The Southern California Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects celebrated their 2016 Quality of Life Awards at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort in Anaheim on Thursday, October 6, 2016.

The theme of the awards this year was “Celebrating the Evolving Vision of California Landscapes”. Two hundred landscape architects, green industry and other allied professionals gathered to celebrate the chapter’s bi-annual event. Forty-Five Honor and Merit Awards were presented to firms in Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and the Inland Empire, including 3 student awards presented to students from Cal Poly Pomona and the UCLA Extension program. This year’s jurors were: Deborah Weintraub, Architect, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineers; Randal Jackson, President of PlaceWorks; Richard Risner, Principal of Grounded-Modern Landscape Architecture; Marty McPhee; Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Park West Landscape Companies; and Michael Woo, Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona.

The evening’s other awards included the presentation of a Public Stewardship Award to Landscape Architect, Robert J. Borthwick and a Public Awareness Award to Habitat Design.
For a complete list of all the 2016 award winners, learn more here
UCLA Extension’s Elisabeth Miller Weinstein and Patricia O’Connell brought home 2 of the 3 student awards this year.

I wanted to take a few minutes and highlight each of them and the hard work they put into their award winning projects.

Elisabeth Miller Weinstein was awarded the 2016 Quality of Life Honor Award for her project: Dominguez Crossing Trail Network.


Can you tell me a bit about your project?

The project suggests that right of way easement sharing can preserve precious open spaces and provide opportunities to connect with nature in the Dominguez Watershed: an area 90% developed, over 60% impervious and rich with cultural and ecological history. These easements would be transformed into hybrid trails on the Train, Electrical Transmission and Storm Channel right of way lands. Vacant sites along the trail network become sites for recreational amenities and include interpretive elements honoring the ecology of the Dominguez Slough, Tongva and Colonial histories, the present Dominguez Watershed infrastructure and the area’s 20th century agricultural heritage.

Quality of life in these communities would be enhanced through access to usable, well designed open spaces, which provide low cost transportation (especially for the young and old), increased home values, support of active lifestyles, and remediation of contaminated lands. The trails would function as wildlife corridors, with protected habitat, particularly for birds of the Pacific Flyway and the remnant Dominguez Slough wetlands. Soil permeability would increase to recharge the ground water, and Stormwater BMPs would capture nonpoint pollution. Actuated crosswalks would connect the trails across busy streets, and active safety measures would be introduced along train tracks.


What is the significance of this award to you and how recognized is it in the Landscape profession?

After a ten year stretch to complete the program, with many starts and stops, the award reminded me that the many late nights away were worth it! The award recognizes ASLA work regionally — and it is a very nice accolade to include on the resume!

How has the Landscape Architecture Program at UCLA Extension, prepared you for this award and for the workforce?

When prospective students ask me about the UCLA Extenison program, I tell them that it is easy to get into, but difficult to complete (or maybe that’s just me!). Capstone is a rich, rewarding, challenging experience. This chapter of the program has taught me the value of deep investigation, contextual relevance and the evolution of ideas. Meg Coffee, Steve Lang, Patrick Reynolds and Stephanie Landregan were thoughtful guides along the way. I recommend all Capstone students, all students really, print out the following phrase and ask themselves, for every project: “ How does my idea improve the quality of life for the community it serves?” I certainly will!




tricia_oconnell_portrait_class_fund_scholarship-002Patricia O’Connell was awarded the 2016 Quality of Life Merit Award for her project: Burbank Junction

What is the significance of this award to you and how recognized is it in the Landscape profession?

I’m thrilled to have been recognized by our ASLA chapter for this prestigious award. The Quality of Life Awards are real deal professional awards that have a student category, and knowing that I was counted alongside award-winning professionals is an enormous honor. I hope I can produce great work in the “real” world as well, and get a chance to make a difference in positively influencing people’s experiences of public space.

Can you tell me a bit about your project?

Using infrastructure to connect an existing transit hub and bike path with downtown Burbank’s vibrant core, physical and social connections are created for local residents, workers, and visitors. The formidable barriers of the freeway, railroad, and drainage channel are bridged using a series of pedestrian and bike bridges that incoprorate new and existing infrastructure and bring new social and work opportunities into the heart of the city. The concept of manufactured landscapes, taken from Burbank’s history as a major aeronautical and film production center, is introduced in a series of artful interventions that play off the history and use of landscape in both those mediums.

Fun Fact: I’m a former film worker, and have always been interested in the concept of artifice and love creating special environments for my clients. When I learned that local film production set dressers and landscape architects worked together to create massive artificial landscapes to camouflage the enormous Lockheed aircraft plant during WWII, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to that artfully unnatural nature by creating a contemporary space that both serves a very real and very useful function while bringing a sense of local history to the site. burbank_junction_slides

Where are you currently working? Campion Walker Landscapes + Sanctuary Landscape Architecture

What are your professional goals? 

To use my training as an artist to connect people and spaces through landscape architecture. As far as work goes, I’d like to pursue adaptive reuse projects in the urban realm.

How has the Landscape Architecture Program at UCLA Extension, prepared you for this award and for the workforce?

The UCLA Extension program is special in that it is taught by working professionals,who bring valuable real life experience, and is attended primarily by students who are seeking a second career, who also bring a variety of interests and skills to the table. The school focuses on many of the practical skills needed to start working right away.