In observation of Black History Month, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has launched a new social media campaign that celebrates the contributions of African-American landscape architects to the profession. Each day throughout the month of February, the work of a different practitioner (some posthumously) or a different project will be featured on the ASLA’s social media channels—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin—as part of the Design Excellence by Black Landscape Architects campaign.
“This will be the third year that ASLA has made a special effort to recognize Black landscape architects, members and non-members, around the world,” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen in a news release.
“We’re working to bring some much-overdue attention to the talented and growing community of professionals who are expanding and enhancing this profession–and doing so in ways that elevate the practice, challenge the norm, and innovate design,” he added.
While the month is still young, Black landscape architects and projects profiled to date include David Williston, the North Carolina landscape architect who designed the campuses of prominent HBCUs including Howard and Tuskegee Universities as well as the landscape of the Langston Terrace Dwellings in Washington, D.C. Williston, who passed away in 1962, is also believed to have founded the first Black-owned landscape architecture firm in the United States in 1930.
Also featured in the campaign thus far: Notes Toward a History of Black Landscape Architecture, an October 2020 article written by Kofi Boone, professor of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University, for Places Journal, and a look at the Support Black Designers mural, a temporary installation featured at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design building at the University of Toronto. The mural project was spearheaded by Daniels Art Directive, a student-run art group, and was designed by two Daniels Faculty alumni, Ashita Parekh and Tolu Alabi.
“There need to be opportunities for students and designers to understand the benefits that Black people have provided within the design industry,” said Alabi in a university news statement. “And for them to understand that Black people have always been essential to the design industry.”
All related content shared on the ASLA’s social media channels throughout February will feature the #BlackDesignExcellence hashtag. And it goes without saying that while the ASLA’s month-long celebration is meant to elevate and salute the contributions of Black practitioners and associated projects, championing and bolstering diversity within the landscape architecture profession and other design fields is an endeavor that transcends a designated month within the calendar year.
Relatedly, kicking off tomorrow, February 4, is the Black Landscape Architect Network’s inaugural Black Landscape Symposium. Spread throughout the month the four-date speakers series is set to feature talks from Sara Zewde (Studio Zewde), Elizabeth Kennedy (Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects, PLLC), Andrew Sargeant (The Urban Studio), Alexa Bush (The City of Detroit), and others.