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New York ASLA Chapter

Tricia Martin, ASLA, 2010 Chapter President
Denisha Williams, ASLA, 2011 Chapter President


Backyards were a focus of the New York ASLA Chapter, particularly the revitalization and regeneration of what project proponents describe as green “coins” scattered throughout Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

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A lecture sponsored by the chapter and the Horticultural Society of New York focused on the role of landscape architects in the history of the urban backyard, from native plants to designing with found objects, from stormwater capture to current policy. Notable landscape and environmental professionals discussed their direct experiences in maximizing the environmental benefits of these isolated spaces through various techniques and creative approaches.

Ken Smith highlighted opportunities for ‘vertical’ landscapes through the use of supports for billboards, vertical parks, and oversized window gardens. Illustrating some of his concepts he cited a number of his projects over the past decade, that have featured various techniques in support of sustainable green spaces. These included the use of crushed gravel that allows for rainwater infiltration, woven wire mesh screens and chain link that can support vines and plants to increase the green area, recycled material, drip irrigation, the use of mirrored mylar cladding to reflect light vs. electric fixtures.

Evan Mason approached the concept of the untapped value of the urban yard through the lens of education and outreach, research and analysis and public policy. She began with a study conducted with CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities to focus on ‘How much open space is there?’ She defined open space in NYC as the “land that is not public streets, sidewalks, or buildings.” All open space includes both public and private spaces such as yards, parks, playgrounds, greenways, cemeteries, beaches, estuaries and airports.

Private open space is defined as all open space that is not publicly owned. Private and publically owned properties were distinguished using MapPLUTO building class codes. It does not include parks, playgrounds, cemeteries, or street triangles. Through this study it was determined that between the 5 boroughs approximately 53,000 acres of private open space exists, almost 28% of the city’s total acreage.

Other topics included the installation and benefits of green roofs, the role of the New York City Soil and Water Conservation District - which is to assist New Yorkers and local decision-makers on how to best use and conserve the city’s soil, water, and related resources – and a discussion and presentation of native plants and local ecologies that exist in the areas parks and open spaces and the opportunities and species that are available for planting in the garden.




Donna Walcavage, FASLA, AECOM Design + Planning, N.Y.C.
Category: Works of Landscape Architecture



Barbara Wilks, FASLA, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, N.Y.C.
Category: Works of Landscape Architecture

To view more reports from the 2010 ASLA Chapter Reports click here.


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October 20, 2019, 5:53 pm PDT

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