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APLA Welcomes New Faculty—Fall 2015

New Faculty Fall 2015

Valerie Friedmann, MLA, Associate ASLA
Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate Landscape Architecture

Valerie teaches studio and related support courses in the graduate landscape architecture program. Her primary pedagogical goal is to guide students through a critical reading of landscape so that they may become experts in detecting and seizing design opportunities. Paramount to this focus is teaching students to package complicated ideas for sharing through visual communication. Valerie is currently exploring animation software such as Adobe AfterEffects and sees time-based media as a fundamental component in the generation and representation of landscape projects.

Valerie’s current research interests include the flow and re-organization of resources at the regional and metropolitan scale, and the often-overlooked ecological productivity and services provided by remnant urban sites such as vacant lots and public rights-of-way. Valerie is forming a research agenda to be deployed during her appointment at Auburn that will focus specifically on the latent ecological productivity of rights-of-way in the Mobil Bay Watershed.

Valerie joins the Auburn faculty after working as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Graduate Landscape Architecture Program (2012-2015). At UT she taught beginning and advanced design studios and related support courses including advanced digital communication and thesis preparation/programming.

Valerie holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree and a Bachelor of Landscape Design from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is the recipient of two TN ASLA Professional Awards for her contributions to publications on regional stormwater <insert link to:> and greenway opportunities <insert link to:>, and she served as the lead landscape designer and performed research for the New Norris House <insert link to:>; a LEED Platinum home and landscape that received a 2014 ASLA Research Honor Award and was selected by the AIA COTE as one of the top ten green projects of 2013. 

Mary English
Lecturer, Architecture

Mary teaches Design Studio, Materials and Methods of Construction and Parametric Design. Mary’s research and creative work is centered on design and fabrication of material structures. Her current material focus is ceramic. Mary joins the Auburn faculty after teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects (2011-2015).  Mary is a practicing architect and works independently as well as in collaboration with Xavier Vendrell. Prior to working independently she worked for 10 years in architecture firms in Chicago.

Élise Cormier, PLA, CPSI
Adjunct Professor, Landscape Architecture

Élise Cormier teaches design studio, field studies, and seminar courses for Auburn’s Landscape Architecture program. She has been a regular guest reviewer at APLA since 2014, and joined the department as adjunct faculty in 2015. Her teaching and research focus on ethics, community engagement, and human ecosystems.  She is an advocate for cross-pollination of disciplines, and her curricula regularly include faculty and professionals from across Auburn and outside the university to create a collaborative learning environment.  Élise has traveled throughout North and Central America, Europe, East Asia, and West Africa.  Her travel experiences make her an enthusiastic advocate of study-abroad programs, and she embraces a multi-cultural teaching environment in the classroom.

Elise is a practicing landscape architect, currently serving as owner and principal at Smart Landscapes, an Atlanta-based microfirm offering design and planning services in natural resource management, public recreation, and community-based design for neighborhoods, non-profits, and government agencies.  Specialty services include designs for therapeutic landscapes and nature-based play.

Élise trained as a landscape architect with Susan Hatchell, FASLA in North Carolina, returning to Georgia in 2006 to work on Atlanta’s BeltLine, a 33-mile greenway and transit project encircling the City of Atlanta.  Élise designed the first BeltLine park (Gordon-White Park) and initial five miles of the BeltLine trail while working for Ecos Environmental Design, Inc. (now a part of Pond and Company).  Élise’s professional development includes formal training in playground safety management, interpretive planning, charrette facilitation, USACE wetland delineation, and Rosgen stream restoration.   

Élise lectures at conferences, with National Garden Club’s Landscape Design School, and is a guest lecturer at Kennesaw State University’s Architecture Program.  Élise holds a bachelor’s degree in Geology from Smith College, with a minor in Marine Science; and earned dual master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and Natural Resources from North Carolina State University. Her thesis work explored the complex environmental, social, and economic functions of streets within an urban setting, and her graduate work received the Book Award for Academic Excellence from the North Carolina Chapter of ASLA.