The Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced that the 2020 edition of the annual ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, the biggest happening of the calendar year for landscape architecture professionals, was slated for October 2 through 5 in Miami Beach, Florida. Although it’s safe to assume the conference would have been scrapped no matter the geographic locale, the setting was no doubt on the minds of event organizers considering the dire current situation in that state where, as of today alone, 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported. This has lead to a slew of grim assessments as to where Florida stands on a global scale in terms of reported cases.
The four-day ASLA Conference will not be rescheduled for later in the year, and the 2021 and 2022 locations have already been announced in Nashville and Seattle, respectively. Meanwhile, the particulars of a virtual event to be held this fall are in the midst of being ironed out by the ASLA. While expressing her remorse in not being able to host an in-person conference in 2020 for the obvious reasons, ASLA president Wendy Miller views the challenging circumstances as being “a unique opportunity to rethink how we as landscape architects connect – to one another, to the Society, and to our profession as a whole.”
“Our ASLA team is hard at work putting together a powerful virtual program for the fall that will keep everyone safe, increase access for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t travel this year, and help accomplish the goal we’d set out to achieve: rekindling the spirit of the profession for the year ahead,” said Miller in a statement.
In May, the ASLA had formally opened registration for the conference and pledged to fully follow any and all public health directives in order to maintain a safe and healthy experience for conference attendees. Featured educational and field sessions were to include On the Front Lines: Waterfront Parks as Resilient Infrastructure; The Underline: Found, Designed, and Built; Design Activism: Uplifting Black and Immigrant Leadership in American Public Space Design; and Designing the Pulse Memorial and Museum: Mending a Community.
Starting in late February, AN began listing major architecture and design events in North America and beyond (at the time, emphasis was on the latter as the crisis swept through China, Italy, and other nations) scheduled for spring and early summer that were canceled, postponed, or switched to a virtual platform. The cancellation of the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture is among the first of several major late summer/fall events that have been canceled, alongside the IDS National Conference in Chicago, which was planned for early August, and others. More regionally-focused autumn events, such as Design Philadelphia and (a rescheduled) NYCxDesign are still, as of now, proceeding as planned.
Further out in December, the winter editions of Design Miami and Art Basel have not been canceled as of this writing.
Many spring/summer events that had been originally planned or rescheduled for the fall are still currently set to go on in Europe, as hard-hit countries slowly but surely rebound from the pandemic while the U.S. backslides. Of course, that discounts now-canceled major international events that would have brought in potentially-infected visitors from around the world, such as the Venice Architecture Biennale.