Shawn Balon, ASLA

Prior to Shawn Balon’s lecture, I can honestly admit that I did not have the most accurate perception of what ASLA did. Luckily, his brief time with the Professional Practice class gave clarity to the multimodality of ASLA. One thing that struck me about Shawn’s pedigree was its diversity. His experience from a large firm –> graduate school –> China –> small firm(s) –> ASLA reflects the many facets that a landscape architect can explore. Moreover, it alleviates the fear that an initial path is set in stone.

With regards to ASLA as an organization, I am impressed by how powerful their internal groups and programs are. Specifically, their emphasis on advocacy. It is reassuring knowing that ASLA is keeping a hand in the legislation that governs landscape architecture as an ever-evolving practice. Upon Shawn’s suggestion, I explored the breadth of online webinars that are available, impressed by the accessibility of live/recorded and online learning presentations catalogued online.

Lastly, his insight on emerging technologies was the most reassuring thing I took from the lecture. Not that it was particularly related to ASLA, but being told that learning a technology in private practice is not necessarily a handicap as an entry-level designer. Rarely do we get a deep-dive into someone’s pedigree, so I’m glad that Shawn was so diligent in laying his out for us.

 

What is Landscape Architecture?

Landscape architecture bridges the elements of art and Earth that allows for humans to manipulate spaces and ideas into new forms. This can be demonstrated either through the design of an urban park or the strengthening of a town’s resilience to high flooding. Its ability to create new perspectives from existing sites is what makes landscape architecture so powerful. As we continue living in a world of greater consumption, new technologies, and rapid population growth, the way society thinks about space will be integral amongst future developments. For example, as self-driving cars become the norm of transportation, landscape architects will need to start thinking about the shifting landscape as a once human-operated road system to a potentially error-less computer-operated one. Furthermore, as we attempt to mitigate climate change, green initiatives to move toward more pedestrian/bike friendly commuting will change how landscape architects rethink the city. Site is ever-changing, and as humans continue to innovate and operate in the world, landscape architects must be able to adapt to these changes. There is only a finite amount of space on the planet, it is up to landscape architects to maximize its utility not just for the immediate future, but for many futures to come.