The Issue of Equity in Landscape Architecture
On September 17th, CMG hosted its first virtual salon, Equity in Landscape Architecture: The Power of Representation, about representation and how firms can reflect a positive trajectory for equity and racial justice. First-year CMG designer, Arturo Fuentes–Ortiz, is vocal and passionate about the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in landscape architecture and developed the concept for the salon. He kicked-off the evening by speaking about the lack of representation he saw growing up and his own work to introduce design to young people of color. Arturo and fellow CMG designer Mwinyi El-kindiy moderated a salon that highlighted proactive steps landscape architecture firms can take, to not only diversify the profession, but continue the fight to end systemic racism.
The Power of Representation focused on the experiences of designers of color in landscape architecture. Fellow landscape architects from across the United States, Davi de la Cruz, Jenn Low, and Roberto Rovira, spoke about the entire pipeline and development of young designers from K-12 schools through university and into the profession. The salon dove into stimulating conversations about what firms can do to increase representation by building the pipeline. In addition, the salon panelists addressed how firms can successfully engage, retain and mentor young designers of color.
View the recording of CMG Salon Equity in Landscape Architecture: The Power of Representation: https://youtu.be/kqzutypqcJA
Race/Ethnicity and Education in Landscape Architecture
Getting young people of color interested in design isn’t enough. They face challenges when entering college and are less likely to complete their undergraduate degrees. According to the US Department of Education, the distribution of Bachelor’s degrees awarded and retention rates are much lower particularly in Hispanic/Latinx and Black and African American communities. When comparing the US population by race to that of Landscape Architecture degrees by race, we see that Landscape Architecture degrees awarded are not proportionate to the US population. The following illustrations show the trajectory of the educational pipeline and demonstrate the urgency to successfully engage, retain and mentor young designers of color.
The Panel for The Power of Representation
Thank you to Davi de la Cruz, Jenn Low, and Roberto Rovira for participating on The Equity in Landscape Architecture: The Power of Representation panel.
DAVI DE LA CRUZ | Founding Member + Board Administrator, The Urban Studio
Davi was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, the occupied territories of the Tongva [TONG-və] People. He grew up learning from his mother’s leadership, and community involvement. Daví is the first of his family to pursue higher education. Daví de la Cruz studied at Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Valley, territories of the Tataviam people, and in the Pacific Northwest at the University of Washington, Seattle, territories of the Duwamish people. Today, as a founding member of The Urban Studio, he is excited to expand the work of Studio South Central in his own neighborhood addressing the legacy of disinvestment in Pueblo del Rio and tapping into local youth leadership as a way forward. Through authentic engagement with youth, we can find ways to connect meaningfully with communities and shape new and just futures.
JENN LOW | Board Member, The Urban Studio
Jenn Low is an integrative designer, educator, and landscape architect with over thirteen years of experience as a Landscape Architect in New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. Now based in Washington, D.C., she is a Board Member of The Urban Studio and the Deputy Director of the 1882 Foundation, where she leads the organization’s suite of place-keeping initiatives. Currently working at the intersection of design and public history, Jenn’s work seeks to redistribute power in our design processes in order to advance our work toward spatial justice. She holds an MDes in Integrative Design at the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, where she and her cohort were tasked with addressing issues in access and equity in education, and a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington.
ROBERTO ROVIRA | Chair, FIU Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design + Principal, Studio Roberto Rovira
Roberto has received recognition for his work as an educator and professional by prominent organizations like the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the Architectural League, the American Institute of Architects, and others. Fast Company magazine recently selected his EcoAtlas Project as a World Changing Idea finalist and he was recognized with an Emerging Voice award by the Architectural League in New York, one of the most coveted awards in North American Architecture. Roberto is VP of Research for the Landscape Architecture Foundation and has been lead designer in national and international projects. His work ranges from environmental installations to art commissions and landscape architectural projects.
Organizations and Resources
Throughout the panel discussion, Arturo, Davi, Jenn, and Roberto talked about a number of resources and organizations working toward improving equity in the landscape profession:
- Design Your Hood: SAYS Summit: https://www.says.ucdavis.edu/says-summit
- Design As Protest: https://www.dapcollective.com/
- BIPOC Studios | landscape, ceramics, graphic design, and more: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZiWjlfqc02OeWL4hTNZymVT_kyNnO42xG-hucO3rC0E/edit#gid=636314262
CMG is committed to cultivating diversity in our practice and profession because an inclusive design culture and process is critical to creating truly democratic public spaces. Read more about CMG’s commitment and how we are working toward these commitments here: https://www.cmgsite.com/cmg-is-committed-to-cultivating-diversity/.
This salon, Equity in Landscape Architecture: The Power of Representation, was the first of a three-part series on the topic. CMG will host two additional salons as part of this conversation addressing community engagement and empowerment and inclusive public space design. More information will be released soon.
If you want to stay involved with CMG on improving equity in landscape architecture, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.