Photo: New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

For the Professional Women in Construction Panel: Building Parks, at The Park Penthouse on May 23, I moderated the Perspectives from the Designers session.

Talented and leading landscape architects—Molly Bourne/MNLA, Lisa Tziona Switkin/James Corner Field Operations, Donna Walcavage/Stantec, Annette Wilkus/SiteWorks—shared their insight and inspiration into creating distinctive new urban landscapes from the Buffalo waterfront at Erie Canal Harbor to the Staten Island Shoreline Protection Plan, and reuse of infrastructure from the High Line and Chicago’s Navy Pier to building Governor’s Island Park.

Key themes emerging from Building Parks presented by these remarkable designers included the importance of: community engagement and public private partnership as part of the design and implementation process; building in stewardship, and maintenance and operations considerations early in the project; and adaptability in a park’s design so it evolves with park users and community needs over time. 

Overlooking the High Line Park from our venue, we all left the morning sessions with a deeper understanding of how these stunning urban landscapes are created and built over years despite various constraints—environmental, regulatory, budgetary, political or jurisdictional. We also gained a better grasp of the many entities—government, nonprofit and private sector—who play a major role in developing public parks that sustain our cities and enhance the livability of our growing and diverse neighborhoods.

The WTS Women in Transportation Annual Conference from May 17 to 19 in Brooklyn really impressed me with how many women are leading in transportation agencies at all levels of government or in regulatory agencies; in design, planning and engineering; and in nonprofits focused on transportation policy and advocacy.  

On May 18, I had the opportunity to participate on the Coordination in Cities panel with dynamic thought leaders—Corinne Kisner/NACTO, Ya Ting Liu/Friends of BQX, Juliette Michaelson/Regional Plan Association, Veronica Vanterpool/Tri-state Transportation Campaign, moderated by Margaret Newman/Arup. They are all engaged in transportation and planning issues that shape cities and the built environment, nationally, regionally and citywide. 

Our broad ranging discussion highlighted how advocacy at all levels is critical to establishing policy, generating funding and resources, and influencing development of complex multimodal transportation networks and shaping neighborhoods. Our group stressed how clearly illustrated design guidelines; a strong vision; a regional plan; use of social media; or pop-ups or pilot projects create effective tools for advocacy with public officials and communities, and for building constituencies for better transportation and better cities.