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MLA Students Win ASLA 2016 Awards

Three MLA students were recognized at the 2016 Alabama ASLA Awards Ceremony in November 2016. The ceremony was hosted by the Alabama ASLA Birmingham Chapter at the office of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood in Birmingham. The awards jury consisted of Alabama ASLA Executive Committee members David Lorberbaum, Matt Phillips, Stephen Schrader, and President-Elect Jane Reed Ross. Additionally, Stephen Schrader, Associate Landscape Architect at Holcombe Norton Partners and member of the Auburn University MLA Advisory Council, was presented with the APLA Distinguished Service Award.

Caption: Auburn MLA Students and AL ASLA Chapter President Lois Mash, President-Elect Jane Reed Ross, and Trustee Stephen Schrader

Gabriela Arevalo Alvear, MLA 2016, submitted her project “Revelatory Design: Making Legible the Local Implications of a National Energy Infrastructure” and received a Student Award of Honor. Speaking of her project Ms. Alvear states, “Historically the National Parks Systems has changed the relationship of people with nature. In this rapidly changing world, generating a new idea about nature-human relationship is needed. This is the moment to consider other types of landscapes, that are highly manipulated by and for humans, as sublime and beautiful places. Considering utility corridors as part of the National Park Service, is a radical idea. In an attempt to reexamine the use of this typology, this study explores the possibility of creating a regional hiking armature that reveals and celebrates a novel notion of nature and wilderness, one that explicitly engages energy infrastructure regimes.”

She goes on to say, “This project employs and advances strategies of revelatory design to make legible the local implications of a national energy infrastructure. The ground for exploration is the Sabal Trail, a 515-mile proposed interstate underground gas pipeline which crosses different ecosystems and various land uses. This trail is designed as an ecologically rich landscape that, when viewed and experienced holistically, can mediate the disparity between postcard nature, real nature, and manipulated nature.”

The jury commended the project’s innovative and creative plan to create hiking revenue between Auburn and Alexander City, AL as well as the images and graphics that are clean and easy to understand.


“Beyond Remnant,” a project submitted by Hanlu Yu, MLA 2016, received a Student Award of Honor. Beyond Remnant is a study to “strategically re-frame the park system in the metropolitan area of Birmingham, AL to proactively encourage tornado preparation and enhance recovery.” The jury commented on the design project’s novel concept to aid in severe storm preparedness and innovative repurposing of park resources to aid disaster recovery.


Hao Wu, MLA 2016, submitted her project “Process-Based Design” and received the Student Award of Merit. Her project “intends to reveal how process-based design can capture and engage with dynamic qualities of the landscape.” The project explores the post-industrial landscape at Pepperell Mill, a historic cotton mill in Opelika, AL.  The jury remarked at the projects attention to the flow and progression of data, easy-to-read graphics and presentation that greatly aided comprehension of the plans as well as the innovative use of existing site.


In addition to the awards ceremony, MLA students and faculty were welcomed into the offices of Holcombe Norton Partners, Lorberbaum Odrezin Associates, and Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood for tours and discussion. Landscape architect Jane Reed Ross provided an educational walking tour of Rail Road Park and the newly completed Rotary Trail Park.

Assistant Professor Valerie Friedmann, Faculty Advisor to the AU Student ASLA Chapter, organized the call for and submission of student awards and, with the help of ASLA Birmingham members, coordinated the office tours, tours of built projects, and a social dinner to provide the opportunity for student ASLA members to meet and network with state professionals. Thank you to the AL ASLA Birmingham Chapter for providing our students with these opportunities and to Dix.Hite + Partners for sponsoring refreshments!