ASLA Student Honor Award

Image courtesy of Emily Chen.

MLA/MArch student Emily Chen honored for Migratory Lands Demonstration Project

Posted by Katherine Welsch October 9, 2014

MLA/MArch student Emily Chen is among the recipients of the 2014 Professional Awards and Student Awards given by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). The awards honor top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications, and research projects from across the United States and around the world.

Chen received a Student Honor Award in the Analysis & Planning Category for her Migratory Lands Demonstration Project, based in the city of Alton, Illinois. The project was inspired by the Audubon Center at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located directly across the Mississippi River from Alton and a main contributor to tourism in the area.

"Because the Mississippi River is a working river and there were flooding concerns, the flow of water in and out of the sanctuary is actually a gravity-fed system carefully regulated by a series of gates and levees," Chen says. "The combination of careful control to build a 'natural' environment was an interesting thought, and it seems there is potential to explore these combinations of natural and controlled systems to build natural and controlled environments, not just for birds, but people."

Her proposal builds upon the existing system of levees, adding canals, basins, and islands to link the seasonal cycles of various networks in Alton—bird migration, tourism, fall colors, and even the agricultural industry—to the river pulse. The land is allowed to flood, and as the river ebbs and flows, new landscapes are revealed that can be colonized for use.

The awards jury said of the project: "Love these ideas and they are beautifully rendered. Liked how they structured presentation: heaviness of diagrams coupled with lightness of little vignettes. The plans are graphically beautiful. This could be huge for that community because it floods frequently."

To read Chen's full project statement and narrative and view images, click here.

A total of 21 awards, selected from more than 500 entries representing 77 schools, will be presented to students at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Denver on November 24. In addition, the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine features the winning projects and is ASLA website.