40th Aggie Workshop explored urban parks, green space Feb. 6

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Lauren Griffith

Jennifer Seay

Thomas Balsley

Landscape architecture students teamed with practitioners from across Texas for the 40th annual Aggie Workshop, a daylong series of design charrettes, panel discussions and lectures Feb. 6, 2015 by the Texas A&M student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Workshop festivities began Feb. 6 with a breakfast followed by lectures in the Memorial Student Center’s Bethancourt Ballroom. The afternoon events were held at the Langford Architecture Center and a dinner at Downtown 202 in Bryan concluded the day.

Morning speakers

At 9 a.m., Lauren Griffith, founder and president of Lauren Griffith Associates and an outstanding alumna of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, told participants “How Successful Urban Parks Have Contributed to the Revitalization of Downtown Houston.”

Her firm has provided landscape architecture services for high-profile Houston projects, including Discovery Green, Sesquicentennial Park and Market Square Park, that have changed the city’s face and created a standard of excellence for public spaces in Texas.

Griffith discussed what she learned during the projects: the inspirations, the funding mechanisms, programming, the development and design process and the spaces’ economic impact on their surrounding areas.



At 10 a.m., Jennifer Seay, president of art+artisans, discussed her business in a lecture titled "What is Art Consulting?”

Seay has been helping clients expand and manage their art collections for more than 12 years. She counts Fortune 500 companies among her numerous corporate and institutional clients, which also include architecture and design firms.

Seay explained her profession and discuss artists and art projects around Texas and the United States.

 At 11 a.m. landscape architect Thomas Balsley presented the 2015 Aggie Workshop’s keynote address, “Uncommon Ground: The Transformative City Spaces of Thomas Balsley Associates.”

Principal designer of his firm and a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Council of Fellows, Balsley discussed how the shift from sprawl to urbanism is a significant part of a sustainable future.

“If landscape architects want to advance sustainability we must step out of our comfort zone of green roofs and green walls and enter the world of city making and urbanism alongside architects and engineers,” he said.

With case studies and anecdotes, he discussed the transformative powers of his urban landscapes and the ways in which reimagined plazas, parks and new waterfronts have elevated the art of city living.

For more than 35 years, Balsley’s firm has reshaped urban space around the world by designing landscapes that teem with public life and are sources of civic pride.

The New York-based firm has designed more than 100 public parks and plazas in the city, including Peggy Rockefeller Plaza, Chelsea Waterside Park, Riverside Park South and the Queens West parks: Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point Community Park.

Projects outside New York include Main Street Garden Park in Dallas, Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick in San Francisco, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, the plazas at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, the World Trade Center Plaza in Osaka, Japan and the Magok Waterfront and National Ecological Center in Korea.

Afternoon, evening events

The workshop continued in the afternoon in the Technical Reference Center with an panel of experts discussing the “urban parks, green spaces” theme.

For the remainder of the afternoon, students broke into small groups and gained hands-on experience in a design charrette in Langford A's third floor studio space, working shoulder-to-shoulder with professional landscape architects and graphic designers. 

Workshop culminated with dinner and networking opportunities at Downtown 202, 202 S. Bryan Ave. in Bryan.

posted January 22, 2015