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Quarterly News 2016 Issue 3

letter from the president

Hello landscape architects, landscape designers, landscape architecture students, allied professionals, and friends of the profession!  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather.

2016 Advocacy Summit Recap

ASLA Government Affairs hosted 2016 Advocacy Summit in mid-August in Indianapolis, IN. The summit, which had representatives from 29 chapters, included guest speakers Hodge Patel, State Director for U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, and Brian Gould, Government Affairs Director of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. Both presenters discussed the role of landscape architects as active stakeholders in educating our policy makers on local levels. This year’s summit also featured strategies and information on the importance of engaging policy makers on licensure issues. We learned about national licensure trends and heard successful stories from trenches about fighting attempts on the profession deregulation in Ohio, Arizona, and North Carolina. On the final day we toured the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and the Georgia Street Project. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an eight-mile urban bike and pedestrian path connecting downtown Indianapolis with surrounding neighborhoods, spurring economic development. 

I would like to encourage all landscape architects to be active advocates for our profession and to educate both general public and elected officials about what we do. NMASLA has worked successfully to build (and maintain) a strong relationship with our local and federal elected officials and stuff members.

Please feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss any matter regarding the landscape architecture profession in New Mexico, our chapter activities, or have any suggestions for NMASLA.

Will see you all at our Gala in November!

Jitka Dekojova, PLA, ASLA

new member spotlight - meet Alicia peterson!

I have lived in Albuquerque for almost thirteen years. I moved here in 2003 when my husband started graduate school at UNM. I had just graduated from Law School and passed the bar exam in Oregon, but found it challenging to find work in the legal field here. Instead, I took a job at Waterwise Landscapes, thinking that I would only stay a few months. I soon realized that I was really happy being outside and that, although the work was grueling, I loved learning about plants and working on and managing crews. In the eight years I worked with Waterwise, I had the opportunity to really get to know Albuquerque and the central New Mexico landscape. I bought a house in Martineztown and set down some roots. After the birth of my first child, I decided I needed something more permanent and professional and began to consider going back to school. A couple years later and a few months after the birth of my second child, I started the Master of Landscape Architecture program at UNM. I graduated in 2014. 

I am now working at Westwind Landscape Construction, Inc., where I have been challenged to apply my experience and knowledge to projects of a larger and more complex scale. I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects including a constructed wetland, large shade structures, car dealerships, and many other public and private sector projects. I have also been given the opportunity to advance my technical skills by learning to use a GPS system for surveying and creating maps and manipulating that data in CAD. 

I have found that as soon as something gets easier, something else comes along to challenge me -which is good, I guess. New Mexico is a difficult place to live in and a tough economy to thrive in. Designing and building is competitive and can be complicated. I have found the same situation applies in the landscape world as when I graduated from law school hoping to practice some form of public interest law - there is no shortage of need but a huge shortage of money and will.

I see that Albuquerque is changing and becoming more urban, more contemporary and more active. These are all good things. I hope our Landscape Architecture community can continue to help focus efforts on more and better public spaces - spaces that help foster a greener, a safer and a friendlier Albuquerque for everyone. I am excited for these changes and curious as to what the future holds for myself and for our Albuquerque landscape.

Project Spotlight - vista del norte park

VistaDelNorte 1.JPG

Client: City of Albuquerque (David Flores, PLA)

Landscape architect: Consensus Planning, Inc (Chris Green, PLA and Scott Culler)

Construction Completed: October, 2014 (PH 1), April, 2016 (PH 2)

 Vista Del Norte Park (VDN) is a park that almost never was. The property had a complicated history of zoning and site development plan requests, and subsequently, acquisition by the City. The Vista Del Norte subdivision started out as a gravel mine and untold tons of rock were extracted from the site in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. When mining operations ceased, it was redeveloped primarily for residential use with some commercially zoned land along Osuna Boulevard. As the residential community developed, the commercial area remained vacant. This large, 21-acre site became a natural landing area for hot air balloons as it is in the direct flight path of the Balloon Fiesta Park and thus, really evolved into an extension of that facility. The site was a point of contention in 2007 when Walmart looked to build a superstore there. Through the thoughtful and determined actions of the surrounding community, they were able to convince the City that this site was eminently more valuable to the community as a park and balloon landing site than another Walmart. The City purchased the property with funds that were earmarked for Balloon Fiesta Park and Open Space acquisitions "in order to preserve open space and retain the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta".

 In order to proceed on developing the site for ballooning and recreation uses, several approval processes had to be cleared. First, the zoning needed to be changed to allow the use; second, a Master Development Plan needed to be approved as a means to guiding the full build out of the site; and lastly, a specific site plan needed to be approved for the initial phase of development (funding was not available to build out the entire park site in a single phase). All of these approvals were received through the Environmental Planning Commission in August, 2013.

VistaDelNorte 6.JPG

 In developing the master plan for the park, the ultimate goal was to maximize the uninterrupted nature of the site for safe balloon landing and takeoff. This goal overlapped well with the second goal – to maximize turf space for recreational fields. The ballooning community was adamant about not including vertical elements that created potential “things” to snag or run into with their balloons. (They’re not the easiest things to steer!) This drove the design to push the parking to the perimeter of the site, along Osuna Road and Vista Del Norte Drive, and only provide lighting on the west side of the parking along Vista Del Norte Drive. Previously, the City had already gone through the effort of putting electrical lines along Osuna Road underground to eliminate that potential conflict.

 Another aspect of the design was to buffer the existing condominium project to the north. This resulted in the playground being pushed to the southwest corner of the site, and the creation of two large groves of trees on the north side of the park. In addition to buffering, the groves also create “rooms” for passive recreation and picnicking as the remainder of the park was dedicated to programmed activities (soccer and youth football practices and games).  A perimeter trail was also included to promote walking and jogging, and it connects to the larger community trail network.

 The design for Phase 1 coincided with the EPC approval process in August, 2013 and included the parking along Vista Del Norte Drive, approximately half of the ultimate turf area, and the associated landscape and site furnishings.  A colorful circular pattern was selected for the common plaza space to draw from the ballooning aspect of the project. Also, a fire engine red color was selected for the litter receptacles, benches, and picnic tables to punctuate and provide better visibility for these features within this large space. Phase 1 was constructed by City crews and was completed, not coincidentally, just in time for Balloon Fiesta 2014.

 Design of Phase 2 began in April of 2015 and construction was completed in April of 2016 by City of Albuquerque construction crews. Phase 2 included a playground, a small picnic pavilion as well as a temporary asphalt millings extension of the parking lot to accommodate parking for the already highly used park. The playground and pavilion were located in the southwest corner of the park per the park Master Plan. The design concept continued the use of design elements of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta such as rounded and curvilinear forms with a multi-colored palette. This included colorful circular paving patterns that extend into the playground area, as if one were looking down at hot air balloons from above. These forms and colors are also found in the playground equipment and the curved roof of the picnic shade structure.

 The play equipment was thoughtfully selected from Landscape Structures to fill the 9,800 square foot play area and accommodate children of all ages and abilities. The playground features a two bay sixty-six-foot-long zip line with one rope trolley and one molded bucket seat with harness for accessibility. The playground also includes a vertical net climbing structure, slides, tire swing, multiple spinners and climbers, as well as a small play structure for younger children. Another unique feature of this playground is the inclusion of ten elm trees placed within the playground and between the equipment. These trees were carefully placed so as not to encroach the equipment fall zones, but when they mature, will provide generous shade for the children and those that are supervising.

 So, if you haven’t visited Vista Del Norte Park yet, and want to avoid some of the crowds at Balloon Fiesta Park next year, come on over and you’ll be in for a treat! And, it doesn’t cost anything to park here and there’s no admission charge!

2016-2017 mentorship pairs announced

Park(ing) day recap


On September 16th, students from the University of New Mexico Student Chapter of the ASLA took part in the International celebration of Park(ing) Day.   PARK(ing) Day is an annual event in which designers, artists, activists, and community members claim a parking spots in their neighborhoods and transform them into temporary park installations.  In the words of its organizers, PARK(ing) Day is “intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play”.

The site of this year’s installation was located along Central Ave in downtown ABQ and adjacent to Deep Space Coffee, a locally owned café.  The students worked closely with the café’s owners to develop a plan that would support pedestrian traffic and provide an interactive outdoor seating area for the neighborhood and café customers alike. Materials for construction were generously donated by Raks Building Supplies and Plant World. 

In addition to the community activism, parking day provides students the unique chance to see their designs through fabrication and installation. According to Brian Griffith, NM-SASLA member,” parking day was an incredible opportunity to apply our developing design ethics to the design build process.  Above all else, the end result showed us all that people are interested in and energized by the idea of transforming Albuquerque into a people-centric place”.

This temporary installation was a preview of exciting developments planned for this stretch of Central Ave. A permanent parklette installation, developed by local landscape designer Andrew Bernard of Sites Southwest, is to be constructed on the same site this coming spring.  This would be the second permanent parklette installation in the city of Albuquerque.   

UNM MLA Program accreditation renewed

The Landscape Architecture Program at UNM is pleased to announce that it has been given a full six year accreditation by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB).

 The program hosted an accreditation team visit in spring 2016 with three LAAB evaluators:  Brian Orland from the University of Georgia, Lorraine Davis from the University of Oregon, and Travis Brooks, ASLA, from Lafayette, Arkansas.

 The LA program began in 2000 and received its first full accreditation in 2003. Accreditation was renewed for a full six-year term in 2009, and again with this latest visit. The team’s report was very positive, with only one recommendation noted.  In their public report during the visit the team stated that in their estimation the LA program at UNM is the best design program of its size in the country.

 The LA program would like to acknowledge the hard work by all faculty, students and staff to make the visit a very successful one.

 The reviewers also noted the strong support of the program from the professional community, particularly the New Mexico Chapter of the ASLA.

ACE Leadership high school annual welcome back potluck

On August 26, NMASLA hosted a table at the Ace Leadership High School Annual Welcome Back Potluck.  Many people, young and old, were introduced to Landscape Architecture and what role we play in designing our built environment.  We were able to sample the wonderful cooking of the students and families and see some of the recent projects designed and built by the students, including the dog houses that were created to accompany New Mexico Appleseed’s Parade of Playhouses.  We also advertised for the upcoming Pop-Up-Playground happening in collaboration with Ace and being held at the school on October 29th.  Overall it was a great way to introduce people to the possibilities of a future in landscape architecture, get our field more recognition and to foster more collaboration with young allied professionals.

Job Posting

ABCWUA Xeriscape Incentive Inspector

View the posting here.

RFP Coming Soon

NM State Parks and the Rio Grande Trail Commission will be issuing an RFP in the coming weeks for master planning of the Rio Grande Trail. The "Rio Grande Trail Commission" is created to establish the Rio Grande trail to run the length of the state from Colorado to Texas. The Rio Grande trail shall be a recreation trail for New Mexico residents and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of New Mexico and the Rio Grande and learn about the culture and history of New Mexico. The trail shall be established in a manner that seeks to minimize environmental impacts and preserve sensitive habitat. The commission shall define and recommend viable path routes of the Rio Grande Trail, mitigate challenges related to its establishment and define and recommend other features, facilities and enhancements needed on the trail. The commission shall also make recommendations to the legislature as needed and report annually to the governor and the appropriate interim committees that deal with water and natural resources and rural and economic development.

Upcoming events