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Ashworth Takes Lifelong Learning to Heart

Denise Ashworth, 86, a landscape architect for the forestry department from 1979 to 1990, is working on her PhD in broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Sitting in a classroom with students less than one-quarter her age, Denise Ashworth feels quite comfortable in her pursuit of a PhD in broadcasting at the University of Tennessee. Ashworth, from nearby Greenville, Tenn. is 86. She worked as a landscape architect for the forestry department between 1979 and 1990.

But education has seemed to be her lifelong pursuit. At 55 Ashworth got her first degree in horticulture at the University of Connecticut and a year later it was a master's degree. By the age of 60 she earned another master's degree, in landscape architecture, from the University of Georgia.

"I never have to slow down and I don't think I'd know how to do it," Ashworth told LASN. "I think people got used to me doing things. I like to hike and stay involved in town, working with the county tourism board, watershed protection and helping out with the maintenance of the Appalachian Trails."

By her 89th birthday Ashworth will be ready to share her gardening knowledge by pursuing a career in broadcasting, preferably a home and garden show on television. On Wednesdays her gardening column appears in the Greenville Sun newspaper.

"I'm hoping for the possibility of landing an internship, but I have more course work to do first, so that will come in another year," said Ashworth. "I love to write the column and people tell me what subjects they'd like me to cover. I've written several different types of articles including design and maintenance of gardens."

Tending gardens for more than 60 years, Ashworth used to own a bed and breakfast that had two acres of land. She misses that garden but can still tend to her small plot in front of her apartment.

"I loved working as an assistant landscape architect for the Forest Service and got the chance to design some campgrounds," said Ashworth. "I worked with visual resource management, did design trail mapping, prescriptions for timber and launched sites and trails."

She also got transferred to Mississippi for six months work detail and did some land reclamation at the White River National Park in Colorado, and helped design a handicapped trail in Georgia.

In her work as a landscape architect, Ashworth had to make several public presentations. She's also a member of Toastmasters, so she's familiar with public speaking which will help out in her broadcasting career.

Moment of Silence . . .

Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, 78, "put garden history on the map."

Elisabeth Blair MacDougall,
(1925 - 2003) Landscape Architecture Historian

BOSTON, Mass. - Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, 78, an art historian who directed landscape architecture studies at the Dumbarton Oaks research center from 1972 to 1988 and helped to transform the study of gardens into an academic discipline, died of pneumonia Oct. 12 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She lived in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. MacDougall, who had taught at Boston and Harvard universities, analyzed the use of color and design in 16th and 17th-century French and Italian gardens in much the same way art historians study other artistic productions of the period, colleagues said.

John Dixon Hunt, who succeeded her as director of landscape architecture studies at Dumbarton Oaks, said, "She put garden history on the map...Garden history has become popular because it requires one to be familiar with a variety of subjects, including art history, architectural history, literary history, geography, material culture and the history of ideas."

Her publications include: The Villa Mattei and the Development of the Roman Garden Style; The French Formal Garden; and Fountains, Statues, and Flowers: Studies in Italian Gardens of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.

Otay Water District to Recognize
Waterwise Landscapes

SAN DIEGO - The Otay Water District is holding a Waterwise Landscape contest to recognize and reward residential and commercial customers who have installed beautiful low-water use landscapes. The contest is open to all customers within the district's service area.

The landscape contest has a homeowner and a professional category, for either a new landscape or the retrofit of an existing landscape. Residential and commercial sites will be judged for suitable plant selection, efficient irrigation methods, appropriate maintenance and overall attractiveness. Awards will be presented in all categories.

The application deadline is April 16, 2004. For more information or to request an application, call the Otay Water District at 619-670-2291 or visit

Stonebriar Shows Variety Is Spice of Life

An aerial view of Shelby County, Tenn., site of the Stonebriar planned development.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Some housing communities have units churned out with cookie-cutter sameness in a sea of stucco white walls and Spanish tile roofs. That's not the case of Stonebriar, a planned development sweeping across southeast Shelby County. It will feature a startling mix of housing density, with lot sizes varying from 3,500 to 12,500 square feet. The formula allows Stonebriar to preserve open spaces, trees and waterways while finding room for more than 550 lots on its 171 acres.

Gary Barta, senior planner with Dalhoff Thomas Daws, the land planning and landscape architecture firm on the project, said Stonebriar will be a nontypical development that serves markets ranging from empty-nesters to large families.

"In terms of Shelby County, most of the developments are from one type of land use," told Barta to LASN. "It provides a variety of homes for different residential needs."

Barta said the development will foster a distinctive community with a strong sense of place. A greenbelt will run west of the site with lots of open space. The entrance way will be kept back 250 feet to preserve the open space in critical environmental areas. When Barta and the planners initially consulted the neighbors about their ideas for the community, they were aloof and distrustful. "They were concerned about density, having 3,500- and 6,000-square foot lots," said Barta. "But the project has only four units per acre which is average for density."

Community members also expressed concern over the natural look of the Holmes Road corridor, so a three-rail fence and additional landscaping were installed. The public became comfortable and supportive of the project once they realized that the houses wouldn't be visible from the road.

"Let's preserve the trees and then set the houses," said Barta. "Once the project has been built, the developer has the responsibility to maintain it and then turn it over to the homeowner's association, which hires a landscape maintenance company."

Some of the challenges of the project include dealing with the topography and how to construct the streets with different grades. The area has open pasture land and wooded areas, which need to be maintained. "We've been instructed by the developer to have the design appeal to the community and to residential markets," said Barta.

Iowa State Offers Design Services

Members of the Belmond, Iowa, Visioning Committee map local resources on an aerial map of the community.

AMES, Iowa--Communities with less that 10,000 are being invited to apply for design service offered by Iowa State University's department of landscape architecture and Trees Forever, a local environmental group. Iowa's Living Road Ways Community Visioning program is a planning process that encourages strategic thinking about landscape improvement and targets towns without design and planning services readily available. Parks, roadsides, open spaces, trails and other sites may fit the program criteria.

"The community is required to form a steering committee with goal setting and final concept designs,"" said Sandy Oberbroeckling, Iowa State University project manager. "A series of 10 meetings will be facilitated by Trees Forever. The community takes an inventory of its resources, identifying its cultural and natural resources." Photographs are taken of both positive and negative images in the community, with this inventory overlaid onto an aerial map. Oberbroeckling said this map helps the committee set goals. Some funds may be donated by the Iowa DOT.

Areas that will be considered need to demonstrate a need for assistance, community support, overall quality of the application and a donation of $1,000 cash, services or materials. Iowa State, Iowa DOT, landscape architects and Trees Forever field coordinators will choose the top 12 communities for these projects. Julia Badenhoff, associate professor of landscape architecture at Iowa State, is the principal investigator.

Oberbroeckling explained that landscape architects get paid a flat fee of $8,250 for 400 hours of work. By providing their design services, the landscape architect gets a chance of exposure to new clients. "Not all landscape architects are willing to do it, but some are provided with an intern who helps to put together the design," added Oberbroeckling. "This team provides training on various topics and information used in their practice."

Condo Market Hotter than Ever, Says National Association of Home Builders

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sales of new and existing condominiums jumped almost 13 percent during the first nine months of 2003 and, according to a recent report prepared by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), that upward trend is likely to continue through the new year.

Existing condo and co-op sales rose an unprecedented 12.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 971,000 units in the third quarter of 2003, up from the previous record of 860,000 in the second quarter. Production has been slower to ramp up, however; 33,000 multifamily condos and co-ops have been started so far this year, compared to 35,000 started in the first nine months of 2002.

David Seiders, NAHB chief economist, suggested that the sales trend may continue, at least in the near term, thanks to strong price appreciation in the market. "The benefits of low mortgage rates have encouraged buyers for condos in the same way as for single-family homes, but condo supply hasn't kept pace with demand," Seiders said. "This lag has continued to add upward pressure to condo prices in many markets."

Median condo resale prices rose 10 percent in 2001 (to $123,200) and 15 percent in 2002 (to $142,200), and have been climbing throughout 2003, averaging $161,000 through the first nine months of the year. "That's an increase of 15.2 percent compared to the same period in 2002," Seiders added. "Year-to-date resale prices for single family homes increased by only eight percent."

National Commission Gets Wish: Control of Mall Development

Congress has passed, and the president has signed, Public Law 108-26, which includes an amendment to "protect and preserve the integrity" of a "reserve" within the Washington, D.C. Mall. The reserve extends from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, and from the White House to the Jefferson Memorial, and empowers the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) to limit development of memorials and museums within this central axis.

The NCPC has lobbied for years to amend the Commemorative Works Act of 1986 to prevent overbuilding of memorials on the Mall. The reserve concept was first outlined in the NCPC's 2001 memorials and museums master plan, which was supported by the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission, and the Commission of Fine Arts.

While the NCPC has gotten its authority to limit the building of new memorials and museums in the reserve, it has identified in a master plan more than 100 potential sites in the city where future works could be located.

The NCPC provides planning guidelines for federal land and buildings, not only within the District of Columbia, but for Prince George and Montgomery counties in Maryland; and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties in Virginia.

From left: Paul Morris, FASLA, immediate past-president; Karen Hanna, FASLA, vice president of education; John Nicolaus, ASLA, vice president of communication; Amy Schneckenburger, FASLA, vice president of public affairs; and Patrick Miller, PhD, FASLA, president-elect.

The NCPC is comprised of 12 members. Who appointed them Mall keepers? The commission includes five civilians with planning experience: three are appointed by the president of the United States (one must reside in Maryland; one must reside in Virginia); the other two civilians are appointed by the mayor of the District of Columbia and must reside in the district.

The seven other commissioners, i.e., the majority, are "ex officio" members, a nebulous, authoritative Latin phrase for "by virtue of office." These members are the mayor of D.C., the chairman of the city council, and members of House and Senate Committees with "oversight responsibility for the District of Columbia." The NCPC points out that the ex officio members "often delegate alternates to represent them" at the monthly meetings.

IAAPA Announces 2003 Hall Of Fame Inductees

ORLANDO, Fla. - The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) announced its 2003 Hall of Fame inductees during IAAPA Orlando 2003, the association's 85th annual convention and trade show.

The 2003 inductees include Roberto Ortiz, founder of Parque de Diversiones in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Also inducted to the IAAPA Hall of Fame is Werner Stengel of Munich, Germany. Stengel has been active in the amusement industry for nearly four decades, having begun designing amusements in 1964. His designs have been used for many popular amusement rides. Stengel's ride designs often employ spinning, and he is known for innovative dark rides. Alpenblitz, Bayernkurve, Polyp, Enterprise and Big Wheels all bear the stamp of this industry pioneer.

Virginia Landscape Architects Award First Meade Palmer Medal

Barry W. Starke, FASLA

WARRENTON, VA - The Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects recently awarded the M. Meade Palmer Medal to Barry W. Starke, FASLA, at its annual meeting and awards ceremony held in Williamsburg.

Starke is the first recipient of the medal newly created in the name of the late M. Meade Palmer, FASLA, a revered figure in the landscape architecture profession in Virginia over the past 60 years.

The medal is awarded to a landscape architect, whose career exemplifies excellence in design, mentoring of young professionals and stewardship of the land. Starke, FASLA, AICP, is president of Earth Design Associates (EDA) located near Warrenton, Virginia. Prior to founding EDA in 1974, Starke was employed by Meade Palmer. Starke's work, which has included notable projects such as the Maymont Park master plan and Japanese garden design, the Science Museum of Virginia master plan and site design, the Virginia Historical Society site design, the Arthur Ashe monument, and campus planning and design at the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Union Theological Seminary and Virginia State University.

His work has been recognized through numerous state and national awards. Starke's career has included service as the first landscape architect member and president of the Virginia State Board of Architects, Engineers, Land Surveyors and Landscape Architects. He served as a member of the Rappahannock State Scenic Rivers Advisory Board, the Virginia Outdoors Plan Advisory Committee and was recently an invited participant in Governor Warner's summit on the environment. In 1999 Starke served as national president of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Foster Conant Announces Tallahassee Apartment Project

ORLANDO, Fl. - The Gatehouse Companies, a Massachusetts-based real estate development firm, has selected Foster Conant & Associates (FCA) to provide the landscape architectural design of amenities and site improvements for an apartment complex in Tallahassee, Florida. Jamestown Woods, located on an 11-acre parcel near Interstate 10 in Leon County, Florida, includes four buildings housing 150 apartment units. The FCA team is providing landscape planting and irrigation design, a study and layout of pedestrian walks, a study and layout of entryway elements including walls, structures and signage.

Forum Architecture of Altamonte Springs, Florida, provided architectural services; civil engineering is provided by Tallahassee-based Poole Engineering.

Foster Conant & Associates has provided site-specific landscape architecture for projects around the globe since 1969. Known for its diverse experience designing award winning public and private spaces, the firm's projects include parks, hotels, resorts, luxury single-family residential, theme parks, airports, office buildings and churches.

FCA is a 14-person landscape architectural practice. Richard Conant, FASLA, is the managing principal; Keith Oropeza, ASLA, is responsible for design; and Rene Ramos, ASLA, is in charge of production.


Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context-a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.

Eliel Saarinen, Time, July 2, 1956

Northampton Says Yes to Trees

NORTHAMPTON, MA - Knowing how valuable greenery can be to a community, the Northampton City Council unanimously voted to approve four nominations for membership on the Citizen Tree Committee. Already $2,500 in state grants has been used to plant 17 trees in the greenway in front of Northampton High School.

Ann-Renee Larouche, who has worked as a landscape architect and planner, was selected to the eight-member committee. It also includes a member each from the planning board, board of public works, conservation commission and department of public works.

The Citizen's Tree Committee had already been in existence more than a year, before Larouche read in a local newspaper about seeking new members to the committee. "My real interest has been in promoting sustainability through master landscape design and planning," Larouche told LASN. "People need to see that trees play an important role in making the environment a better place and cleaning up the air."

With her wide range of experience, Larouche said the committee was an ideal place for her. She now has the opportunity to contribute to her home town. "My background will be beneficial from the standpoint of understanding how trees grow, their aesthetics and environmental considerations," said Larouche. "I know what trees need to thrive, how they affect the microclimate and how to handle erosion control."

Larouche said she can contribute to the committee in a number of ways, especially in selecting plant species and determining where they're planted. She's interested in specifying native plantings, which would help keep the wildlife close to the site.

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December 9, 2019, 11:28 am PDT

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