LA Days lecture series returns to inspire CSU landscape architecture students

Concrete jungle is a term often used to disparagingly describe the endless sprawl of pavement and towers in cities around the world. But for landscape architects, a concrete jungle is a canvas in dire need of splashes of green; an opportunity that takes vision, talent and inspiration.

For over two decades, the LA Days Lecture Series has been a source of that inspiration for students in Colorado State University’s landscape architecture program. This year, the week-long series returns for its 26th season April 8, and features notable professional and academic landscape architects from around the country.

“Students get such a variety of background about where they could land in the profession, and the types of projects firms work on,” says Kelly Curl, associate professor in CSU’s Department of Landscape Architecture. “It’s such a wonderful gift to the students. These are very renowned professionals and academics, all brought in during one amazing week of lectures.”

The broad scope of design on display

The portfolios of this year’s featured lecturers showcase the broad impact of landscape architecture, in its practical application and its impact on mental health and healing. For instance, Adam Greenspan, a partner at PWP Landscape Architecture in California, was involved in designing the National September 11th Memorial in New York City. The firm describes the space as “a place for contemplation and remembrance within this revitalized urban center.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Delplace’s firm Oehme van Sweden has designed a number of projects where plants merge with brick to inject beauty into functional spaces, such as the Alderman Quad at University of Virginia, which is built over the university’s Special Collections Library; the library is visible by ground-level skylights integrated within the planting beds.

“Throughout their time at CSU, we have students constantly looking up imagery for inspiration [on projects]. LA Days has lots of imagery thrown at them from firms, so it’s really awesome,” says Curl.

LA Days speakers

Chip Sullivan, author, illustrator and professor of landscape architecture at University of California, Berkeley.

Monday, April 8 at 6 p.m., Behavioral Sciences Building 131

Sullivan is the author of “Cartooning the Landscape” which won the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies. He devotes his career to promoting landscape architecture as an art form, and has expounded on the meaning and perception of landscape through innovative forms of pedagogy, representational techniques, and writing.

James A. Lord, founding partner at Surface Design, Inc.

Tuesday, April 9 at 6 p.m., Johnson Hall 222

Lord’s Surface Design is an internationally award-winning practice that focuses on creating dynamic masterplans, parks, plazas, waterfronts, civic landscapes and private gardens.

Lisa Delplace, principal and CEO at Oehme van Sweden

Thursday, April 11 at 6 p.m., Behavioral Sciences Building 131

Delplace’s knowledge of ecological processes and her commitment to artistic execution result in a strong sculptural relationship between architecture and landscape. Her recent accomplishments include roof terraces, green roofs, and vertical green screens in Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago.

Adam Greenspan, partner at PWP Landscape Architecture, Inc.

Friday, April 12 at 6 p.m., Behavioral Sciences Building 131

Greenspan has been the lead designer on a wide range of projects including public parks, campuses, mixed-use developments, competitions and estates.  His background in art and sociology, combined with years of horticultural practice, support an integrated approach to design.

Sarah Williams, associate professor of technology and urban planning and director of Civic Design Data Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Monday, April 15 at 6 p.m., Behavioral Sciences Building 131

Trained as a geographer, landscape architect and urban planner, Williams’s work combines geographic analysis and design. Williams is most well known for her work as part of the Million Dollar Blocks team, which highlighted the cost of incarceration.

Photo exhibit

Coinciding with the LA Days lectures, Delplace will give a talk during the opening reception of “The New American Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Oehme Van Sweden,” an exhibit of photographs that showcase one of the country’s most innovative and influential landscape architecture firms, curated by The Cultural Landscape Foundation. The opening reception and talk takes place Wednesday, April 10, 5-7 p.m., inside the Nancy Richardson Design Center. The gallery is currently open and runs through June 2.