Virginia Tech’s landscape architecture program takes the world stage this week, as more than 350 researchers and designers converge on the campus for the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference – and honor two faculty as among the profession’s best.

CELA is one of two premier international academic organizations focused on landscape architecture. It is composed of academic programs offering accredited landscape architecture degrees in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and individual memberships from Europe, Central and South America, and across Asia. About one-third of those attending the 2018 conference at Virginia Tech are from China and Korea. Virginia Tech’s landscape architecture program in the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies is a nationally recognized program.

In the four-day event, which started March 21 and will run through March 24, the group is tackling complex landscape and societal issues and engaging in discussions intended to transform conventional thinking about environmental concerns.

“We are proud to be hosting this annual conference traditionally held at internationally recognized top-tier universities,” said Terry Clements, professor and chair of the landscape architecture program and chair of the conference’s host committee. “It’s a validation of Virginia Tech’s stature as one of only a few universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and a Ph.D.-track programs in landscape architecture – and recognizes our consistent ranking among the top programs in the country over the last 15 years.”

The 2018 conference, “Transforming the Discussion,” covers topics ranging from communication, history, and design education to service-learning, community engagement, and landscape performance. The conference features two unique discussion sessions. In the first, attendees engage in critical roundtable discussions of the conference’s presentations and posters. The second, which closes the conference, is a plenary panel presenting the commonalities, differences, and absences revealed in the roundtable sessions and in the conference abstracts and papers.

“With this approach, the Virginia Tech host committee intends to foster a variety of discussions and critiques on the intersections between the conference presentations and posters, roundtables, and visions of transformative practice,” Clements said. “It helps move conference presentations from small-room spectators and limited discussions to a more public and critical exchange.”

Other Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture program faculty from Blacksburg and the National Capital Region are taking an active role in the conference: Professor Patrick Miller, Associate Professors Dean Bork, Wendy Jacobson, and Paul Kelsch; and Assistant Professors C.L. Bohannan, and Nathan Heavers. Mintai Kim, associate professor and coordinator of the landscape architecture graduate program in Blacksburg is co-chairing the sustainability track.

Two Virginia Tech faculty will be honored as leading educators during the CELA awards luncheon ceremony on Saturday.

Patrick Miller, a CELA fellow and a past secretary, will receive the group’s top honor, the Outstanding Educator Award. The award recognizes an outstanding educator has made significant contributions to the landscape architecture discipline throughout their career. The recipient is honored for national and/or international excellence in two or more of the following areas: teaching, research, public service, outreach, and service to education.

For 42 years, Miller has worked to advance the profession of landscape architecture. Through his writing, teaching, and practice, he has been a tireless advocate of creating landscapes that are good for people, the environment, and the economy. His career includes public, private, and academic practice in both the U.S. and Canada, and faculty appointments at four major universities, including the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, and the University of British Columbia.

For the past 32 years, he has taught in the landscape architecture program at Virginia Tech, where he has served as both head of the landscape architecture department and associate dean for graduate studies outreach in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. He was recently named an “outstanding mentor” by the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

Miller’s researches human attitudes and perceptions toward the environment and how the profession of landscape architecture contributes to human well-being through better design and planning. He examines the ways in which humans can use the landscape to support their needs without harming critical social, cultural, and environmental systems. His most recent work focuses on green infrastructure, scenic landscape assessment, and visual implication of renewable energy facility siting.

Miller has lectured nationally and internationally on landscape architecture topics and professional education, most recently in China, Australia, Malaysia, and the Middle East. He a past-president of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and a fellow of ASLA.

Mintai Kim

Mintai Kim
Associate Professor MIntai Kim is being awarded the CELA Excellence in Research Award in landscape architecture at this week's conference.

Mintai Kim is receiving the CELA Excellence in Research Award (senior level). The award acknowledges outstanding, innovative, and noteworthy research and/or creative works related to the landscape architecture discipline.

Kim joined Virginia Tech in 2007. He has published peer-reviewed papers and presented research at national and international conferences on urbanization's effects on stream quality, avian species distribution, nighttime light pollution and geodesign.

Kim is a geodesign expert with more than 25 years of geographic information system (GIS) mapping experience whose research activities have been supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, NASA, and others.

He developed an innovative way to examine light pollution using helicopters and ground-level light measurements. He also devised ways to reduce light pollution by careful selection of materials.

Kim’s current research focuses on use of eye-tracking devices to understand fear of nightscapes and the resilience of places, including the urban ecosystem's ability to recover when leftover spaces are not touched or actively managed. 

Share this story