Legacy for Living Blog

ASLA History, 1899-1985

May 3, 2023

An education session at the 1981 ASLA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC

An education session at the 1981 ASLA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC

Beginning in 1978, ASLA published its membership rosters in a new 8½ by 5½ handbook format. Along with the lists of ASLA members by affiliation and location, the Members Handbooks included useful information such as the Society’s constitution and bylaws, chapter maps, committee rosters, and an ongoing narrative history of the ASLA. The latter practice was discontinued after the 1986 handbook, yet it remains an interesting window into the Society’s past.

Here in its entirety is the final of these histories, from the 1986 ASLA Members Handbook:

1899 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 | 1960 | 1970 | 1977 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985

1899-1910—The First Decade

The American Society of Landscape Architects was founded in 1899 in New York City. Membership was based on principles of competence determined by the officers of the Society acting as an executive committee. Most of the meetings were held in New York and the first ten years were a period of carefully directed growth. Starting with eleven charter members, including one woman, the membership in 1904 was 38 and totaled 68 by the close of the decade.

While several schools offered courses in related subjects, Harvard University in 1900 was the first university to offer a degree in Landscape Architecture. Henry V. Hubbard, the first graduate, received a degree of S.B. in Arte Toparia in 1901.

1910-1920—A Period of Expansion

The south lawn at Fairsted, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, seen circa 1900.The south lawn at Fairsted, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, seen circa 1900.

Three members of the Society founded Landscape Architecture in 1910 as a quarterly magazine and the “official organ” of the Society. A national examining board was established the same year and continued to 1948, independent of the Society’s executive committee. A study of methods of charges was begun in 1903, but not published until 1911. A committee on education advised professional schools in developing the highest standards of professional instruction. In 1914, a fellowship in landscape architecture was established at the Academy in Rome towards which the Society contributed $1,000 annually until 1923.

In 1917, when there were 93 members of the Society and 40 independent offices, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., as Chairman of the National Conference on City Planning, convinced the federal government to employ teams of three (an architect, an engineer and a landscape architect) to design cantonments and large camps. This arrangement was continued under Olmsted in the U.S. Housing Corporation where landscape architects also served—principally as site planners—proving the usefulness of the profession and the competence of the Society.

The board of trustees of ASLA was increased to nine members, one from each chapter plus four at large. Prompted by problems of fees for government projects, the Society held its first meeting in Washington in 1918. Adoption of “Standardized Plant Names” helped simplify the preparation of planting plans. By the end of 1920 membership had increased to 127.

1920-1930—An Era of Growing Pains

The demand for landscape architects continued to grow and the supply was limited. The Society’s “minimum education standards” became the basis for accreditation of courses offered and graduates of such courses were eligible for Junior Associate affiliation upon graduation.

A revised statement of professional practice and charges and a Code of Professional Ethics were adopted, and a series of ASLA policies were published. A few members resigned in order to be free to design and construct their own projects, taking a speculative profit on labor and materials as well as a fee for design. Others, who had become more involved in city planning, also resigned and the Society made little effort to hold them. Membership by 1930, however, was 252.

In 1926, ASLA headquarters moved from New York to 9 Park Street, Boston, under the supervision of Bradford Williams, Corresponding Secretary.

1930-1940—The Depression Years

Colleges were now turning out an increasing number of graduates, but much private work was being cancelled due to changing economic conditions. Many offices closed entirely or were maintained by the principals alone. Later, federal agencies began to provide many opportunities for employment of Society members. Much of the initial impetus was due to the efforts of Thomas C. Vint, who championed the concept of master planning in the national parks. Ultimately, there was more widespread employment of landscape architects on a greater variety of state and federal projects than at any time in the history of ASLA. A. D. Taylor, Conrad L. Wirth and his committee on the Practice of Landscape Architects in Governmental Agencies were pivotal movers in this wide-ranging program.

A significant achievement in cooperation occurred when the officers of the architectural, engineering, and landscape architectural organizations adopted “A Joint Statement of the Division of Responsibilities among the Design Professions” on wartime housing projects.

In 1937, the Society created an independent publication board to publish Landscape Architecture Quarterly, previously produced by Henry V. Hubbard. Cost of the magazine subscription was incorporated in annual dues of ASLA membership.

Registration, first considered during the early years, was again discussed, but little action taken. The term “site planner” came into use and was adopted by members of other professions as well. At the end of the 1940’s there were 12 chapters and total membership was 442.

1940-1950—Social Changes, the War Years

Members of ASLA assisted the Civil Service Commission of the federal government in preparation of a formal classification for landscape architectural positions in the federal government.

A revision of the Constitution and Bylaws in 1948 increased the autonomy and responsibility of chapters and brough about a healthy decentralization. During the war, private landscape architectural work was at a virtual standstill, but afterward it quickly accelerated due to pent-up demand. The GI Bill of Rights offered many veterans college training in landscape architecture. Total membership was 542.

1950-1960—A Period of Rapid Expansion

The Society held its first annual meeting west of the Rockies during June of 1950 in Ojai, California. The needs of a rapidly growing Society were analyzed in reports on the profession by John I. Rogers and John O. Simonds, and a brochure describing the profession was developed.

The year 1950 also marked the start of an all-out effort for state registration in California. A “Joint Committee for State Registration of Landscape Architects” was formed, with representatives from the two ASLA chapters, and from the California Association of Landscape Architects, an independent organization which later disbanded in favor of ASLA. Funds were raised through per capita assessments. Assistance was solicited from architectural, engineering and other groups. A registration bill was drafted, and sponsors obtained who placed it before the 1951 Legislative Session. In spite of great effort by the sponsors and the Joint Committee, the bill was “in, but not out of” its final committee when the Session ended.

In 1953, under the leadership of Raymond E. Page and the guidance of a legislative counsel employed through funds of the Joint Committee, a second bill was introduced, and this time passed and signed by the governor. The initial Board of Landscape Architects, appointed from a slate proposed by the Joint Committee, faced the dauting task of processing some 1,400 applications, conducting hearings for disgruntled non-qualifiers and, later, preparing and conducting, without a precedent, a 3-day examination. An ongoing California Council of Landscape Architects (CCLA) was organized to replace the Joint Committee and act as a supportive body to the State Board.

With the increasing importance of government work, the Committee on Professional Service under the chairmanship of Eugene R. Martini, and with full approval of the Board of Trustees, launched a Washington Development Fund with the objective of opening a “Field Office” in Washington, DC by the end of the decade.

The Society had maintained a list of schools giving accredited courses for some years. In 1958, ASLA was formally accepted by the National Commission on Accrediting as the official agency for the accrediting of schools of landscape architecture.

At the end of 1960, there were 18 chapters, several sections, and the membership totaled 1,647—more than triple the growth of the last decade.

1960-1970—Affirmative Action

Jane Silverstein Ries, FASLA, of the Rocky Mountain Chapter ASLA, and Hendtrick Langerak of the Denver Art Museum assembling a display on landscape architecture at the Art Museum's Living Art Center in 1964.Jane Silverstein Ries, FASLA, of the Rocky Mountain Chapter ASLA, and Hendtrick Langerak of the Denver Art Museum assembling a display on landscape architecture at the Art Museum's Living Art Center in 1964.

On the first of January 1960, the Washington Field Office was opened, with Lynn M. F. Harriss as Field Secretary, with financing by the Washington Development Fund and under the supervision of Eugene Martini and his Committee on Professional Service. After the death of Bradford Williams, and under the leadership of President Norman T. Newton, ASLA headquarters was moved to Washington, and the two offices amalgamated, with Harriss being redesignated as Executive Director. In May 1960, New York obtained registration in an act to license the practice as well as the title of landscape architect.

During the following year, the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) was organized to coordinate and assist the growing number of state boards. The Council of Fellows was established in 1962, consisting of all Fellows of ASLA, then totaling 112. The monthly newsletter LAND (Landscape Architecture News Digest) was started to cover in-house news more frequently than the occasional “Bulletin” and the “Quarterly.” Grady Clay became editor of Landscape Architecture upon the death of Bradford Williams in 1960. A Bradford Williams Medal was subsequently designed and cast, awarded annually to the author of an article in the quarterly judged the best for that year.

The Society was increasingly heard from in reports and direct testimony to congressional committees and took an active part in the White House Conference on Natural Beauty (May 1965) and similar affairs.

In 1963, an Index of Federal Agencies Having Land Planning Functions was published in book form as a guide to the ever-more-complex agencies to be contacted to obtain governmental contracts. The first of several revisions of the brochure: Landscape Architecture—A Professional Career in Land Planning had been written that year.

Several separate funds of the Society were consolidated as the Endowment Fund, which had been receiving a portion of the dues collected each year. The ASLA Foundation was incorporated in 1966 for the purpose of soliciting and coordinating funds for various projects, including research. A vigorous program was instituted to set forth the Society’s position on many matters of moment, from professional registration, and collaborating with the other design professions, to atmospheric pollution and housing. These were published in book form for the first time in 1964. Also published was ASLA Meeting Manual, a guide to the increasingly complex interrelationships and responsibilities in connection with the growing annual meetings.

In 1965 Professional Registration of Landscape Architects in the United States was published as a guide to ASLA chapters wishing to establish registration laws. In the same year, the ASLA medal program was organized, to be awarded annually to an outstanding landscape architect, whether or not a member of the Society.

In 1966 The New Legislation was published, an expanded successor to the Index of Federal Agencies, incorporating new laws, funds and grants, updating office address, personnel and other material. A plum in the basket of the committee on interprofessional relations came with the establishment of the Interprofessional Council on Environmental Design (ICED), with membership consisting of the president and executive director of each of the organizations representing architects, engineers, planners and landscape architects.

A Management Study of ASLA was published in 1969 by Executives Consultants, Inc. under Alfred B. LaGasse, Jr., who had become executive director in 1968. Administrative headquarters was established in McLean, Virginia and corporate headquarters remained in Massachusetts. The “Study of the Profession,” under Dr. Albert Fein, was contracted in 1968 with joint funding by the Society and the Ford Foundation. By year end 1969, registration in 19 states had been achieved.

An “Under 30 Task Force” was very active. Members in the Associate category were given most of the rights and privileges of full Members. A new Affiliate category was created. The first dues increase in ten years was voted to implement Society progress. A sizeable number of publications, mostly on education, were produced under Gary Robinette. Membership totaled 2,872 in the 1970-71 roster with 22 chapters.

1970-1977—Rapid Growth

Highlights from the 1976 ASLA Annual Meeting held from July 11-15, 1976, at the Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California.Highlights from the 1976 ASLA Annual Meeting held from July 11-15, 1976, at the Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California.

In 1970 the Professional Awards Program was implemented, the president’s cup for outstanding chapter programs was initiated, and a chapter public relations handbook was published. Also published were the brochures Landscape Architecture—the Analysis, Planning and Design of Man’s Environment and an Index to Graduate Work. The Society began electronic data processing to expedite services to members.

A Handbook on Professional Practice was published, plus two editions of a booklet, The Landscape Architect and the Federal Agencies, expanding and updating the information from previous publications.

Strong emphasis was placed on involving young landscape architects in the Society. The number of accredited schools reached 37. The number of chapters increased to 40 and membership at the end of 1977 was approximately 3,300.

The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) in 1970, until then a committee of ASLA organized in 1961 at the ASLA annual meeting in Boulder, CO, was incorporated as a separate organization furnishing the Uniform National Examination (UNE) for landscape architectural licensure. In 1977 registration of landscape architects was required in 36 states.

Dues for full Members of ASLA were increased in 1974 to $100 plus chapter dues—all being collected by the Society, with chapter dues, less a small service charge, returned to chapters. Supplementary income was paid to the ASLA Foundation which was reorganized as the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) with board segregation and greater industry representation.

Registration laws came under intense scrutiny in 1976. Sunset laws proliferated requiring periodic justification. Colorado lost its act, and six other states’ registration acts came under fire.

Landscape Architecture Magazine began bi-monthly publication in 1976.

A major public relations effort resulted in production of the film, A Legacy for Living. Monographs on Extension Landscape Architecture, Registration, and Selection of a Landscape Architect Consultant were produced. The Professional Practice Handbook was published in paperback, replacing the ring-binder format. In 1977 ASLA entered its fiftieth year as the accrediting agent for professional degree programs in landscape architecture by authority of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

1977-1978—The Move to Self-Management

Pancake breakfast at the 1978 student LABASH held in Guelph, Ontario.Pancake breakfast at the 1978 student LABASH held in Guelph, Ontario.

ASLA underwent a dramatic change in 1977 when it ended a ten-year outside-management mode and assumed the reigns of self-management. This task involved hiring its own personnel to develop ASLA programs, activities and administrative affairs. The reorganization peaked when the society relocated its headquarters to downtown Washington, DC that year. Lane L. Marshall who had produced the management study recommending a change to self-management, assumed the presidency of the Society in September of 1977 and led the organization during the first crucial year of the reorganization.

Following a comprehensive selection procedure, Edward H. Able, Jr., was chosen as the executive director to provide the management and staff leadership in implementing the directives of the Society’s leadership. With a staff of five and the new executive director, ASLA opened the doors of its small suite of offices in the “association district” of downtown Washington, DC in January 1978.

The new leadership and management immediately sought to broaden ASLA’s membership base and expand the scope of programs and services. A new publication, Landscape Architectural Technical Information Series (LATIS) was implemented, along with a new program of continuing education and seminars and expanded version of the Landscape Architecture News Digest (LAND), ASLA’s monthly newsletter. The membership roster and other pertinent Society information were consolidated in the Members’ Handbook, the Professional Awards Program was expanded, and a Professional Placement Service was instituted.

The membership-funded services were geared to be non-practice specific and appeal to the widest group of public, private and academic practitioners. To fill the specific needs of each type of practitioner, the Professional Practice Institute (PPI) was established as an internal organizational element of ASLA. All PPI products and services are to be sold to these specialized practitioners at cost and are not financed from membership dues income. This concept was new to the ASLA organizational and conceptual philosophy.

By the end of 1978, the results of ASLA’s new direction were evident: membership jumped more than 700 to 4,000 dues paying members – a 21% increase. Concurrently, income rocketed 39% in one year over the budgeted figure.

As a fitting climax to the year’s activities, more than 1,700 registrants participated in the Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia – surpassing the previous attendance record of 800 attendees. At that meeting, Jot D. Carpenter, chairman of the Program of Landscape Architecture at Ohio State University, assumed the presidency and continued the progress in this new direction for ASLA.

With increased revenue from its increased membership, the Society began a nationwide public information visibility effort on behalf of the profession. The film “A Legacy for Living” underwent modification to provide additional information on large scale land-use planning and was prepared for commercial television distribution. Three public service announcements were produced for commercial and public television and have so far gained an audience of more than 52-million viewers. All of these visibility efforts achieved remarkable results in 1978 and were adopted as part of President Carpenter’s program for 1979.

By the close of 1978, ASLA staff had grown to ten employees and two part-time consultants – one in government affairs and the other directing the Professional Placement Service. The Society also began a search for a permanent headquarters building in Washington, DC to be owned by ASLA.

1979—On the Brink of a New Decade

ASLA President Jot D. Carpenter, FASLA, discussing the role of landscape architects in government with H. Lee Warren, Supervising Landscape Architect of the California State Park System, 1979.ASLA President Jot D. Carpenter, FASLA, (right) discussing the role of landscape architects in government with H. Lee Warren, Supervising Landscape Architect of the California State Park System, 1979.

Under the leadership of President Jot D. Carpenter and the ASLA Board of Trustees, the Society continued its dramatic growth and development begun in 1978. Programs were refined and expanded to provide a more effective and efficient voice through ASLA for the profession of landscape architecture.

ASLA membership continued its dramatic growth in 1979 to more than 4,600 dues paying members. Coupled with the lowest attrition rate in five years, total ASLA membership rose an astounding 15 percent. In addition, a new national student affiliate program drew over 450 student members doubling the expected first year’s number.

Action from ASLA’s Government Affairs activities helped spur Congress to designate Frederick Law Olmsted’s home and office a National Historic Landmark. The Government Affairs department was also actively involved in encouraging the immediate updating of government standards for evaluating landscape architects for federal service—standards written in 1963 that do not properly evaluate the true scope of professional expertise. In addition, ASLA has nominated landscape architects to panels that evaluate applicants for federal service. The Society has also offered testimony to the Congress on the Highway Beautification Program and the negative effects on that program during recent years.

Visibility for the profession received a boost during 1979 when more than 160 million people viewed ASLA’s public service announcements for the film A Legacy for Living. The film itself scored an impressive two million viewers through various ASLA national and chapter visibility programs. The complete film was shown frequently on commercial, public, and cable television.

Licensure for landscape architects took six steps forward when sunset review legislation was defeated in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas. In 1979 there were no states which lost licensure for landscape architects.

ASLA’s continuing education program broke all attendance records, with capacity registration at most seminars: Visual Resource Management, Surface Mine Reclamation, Presentations and Proposals, Interiorscapes, and Economy in Graphics, topics presented in 1979.

Chapter Leadership Development Seminars likewise attracted record participation. The seminars were revised and updated to provide leadership training to current and future leaders of the Society at the chapter level.

The ASLA Council on Education completed a major revision and refinement of the accreditation standards. New rules and procedures adopted by the council will also allow the accreditation of more than one program at a school.

LAND, ASLA’s monthly newsletter, offered expanded news coverage about the Society in a new graphic format. Subject matter coverage expanded to include information on external forces which have an impact on the profession.

Also during 1979, ASLA continued the publication of the Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series (LATIS), the annual Landscape Architecture Appointment Calendar, and the comprehensive ASLA Members’ Handbook. The latter publication grew with the addition of expanded information about the Society, its organization and governance, and the addition of a roster of academic practitioners.

ASLA held its 1979 Professional Awards ceremony in Washington DC at the National Academy of Sciences on August 21. Livingston Biddle, Jr., chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, presented the 1979 awards, and Joan Adams Mondale, wife of the Vice President of the United States, received Honorary membership into the Society during the ceremony.

ASLA leadership looked closely at the double-digit inflation during 1979 and was forced to raise dues $10 in all categories of membership—the first dues increase in five years.

The 79th Annual Meeting of the Society, held in New Orleans, attracted more than 1,800 registrants, a new ASLA record. The expanded program provided 19 educational sessions around the theme: “Impact & Opportunity: Money, Law, and Politics.” Robert L. Woerner, a private practitioner from Spokane, Washington, assumed the presidency and dedicated his administration to the continuation of ASLA’s new directions. Ten members were made Fellows of the ASLA at the annual Fellows Investiture Ceremony and banquet held during the annual meeting.

1980—Beginning the Eighties

Pat Moore, Robert Woerner, Robert Walker, and Brian Winterowd judging the 1980 ASLA National Student Design Competition entries.Pat Moore, Robert Woerner, Robert Walker, and Brian Winterowd judging the 1980 ASLA National Student Design Competition entries.

Robert L. Woerner, a private practitioner from Spokane, Washington, led the Society as President during 1980 with William A. Behnke serving as President-Elect. During the first year of a new decade, the Society continued to grow and prosper with tremendous increases in both its resources and membership.

ASLA attained an unprecedented 5,000 members by November of 1980. The 5,000th member was recognized at the 80th Annual Meeting. The rate of members lost continued to be extremely low. ASLA’s new student affiliate program continued with over 500 joining as National Student Affiliates, a 23% increase over the first year. The number of ASLA student chapters increased by five to a total of forty-four.

The Society’s activities representing the profession to the outside world grew in 1980. Activities relating to government affairs rose to an unprecedented level as the Executive Director and Director of Government Affairs met the demands of the Society’s membership for greater input and action. A hallmark for the year was the successful completion of the Olmsted home and office, an activity of heavy Society involvement in 1979. During the closing days of the 1980 Congressional session, Congress appropriated the remaining funds necessary to purchase the Olmsted archives for permanent maintenance at the Frederick Law Olmsted home and office which was designated a National Historic Site in October 1979. ASLA had devoted a substantial amount of time in supporting legislation to achieve this success.

ASLA led the effort by all design organizations to revise and update the Federal announcement procedures and information for rating applicants for Federal Service. Active visibility campaigns were continued at both the national and chapter level. Of particular significance was that the film, “Legacy for Living,” was seen by over two million people during calendar year 1980. The ASLA chapters produced many new visibility efforts and showed remarkable creativity in educating the public about the profession.

Licensure for landscape architects throughout the country continued to prosper. Three new states, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona passed licensure laws while Oregon lost licensure through sunset legislation. While several other states began sunset review of landscape architecture registration boards, the outlook is excellent toward maintaining and expanding licensure in many more states.

ASLA’s continuing education program and chapter leadership seminars were repeated. A record attendance was noted at the chapter leadership seminars and results of three years of the expanded seminars became obvious as chapters achieved new success and productivity in 1980. The President’s Cup was awarded to the Minnesota Chapter (small chapter category) and the Washington Chapter (large chapter category) as the outstanding chapters of the Society in 1980. The continuing education program presented Economy in Graphics, Presentations and Proposals, Landscape Architects Computer Basics and Computes in Landscape Architecture Planning and Analysis to participants throughout the country.

The ASLA Council on Education continued its demanding task of dealing with the Society’s responsibility as the official accrediting agency for programs of landscape architecture. Two newly accredited programs were approved in 1980 – one of which was the first program to be accredited outside of the United States, i.e., the undergraduate program at the University of Guelph in Canada. The total number of accredited programs at the end of the year was forty-two. The Society also implemented the new policy of accrediting more than one program per institution.

A new ASLA publication was initiated in 1980 under the sponsorship of the ASLA Professional Practice Institute. (The P.P.I. was organized in 1978 as the organizational unit of ASLA which provides practice specific products and services.) The P.P.I. produced the first annual edition of the National Directory of Landscape Architecture Firms. The publication was financed by fees received for private landscape architecture firms which wished to be listed in the Directory. The fees covered the production of the document and free distribution to institutions and organizations which contract for landscape architectural services. Five-thousand copies of the Directory were published and distributed, and it is anticipated that this may be an annual publication. In addition, the Society continued to publish an expanded Chapter Operations Workbook under the sponsorship of the ASLA Chapter Advisory Board as an aid to chapter offices in fulfilling their responsibilities and functions.

The 1980 Professional Awards of the Society were presented in Washington, DC on 19 August by Russell Dickenson, Director of the National Park Service, during ceremonies held at the National Academy of Sciences. Jane Hurt Yarn, member of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, was awarded Honorary Membership in ASLA during those ceremonies.

The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society was held in Denver, Colorado in November. The meeting attracted almost 1,700 participants. The meeting offered twenty-two different educational workshops around the theme: “Frontiers for the Eighties: Response to Change.” The meeting served as the vehicle for the annual B. Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture. The lecture was delivered by John Naisbitt, writer/publisher, and futurist, and served as the keynote presentation for the meeting. The meeting activities included the investiture of eleven new Fellows of the Society. They were chosen by the newly implemented “jury system” of selecting fellows from chapter nominations. Also during the meeting, William G. Swain (FE) was presented with ASLA’s highest honor – the ASLA Medal, and George A. Yarwood (FE) was awarded the ASLA 1980 President’s Medal for outstanding contribution to the profession through service to ASLA.

One of the most important events of the year was the decision of the ASLA Board of Trustees ot move forward with obtaining a permanently owned home for the Society in Washington. Working under authority delegated by the Board, the National Executive Committee entered into an agreement with a Washington developer to purchase and renovate a townhouse on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. The Society entered into a “lease with option to purchase” agreement with the developer with actual purchase planned to occur after the third year of occupancy. ASLA immediately began a major fund-raising campaign to collect the necessary capital for the downpayment on the building. The goal of $400,000 was almost 25% realized by the end of the year.

The staff in Washington grew by one individual during the year making the permanent full-time staff eleven with one additional part time consultant.

1981—The New Era

Annual Meeting Program Chair Randy Boyd Fitzgerald and ASLA President Robert L. Woerner, FASLA, breathe a smile of relief following the successful completion of the 1980 ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Randy was one of more than 1,600 survivors of this exhiliarating 3-day event in the mile-high city.Annual Meeting Program Chair Randall Boyd Fitzgerald and ASLA President Robert L. Woerner, FASLA, breathe a smile of relief following the successful completion of the 1980 ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Randy was one of more than 1,600 survivors of this exhiliarating 3-day event in the mile-high city.

William A. Behnke, FASLA, a private practitioner from Cleveland, Ohio, led the Society as president during 1981 with Calvin T. Bishop, FASLA, serving as president-elect. The Society continued its substantial degree of growth in both numbers and scope of activities during the year.

ASLA attained nearly 6,000 members by the end of the year, while limiting the degree of attrition to approximately 5.8%. Enrollment in the National Student Affiliate Program remained steady at 560 students, while the number of ASLA student chapters increased to 47.

President Behnke’s “Outreach” program produced a new momentum and expansion of ASLA’s efforts to represent Landscape Architecture. Heavy emphasis was placed on participation with outside organizations, conferences, and government organizations to establish a major communications network. As a part of this effort, President Behnke and ASLA served as the 1981 Secretariat of the Interprofessional Council of Environmental Design (see allied organizations). President Behnke also worked with President-Elect Bishop during the year to support the development of major new ASLA Programs which would be implemented in 1982.

Further progress was made in 1981 on the government affairs function by stepping up the monitoring of government agencies and the United States Congress by keeping informed on relevant regulations and legislative matters. The Society provided informed testimony and reports to congressional committees. An aggressive program is being developed for 1982 to strengthen the government affairs activities of the chapters at the state and local government levels.

The long-term effort to unite the profession through the unification of ASLA and the American Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) was reached when both boards of the two organizations and the membership of AILA voted overwhelmingly to approve the move. By the end of the year, 184 of the 258 AILA members had indicated their intention to become members of the unified group through an automatic membership transfer. (Approximately 40 AILA members were already members of ASLA). The final signing of the legal unification document will be completed in early 1982. Jot D. Carpenter, FASLA, past president of ASLA and chair of the ASLA/AILA Unification Task Force, received commendation from the ASLA Officers and Board for his untiring and dedicated efforts which resulted in the successful completion of the project.

Licensure for landscape architects through the country continued to receive wide acceptance. In addition to the several states where licensure was successfully defended in a “sunset” review, the state of Indiana obtained licensure for the first time and the state of Oregon regained its licensing law which had been lost in 1980.

ASLA’s traveling continuing education program enjoyed a successful year, with seminars on: Energy Conservation and Applications of Computers to Landscape Architecture receiving wide acclaim.

The highly successful Chapter Leadership Seminars were continued in 1981, and ratings from the participants reached a new high. In general, all ASLA chapters increased their productivity and effectiveness by implementing expanded programs, services, and visibility efforts. Criteria for the 1981 President’s Cup gave new emphasis to visibil8ty programs at the chapter level. The Washington State Chapter gained the high award in the small chapter category, while the Minnesota Chapter accepted the honor in the large chapter category. This was the second time the Minnesota Chapter had earned the President’s Cup and has now laid claim to this coveted award in both small and large chapter categories. The awards were presented at the Society’s 1981 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

ASLA’s Council on Education continued its ongoing responsibilities while implementing a new policy of accrediting more than one program at an institution. Three new programs were added to the list of accredited programs, including the University of Illinois Graduate Program, the Graduate Program at the University of Colorado at Denver, and the Kansas State University Graduate Program. There were 45 accredited programs by the year’s end.

The ASLA Board of Trustees took several significant actions during 1981. The board adopted new policies on National Parks, Blacks in Landscape Architecture, and Minorities in Landscape Architecture. The board also proposed and adopted an increased dues structure for the Society, which brought national dues for a full Member to $135. Dus for Associates and Affiliates were raised to $60 for the first year, $85 for the second, $110 for the third, and $135 for the fourth year and every year thereafter.

One of the most far-reaching and important ASLA programs was initiated by President Behnke in 1981. He had previously called together a large group of practitioners from all facets of the profession to discuss the future of landscape architecture. This meeting, which became known as the Gwinn Conference, resulted in the establishment of the ASLA Task Force on Landscape Architecture into the 21st Century. The task force was chaired by Past President Lane Marshall, FASLA, and the initial work of the group was reported to the entire ASLA membership at the 1981 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The report presented an overview of the situation and examined the societal factors external to the profession which will affect the profession into the 21st Century. The task force was then charged with preparing a further report of how the profession and ASLA should respond to the information in the initial report. The task force will present this final report to the Board at the mid-year meeting in May 1982.

A major publishing effort by the Society began in 1981 with the production of a revised Handbook on Professional Practice. The new version of the book, Guidelines to Professional Practice, was authored by Past President Lane L. Marshall. The new book received overwhelming approval throughout the profession, particularly in academic circles where the volume is used extensively in teaching professional practice.

The 1981 ASLA Professional Awards were presented in Washington, DC, just prior to the 1981 Annual Meeting. The awards ceremony was held at the National Academy of Sciences and drew the largest audience ever. Secretary of the Interior James Watt made a surprise appearance at the ceremony, along with the Director of the National Park Service Russell Dickenson and other prominent Washington figures. A total of 31 awards were presented by President Behnke and Grant Jones, chair of the 1981 Awards Program. Richard Haag Associates received a President’s Award of Excellence, the highest award, for their project, Gas Works Park, in Seattle, Washington.

The ASLA Professional Practice Institute continued its dramatic growth and productivity during 1981 and produced a second expanded edition of the National Directory of Landscape Architecture Firms. In addition, the Institute sponsored a major series of seminars on Marketing Landscape Architecture Services across the country, and continued the development of major products which are planned for implementation in 1982.

The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society was held in Washington, DC, in November, and drew 2,300 registrants, which topped all attendance records for any meeting of landscape architects worldwide. The meeting offered nearly 20 educational sessions on the theme “Action by Design.” Sunny Scully and Robert Ross served as co-chairs for the program and produced an educational experience which exceeded all previous meetings. The Potomac, Virginia, and Maryland Chapters served as hosts for the meeting.

Ambassador Elliot Richardson served as the keynote speaker for the meeting and other major speakers included Stewart Udall and Sarah Short Austin. The meeting included an investiture ceremony for the eleven newly elected Fellows of the Society. Also, during the meeting, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe of Great Britain was awarded the ASLA Medal and Ervin H. Zube and Dr. Joseph E. Howland were presented the 1981 Bradford Williams Medals. Lane L. Marshall was presented the 1981 President’s Medal for outstanding contributions to the profession through service to ASLA. At the Board of Trustees Meeting, held during the annual Meeting, the Board adopted the largest budget in history for the Society. The amount totaled $1.1 million in the operating budget and almost $225,000 in restricted funds.

A most traumatic experience for the Society occurred on April 16 when the new ASLA Headquarters building was gutted by fire only seven days before the Society was to relocate to the new building. ASLA offices were temporarily relocated to another suite of offices at 1900 M Street – the Society’s location at the time. Insurance covered the major portion of expenses produced by the tragedy, and the process began again to rebuild the gutted interior of the building. Meanwhile, the campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the new building raised over $160,000 by the end of the year.

The staff at the national headquarters grew by one person, bringing the total number to 12 full time employees and one consultant.

1982—Growth Despite National Recession

Interior of the new ASLA office at 1733 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC. Featuring 'the ASLA computer.'Interior of the new ASLA office at 1733 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC. Featuring "the ASLA computer."

The Society was led in 1982 by President Calvin Bishop, a private practitioner from Houston, Texas. Under Mr. Bishop’s guidance and leadership, 1982 began as an exciting year for ASLA with the relocation of the Washington Headquarters operation to ASLA’s own building. Fundraising activities continued throughout the year for the eventual purchase of the building. However, due to the extremely poor state of the national economy, limited funds were raised. A much broader fundraising effort is planned for 1983 by the ASLA leadership in order to meet the schedule for actual purchase of the building.

Three additional staff positions were created at ASLA Headquarters. The new positions include a full-time government affairs coordinator, a full-time staff landscape architect, and an additional staff member in the membership office. This brought the number of employees working on behalf of ASLA to 16 full-time individuals and one part-time staff member. In addition, ASLA’s support of its chapters was recognized by the establishment of the position of Director of Chapter Services. Initial responsibilities for this job were assumed by the Director of Membership.

Also during this year, ASLA purchased and installed its own computer system. The new system was fully operational by year’s end and produced an increased efficiency and productivity far beyond expectations. In addition, the Landscape Architecture Foundation launched its clearinghouse of information on and bout the profession utilizing the ASLA computer to begin inputting data.

The Society took on an ambitious program of new products and services during 1982 including the following:


  1. L.A. File, a file of suppliers’ catalogues indexed and marketed as a joint effort by ASLA and Landscape Architecture Magazine.
  2. Return-of-Dues Program, an almost unique program in the association community. This benefit of membership in ASLA returns to the member at retirement and age 70 all continuous national dues paid since the beginning of the Program.
  3. L.A. Bookstore, a bookstore operated through ASLA Headquarters, now provides its members with discounts on books from a variety of commercial and non-commercial publishers. During its first full year of operation the Bookstore generated almost $80,000 in sales.
  4. Garden Design, a new magazine for the public produced by the staff of Landscape Architecture Magazine in Louisville. The magazine is a spectacular addition to ASLA’s overall activities and has received wide acclaim from the public and the membership.
  5. During this year ASLA conducted perhaps the most extensive and credible Salary Survey ever produced for the profession. The results of the Survey were made available in a printed form to ASLA members, and indicated substantial accomplishments for the profession since the last survey was conducted in 1975.
  6. After four years of investigation the Society was finally able to establish a sponsored program in professional liability insurance. This program provides landscape architects throughout the country with professional liability insurance at a 50 to 60 percent lower premium rate and, in many cases, enables them to double their coverage at the same time.
  7. In addition, the Society changed its group health insurance coverage to the North American Life and Casualty Company to provide better coverage at lower cost for the membership. The move to the new plan produced a resurgence of interest from private practice firms. This plan also grew dramatically during the year.
  8. Rental car discounts were obtained for the membership from Hertz Rent-a-Car Company and the staff continued its investigation of other possible discount programs available to large membership organizations.


The Board of Trustees continued its excellent leadership of the Society. The Board grappled with many issues of paramount importance both to ASLA and the profession this year. Among these was the adoption of a long-range financial plan setting a goal for the Society of 10,000 members and a budget of $3,000,000 within five years. The Trustees continued their great concern for and interest in the future economic viability of the profession by their support of the continuing work of the Task Force on Landscape Architecture into the 21st Century and the Gwinn II Conference. Gwinn II was reconvening of those individual landscape architects who originally precipitated the Task Force effort. Additional benefits, analysis, and information was gained from Gwinn II, and the Task Force on Landscape Architecture into the 21st Century was given the continued charge of developing that information to make it as usable and productive for the profession as possible.

A most important action taken by the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee was to endorse the rewriting of the Report produced in 1982 by the Task Force on Landscape Architecture into the 21st Century. The Report will be published in a generic form for all individuals involved in or concerned about the built environment. This project was ongoing during 1982 with the anticipation of the rewritten manuscript and production of the book early in 1983. One of the major goals of ASLA’s publication of this new book is the public relations value to be gained by the profession of landscape architecture. Other design professions and industries will recognize that landscape architects have produced a unique product with a perspective applicable to any of those involved in the decision-making process about the built environment.

The Board took action during 1982 to allow the formation of ASLA student chapters at unaccredited programs of landscape architecture as long as they grant a degree in the profession. A difficult issue to address, the Board looked at all of the ramifications of this action and determined that that it was appropriate for ASLA to support students in programs granting a degree even if that program was not accredited.

The election of ASLA’s National Officers was a unique event in the history of the Society. Darwina Neal, former Treasurer, Vice President, and Trustee, was voted into the office of President-Elect. Ms. Neal will automatically assume the Presidency in 1984. This is the first time in the Society’s history that the membership has chosen a woman as their president. Thomas Papandrew and Robert Mortensen, both former Trustees, were elected to the office of Vice President.

These new officers along with Theodore Wirth, incoming President of the Society, were installed at the November 1982 Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. This, too, was a unique event in that the Society had never held its Annual Meeting in the Hawaiian Islands. It turned out to be an adventurous affair since the Islands suffered a hurricane during the ASLA Annual meeting.

At year’s end the membership of ASLA had reached 6,258 a new high for the Society. This was a singular accomplishment in a year in which the country suffered the worst economic depression in decades, and a year in which the ASLA membership dues had been raised an average of 22 percent. While the Society anticipated a sizeable deficit operation for 1982, due to the economic situation, the overall membership renewal rate was higher than expected and, in fact, exceeded the budget substantially in renewal dues income. Nineteen-eighty-two ended with great anticipation and optimism about a productive year for the Society in 1983.

1983—Organizational Change

ASLA President-elect Darwina Neal, FASLA, receives an American Institute of Architects First Award Medallion in the Olmsted Lobby of the ASLA national headquarters from AIA Washington Chapter President Charles H. Atherton, flanked by headquarters architect Royce Lanier (left) and AIA Historic Resources Committee Chair M. Hamilton Morton (right). ASLA received the award for the architectural rennovation of the headquarters building located at 1733 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.ASLA President-elect Darwina Neal, FASLA, receives an American Institute of Architects First Award Medallion in the Olmsted Lobby of the ASLA national headquarters from AIA Washington Chapter President Charles H. Atherton, flanked by headquarters architect Royce Lanier (left) and AIA Historic Resources Committee Chair M. Hamilton Morton (right). ASLA received the award for the architectural rennovation of the headquarters building located at 1733 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.

Under the outstanding leadership of President Theodore J. Wirth, FASLA, the Society conducted a major reevaluation of ASLA’s structure and the policies governing the organization’s purpose. During the year, and in spite of a continuing recession in the general economy, the membership grew from 6,258 to 6,689. In addition, the renewal rate for current members increased by almost two percent, continuing ASLA’s record of one of the highest renewal rates among professional societies. The income for the organization, from all sources, topped $1.3 million.

In addressing the organizational and leadership structure of the Society, the board of Trustees took several major actions. At its mid-year meeting in the spring of 1983, the trustees voted to dissolve the ASLA Publication Board which, since 1937, had managed the operation of the Louisville publishing activities, and to transfer their responsibilities to the ASLA Executive Committee. The board approved the hiring of an executive publisher to manage the day-to-day operation in Louisville, and report to the ASLA chief of staff. Continuing its consideration of the Louisville operation at the November annual meeting, the board voted to formally dissolve the trust which had held title to the Louisville operation and transfer all assets and liabilities to ASLA, effective January 1, 1984.

Acting on the final report of the 1982-83 Leadership and Management Task Force, the trustees approved several major recommendations, including:


  1. Adoption of a leadership growth ladder,
  2. Approval of a leadership qualifications statement for national officers,
  3. Adoption of a policy regarding the commitment required from national officers,
  4. Creation of the president’s “cabinet,” which includes the Executive Committee and the chairs of the four trustee committees (the trustee chairs will have no vote),
  5. Delineation of the roles of the Society’s officers,
  6. Modification of the title of ASLA’s chief of staff to executive vice president,
  7. Specification of the composition and qualifications of the ASLA Nominating Committee, and
  8. Creation of the national office of vice president for administration & finance: and transfer of the title and duties of corporate treasurer to the Society’s chief of staff.


This task force, chaired by John Wacker, FASLA, of Massachusetts, was then discharged.

Also at its mid-year meeting, the board approved a new streamlined Constitution, removing operational procedures which more appropriately belong in the Bylaws and thereby eliminating the need for frequent membership votes on constitutional changes. The effort was spearheaded by an active committee, chaired by past president Jot Carpenter, FASLA. In the summer of 1983, the new Constitution was adopted overwhelmingly by the entire membership.

The board also approved a recommendation made by the Council of Fellows to remove the limitation on the number of Fellows who could be selected each year as well as the limitation on the number of members who could be nominated by a chapter. The first half of this change was implemented in 1983; the revocation of the limit on nominations will be implemented in 1984.

ASLA honorary membership was granted by the board to the Honorable Morris K. Udall, U.S. representative from Arizona and to Joseph P. Riley, Jr., mayor of Charleston, South Carolina.

During the year, the board considered two major reports having long-range implications for ASLA. To guide future activities and resource allocations of the Society, the board adopted in principle the recommendations contained in the final report of the ASLA Task Force on Landscape Architecture into the 21st Century, chaired by past president Lane Marshall, FASLA.

The second major report was presented by the ASLA Council on Education, also chaired by past president Lane Marshall. It dealt with ASLA’s responsibility to support the complete continuum of education and included a 22-point program of activities. Among the policies approved by the board was a directive that the next ASLA professional staff positions, financed from dues revenue, would be in support of the implementation of the 22-point education program.

The society continued its efforts to raise funds for the purchase of the ASLA headquarters building in Washington. At year’s end, one half the goal of $400,000 had been raised, with one year left to raise the remainder. At its mid-year meeting, the board voted to proceed with the $80,000 purchase deposit required by the lease/purchase agreement.

Continuing its regular publications during the year, the Society also produced five new major publications of significance: “Action by Design,” “Study Guide for the Uniform National Examination,” “Marketing Design Services,” “User Analysis: An Approach to Park Planning and Management,” and “Visual Assessment for Highway Projects.” The LA Bookstore continued its growth with sales over $150,000.

ASLA’s continuing education seminars on Perspective Drawing and Microcomputers were sellouts this year and will be repeated in 1984.

For national office, the membership elected Robert Mortensen, FASLA, as president elect. Mortensen’s one-year term as president begins in November 1984. Also elected were Vice President John Wacker, FASLA of Massachusetts (filling the unexpired vice-presidential term of Mortensen), and Vice President Steve Ownby, FASLA of Oklahoma. David Burkholder of Kentucky was reelected treasurer (title changed by the board to vice president for administration and finance). Officers continuing their terms are Vice President Tom Papandrew from Hawaii, and immediate past president Ted Wirth, FASLA.

At the ASLA annual meeting held in Indianapolis, Indiana, Darwina Neal, FASLA, was installed as the first woman president of the Society. By evaluation of the participants, the 1983 meeting was the most successful in ASLA history. For the first time, the annual meeting was held in a convention center, which provided expanded space for both the meeting activities and the ever-growing educational exhibit. The 1983 exhibit topped 150 booths, exceeding the previous record by 25 percent.

At year’s end, ASLA’s Board of Trustees approved a request from the Landscape Architecture Foundation board that ASLA assume management of the organization. In December, the foundation offices were transferred to the ASLA headquarters building, a management contract was signed, a management professional was hired to staff the foundation, and full management responsibilities for the foundation were assumed by ASLA.

1984—Responsive Growth and Increased Effectiveness

Landscape architecture students at Purdue University raising money through a pumpkin sale for the ASLA Building Fund in 1983. The ASLA Student Chapter at Purdue contibuted $1000 to the purchase of ASLA's new headquarters building.Landscape architecture students at Purdue University raising money through a pumpkin sale for the ASLA Building Fund in 1983. The ASLA Student Chapter at Purdue contibuted $1000 to the purchase of ASLA's new headquarters building.

President Darwina L. Neal, FASLA, led the Society through a year of growth in ASLA membership and increased impact and effectiveness of ASLA programs and activities. During this distinct period of growth, ASLA membership increased from 6689 to 7345, while fundraising efforts for the headquarters building successfully approached the goal of raising the $400,000 downpayment. Income from all ASLA operations surpassed $2.8 million.

In a historic development for ASLA, the management, editorial and production staff of both Landscape Architecture and Garden Design magazine relocated in mid-1984 from Louisville, Kentucky to the ASLA headquarters in Washington, DC. For the first time, all floor space and facilities of the new headquarters were devoted solely to support the profession through ASLA programs and publications and through the Landscape Architecture Foundation which marked its first anniversary of ASLA management and location within the headquarters on December 31, 1984.

The ASLA Professional Awards Program this year achieved a broader level of interest in the program in 1984 through seeking entries from both ASLA members and non-members. This successful program attained over two-hundred project submissions, with thirty-six winners being honored at an outstanding ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences. The 1984 President’s Award of Excellence was presented to Anne Whiston Spirn of the Harvard Graduate School of Design for her book, The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design. During the ceremony, Rep. John F. Seiberling (D-Ohio), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks, was installed as an honorary member of the Society as were R. Max Peterson, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and Russell E. Dickenson, Director of the National Park Service.

New opportunities for continuing education through professional seminars for landscape architects were improved this year as ASLA and the Professional Practice Institute offered unique and highly successful workshops. In 1984, ASLA held summer workshops on Conflict Resolution and Photography for Landscape Architects while the PPI conducted its first Private Practice Management Conference. This conference, which had been completely booked, was so highly rated by landscape architects that it was scheduled again for 1985.

In a record-breaking ballot return by the ASLA membership this year, John L. Wacker, FASLA, was elected as the Society’s president-elect while Cheryl L. Barton of Nashville, Tennessee, and Randall Boyd Fitzgerald of Denver, Colorado, were elected as vice presidents. Barton and Fitzgerald succeeded Thomas Papandrew and John Wacker as vice presidents. J. Steven Ownby, FASLA, of Stillwater, Oklahoma began serving his second year of a two-year term as vice-president. President-elect, John L. Wacker, FASLA, will be installed as president at the ASLA 1985 annual meeting.

This year several important new publications were published by ASLA in addition to its regular professional publications. These new works included Energy Conserving Site Design; the Specialized Practice Roster of ASLA Members; a new volume of the Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series entitled, Archaeological Resources and Land Development; and a special set of public information brochures which vividly illustrate the profession of landscape architecture. In addition, the Professional Practice Institute released its new 1984-1985 National Directory of Landscape Architectural Firms.

At the ASLA 1984 Annual Meeting held in Phoenix Arizona, Robert H. Mortensen, FASLA, was installed as president of the Society. With over 2300 attendees and a record number of exhibitors and educational sessions, this meeting established the highest rating of success by attendees ever achieved for an ASLA annual meeting.

With its theme entitled, ‘Legacy for Living: Learning by Design,’ the meeting focused on the leadership role of landscape architects in improving quality of our environments. The meeting feature highly acclaimed education sessions which included such issues areas as water and soil conservation, land reclamation, wilderness and park planning, nuclear plant decommissioning and historic preservation.

General session speakers at the meeting included syndicated columnist Neal R. Pierce, Robert B. Riley, ASLA, AIA and Ralph Caplan, former editor of Industrial Design Magazine and a director of the International Design conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Awards and honors presented at the meeting included the 1984 ASLA Medal, given to Ian L. McHarg, FASLA; the 1984 ASLA President’s Medal, awarded to Raymond L. Freeman, FASLA, and the 1984 Bradford Williams Medals were awarded to Gina M. Crandell and John R. Stilgoe for excellence in writing in Landscape Architecture magazine.

During the meeting, 15 ASLA members were invested as Fellows.

ASLA made continuing strides in public and government affairs during 1984 with daily responses to the media, allied organizations, and federal agencies on major topics and issues of vital interest to the profession and our environment. New research conferences, national design competitions, environmental protection efforts, educational events, broader professional visibility, and increased liaison with allied professions were accomplished during the year.

This year witnessed many significant new advancements in the way that ASLA programs and activities were able to serve the profession. With all ASLA operations and publications now located within the national headquarters and with increasing interest in ASLA membership throughout the country, 1984 represented a milestone year and promised continued growth and effectiveness for the profession.

1985—Facing the Challenges of Continued Growth

The new ASLA Headquarters at 1733 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC.The new ASLA Headquarters at 1733 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC

Under the leadership of President Robert H. Mortensen, FASLA, 1985 witnessed an important series of milestones for ASLA and the profession. Significant strides were made in broader representation for the profession through increased ASLA membership, the purchase of the ASLA headquarters building, new and ongoing services for members, and continued national efforts toward greater recognition and impact for landscape architecture.

Following a record membership of 7345 in 1984, ASLA membership increased further during 1985 to 7989. This high level of growth, supported in part through one of the nation’s highest professional organization member retention rates, continued to broaden the scope of activities that the Society can undertake.

Having surpassed its home fund-raising goal of over $400,000 for the downpayment, ASLA purchased its Washington, DC headquarters in March of 1985. This historic milestone was made possible through the contributions of nearly 3,000 members, 600 firms, most of the ASLA Chapters, and businesses that provide products and services for landscape architects. The staff of ASLA, its publishing operations, and the Landscape Architecture Foundation are now housed together and occupy the entire headquarters building.

Interest in the ASLA Professional Awards program during 1985 remained at a high level and for the first time awards were presented during a special ceremony at the National Geographic Building in Washington, DC. Gilbert M. Grosvenor, President of National Geographic Society, presented the thirty-four awards, including six honor awards. During the presentation, honorary membership in the Society was conferred upon Douglas K. Bereuter (R-Nebraska), of the U.S. House of Representatives and Charles Capen McLaughlin, editor of “The Frederick Law Olmsted Papers.”

ASLA’s continuing education efforts achieved new success as seminars and workshops for landscape architects were held throughout the year. The Professional Practice Institute’s “Private Practice Management Conference” Seminars were held twice during the year. Of special interest to landscape architects this year was ASLA’s new program which offers “Continuing Education Unit” credits for seminar attendance.

In July the ASLA membership elected Roger B. Martin, FASLA, as the Society’s president-elect, Neil Porterfield as a vice president, and Dean A. Johnson, FASLA as vice president for administration and finance. President-elect John Wacker was sworn in as President during the 1985 annual meeting in Cincinnati and Cheryl Barton and Randy Boyd continued their two-year terms as vice presidents.

During 1985 several important new publications were produced. They include two Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series publications: “Microcomputers in Landscape Architecture” and “Coastal Design with Natural Processes.” Also released by ASLA was the new book, “Perspectives—An Effective Design Tool” which provides new developments in simplified perspective drawing techniques. In addition, the ASLA Professional Practice Institute published the first “Guide to Educational Programs in Landscape Architecture” providing crucial information on professional degree programs.

“Design For People: Expectation and Response” was the theme for the 1985 annual meeting with over 2,000 participants. Among the highlights of the meeting was the presentation of the first national ASLA community Assistance Team proposal for the Eggleston Avenue area of Cincinnati and special presentations given by Roberto Burle Marx, Grady Clay, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, and motivational speaker, Mike Vance. Tom Papandrew, former national vice president of ASLA, was the chairman of the very successful annual meeting program.

During the meeting, eight ASLA Fellows were installed, and numerous special awards were presented including the ASLA Medal to Roberto Burle Marx; the ASLA President’s Medal to Spencer P. Ellis, FASLA; Bradford Williams Medal to Dr. Robert S. Dorney and Dr. Jusuck Koh; and the LAF’s Alfred LaGasse Medal to National Park Service director William Penn Mott and Martin R. Rosen, president of the Trust for Public Lands.

While the Society continued its remarkable growth this year in membership, services and professional visibility, landscape architects were faced with new challenges in their practice. Professional liability insurance rates reached all-time highs bur fortunately, after a full year of search and effort, ASLA was able to offer a new liability insurance program for its members at reduced rates over individual policy costs.

Another important challenge faced the profession during the year as the American Institute of Architects adopted a policy of opposing licensure of any design profession other than architecture or engineering. By year’s end, though the issue remained unresolved, significant strides had been made through the efforts of ASLA in response to this ill-conceived policy. In addition, major AIA chapters announced their disagreement with the policy during the year.

Through continued growth in ASLA’s membership and through dedicated leadership throughout the Society, ASLA was able to provide an unparalleled level of service to its members and to the public in 1985.

The above was originally published in the 1986 ASLA Members Handbook

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