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K-State Today

December 15, 2021

Landscape architecture and regional & community planning professor leads national conference session

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Leslie Wren

Leslie Wren, assistant professor in the landscape architecture and regional & community planning department in the College of Architecture, Planning & Design, led a session at the annual conference for the American Society of Landscape Architects in Nashville in November. The session, "HSW of Landscape Laborers: Ethics, Laws, and Logistics," explored ethical, legal and logistical considerations that landscape architects should consider to promote the health, safety and welfare of those who build and maintain their designs.

Wren was joined in the presentation by Joshua Sundloff, a landscape architect and practicing attorney at Babcock Scott & Babcock in Salt Lake City, and Dylan Peck, the president of Alpine Construction and Landscaping Corporation in New York City. Major takeaways for attendees included a synthesis of Occupational Health and Safety Administration statistics on occupational injury and fatality events among landscape laborers, the ethical implications of the power differential between landscape architects and landscape laborers, an introduction to the practice of reflective equilibrium as a tool for developing cohesive ethical professional practices, the variety of exposures to liability for landscape laborer injuries faced by landscape architects and how to reduce them, tips for identifying contractors with strong occupational safety practices, and ways to include contractors throughout the design process to maximize the safety of the design for laborers. The presentation provided one professional development hour to attendees and was recorded for distribution via the American Society of Landscape Architects' website for virtual continuing education for organization members. 

Wren is a licensed landscape architect in both Texas and Kansas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Rice University in 1999 and master’s degrees in both horticultural science and landscape architecture from North Carolina State University in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Wren practiced professionally in North Carolina and Texas until 2019 when she joined K-State. Her research focuses on equity in professional practice, and currently examines landscape architects' awareness of landscape laborer safety issues and safety-minded strategies from design to installation to maintenance.