FIU Landscape Attends ASLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia


Florida International University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental + Urban Design attended the annual American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Expo and Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The conference was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 19th through the 22nd.

Professor TJ Marston and students from the FIU ASLA Chapter represented FIU at the conference. Below Professor Marston tell us the top four benefits of attending and her personal tips to taking full advantage of the experience.

I had the pleasure of attending the Annual ASLA Expo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which happened to be my first national American Society of Landscape Architects Expo. Heading into it I had a few ideas of how I would benefit from the conference, but my experience was well beyond my expectations. If you are thinking of attending the next National ASLA Conference in San Diego in 2019 and aren’t sure what you will get from it, read on to learn about the benefits I got out of the conference and some tips and tricks For attending this type of event :

TOP 4 Benefits of Attending the Annual ASLA Expo 

1) Joy of Connecting 

It was a special treat to attend this year’s conference as I got to catch up with many of my classmates from the University of Pennsylvania, colleagues, professors and friends. Having graduated almost 10 years ago, starting a family, and moving across the country, I hadn’t kept up to date with most of my friends (other than traditional facebook and instagram posts). It was exciting to hear what everyone was up to and reminisce about our time in school. It was especially poignant, as I am an instructor now, too remember how stressful school could be while you’re in it!

Something I did not anticipate was the wealth of new connections I made with other professionals across the country, many with shared interests and experiences. The positive energy at the conference was palpable and so refreshing.

2) Discovering Innovative Products

Hundreds of new and innovative products were on display at the Expo over the weekend. Sustainable tree irrigation alternatives, modular garden systems, web services for landscape architects, concrete designed to provide habitat and new root ball anchors were just a few that caught my attention.   Not only could you see the products and ask questions from the professionals, you had time to discuss project ideas and build contacts with suppliers in each industry.

3) Learn What Interests You

There were more great presentations and workshops than I could count…or attend! While the schedule was packed with four days of presentations and workshops from professionals across the country, I still found it hard to attend everything I wanted. With the help of the new ASLA Expo App I made a rough schedule and was able to attend presentations ranging in topics from Water and Social Life in India,  Discussions on Female Leadership and Courage, Edible Skylines : Pushing the Limits of Rooftop Agriculture and many more. Each lecture brought a wealth of learning and innovative thinking.  There was time afterward to meet people and ask questions. I loved the flexibility and variety of options.  I wish I could have done more!

4) Explore a City with Design On Your Mind

I lived in Philadelphia for almost 7 years, but experiencing the city while being immersed in this design/learning environment for four days was very informative. The air was chilly as fall was moving in, but not cool enough to keep people away from the cities extensive beautiful streets, parks and open spaces. Reading Terminal Market was just outside the conference center, leaving plenty of options for great food, local culture, and fun vibes. Public transit through Septa regional rail was extensive and a delight to ride. If you haven’t been to Philadelphia, I highly recommend a visit – especially in the fall.

Your probably wondering, with all these positives, I had to have some things I didn’t enjoy.  I can’t say I had a negative experience, but I did learn a few tips I would pass on to those thinking of attending a design conference.

  • Pack comfy shoes and layers of clothes. Business casual was the vibe, but comfort was important.
  • Bring snacks and water everyday.
  • Bring lots of business cards….and more business cards.
  • Bring your notebook everywhere. No recording or taking pictures of slides during presentations.
  • Plan to stay an extra day to give yourself free time to explore the city.
  • Plan to use public transit when you can.  Cheaper and way more fun than Uber.

See you in San Diego next year!

Check out the annual meeting’s website:

Visit the American Society of Landscape Architects website to learn more.

Header Image: American Society of Landscape Architects

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