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UWLA Students and Faculty Attend CELA 2024 in St. Louis

UWLA Students Nat Gregorius and Natalie Weiss (both MLA ‘24) had a great time attending the Conference of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) 2024 in St. Louis over Spring Break! We both presented our ongoing research with Associate Professor Catherine De Almeida, and listened to other sessions, panels, and speeches by professors of landscape architecture from across the country. We enjoyed seeing our UW faculty present and meet their current and previous collaborators. All of the educators there were incredibly supportive of us as students, and they were excited to have more students attending and presenting at the conference.

Projector with slide on Lessons in design build and materiality at conference
Associate Teaching Professor Vincent Javet (left) presents at CELA in St. Louis, Missouri.

Natalie and Catherine presented on Thursday on the EPA STAR grant focusing on water and soil pollution sampling and mapping in the Duwamish Valley. Our presentation described our approach to mapping and our sampling efforts, and detailed our data visualization in Tableau and future steps in surface water projective modeling. We received positive feedback on our interactive methods and use of technology in the project. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity to present with the other educators on the panel.

Presentation on Radical Cartography to support community self-determination in polluted lands
Natalie Weiss (left) and Catherine De Almeida (right) present their ongoing research at CELA 2024.

Nat and Catherine presented on Friday on the Just Circular Communities Collaborative (JC3) as a practice of community coalition building around Just Transition and Regenerative Economies, and community-engaged design studio pedagogy. The presentation focused on the conceptual foundation of the work within the context of the Duwamish Valley in Seattle, highlighted the various design studio applications, and briefly shared what is next in the building of the collaborative. Their presentation was situated in a session with presenters discussing the role of landscape architecture in gentrification and business development in landscape architecture practice. After the presentations, there was a really interesting conversation around the tension between how landscape architecture is currently practiced and how we as a profession transition to a new paradigm.

student presentation on near future circular city at CELA conference
Nat Gregorius (right) and Catherine De Almeida (left) present research on the Near Future Circular City at CELA 2024.

The keynote speakers, Kotchakorn Voraakhom and Randy Hester, provided some of the most uplifting moments of the conference. Kotch is a renowned Thai landscape architect, designing beautiful, porous parks in Bangkok to combat climate impacts. Randy (who taught our very own Jeff Hou!) spoke about how he was inspired by a variety of educators in his own life and how their lessons led him to be a pioneer in community participatory design. We appreciated both his humility around his work and his inclusion of the role of community and design in confronting power systems, both conceptually and physically.

People gathered around a table inside a bar all facing the camera
Nat and Natalie enjoying a meal with our faculty and colleagues

Outside of the conference, we had a great time exploring St. Louis! We sampled local midwestern fare at a restaurant that served a staggering 34 different types of ranch dressing! Nat went on her first scooter ride, which was both fun and not scary.

Image of students on scooters in St louis
Fun (not scary) scooter tour of St. Louis!

We visited the famous Gateway Arch and also City Garden, a sculpture park designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, with Kate, our new friend and former colleague of Catherine who is a graduate student at Cornell.

metal sculpture
View of the Richard Serra sculpture, one stop of many in the iconic built forms of St. Louis.

We are grateful for the opportunity to attend CELA along with faculty to represent UW LA and we hope that students will have this opportunity in the years to come!

students at St louis Arch
Student Selfie: Larch meets the Arch!