Gresham Smith Wins Three ASLA 2023 National Professional Awards

Landscape Architecture Projects Honored for Design Excellence

Gresham Smith is proud to announce that three projects were honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2023 Professional Awards. The firm received the Award of Excellence, the top recognition, in the Residential Design category for The Rain Gardens at 900 Block. The firm also received an Honor Award in the Urban Design category for Town Branch Commons and an Honor Award in the Analysis and Planning category for The Chattahoochee RiverLands.

“As a firm, we are proud to partner with our clients on projects that prioritize placemaking, resiliency and sustainability,” said Land Planning Executive Vice President Louis Johnson, PLA, ASLA. “These values are at the core of our work, and we are thrilled to see them recognized through these national ASLA awards. Our team is committed to creating landscapes that not only look beautiful but also serve as innovative solutions for our communities. Thank you to ASLA for this honor and to our clients for entrusting us with these important projects.”

The ASLA Professional Awards represent the highest level of achievement in the landscape architecture profession. Award recipients and their clients will receive in-person recognition at the awards presentation ceremony held during the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis, Minn., from October 27–30.

About the Projects:

The Rain Gardens at 900 Block is a complete transformation of four aging multifamily properties as one ecologically minded multi-family complex. Previously lacking useable open space, the site contributed to flooding issues and had ineffective landscapes. The project leveraged the public Stormwater Incentive Grant Program, led by the project team, to retrofit the property while advocating a more extensive agenda for improving the city’s urban ecologies and stormwater systems. In the end, the design uses natural elements to filter stormwater, reduce flooding and create a sense of place with native plants and educational elements explaining the benefits of the program.

“This project is a model for how to powerfully impact our communities with modest budgets and elegant design. Small but powerful!,” said the 2023 Awards Jury.

Developed over a decade of partnership with government, landowners, and residents, Town Branch Commons is a transformative multi-modal urban greenway linking open space across Lexington, connecting rural and urban communities. Weaving along the path of the buried Town Branch Creek, all aspects of design are inspired by local karst geology and Bluegrass landscapes, drastically expanding the city’s tree canopy and green infrastructure while carving out space for protected bike and pedestrian lanes through a downtown “road diet.” Beyond the greenway, the Commons is also a long-term public education initiative that has involved multimedia events, videos, and interpretive signage created with local historians.

“The details and craft elevate this project from pragmatic to iconic. It serves as an exemplar of a public project that returns streets to pedestrian experiences while integrating ecological design principles to enhance landscape performance and reflect regional characteristics,” said the 2023 Awards Jury.

Building on over 50 years of grassroots planning, the Chattahoochee RiverLands is a generational vision for a 125-mile greenway, blueway, and network of open spaces reconnecting over 1 million residents with the Chattahoochee River across the Metro Atlanta Region. Developed over two years and underpinned by a tremendous engagement effort encompassing over a hundred meetings with more than 290 local groups, the vision stitches together open spaces into an uninterrupted multi-modal trail—expanding connectivity and economic development opportunities in West Atlanta communities that have historically lacked access to the river. Already, the vision has spurred over $169 million in investment and inspired state and federal policy initiatives.

“The visionary plan takes a careful macro and micro lens approach and is grounded in a strong community-driven foundation with care toward universal access. Conservation and environmental justice lie at the heart of the vision, as the plan aims to expand equitable access and connect disparate parts of West Atlanta to the river. Overall, this is an impressive plan with tactical strategies that have the power to change lives,” said the 2023 Awards Jury.

In addition to the ASLA National awards, Gresham Smith-designed projects received nine state-level ASLA awards in 2023 from New York, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky.