RIASLA June Networking Event

Let’s talk about what’s happening with landscape architecture in Rhode Island at our next networking event on Thursday, June 14!  Join RIASLA at the Isle Brewer’s Guild in Pawtucket for a night of networking, fun and games!  Event is free of charge, please email Andrew at apichette@beta-inc.com with any questions.  Hope to see you there!

Isle Brewer’s Guild  |  461 Main Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Curious what the Brewer’s Guild has to offer?  Check out their website here!

Keep an eye out for our next networking event, Thursday, July 12th and our Summer Social on Thursday, August 16th.

RIASLA Networking Event – Thursday, 5/10

Join us for drinks and conversation at Fifth Element, 111 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840, Thursday, May 10th from 6-8pm. Our last event at Bayberry Beer Hall was a great success. More than 20 landscape architects and allied professionals attended. We would love to continue to connect our community of members and supporters. Please join us Thursday night.  For more information, check out our event on Facebook:




April Is A Time for Historic Landscapes


View of pond at Wilcox Park , Westerly, RI.  the 2016 HALS merit award project. Image by Ben Congdon (URI BLA 2017)

by Elena M. Pascarella, RLA, ASLA of Landscape Elements LLC

This April, RIASLA focuses on historic landscapes.  This is an appropriate time to present information on historic landscapes for a number of reasons.

April 26th is the birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted.  Olmsted is considered the “founding father” of our profession and the body of his work presents a very impressive historic record of historic landscapes in the United States.  Consider that some of his iconic work includes Central Park in New York, the Fens in Boston, the Buffalo, New York park system, the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina.  Locally Olmsted and his firm provided designs for Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI, subdivisions in Watch Hill and Newport, Blackstone Boulevard in Providence, RI and Goddard State Park, Warwick, RI. As we look to celebrate his 196th birthday (April 26, 1822), we might consider taking a walk through one of his local landscapes and take the time to really look at his legacy.

April 26 thru April 28 is the RI Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) 33rd Annual Historic Preservation Conference. This will be an Encuentro which joins the 33rd Annual R.I. Statewide Historic Preservation Conference and the 3rd National Convening of Latinos in Heritage Conservation. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the Commission. Save the date and plan to attend! Click here for more information and to register.

Also, the RIHPHC has been busy with national register nominations and they recently completed a nomination for the historic quadrangle and surrounding buildings at the University of Rhode Island. Joanna Doherty, Architectural historian, has provided us with an overview of this nomination project and its significance as a campus landscape.

The Providence Preservation Society has been working to raise awareness about threatened historic properties in Providence.  The PPS joined forces with RI Chapter ASLA in 2017 to submit the State House landscape for listing on the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s 2018 Landslide List as a “threatened” historic landscape. (https://tclf.org/stewardship/about-landslide.) PPS Executive Director, Brent Runyon has provided us with an article on the issues surrounding the State House grounds.

Brent is also spearheading a new Landscape Survey initiative for Rhode Island.  This initiative will start with an online survey for Newport and Providence and then expand to other communities in Rhode Island.  The rationale for starting with these 2 cities lies in the fact that they are both experiencing a great increase in new development projects that pose threats to existing open spaces and some historic properties.  The PPS hopes that this survey will help to fairly evaluate potential threatened properties and provide appropriate recommendations.

Please support PPS and their preservation efforts  at www.ppsri.org.

The Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) is in the process of restoring and renovating the landscape at the Breakers, one of their signature historic properties.  The PSNC mission is as follows:

The Preservation Society of Newport County is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect, preserve, and present an exceptional collection of house museums and landscapes in one of the most historically intact cities in America. 

Kaity Ryan, assistant to the executive director at the PSNC has provided us with an overview of the work that is being done at The Breakers to restore it.

And finally, the RI Chapter ASLA is in the process of preparing another Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) Challenge documentation.  Our chapter submitted a HALS Challenge documentation in 2016 with the assistance of URI Professor Richard Sheridan and his junior landscape studio.  The documentation was done for Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI which met the 2016 theme of National Register landscapes.  It was Rhode Island’s first HALS documentation and we earned a merit award out of 48 national submissions.

In 2017, RI Chapter ASLA submitted a HALS Challenge documentation for Eisenhower Park/Washington Square, Newport, RI.  The theme for 2017 was town and municipal parks. The documentation was completed with the assistance of Tanya Kelly and her staff at Place Studio as well as Jon Stevens (Cumberland, RI town planner and history buff) and his daughter Arcadia Stevens, a recent Wheaton College graduate in Classics. Out of 28 submissions, Rhode Island earned another merit recognition.

For 2018, the RIASLA will be submitting another documentation.  This year’s theme is Memorials of the Great War (WWI).  Tanya Kelly and I will be working on the nomination for Miantonomi Park, Newport, RI. If anyone would like to become involved, please contact me at emp@landscapeelementsllc.com



What is HALS?

Eisenhower JDS8

View of Eisenhower Park, Newport, RI – the 2017 HALS merit award winning project. Image by Jonathan Stevens


by Elena M. Pascarella, RLA, ASLA of Landscape Elements LLC

HALS documentation is one of three types of historic records maintained at the Library of Congress under the purview of the National Park Service. Other documentations include Historic American Building Surveys (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Records (HAER). HAER surveys have documented many historic roadways throughout the United States including the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut and Skyline Drive in Virginia.

HALS documentation was initiated because historians, architects and landscape architects working for the National Park Service realized that the HABS and HAER survey documentations were not adequately capturing the level of detail found in many historic landscapes.

Rhode Island has two documentations recorded with the NPS and in the Library of Congress.

During Spring semester 2016, Elena M. Pascarella, RLA, ASLA, principal of Landscape Elements, LLC worked with Professor Richard Sheridan’s Junior Landscape Architecture Studio at the University of Rhode Island to prepare a Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) Documentation for Wilcox Park in Westerly, RI. Landscape Elements had previously worked on the master plan for Wilcox Park in 2006. This park is one of Rhode Island’s significant historic landscapes having been designed by two noted 19th Century landscape architects, Warren H. Manning and Arthur Shurcliff.

The 2016 HALS documentation submission for Wilcox Park was also entered into the 2016 HALS Challenge, a competition open to all landscape architectural firms in the US and Canada. Out of 48 submissions for 2016, the documentation for Wilcox Park received an honorable mention award.

The 2017 HALS documentation submission for Eisenhower Park earned RI its second merit award. Many thanks to the people who assisted with this project:  Tanya Kelly, Kate Dana, Jon Stevens and Acadia Stevens.

For more information about HALS, please visit




ASLA National Advocacy Day April 26th

Jenn Judge, RI ASLA Trustee, and Melissa Bagga, RI ASLA President, will be attending the ASLA National Advocacy Day in Washington, DC April 26th, on behalf of the Rhode Island Chapter. This year, ASLA advocates will urge Congress to adopt legislation that encourages the use of green infrastructure and other natural systems to address coastal resiliency, stormwater management, and to adopt legislation that ensures environmental safety for all communities.

To learn more about this special day please visit https://www.asla.org/advocacyday2018.aspx

Preserving RI State House Landscape Character

State House black and white image

Title: 7. AERIAL VIEW OF SOUTH ELEVATION AND GROUNDS – Rhode Island State House, 90 Smith Street, Providence, Providence County, RI
Medium: 4 x 5 in.
Reproduction Number: HABS RI,4-PROV,180–7.  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ri0370.photos.145799p/

by Brent Runyon, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society

The landscape around the State House is one of the most character-defining in Rhode Island. City and State leaders at the latter half of the 19th century embraced certain ideas that made little sense at the time but have come to define how Providence re-engineered itself nearly a century later. What they sought was a setting that would contribute to the perception of the State House as being set above and apart from everything around it. Viewed from the town side, it appeared that way. Not too far away, along Smith Street, was a densely packed neighborhood. In addition to the building’s unrivaled architecture, the open space around it and its setting atop a hill are defining characteristics that make ours the most beautiful State House in America.

Why then, if this landscape is so magisterial do elected leaders and their staffs continue to pave over it? That the potential of developing it, floated by RIDOT not too many months ago, landed the landscape on The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s version of our Most Endangered Properties list: Landslide 2017: Open Season on Open Space. Among landscapes in Rhode Island, the State House setting is significant in its entirety. While there is some argument about whether the current lawn is what was planned by the architects McKim, Mead & White, there is no doubt that what currently exists has gained important meaning in its own right, including the site for recent citizen rallies and protests that occupied much of that open space.

As historic preservationists, we believe deeply that our actions today should be considered in terms of their impacts on future generations. For several years, we’ve expressed concern about the State’s opportunistic taking of land around the State House in order to meet parking “demand.” The State House landscape, including the walls, lawn, paths, and hardscape, all contribute to the beauty and sense of place. They do what well-designed landscapes should do: define boundaries that separate as well as spaces to congregate, create sightlines for observation and pathways for circulation, enable sufficient storm water management and much more. Tinkering with a historic designed landscape such as this, whether with incremental increases in surface parking or with the installation of an intermodal transit hub, should be done with the careful, professional consultation of landscape architects and historic preservationists.



Encuentro – a National Conference on Latino Heritage and Historic Preservation April 26-28, 2018

colombian parade_MartaVMartinez

photo: Colombian Festival, Central Falls by Marta V. Martinez

by Sarah Zurier of the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, Rhode Island Latino Arts, and Latinos in Heritage Conservation are proud to present Encuentro 2018, a conference on Latino heritage and historic preservation. Scheduled from April 26-28, 2018 with programs in Providence and the Blackstone Valley, this groundbreaking event brings together the third national convening of Latinos in Heritage Conservation and the 33rd Annual Statewide Rhode Island Historic Preservation Conference.

For the first time, Latinos in Heritage Conservation is bringing a national conversation about Latino historic preservation to New England. Encuentro 2018 features guest speakers from across the country including Dr. Stephen Pitti (Yale)Belinda Faustinos (Nature for All)Eduardo Díaz (Smithsonian)Dr. Ray Rast (Gonzaga), and Dr. Ramona Hernández (CUNY), as well as opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with fellow practitioners and advocates for Latino historic preservation.

Rhode Island Latino Arts, Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, and local partners have planned an engaging program of tours and special events to round out the schedule. Tours will feature Latino neighborhoods, historic places associated with other underrepresented communities, recent preservation projects, and public art. Sites will include Broad Street, Roger Williams Park, Downtown, and Olneyville in Providence as well as Pawtucket’s Slater Mill and places associated with the Colombian community in Central Falls.

We hope that you will join us for this landmark gathering that will bring together preservationists, scholars, students, design professionals, and community advocates for an unprecedented discussion of the value and future of heritage conservation in New England’s Latino communities and beyond.

The full program is available online, and registration is open at www.preservationconferenceri.com. Registration costs $30 (Thursday-Friday), $50 (Saturday), or $80 (Thursday-Saturday) with discounts for students with i.d. The deadline for registration is April 17.