The storefront gallery. Image courtesy of LAM.

    First, our thanks to the many members and supporters of ASLA who gave their pledges, time, and enthusiasm to help build a new home for us all, the Center for Landscape Architecture. We are holding its public opening this week. What’s especially nice is that the center is our beloved old home, our sweet, four-story, 12,000-square-foot brick box in Chinatown, D.C. It is beautiful.

    Sixteen months ago, all 50 of us moved over to Metro Center, into half our usual footage (nobody died, though it’s boring over there). Back home on Eye Street, Coakley & Williams Construction blew out all the gypsum walls that cut up the insides of our building, pulled out half a puzzling scissor stair that, we’re told, wouldn’t meet code today, and found a lot of daylight in the three-story atrium it leaves behind.

    The building was redesigned by Gensler. Our lower-level garden is by Oehme, van Sweden. We had such fun bringing it together. It went fast; the hard part to believe is that we began the project in 2014. The process was always focused on embodying the mission and vision of ASLA. We already had the ASLA Green Roof, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, which opened in 2006 and looks better than ever. It was the second or third green roof in the District of Columbia, which now has more than 300 green roofs that combined cover more than 2.7 million square feet, or about 63 acres.


    The ASLA Green Roof, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, opened in 2006. Image courtesy of LAM.

    We now have a physical plant that is as progressive as we could get it. Thanks to super-efficient lighting and air handling systems, in March of this year, the building used one-third less electricity over March 2015 (ASLA buys its energy from 100 percent renewable sources). There is a new stormwater collection system that takes water off the green roof into a 700-gallon cistern and uses the water to irrigate our plantings. The HVAC system makes the best air I’ve breathed in a workplace, including my own home. (The project is also aiming to fulfill the WELL Building Standard, also ahead of most others in the District of Columbia.)

    It is uplifting because it’s ASLA and also because it’s Chinatown. The neighborhood has changed a lot since ASLA moved here in 1997—less China, much more town. There are huge new office buildings and a hotel all around us. But we still have a number of Chinese businesses and institutions such as the Fujian Residents Association, the Chinese Community Church, the Wah Luck House for senior citizens, and Da Hsin Trading, a variety store that sells medicinal herbs, all within a block. And the review board for designs in Chinatown does not play softball about design of street frontages. We went several rounds to get the level of bilingual signage and Chinese ornament the board required for our building. All the better.


    The third-floor offices (and home of LAM). Image courtesy of LAM.

    On Wednesday, the public was invited in for an open house. Our new storefront gallery holds an exhibition about the building and its sustainability features, as well as a panel on the history of ASLA and the landscape architecture profession. A group of students from John Hayden Johnson Middle School here in the District came in for a midday talk to learn about landscape architecture. Afterward our lead architect, Abram Goodrich, and our lead landscape architect, Lisa Delplace, ASLA, gave a presentation on the design process for the building. We capped the festivities with an evening reception with members and friends from all over. We could finally look around us and say with pride: This feels like a place where a serious design organization lives.


    The Center for Landscape Architecture’s atrium. Image courtesy of LAM.


    Removal of half a double stair opened a three-story atrium. Image courtesy of LAM.


    The lower garden under construction. Image courtesy of LAM.


    Linette Straus, ASLA, the society’s professional practice manager, talks with D.C. middle school students about landscape architecture. Image courtesy of LAM.


    Abram Goodrich, the project’s lead architect at Gensler, narrates the early scoping process. Image courtesy of LAM.


    Lisa Delplace, ASLA, a principal of Oehme, van Sweden, explains the stormwater capture and irrigation system. Image courtesy of LAM.


    The opening exhibition includes a history timeline of ASLA and the landscape architecture profession. Image courtesy of LAM.


    ASLA President Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, kicks off the opening dinner on May 17. Image courtesy of LAM.

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    Author: LAM Staff