SWA’s leaders and designers are deeply engaged in shaping the design professions’ approaches to human, environmental, and urban challenges. Linked below are some of the upcoming events in which we’re participating: we hope to see you at one of them!

A Robust SWA Presence at the 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo


CEO Gerdo Aquino will moderate the “Inside the LA Studio” panel and interview Kate Orff, the founder of SCAPE and a MacArthur Fellow, whose practice focuses on new approaches to the challenges presented by climate change.


Jim Lee, a principal based in San Francisco, will present on the cultural and social challenges associated with design for neighborhoods that have historically had homogenous demographics (“Changing Chinatowns: Placemaking and Placekeeping”).

Emily will contribute to a panel discussion on the industry-wide potential of “drone” micro aircraft, especially as it relates to land-based applications relevant to our industry (“Drones 2.0: Exploring Nascent Design Applications for Unmanned Aerial Systems”),


SWA/Balsley Principal Tom Balsley, who is based in New York City, will be speaking on topics that respectively address the end-users of our work (“Who Do We Work For? Improving Our Cities without Disenfranchising Their Citizens”) and the individual visions that drive it (“Depth of Perception – The Design Acumen of Three ASLA Design Medalists”).

Emily Schlickman and Anya Domlesky, SWA associates and the leaders of XL, the firm’s research lab, will participate in panels focused on technology. Anya will co-present on the ways AI, virtual reality, and digital fabrication are integrating with land-based design (“Testing Ground: Leveraging Emerging Technologies for Landscape Practice”).

From our Laguna Beach office, Drew Watkins, principal, and Natasha Harkinson, associate, will contribute to a panel examining the emerging prominence of suburban agriculture (“The Future of Food in Our Landscapes: Growing Community”).

SWA Principal Ying-yu Hung Named an ASLA Fellow

Please welcome Ying-yu Hung, managing principal of SWA’s Los Angeles studio, to the ASLA Council of Fellows! Ying-yu’s work stands out in its transformation of neglected and underused sites into distinctive, memorable community assets. She is an adjunct assistant professor of the Landscape Architecture Master’s Degree Program at the University of Southern California and a design critic in landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design, as well as a highly regarded author and speaker. Her perspective and experience will enrich the Council of Fellows with creative and practical approaches to real-world public spaces.

Beyond ASLA

SWA will also have a presence at a variety of other professional events, advancing the perspective of landscape architects among allied professionals in the broader dialogue about the future of cities.

René Bihan, managing principal of SWA’s San Francisco studio, will serve on a panel exploring current and future intersections of design and technology (“Merging the Expertise of the Design Community and the Technology Community”) in Tampa, Florida at the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo.

Sean O’Malley, managing principal of SWA’s Laguna Beach studio, will be one of five speakers at the 2018 ACES conference in December, examining the ways planning and design can promote ecological and ecosystem health in the built environment (“Incorporating Ecosystem Services in Urban and Landscape Planning; Environmental Infrastructure as a Framework for City-Building”).

Lastly, Amna Ansari, a Houston studio associate, ventures into the next frontier with Aerial Futures in an October gathering focused on the impacts of commercial space operations and spaceports on urban development and the economy.

San Francisco principal Elizabeth Shreeve, chair of ULI’s Sustainable Development Council, will present “The Case for Open Space,” new case-study research highlighting the benefits of parks and open space projects. Presentations will be held at ULI’s Fall Meeting in Boston on October 9, and at the NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association) conference in Indianapolis on September 26.

SWA Principal Scott McCready, of our Houston studio, will present the firm’s innovative work in bayous and other wetland and flood-prone environments at  the TCUF (Texas College and University Facilities Professionals) September Conference as well as at the SCUP Southern Conference in October.

The Shanghai Landscape Forum

Shuyi Chang, a principal with SWA’s Shanghai studio, has been a driving force behind an effort to establish a professional organization in China with the potential to become ASLA’s first international chapter. Currently called the Shanghai Landscape Forum, the group will soon be up for consideration by ASLA to become an official arm of the organization. Shuyi is the current co-chair (with Dou Zhang of Sasaki) of this pioneering new group, whose recent successes include obtaining generous funding for its fourth major forum, to be held in Shanghai. The establishment of a strong network of practitioners in the region promises to advance both design outcomes and underlying theory.

Furthering the Dialogue

As always, interaction with allied practitioners promises to expand our thinking and broaden our sense of what is possible in our profession. We look forward to connecting with our clients and peers to share insights and lessons learned from these opportunities.