students to attend this year’s annual ASLA conference in sunny New Orleans. Below are two write ups from Jack Alderman and Darin Rosellini about what they experienced and what they learned. Enjoy, and congrats again to our winners!

This year’s ASLA Meeting and Expo was a fantastic experience. I had never been to something like this before and certainly enjoyed it. The education sessions were the most interesting part of the Expo for me. Having the opportunity to hear from some of the most successful landscape architects in the profession today was truly eye opening. Until this point, I had only read work from most of the speakers, and getting to see them speak about their most recent work was a somewhat surreal experience. 

On Friday, the most interesting class I attended was Landscape Connectivity and Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure: Human Mobility, Fractured Ecosystems, and Wildlife. This talk was extremely uplifting and spoke about the occupation of landscape architecture and its obligation to the land as stewards and to not take the open space we have left for granted. I had been reading the work of Nina-Marie Lister in some of my classes and it was great to see her speak in person. 

Saturday’s most interesting class was Downtown REDUX: Revitalizing the City Center for the 21st Century. In this education session, a few principals from larger firms around the country discussed their most recent projects that focused on the characteristics of stimulating open space that engaged the users and provided safe and programed use in the center of cities. It was great to see high level landscape architects talk about their projects passionately, from discussing not only the successes of projects, but also the weaknesses and what they learned from the experience. 

On Sunday in Nature and Cities: The Ecological Imperative, a select group of professors and practitioners that are combining resources, spoke about a book to be recently published. This book focuses on ecology and landscape urbanism. The two people I was excited to hear most from were Charles Waldheim and James Corner, both of which I have been reading numerous works from in my classes. They were extremely well spoken and totally blew me away with their knowledge of not only landscape architecture as profession, but also with the theory and qualities of life that make our profession so special.

In addition to the great education sessions the atmosphere surrounding the expo was vitalizing. The actual expo itself concerned me less than professionals in the field today, but still a fun place to walk around and look at new products and talk with some interesting people. The tailgate at the expo was a great place to meet up with alumni from the University of Washington and hear about what they have done since graduation, as well as hear from a group of students that were there to accept an ASLA award for their recent work. A few of my professors and fellow classmates were there as well and it was a great platform to discuss landscape architecture with a passionate group of likeminded people.

Overall I had a wonderful time at the expo and would not hesitate to go back. I would like to thank the Washington chapter of ASLA and the WASLA board for taking me out to a wonderful dinner while I was in New Orleans. It is a great group of people that only reemphasized that I had made a great career choice and would certainly enjoy the work and the people I would be working with.

--Jack Alderman 


Let’s start with the overall general feeling of the conference and being granted a scholarship. I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity to attend the conference this year in New Orleans. All too often we are sitting in studio and focused on our little world, that we have no idea what the big picture is. Going to the ALSA Conference was just an absolutely fabulous experience and I will be forever grateful for this experience.

Not only was it set in a city that was fun, friendly and had open arms, the conference was quite the learning experience. My personal belief is when you go to conferences like this, you make the most out of everything you can do. Because of the scholarship dollars, I was able to go to every activity, class and network with my future peers. In addition to learning much, I had an absolutely wonderful time and met some people whom are now my role models.

I arrived on Friday and went to the SITES workshop. I am a huge fan of getting the SITES program up and running. I will be able to take the test soon, I just have to figure out how to afford this test, but I am all ready. We had a great time in that class and I learned a lot from those in the field who have been clients and participants in the process.

After that, Jack and I went wandering around New Orleans to take in the sights, architecture and culture. We had a great time together and bonded an important friendship that will hopefully last a lifetime.

On Saturday, I started with the Outdoor Learning Environments as opposed to playgrounds. I choose this because I am trying to get a research grant on how to create innovative ways to get schools to put raingardens into place. I not only learned a lot, but I met some leading designers in the field who said they can help me. I also attended the Wet Infrastructure seminar with Nina-Marie Lister and Susannah Drake. These two women are amazing and inspirational speakers. I found them to be ladies I want to have as role models and learn from.

Saturday Night, I really appreciated to get to meet all of you at the Pesche. Not only was the dinner delicious, but the new people we got to meet, were so much fun. Aka, all of you. It was a fun dinner.

On Sunday, I ventured over to the EXPO and built a materials library that weighs about 40 lbs. I am not kidding, I was going to mail it to myself, but it was quite expensive. My bags going home were so amazingly heavy, the shuttle that picked me up, needed help picking up the bag to get it into the back. Oops!
After the EXPO, I went to the Climate Change Policy and Practice: Innovating towards Implementation class. This was very interesting, partially because climate change and “green” projects are my passion. I was able to learn so much.

The second session on Sunday, I went to the Nature and Cities and the Rainwater as a resource workshop. I then attended the Fellow’s Dinner. Which was great exposure and I very much enjoyed meeting quite a few Landscape Architects across the country.

On Monday, I enjoyed the Green Roof Workshop and the President’s dinner. I will say I was completely exhausted by Monday. It was a great learning experience and I met some absolutely amazing people, not to mention I was exposed to so many projects around the country. All in all, this was a fabulous conference and I have so much respect for WASLA and ASLA. I look forward to my next conference whenever that may be.

Thank you so much for this experience and I look forward to working with all of you in the future.

--Darin Rosellini


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