RECAP: ASLA 2017 & L.A.R.E. Prep

Each year, the American Society of Landscape Architects hosts a national convention to gather practitioners, suppliers and students alike. This year, the convention was held in Los Angeles from October 20th-23rd. Over 6500 attendees from all over the country came to Los Angeles to get a glimpse of the landscape architecture community this city. This year’s theme was “Common Ground”.There are several components to the convention. First, there are education sessions where panels of landscape architects and related professionals give lectures on topics relevant in practice today. This year in Los Angeles, there was a wide range of topics discussed, both from around the nation to local case studies in LA. Many of the education sessions this year had a strong emphasis on equity in design and social justice. Issues discussed included gentrification, homelessness, and public health and lack of open public park space in communities in areas by the LA River or around the Salton Sea. There were also more technical conversations about planting, especially regarding water-wise planting design for drought. Our own Mentorship Chair, Claire Latané, spoke on a panel called “Designing with Water for a New Normal in the West and Southwest”.In addition to the education sessions, there is also an annual awards ceremony at the end of the convention that honors forward-thinking and exemplary projects from both students and professionals. Many women in the field were given awards for their work. For instance, the firm SCAPE, led by Kate Orff, won an award for their new book, Toward an Urban Ecology, which outlines the firm’s methods and projects. Additionally, well-known landscape architect Andrea Cochran won multiple awards for her artistic residential designs.Outside of all the official programming, the national convention offers opportunities to connect with new people and old colleagues alike. Many school alumni events were scattered throughout the weekend, along with other professional networking support and workshops. One of the specific workshops convention participants can take is preparation for the professional licensure exams, commonly know as the LARE exams.At AWA+D, we also offer a LARE study group, free of charge to members with meetings year-round, not just once a year. We asked Lily Bergmann, who heads the group, a few questions about what the group does and how members can become involved.Who can become involved in this study group?LB: Anyone who's a member can join! Both men and women are welcome.What methods are used to study and prepare?LB: We follow the 'Recommended Reading,' as provided by CLARB, focusing on the bullet point topics in the Orientation Guide. We also review test-taking strategies and go over practice tests together. The study group is a group effort - every member contributes, and there is no teacher. We learn from each other and share our experiences, which helps move everyone towards feeling confident and passing!What resources does this study group have to offer its members?LB: AWA+D has just launched our Study Resource Library, which contains many of the books on CLARB's 'Recommended Reading' list. AWA+D members can check out these books for FREE, which is great because these books are very expensive and most libraries don't carry them. The LARE Group also has the advantage that we have a dedicated space to meet in each week, a conference room donated by NAC Architecture. We have WiFi, bathrooms, and a well-lit conference room, all near public transportation. Many study groups meet in coffee shops, which can become an issue if you have an unruly neighbor or its raining outside and there's no place to study - it's great to be able to focus on studying and not the space we study in! AWA+D is proud to announce that the entire LARE Study Group passed the Sections 1 and 2 exams! AWA+D offers support to members studying for the LARE and ARE through our member-led study groups and lending out those hard-to-find books to members for FREE. To date, the ARE Study Group has helped 8 people pass a collective 16 exams! Want to learn more? Contact us at

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