By Holly Nelson, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Department of Landscape Architecture
Fifteen undergraduate Landscape Architecture majors attended the national conference of the American Society of Landscape Architects, which was held in Philadelphia during the fall semester. The conference is typically an eye-opener for students because it exposes them to projects and practitioners from all over the country and all over the world. The fall 2018 conference was no different for the Rutgers students in attendance.
Lubna Lakhwala, who was taking her first design studio, found the experience enriching. “ASLA was my first experience attending a landscape architecture conference, and it really was a great way for me to get exposed to the different branches of landscape architecture. The educational sessions were very useful because they were on a diverse variety of topics, which is beneficial because as a sophomore, I am still trying to figure out the branch of landscape architecture I want to focus on. Attending these sessions gave me a chance to explore different possibilities in landscape architecture and different possible career paths.”
In addition to current trends, students were able to network with practitioners from near and far. Wes Masco, a senior, said “I was able to catch up with some of the people that I worked with at my internship over the summer in a more casual setting.” Junior Tiffany Nguyen, who went with a group of her classmates, said “together we encouraged each other to talk to professionals, and present ourselves to them. In the end, no matter how the event ended, I still learned a lot and took that experience back home with me so I can prepare for the future.”
Senior Devin Fields, remarked “I saw many presentations about topics I am interested in, including gentrification, racial identity in landscape architecture, urban planning, and art in the landscape.” He was also excited about the chance to have his portfolio reviewed by a professional in the field. “It was a great review with a landscape architect from a firm in New Orleans. She gave me great feedback, complimented our program, and even offered me a job opportunity if I were ever willing to move to New Orleans!”
While networking and learning about the profession at lectures and informal gatherings were an integral part of the convention, Rutgers students found time to win the School Spirit competition at the Alumni Tailgate Event. Anna Erickson, a senior who has begun the Accelerated 5-Year Master’s Program, offered an insightful and in-depth view of the convention and what it means to the students.
“Identity and spirit are two qualities developed by the annual ASLA convention. Who are we? The American Society of Landscape Architects. What do we do? A lot. Landscape Architecture has roots in natural and social sciences. It alters perceptions of space and form, mood and tone. It is representative of a culture. It straddles the line between being firmly planted in reality while reaching for the stars and people’s hearts, taking shape as a beautiful design. The ASLA convention helps to communicate the vast amount of experiences within landscape architecture, expressing commonalities and differences within the field. As for spirit? The support shown by everyone attending the convention was self-evident, but no one had as much spirit that weekend as Rutgers did, taking first place in the school spirit competition.”