2022-2023 News & Events Archive

Commencement - Congratulations Class of 2023!

Landscape Architecture graduating seniors and their families enjoyed this year's social event prior to the graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 18th.


Faculty Promotion - David Watts

Congratulations to David Watts on his promotion to full Professor for the Landscape Architecture Department!

David is a beloved faculty member in the Landscape Architecture Department since coming to Cal Poly as a Lecturer in 2007. He became an Assistant Professor in 2008, and then Associate Professor in 2014.

Among other courses, David is one of our faculty members teaching Senior Design Studio; and this year's class aptly named him "The Cheerful": 

"Every morning, Dave comes into the classroom with unparalleled enthusiasm, inspiring passion in his students. He really believes in his class and is excited for their success."

Scholarships & Awards

The Landscape Architecture Department held its annual Scholarships & Awards event, recognizing the following students:

  • Maryam Abutabikh, Jose Andrade, and Emma Smolik earning ASLA Honor Awards
  • Presley German, Chad Schuler, and Cherry Tsang earning ASLA Merit Awards
  • Karis Lawson, awarded the CLASS Fund University Program Scholarship
  • Lina Ogden-Tinoco, awarded the CLASS Fund Alec Balliet Memorial Scholarship
  • Maryam Abutabikh named LAF National Olmsted Scholar (undergrad winner)
  • Karis Lawson, awarded the LAF Peridian International Inc./Rae L. Price FASLA Scholarship
  • Maya Amyx, awarded the Courtland Studio Scholarship for Cultivating Strategic Methodologies & Propagating Ubiquitous Ecologies, donated by Paul Lewis
  • Amber O'Rourke, awarded the Douglas Baylis FASLA Memorial Scholarship, donated by Fred & Margaret Bradley
  • Julianna Garcia, awarded the HLA Group/Robert Hablitzel Scholarship, donated by Steven A. Canada and HLA Group
  • Sophia Napier, awarded the Ian Casey Memorial Travel Scholarship, donated by the Casey family and McGuire and Hester
  • Jessica Baiza, awarded the Kennedy Love Memorial Scholarship
  • Marc Rodriguez received the 2nd-year scholarship award from LADAC
  • Chantrea Sarom received the 3rd-year scholarship award from LADAC
  • Sofia Micci received the 4th-year scholarship award from LADAC
  • Bradley Atnip received the 5th-year scholarship award from LADAC
  • Justin Li, awarded the Gary Dwyer Memorial Scholarship, donated by Dr. Odile Ayral

Remembering Cameron Man

Cameron Man was an accomplished professional and educator who taught in the Landscape Architecture Department at Cal Poly from 2007 to 2013. He loved engaging with students and was keen to remain a mentor and educator. Cameron’s assistance to the department also predates his time as lecturer at Cal Poly as he was a critical resource for Paul Neel – the first director of the Landscape Architecture Program – seeking to add the Landscape Architecture major at Cal Poly. 

Read more about Cameron Man from Department Head Beverly Bass, and an obituary provided by his family.

2023 LADAC Spring meeting

Our Landscape Architecture Department Advisory Council made their spring quarter visit at the end of April: on Friday, April 28th, members visited several studios to give feedback on projects - including two sections of LA 202 (first-year students) and one section of LA 403 (third-year students). 

The lunchtime presentation this quarter was extended to include three pechakucha-style presentations and a panel discussion:

Presentations were given by Lauren Hackney on 'Social Justice in Design,' Joni Janecki on 'A Landscape Architect's Role in Climate Resilience,' and Sarah Cawrse on 'Leadership in the Public Sector.' The panel moderated by Tala Fatolahzadeh included Kevin Conger, Martin Flores, and Joni Janecki discussing the topic, "Landscape Architects Leading the Way."

LADAC members that attended on Saturday, April 29th, took time to visit Design Village - even transporting a wagon full of breakfast food for the students!

2023 Design Village - LA 204

For the first time, Landscape Architecture participated in the annual Design Village event at Poly Canyon. Four teams of students in LA 204: Design Fundamentals III were coordinated by Professors César Torres-Bustamante and Gary Clay and challenged to design and build temporary structures in line with this year's theme, 'Biophilia.'

The Cnidarians team created a towering structure in the likeness of a jellyfish with a repurposed trampoline frame serving as sleeping area and an inviting social space.

The Airbenders team was inspired by the swallows in Poly Canyon to create a tent structure with moving wings. Their ambitious design used recycled materials, with bamboo framing and a marimba made from plastic bottles.

The Butterfly Bliss team crafted a beautiful Monarch-inspired shade structure with space for sleeping under the wings, and was invited to display their project at the Shabang Music & Arts Festival.

The Spins team crafted a twisted bamboo helix structure with an ingenious "green roof" made from chia and was ultimately declared the WINNER of this year's Design Village! They, too, were invited to display their project at Shabang, and also at the SLO Museum of Art for a First Fridays event.

Congratulations to all on the successful debut of Landscape Architecture at Design Village. We hope to continue our participation!

2023 LAF Scholarship Winner: Karis Lawson

We are delighted to share that Karis Lawson is this year's recipient of the Peridian International, Inc./Rae L. Price FASLA Scholarship Award through the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF)!

Karis is completing her fourth year in the Landscape Architecture program at Cal Poly, and also serving as co-president of SCASLA. Congratulations!

2023 Cal Poly Olmsted Scholar - Update!

Maryam Abutabikh was nominated by faculty as this year's Cal Poly Olmsted Scholar. 

Named for Frederick Law Olmsted, the LAF Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier leadership recognition program for landscape architecture students with exceptional potential to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits. Maryam’s application to the Landscape Architecture Foundation was considered for their annual scholarship award along with other outstanding students from accredited landscape architecture programs in the U.S. and Canada; and she was chosen as the undergraduate 2023 National Olmstead Scholar, receiving a $15,000 award! We are tremendously proud of Maryam's outstanding work.

In her five years studying landscape architecture at Cal Poly, Maryam has learned that “Landscape design isn’t just about beautification – it is a powerful interpretive tool that can challenge and shape our relationships with one another as well as the natural systems surrounding us.” Her ambition after graduation is to work in an interdisciplinary environment, designing sustainable and functional public spaces that respond to cultural context and prioritize unification of a community. Her senior capstone project, "Bridging Belonging," focused on supporting the immigrant population of El Cajon, CA, to establish a sense of belonging and community in an unfamiliar place.

Associate Professor Ellen Burke published - Update!

The online publication "Dialectic" - a peer-mentor and peer-review journal of the School of Architecture at the University of Utah - recently featured an article by Cal Poly Landscape Architecture Associate Professor Ellen Burke, titled "Towards an Expanded History of Environmental Justice in America: Ellen Swallow Richards and Human Ecology." Professor Burke's research delves into events preceding the environmental justice movement of the civil rights era to focus on the work of Ellen Swallow Richards, a pioneering female chemist and leader in the sanitation reform movement during the late 1800s.

A portion of this article was re-published by ASLA for their professional practice networks' blog, "The Field." 

The abstract and links for the full article can be found in the Faculty Research section of this site.

In Memoriam: Gere Smith, 1938-2023

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is with great sadness that we share the news that our former Landscape Architecture Department Head and faculty member, Gerald L. Smith, passed away on Monday, March 13th, 2023.

Gere was a great friend and mentor to so many. He is survived by his wife, Sally, their children - son Garrett and his wife Wendy, and daughter Allison and her husband - along with grandchildren Ahmee Smith, Dasan and Addision Bamburg, Gere's sister Janet (Richard) Maynard, and nieces Krista, Erin, and Becca, and their families.

Continue reading about Gere's legacy - his career, and memories from some of those who knew him.

An obituary for Gere was published in The Herald Journal, Utah.

2023 ASLA Honor and Merit Awards

Six senior students were nominated by faculty to present their capstone projects to representatives from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for a chance to receive Honor and Merit awards.

Certificates of Honor are awarded to students who demonstrate 'superior' academic and design accomplishments in landscape architecture. This year's Honor award recipients are: Jose Andrade, Maryam Abutabikh, and Emma Smolik.

Certificates of Merit are awarded to students who demonstrate 'notable' academic and design accomplishments in landscape architecture. This year's Merit award recipients are: Presley German, Cherry Tsang, and Chad Schuler.


2023 Landscape Architecture Senior Show & Awards

Our senior class had a very successful showcase of their capstone projects with a terrific audience of friends, family, faculty, staff, and other supporters. The following awards were distributed to students in each of the three studio sections:

Academic Excellence: awarded to Amelia Aarestad and Tanya Moss for highest overall Cal Poly GPA.

Outstanding Service: awarded to Izzy Carrera and Cherry Tsang for exemplary service in support of the LA Department.

Design Excellence: awarded to Andrew Burr, Tanya Moss, and Erich Lippuner for consistent excellence in design throughout their academic career at Cal Poly.

Design Process: awarded to Siena Wagner, Ethen Richard, and Lou Lou Twietmeyer for perseverance and innovation working through designs.

Best in Show: awarded to Jose Andrade, Emma Smolik, and Jayne Cowell for capstone projects displaying excellence in both design and process.

Golden Eagle: awarded to Jose Andrade, Maryam Abutabikh, Karen Ma, and John Ty - this award is decided and presented by students to their peers, recognizing those who are a positive presence, helpful and supportive of everyone in studio. 

Congratulations to the award recipients and all graduating seniors!

2023 Landscape Architecture Senior Show

This year's graduating class of landscape architecture students will have their final showcase presentation on Saturday, March 18th, from 1-5pm at the Center for Wine & Viticulture (building 156, room 110 - adjacent to the H1 parking lot) on campus. This event is free and open to all - please join us in celebrating their achievement.

Click here for a short video about the show.

LA Design Studio Field Trips

In January, Professor Ellen Burke's Interdisciplinary Design Studio (LA 406) made a trip to the bay area to visit multiple parks and open spaces, including the Township Commons in Brooklyn Basin along the Oakland estuary designed by Einwiller Kuehl Landscape Architecture.

Last week, Gretchen Stranzl McCann’s LA 404 Cultural Environments Design Studio students attended a field trip to San Francisco on Friday, February 10, 2023. Students performed research while exploring the rich and colorful Castro area to gain a deeper understanding of its culture and placemaking as they work on reimagining its center for their studio focus project. The field trip included an analysis of the transit station and connecting Harvey Milk and Jane Warner Plazas. In addition, the group toured the neighborhood, visited the SF GLBT museum, and experienced riding a San Francisco historic streetcar to Salesforce Park to examine large-scale parity for their design project. Students completed their day by visiting SWA’s San Francisco office to gain valuable information about the recent designs for the Memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza from its Landscape Architect and LADAC member, Daniel Cunningham, and his team. 

Lecturer Kim Chacon Invited to present in Riverside, CA

Kim Chacon, part time Lecturer for Landscape Architecture, has been invited to present two abstracts at the 2023 International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) North America Annual Meeting in Riverside, California. First she will present, "Strategic habitat analysis for bees in California:  Validation of foraging associations to improve bee habitat and conservation in novel ecosystems" on March 20th. A second presentation will be on March 22nd, titled, "Application of spatial and temporal habitat analysis to assess California bee habitat patch dynamics and potential for landscape fragmentation in the anthroscape". Kim's research assessed how novel arboretum plantings were utilized by California native bees and if those foraging habits contributed to habitat fragmentation which is cited as a the main reason of native bee declines today. These research findings have been utilized by Kim's Cal Poly students since she has started to create imaginative and scientifically based landscape design for bees. 

Lecturer Daniel Kletzing (PLA, ASLA, LEED AP) was recently interviewed by his alma mater, the University of Georgia, where he received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2015. This article features Daniel's career path and interests, including his time teaching at Cal Poly and his research projects. In his recent research, he has been working with with an Indigenous organization, Spirit Farm: Native American Regenerative Farming, on climate change mitigation strategies for Western US tribes.

The complete article can be found here: https://ced.uga.edu/news_and_events/ced-alumni-spotlight-daniel-kletzing/

Congratulations to Jessica Baiza!

Jessica is in her fourth year of our Landscape Architecture program, focusing her work on the intersections of LA and environmental justice – such as food access in urban areas, green infrastructure strategies to address climate change, and culturally-responsive design approaches that center on disadvantaged communities – to design resilient and equitable places where people can raise families, heal, grow, and form bonds with each other and nature.

Before finding landscape architecture, Jessica had her heart set on becoming a first-generation degree holder of a Doctor of Medicine to alleviate people’s pain but soon realized that much of the pain stemmed from environmental and sociocultural factors.

Jessica’s application to The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Fountain Scholar Program will be considered for their annual scholarship award. This program recognizes black, indigenous, and POC students in landscape architecture who use their exceptional design skills to influence, communicate, lead, and advance design solutions for contemporary issues in a manner aligned with the original goals of Dr. Charles Fountain.

LPA Interdisciplinary Diversity Scholarship Program

The deadline to apply is January 27, 2023 3:00 pm CT.

Go to: https://learnmore.scholarsapply.org/lpa/

Cal Poly SLO at ASLA Conference in San Francisco

Students and faculty from the Landscape Architecture Department had an absolute blast November 11-14 at the 2022 ASLA National Conference in San Francisco. Students had opportunities to volunteer, attend lectures, and network with industry professionals. The department also hosted a successful mixer event: 127 alumni and friends joined us for tasty appetizers and drinks at the ferry building Saturday evening.

In between scheduled activities, several LA students got outdoors and toured the surroundings with Professor David Watts. They explored Ghirardelli Square, the Palace of Fine Arts, a wetlands boardwalk with views of the Golden Gate, and even enjoyed a local playground.

We're happy to see students make the most of these events, and look forward to next year's conference in Minnesota.

Study Abroad in Italy - One Month Update

Landscape architecture students Maya Amyx, Bradley Atnip, and Jackie Tang are studying landscape architecture as part of a program through the University of Washington (with Daniel Winterbottom), in connection with Professor David Grohmann at the University of Perugia. They share classes with students from four different American universities - about a third of whom are masters students. Here are some highlights from their first month in Italy:

They spent three days in Naples and toured Pompeii, followed by three days in Rome enjoying the Botanic Gardens and multiple sketching opportunities. Then they made their way to Perugia - a small hilltop city between Rome and Florence - where they will live until December. 

The students had two weeks to design their project: a pavilion and other amenities within a community garden. After receiving feedback from the community, and more design work, they started the construction phase and are working eight hours per day on site!

As a break from construction, some of the group visited Cinque Terre and hiked between four of the five beautiful seaside villages. As of this update, the students were on their way to Florence for another weekend trip with the class and looking forward to seeing more of Italy!

Fall 2022 Hearst Lecture Series

The Cal Poly Landscape Architecture department is pleased to announce our fall lineup of speakers for the Hearst Lecture series:

Friday, September 30th at 5pm - Chelina Odbert, CEO of Kounkuey Design Initiative

Friday, October 7th at 5pm - Dilip da Cunha, architect and planner

Friday, October 28th at 5pm - Wendy Fok, Creative Director of WE-DESIGNS

Friday, November 4th at 5pm - Estudio Persona (Emiliana Gonzalez & Jessie Young)

All lectures will be hosted in the Business Rotunda - building 03, room 213. These events are free and open to the public. The Hearst Lecture Series is sponsored by a generous donation from the Hearst Foundation. Please join us!

SCASLA's ArtBox Project

In the week leading up to the start of the Fall 2022 quarter, SCASLA members and friends completed the mural on an electrical box here on campus. This project was funded by CP facilities, which invited students to propose a design and paint a utility box.

The team's mural celebrates environmental activism with imagery of demonstrators, wind turbines, California poppies, and the message "Our Planet, Our Future". The students hope this bright and inspiring mural encourages those who pass by it to take a stand on environmental issues and do what they can to help the current environmental crisis.

Check out their ArtBox located between Building 32 (Dexter) and the Kennedy Library on campus!

Landscape Architecture Scholarship Winner

Congratulations to Isabella Carrera on being awarded the LandDesign Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion scholarship for 2022! Isabella is a fifth-year student in Cal Poly's Landscape Architecture program, with triple minors in City & Regional Planning, Ethnic Studies, and Sustainable Environments. Her Filipino heritage plays a huge part in her identity, and she hopes to pursue higher education in urban planning to provide safe, usable green spaces in cities.

The LandDesign Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Scholarship was established to assist students from underrepresented groups who are pursuing a degree in landscape architecture. In addition to the financial award, each recipient participates in a LandDesign mentoring program for the following academic year.

Spring 2022 LA 350 Advanced Landscape Construction Arboretum Project

We are proud to show off the work of the 2022 Spring Quarter LA 350 Advanced Landscape Construction class, a new design-build elective. Professor Joseph Ragsdale and 17 students worked to enhance the formal garden at Cal Poly's Leaning Pine Arboretum. The design goals were to refocus the attention to the fountain as the focal point, create a strong entrance statement, and overall enhance the beauty of a formal garden design. The class split into four groups– retaining wall, arbor, benches, and mosaic/planting– each group worked together from the beginning to the end of the design-build process.

The new block retaining wall matches the aesthetic of other retaining walls adjacent to this garden and replaced the previous decaying wall. Two wood and concrete benches sit at the outer edge of the garden, facing inward to allow visitors to admire the beauty of the fountain. The mosaic depicts the iconic peaks of San Luis Obispo (the P, Madonna, and Bishop) with wildflowers that are commonly spotted in the area. The updated planting palette vibrantly complements the newly added mosaic and the formal garden aesthetic.

Special thanks to the Leaning Pine Arboretum and Tyler Boyle and alum Michael Vogt of Purlieu Landscapes for your time and talents in making this project happen. Go check this amazing project by our students!


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