The annual alumni reunion is one of our favorite events at the ASLA national convention—a chance to reconnect with old friends and classmates, former employers and coworkers and, especially for students and teachers, a way of catching up on each others' accomplishments. The UIUC table at the San Diego reunion (pictured here) was a happy gathering, reuniting former professors Gary Kesler, Doug Johnston, and Laura Lawson with students both recent and past. Can you name all these folks? (Left to right: Karen Fonte, Patricia O'Donnell, Susan Jacobson, Ann Viger, Jim Curtis, Elen Deming, Gary Kesler, unidentified, Austin Tao, Doug Johnston, Philip Cho, unidentified).
We are pleased and proud that three alumni of UIUC's Department of Landscape Architecture were celebrated this year with top ASLA honors awarded at the 2011 President's Dinner in San Diego. Deb Mitchell, FASLA, and Principal of JJR (now SmithGroup/JJR), received the highest honor the ASLA can give to a firm—the award for Landscape Architecture Firm of the Year. The firm award and the contributions that Deb Mitchell herself has made to our Department, is featured in a separate article in the Features section of this issue of Lines on the Landscape.
George Curry (pictured) received the Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal, the top honor given to an educator by the ASLA. Curry is a leader in the field of historic preservation, and has made enormous contributions to the professionalization of cultural landscape heritage and preservation practices. He received degrees in Economics and Landscape Architecture from Michigan State University before completing his MLA degree at UIUC in 1969, and spent his entire teaching career at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse, NY. Curry recently retired from SUNY after more than 40 years of teaching, and after winning much recognition for excellence in teaching. His awards include: SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professorship; SUNY ESF Kennedy Distinguished Faculty Chair in Landscape Architecture; Design Intelligence Magazine's Landscape Architecture Educator of the Year (2007); and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching New York Professor of the Year (2008).
Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, received the ASLA Design Medal (pictured). The purpose of the medal, according to the ASLA website, is “to recognize an individual landscape architect who has produced a body of exceptional design work at a sustained level for a period of at least ten years.” UIUC faculty and students were fortunate to have seen Van Valkenburgh present several of these exceptional design projects when he visited the Department as our Sasaki Day Lecturer in May 2011 (see the linked article about Van Valkenburgh in the Connections section of this issue of Lines on the Landscape). Michael earned his BLA from Cornell University, and an MLA from UIUC in 1978. He is currently Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, where he has taught since 1982.