Candidate Presentation - K. Richard Zweifel, FASLA

It is truly an honor to be given this opportunity to address colleagues as a candidate for the position of President-elect of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

As the Society approaches its 115th anniversary, I am excited about the prospect of contributing to its vital role and impressive record in supporting the continued advancement of the profession and the interests of its members. There is no doubt that ours is a profession with a meaningful history and a significant future because of the enduring strength of its core values and the knowledge and skill exemplified in all of its practice sectors.

The stature of our profession and opportunity for leadership continues to grow as it becomes more widely accepted by the public, that societies’ collective actions do affect the environment and the quality of life. The evolution of “green” as a catch phrase to one of greater depth in public, political and client discernment directly benefits and shapes our profession. The forward momentum of the profession to serve as the nexus for creative and inclusive response to a range of green issues, is in turn connected to an increased demand for adaptability, new collaborations, research and evidence-based solutions in the very areas of landscape architecture’s most significant strengths.

Our collective work successfully and creatively addresses societies’ most difficult and evolving environmental, planning and design challenges. A message that remains central to act upon and communicate broadly in all that we do.

Throughout my career, I have been inspired, energized and extremely proud of the contributions that the profession makes in creating places that are sensitive to their context and offer aesthetic enrichment and enjoyment for all.

I have been fortunate in my career to experience the fundamentally different operating realms associated with working in public, private and academic practice. It has enhanced and expanded my view of landscape architecture.

My professional path began at the Milwaukee County Parks Commission, after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Wisconsin, and continued with work in small private practice offices in Wisconsin and California. I was recruited after graduate school to help begin the Landscape Architecture Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, teaching there for 14 years in courses across the curriculum.

I have been in my current position as Associate Dean for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly for the past 25 years. My responsibilities cover a range of operational functions for the college that include management oversight of a budget similar in size to ASLA. In this position, I serve at the interface of five complementary professional disciplines, encouraging collaboration and curricular synergies between majors in landscape architecture, planning, architecture, structural engineering and construction management. Interacting in this way has been highly valuable to me in providing insight into the practice realms and interconnections of each.

One of many rewarding aspects of my job is the ability to keep fresh perspective by engaging on a regular basis with energetic and creative students and alumni that have gone on to become productive contributors and leaders in their respective fields. I am pleased to count many as friends and colleagues. The sum of these everyday work experiences has helped contribute to my preparation for effective leadership as ASLA President.

Throughout my career I have considered the ASLA not only a mainstay for the profession but also a catalyst for action. With the support and encouragement of my wife Pam and our three children, I have been able to broaden my professional perspectives through 35 years of engagement in a variety of chapter, state and national ASLA committees, offices and projects. Among the most recent is serving as Chair of the Licensure Committee, Chair of the Council of Fellows Jury, and currently as the ASLA Vice Present of Education.

With a strong interest in supporting licensure, I have served as Chair of the California Landscape Architecture Board (LATC), participated in multiple ASLA licensure summit meetings and have worked for over 10 years on LARE exam development and grading committees for the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB).

What this engagement has provided me, along with the privilege to work with incredible landscape architecture colleagues and staff, has been a more expansive view of the profession and a deeper appreciation for the commonalities of purpose and motivation we share. I have learned from each and enjoyed them all.

I have also learned that in order to advance the profession, it is important to keep focus on ASLA as the common denominator for all landscape architects.

Given the opportunity to serve as ASLA President, I will work in partnership with you and our invaluable staff to help advance the sustaining elements that are essential to the Society in providing meaningful benefit to its members. Primarily by: expanding public awareness, broadly advocating for the profession, facilitating practice opportunities, and working to increase membership and services.

We can further leverage our efforts through:
  • Encouraging and supporting Chapters in the full breadth of their work
  • Enhancing educational opportunities and shared goals, 
  • Coordinating and connecting ASLA initiatives for maximum result and, 
  • Ensuring the continued fiscal stability of the Society through careful program prioritization. 

We are an evidenced-based profession. As project complexity, consequence and exposure increase, so does the importance of identifying the profession’s impact by example.

I believe the most successful ASLA accomplishments have been those that have catalyzed participation around tangible and visible outcomes. Some of the many “home runs” include: the awareness, advocacy and licensure campaigns, Headquarters Green Roof, the new Chinatown Green streets project and the Sustainable SITES initiative. Add to this the stellar communications and content provided in the Landscape Architecture Magazine, LATIS Series, LA CES as well the ASLA website and the PPN’s among others.

The list of current services and support provided by the Society on behalf of its members is nothing short of phenomenal in its quality and usefulness. It remains important to widely communicate the full range of all that is available.

With the signs of an improving economy only just beginning, it is essential to include in this list the requirement for continued support of small business through advocacy and other related professional practice services and functions.

We can accomplish even more. As a vibrant and engaged organization, we must also remain open to timely opportunities to enhance areas that are key to the Society’s effectiveness. These must be evaluated and guided by the strategic planning process and Annual Operating Plan to ensure their priority and the adequate resources for their success.

There are initiatives to be advanced in several important areas to benefit the Society in attaining its goals and providing additional member advantage that include:

  • Further communicating and establishing ASLA’s position as the primary place to seek a wide array of current professional practice information. 
  • Investing in life-long learning opportunities to enhance professional adaptability required for sustained practice contribution and attraction of new members. 
  • Establishing a comprehensive and highly visible continuum of ASLA connection with emerging professionals that begins prior to graduation and assists in keeping career momentum. 
  • Expanding collaborations and opportunities with allied organizations to address issues of career discovery, greater diversity representation, and achieving Federal STEM (Science, technology Engineering and Math) recognition for landscape architecture. 

These are but a few of the areas that we can move forward together. With ASLA initiatives animated by meaningful achievement and guided by strategic goals, we can be extremely optimistic about realizing a future of expanded significance and value for the Society and the profession. We are well on the way.

If I have the honor to serve as ASLA President, I will ask you to join me in amplifying its successes while embarking on new initiatives and actions that directly encourage, support and expand member opportunities and further increase the Society’s effectiveness. I have every confidence in our abilities to continue to raise the bar of ASLA accomplishment by collectively imagining what could be and committing to participating in the steps to get there.


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