On May 8, I served with Luisa Oliveira and Brock Cutting as a juror for the 2010 ASLA student awards at UMass Amherst. Besides being beautiful, the students’ work demonstrated the potential of landscape architecture as a force for social and ecological change. We awarded four Honor Awards — the most the ASLA allows — and an equal number of Merit Awards. Many thanks to Professor Jack Ahern for guiding us thoughtfully through the judging.
Ahern and his students have also been busy designing and building the campus’s first rain garden, and the jurors were lucky to be on campus for its first rainfall. The rain garden catches runoff from a large parking lot and diverts it through a series of planted basins. It slows the water’s flow, cleans it, reduces the load on storm sewers downstream, and recharges the water table. This pilot project is a strong first step towards a significant greening of the UMass campus.