ASLA Central States Announces 2024 Excellence in Design Awards

May 21, 2024
Landscape Architecture Urban Planning Parks & Open Space College & University Urban Design

RDG Planning & Design has been honored for work in landscape architecture that improves the quality of life in the Central States Region and beyond.

The Central States Region of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has recognized RDG Planning & Design with three 2024 ASLA Awards. These awards celebrate professional excellence and recognize firms, individuals and agencies for outstanding works of landscape architecture in the Central States Region. The 2024 ceremony took place on Friday, April 19, during the Central States Conference Awards Luncheon.

The three projects recognized include University of North Dakota University Avenue Streetscape Improvements in Grand Forks, North Dakota (Honor Award, Design Built); ICON Water Trails in Des Moines, Iowa (Honor Award, Design Unbuilt); and the Springfield Third Street Greenway in Springfield, Illinois (Honor Award, Planning).

"We are incredibly honored to receive these ASLA Awards, each recognizing distinct projects that showcase RDG's dedication to excellence in landscape architecture. Each project embodies our mission to create meaningful and sustainable environments, and these awards affirm our commitment to innovative, community-focused design and planning that meets current needs and anticipates the future aspirations of the communities we serve," said RDG Landscape Architect and Senior Partner, Cary Thomsen, PLA, ASLA.

In partnership with the City of Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota worked with RDG to complete a $13 million renovation of a one-mile stretch of University Avenue. Before these improvements, prospective students visiting the university encountered a wide, bleak, four-lane road that was difficult to maneuver. RDG's design converts this unimpressive entrance road into a prized asset for the campus and community. The design focuses heavily on creating long views along the corridor, with special care to keep sidewalks aligned and consistently wide enough to allow four people to walk side by side. Plantings, monuments, fencing, supplemental trees and lighting were spaced to accent the rhythm of the corridor.

The ICON Water Trails, a key component of the Central Iowa Water Trails initiative, indicates RDG's innovative approach to landscape architecture. This initiative, spanning over 150 miles of Central Iowa Waterways and featuring up to 86 different points of access, is designed to reconnect Iowans and visitors with the state's rivers and waterways. It not only enhances the local quality of life but also provides a new recreational amenity, attracts new talent to the state, and stimulates tourism and economic development across the region.

The Third Street Greenway, a community-driven project, is a testament to the power of collaboration and shared vision. It connects historically divided and disrupted areas within the City of Springfield, Illinois, creating a linear park corridor with a multi-use trail, pedestrian walkways, and community gathering spaces. This project brings a level of community connectivity not seen in Springfield in the past. The greenway, set to become a backbone for Springfield, also aims to create new opportunities for redevelopment, further enhancing the potential for community growth and prosperity.

Participation in the ASLA Central States award program helps broaden professional boundaries, increases public awareness of the role of landscape architects and raises the standards of the discipline. The Central States encompasses six individual chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects, including the Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Prairie Gateway, Nebraska/Dakotas and St. Louis chapters.

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director