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Little Island Featured in Upcoming ACSA / Pratt SoA Exhibition

MNLA's Little Island will be featured in the upcoming Experimental Landings exhibition. Co-hosted by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and Pratt Institute's School of Architecture (SoA), Experimental Landings interrogates how designers assert agency through the representation, organization, and formation of land. Understood as an elastic and open-ended framework of consideration this collective exhibition of work will showcase how architecture and landscape experiments across "land" address new definitions of formal practice across the themes of Artificial Earths, Seeding Resilience, Imaging Ground, and Mapping Maintenance. Opening July 8th at the Graduate Architecture and Urban Design outpost on Governors Island through September 1.

June 21, 2022

18 days ago
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Environmental Justice Forum

The Environmental Justice Forum (EJF)—a weekly gathering that first convened on June 16th, 2020—is a grassroots, non-hierarchical effort among MNLA staff to see and uncover the racial injustices within our communities, our work, and the field of landscape architecture. In EJF, we aim to leverage the tools of communication, listening, and planning to work toward co-creating a just and equitable urban fabric.

In EJF, we challenge ourselves and each other to understand how our personal identities affect how we design and study the public realm; we attempt to uncover historical trends, policies, and actions that have insidiously imbued racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, and transphobia into our urban landscapes; we reflect on our approach to meeting and working with communities, and to studying a project site; we look inward at where we hold privilege and work toward leveraging it; we aim to consider the experiences of those with and without privilege, while centering and learning from the narratives of Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color as we keep designing the public realm of a city that so desperately needs it.

Months into a pandemic that slowed the metronome of New York City and the globe, the murder of George Floyd by Minnesota police ignited nationwide protests and a reckoning with the centuries of racism built into political, economic, social, and cultural systems of the United States. These racial inequities are intrinsic to the urban fabric. Recognizing that the ‘good’ we try to do as designers of the urban realm wasn’t always good enough and indeed often supporting systemically racist power structures, a groundswell of MNLA staff embarked on this co-learning project. Week by week, we began to scratch the surface about how isolated incidents of violence toward Black people fit within a much larger narrative of systemic racism and inequality.

As time went on, our conversations turned to questions of action: what can we do, as a group of employees at one landscape architecture firm, to work toward a more just and equitable office, industry, and city? We started small with a monthly Book Club and used guided exercises to discuss where we have and lack privilege in our personal identities. But there was an increasing need to do more, and take bigger steps. We had working meetings devoted to writing down all of our interests, ranging from developing an anti-racist design vocabulary to studying zoning practices to doing more educational outreach in high schools. These areas of interest then spawned smaller working groups, discussions, Slack channels, and action items. Some goals, like developing an equitable community engagement plan, volunteering in our local communities, and embedding our research in internal office practices and projects, continue to this day.

The amorphousness of EJF allowed us the freedom and flexibility to keep taking the group in new and/or multiple directions. If there was not enough time or personnel to accomplish a goal in its entirety, that was okay. If a goal was simply too far beyond the scope of landscape architecture, that was okay. Again and again we would confront the nagging feeling of wanting to make a difference but accepting that it was too big for us to solve alone, or not even up to landscape architects to solve it at all.

EJF’s magic and success lies in our collective commitment to keep learning and trying new things. Through trying (and sometimes failing), we learn where we have power, as individuals and as landscape architects, and where we do not. This alone is critical in our understanding of where we fit into the fight for racial, social, and environmental justice in the built environment.

We look forward to sharing more of what we’ve learned and worked on in this space and on Instagram. We hope that our endeavors can inspire others to do the same in their places of work. We have learned that our work and the workplace are not immune to politics and the perniciousness of social inequity. And most importantly, we have each other to keep the momentum going, to stay inspired and committed to making a difference, one week at a time.

June 17, 2022

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MNLA Promotions

These promotions represent consistent leadership and dedication to the practice, while elevating MNLA's commitment to advocacy and transformation in landscape architecture. We look forward to their contributions both to the firm and to the field this year and beyond.

JACOB KUHN, ASLA, WEDG – Senior Landscape Designer

ERIN MCCABE, RLA, ASLA – Senior Landscape Architect
YELENA ZOLOTOREVSKAYA, RLA - Senior Landscape Architect

March 30, 2022

108 days ago