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Talking Headways Podcast: Can Everyone be a Landscape Architect? No!

10:14 AM EST on February 23, 2023

This week we’re joined by Dr. Diane Jones Allen, program director for Landscape Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. We chat about her work on food deserts and transportation access and the American Society of Landscape Architects Climate Action Plan.

There's a clean edited transcript under the player, but if you want to read the full thing (with typos!), check out the unedited transcript here.

Jeff Wood: I want to ask about landscape architecture more generally. And I’m wondering what some of the common misconceptions are about landscape architects and what they do.

Diane Jones Allen: Landscape architecture is hot! Everybody tries to do it. Architects try to do landscape architecture and planning and everybody thinks they can be a landscape architect, but there’s a particular curriculum. So lots of times when I see architects, I love architects, my love to the architects. But unless you’ve had the training and grading and drainage and plant material and understand the earth, you know, I’ve seen water run uphill on plans and all kinds of crazy stuff. So it is a true curriculum with a true set of knowledge.

And I say that as a director of a program but also as a trained landscape architect. It really does. And and really it’s a hot profession right now because of climate change and COVID, believe it or not, right, COVID, cause people realize that one place you could go that was free and you could be outside and be or were parks. So now municipalities are saying we should have more parks because during COVID, you know, parks were one place where people could go, right? You couldn’t go to the mall or the movie theater cause they were either closed or dangerous. But you could go to your local park. So between COVID and also the issues of climate change, right? You know, because landscape architects are the ones who really can focus on how do we capture carbon, you know, how do we have more green, how do we deal with water? You know, places like New Orleans after Katrina when the idea was to keep the water out and then they realized no need about how to live it, how to capture it.

So you know, I’m a landscape architect and I think it’s the best profession in the world. Respect to all you planners and engineers and architects, but landscape architecture.

Jeff Wood: As a planner. I’ll let that slide. We need all all stripes to help out.

Dr. Diane Jones Allen: Yes we do. I said respect to them all.

Jeff Wood: Of course, of course. Well let’s talk about the first ever climate plan by the American Society of Landscape Architects. And it’s 2023. I’m surprised actually that this is the first climate action plan from the landscape architects.

Diane Jones Allen: There was a climate action report that was a committee and there was a climate action report that was done in 2017, and I was actually lucky to be part of that convening and work on that. And then there was a climate action committee that had been working a long time. And then there was a lot of different people like Pamela Conrad and other people had been working on like she was working on the carbon capture. So it’s not like, "Yeah this just happened." It’s just kind of evolved into a strong document a field guide. But it’s been kind of a culmination of things that have been going on many individuals for a long time.

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