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Greetings from Illinois! Now that we are all enjoying the summer, we'd like to share with you some of the wonderful and exciting events from LA at Illinois in the last couple of months.

Below, you can read about the highlights of the 2017 Sasaki Day and learn more about the Sesquicentennial Design Competition and the final winners.

Also, make sure to save the date for the fall celebration of Carol Emmerling-DiNovo’s retirement!

Save the Date: Carol Emmerling-DiNovo's Retirement
Carol Emmerling-DiNovo 

Our beloved Carol is retiring from the University of Illinois in August. We are planning a fall celebration of Carol's career and her incredible influence on hundreds of students. Please join us in the events associated with her retirement celebration!

On September 8, 2017, at 11:15, we will be unveiling the plaque for the new tree we are planting on the South Quad in Carol’s honor. We will also hold a luncheon from noon to 1:30 at Silver Creek in Urbana. We’ll be planting one tree on campus and designating another tree at the Morton Arboretum.

This wonderful gesture and meaningful tribute, planting trees in Carol’s honor, is possible only through financial support from our donors. We are immensely grateful for any contributions. To learn more, please contact Jamie Smith at

Sasaki Day 2017

The 26th Annual Sasaki Day (1982–2017) took place on May 3, 2017.

The day started with the final exhibition and presentations for the Sesquicentennial Design Competition at Temple Buell Hall. Afterwards, the festivities continued at the iHotel where Shannon Nichol, one of the founding partners of GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol), delivered an inspiring 2017 Sasaki Day Lecture.

Sasaki Day allows us to celebrate the accomplishments of our talented students. Thank you to our donors and alumni! Many of our gift funds and scholarships were established decades ago, whereas some of them have been fairly recently created, in recognition that the challenges of education in landscape architecture are constantly evolving.

Some of the highlights of Sasaki Day include the following:

Inaugural Alumni Award

The inaugural Alumni Award went to our beloved Debra Mitchell (1949–2015).

Debra Mitchell was an award-winning designer, a respected leader within the landscape architecture profession, and one of the Department of Landscape Architecture’s most generous supporters.  She passed away on April 5, 2015, after a brief illness.

After receiving her MLA from Illinois in 1975, Deb began a distinguished 40-year professional career that led her to SmithGroup in 1989, where she was Senior Vice President and a design leader. A deeply committed advocate for landscape architecture, Deb served as President of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and as President and Board Member for the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF). She was a role model for women as leaders within the profession and in 1992 became one of the first women to be named an ASLA Fellow. Read more.

At Sasaki Day 2017, representatives from SmithGroupJJR accepted the Alumni Award on her behalf and shared a few words with the LA family about Deb.

In our next newsletter, you'll find a nomination form for the 2018 Alumni Award. Be thinking about potential nominees!

Wei Zeng and Layne Knoche with Bill Sullivan 
Gary Kesler Prize

This prize was established in honor of our former colleague Gary Kesler. It is awarded annually to a student who exhibits excellence in the mastery of technical principles in landscape architecture. This year, BLA students Layne Knoche and Wei Zeng were the recipients of Gary Kesler Prize.

From Left: Amir Habibullah, Nandia Dashdondog, Yang Xia, Fatemeh Saedi-Rizi, Nubras Samayeen 
Pauline Tilton Kennedy Prize

This prize supports independent study of contemporary and historical landscapes. It is awarded based on the combined intellectual strength of a proposal and the academic merit of the student. This year Kennedy Prizes were awarded to PhD students Nubras Samayeen, Fatemeh Saedi-Rizi, Amir Habibullah; MLA student Yang Xia; and BLA student Nandia Dashdondog.

Max Stuber won the Ryan Prize 
Dan Ryan Prize

The Ryan prize was established in 2002 in memory of BLA student Daniel J. Ryan. Dan was an integral part of a very close group of students, and his classmates wanted do something meaningful in his honor. This is a very special recognition. It is awarded to a first-year student in the Mumford Hall studio who is nominated by his or her peers, based on exceptional ability in design and visual communications, and for demonstrating a willingness to help fellow students. This year’s Dan Ryan Prize was awarded to sophomore Max Stuber.

Atyeh Ashtari was named Illinois Olmsted Scholar for 2017 
2017 LAF Olmsted Scholars Program

Landscape Architecture Foundation's Olmsted Scholars Program recognizes one student with exceptional leadership potential from each accredited landscape architecture program in the U.S. and Canada. Olmsted Scholars are nominated by the faculty from each university. Criteria for selection include the candidate’s leadership potential in the advancement of sustainable planning and design, and fostering human and societal benefits, as assessed through the candidate’s demonstration of leadership and vision, engagement with current issues, critical thinking, communication skill, personal characteristics and values. This year, MLA student, Atyeh Ashtari was our designee.

Sesquicentennial Design Competition

The Sesquicentennial Design Competition took place on Wednesday, May 3, as part of our Sasaki Day celebrations.

In 2017, we celebrate the Sesquicentennial of our University. For 150 years, a creative mix of scholars and teachers have produced innovations, made discoveries, and engaged beyond our walls in ways that have shaped the world. From the development of the first web browser, to the discovery of a third form of life, the pioneering triumphs in women’s education, and the bold move for wheelchair accessibility, we have been an engine of innovation and impact. To make our greatest accomplishments more visible, Chancellor Jones supported the Sesquicentennial Design Competition. Read more.

Kevin Hamilton’s lecture on innovative ways of commemoration 
41 Students from 18 Disciplines in 9 Teams!

In an initiative supported by Chancellor Robert J. Jones, 41 students from 18 different majors on nine interdisciplinary teams came together for eight weeks during the spring of 2017 to design ways to celebrate 150 years of our greatest achievements.

During these eight weeks, students were given lectures by Kevin Hamilton and Jessica Henson on subjects such as commemoration and importance of graphics. They have also received comments and criticisms from some of the most influential design faculty in Fine and Applied Arts.

150 DC Final Exhibition 
Final Exhibition

The final presentations took place in the lower gallery at Temple Buell Hall during Sasaki Day. The winners were announced after lunch.

These presentations were accompanied by the 150 Design Competition final exhibition in the atrium at Temple Buell Hall which provided the opportunity for the entire campus to see the final designs at their convenience.

150 DC Final Jury 

We were fortunate to have an esteemed group of jurors from all over the country for our competition. 

As a representative of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Pradeep K. Khanna, Associate Vice Chancellor for Corporate and Economic Development, joined us on the jury. Other members of the jury were Tiffany Beamer, the leader of OLIN’s Los Angeles studio; Shannon Nichol, a founding partner of GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol); Mary Pat McGuire, Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture and Design Research Fellow at Illinois; and Stan Ruecker, Anthony J. Petullo Professor in Graphic Design and a member of the Design Research Fellows at Illinois.

Finding Illini Team: Kirti Panwar, Shweta Deo, Sowmya Singh, Ashwini Rangaraju, and Nasrin Hosseini 
Social Media Vote

On May 2, images of the nine entries were posted on the department’s Facebook page. This posting gave our Facebook friends from around the world the chance to "Like" images for the team they supported. The team with the most likes had an extra vote for the final jury deliberation.

The winner of the Facebook vote was also announced on May 3. Finding Illini team from Architecture and Agricultural & Biological Engineering disciplines with more than 600 “Likes” was the social media winner.

Move Back to Move Forward Team: Alice Fang, Reynaldo De Leon, Jr., and Ava Sierra Heckman with Professor Jessica Henson 
150 DC Winners

After a spirited discussion and an hour of judging, the jury decided to give two first place awards.

The teams "Convergence" and "Move Back to Move Forward" proposed very different solutions for the campus. Convergence selected to protect the campus history by building a glass box, almost like a museum display case, around the oldest building on campus, Mumford House. They celebrated the history of the university by referencing the nearby greenhouses on the south campus and the agricultural history that was the beginning of the campus.

Convergence Team: Yu-Lun (Nico) Hsu, Yazmine Carbajal, Melanie Iverson, and Marco Nieto 

Move Back to Move Forward proposed a scholars walk across the South Quad that included panels of text about significant achievements surrounded by a landscape of native grasses and trees. The jury thought the juxtaposition of these two projects, which were both proposed for the South Quad, was a great representation of how the campus could approach celebrating the sesquicentennial.

The jury stated that the two winning designs created a dialogue which speaks to the current discussions in the field of design. While Move Back to Move Forward proposes a new addition to the campus as a way of commemoration, Convergence honors what is already on the site and puts a spotlight on the existing history.