The Green New Deal Superstudio
“A national conversation about how the framework of the Green New Deal can be translated into actual projects and where, as a matter of priority these projects should take place, what will they look like, who will they serve, and how will they roll out.”
The Green New Deal Superstudio is a national, historic year-long event open to all design schools, professional practices or other design and planning related organizations across the United States. Participants should be implementing the core goals of the Green New Deal—decarbonization, justice, and jobs—into design and planning projects for their respective regions.
What these projects are, where they are, and how they manifest the ethos of the Green New Deal are at the discretion and creativity of each studio. The ideas and discussions that emerge from the Superstudio are meant to inform a national conversation on policy and design at a Summit convened by the Landscape Architecture Foundation in September 2021. The overarching goal is to support policy-makers and advocates with proof of concept for these ideas and approaches.
Our goal is to facilitate a meaningful design response to the climate crisis, discuss what the Green New Deal could look like on the ground in regions throughout the United States, and develop a pipeline of concepts that could be ready for further development, funding, and implementation in the future.
Design studios in all academic programs are invited to undertake this project in the 2020-2021 academic year. Recent graduates and professionals in landscape architecture and related fields can also participate by forming teams or collaborating with universities. Now more than ever, we must use our unique training as designers to confront the pressing challenges of climate change and justice. The Green New Deal Superstudio is an opportunity to explore these principles from a designer’s perspective and support this opportunity for change.
The key dates of the Superstudio are:
July 2020: Superstudio launched
August 2020: Online information session and kick-off
September 2020: Start Fall Superstudio
January 2021: Start Spring Superstudio
June 30, 2021: Deadline for submission of studio materials
July-August 2021: Review and curate submissions for Summit
September 2021: Convene the Summit
The Green New Deal Superstudio Details
The Green New Deal Superstudio and Summit are strategies to continue the profound transformation set forth from the 2016 Summit on Landscape Architecture and to answer the calls to action outlined in the resulting New Landscape Declaration. The Declaration identified climate change, inequity, and mass species extinction as the defining issues of our time and asserted our agency as designers to help solve them.
To increase our capacity to help solve these issues, the Declaration calls for designers to strengthen and diversify their global capacity; cultivate a bold culture of inclusive leadership, advocacy, and activism in their ranks; raise awareness of value created through design; and support research and new practices that result in design innovation and policy transformation.
The Superstudio and 2021 Summit represent a strategic opportunity to answer the New Landscape Declaration’s calls to action and to meaningfully engage in a response to the climate crisis at local, regional, and national levels. Through this initiative, landscape architecture and related design professions will reexamine their roles in civil society and lead a national conversation about the nation’s future at a critical time in history.
The Superstudio is open to graduate and undergraduate programs of landscape architecture, architecture, planning, and related fields as well as professional practices and individuals in these fields. Participants may also build teams and collaborate with other professions or academic programs and disciplines, community organizations, local firms, and other stakeholders.
The Superstudio is being coordinated by the Landscape Architecture Foundation in association with the McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology at the University of Pennsylvania, the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.
Together these organizations are partnering to administer the Superstudio, a pro-bono initiative with each of the partners providing in-kind contributions including topical resources, lectures, and related readings to Superstudio participants throughout the program. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage with other studios and the organizers through roundtables and design reviews.
Participants in the Superstudio are expected to self-fund their studios as part of their normal academic programs. The organizers will undertake the post-production work to prepare for the Summit and further opportunities, which may include preparing digital and print publications and, potentially, a curated exhibition and white paper for congressional readership.
In order to provide some continuity between participating studios, a Green New Deal briefing document is provided below to assist in pedagogy for university courses and structure for other participants. It is meant to inform rather than restrict or homogenize, so individual studios are strongly encouraged to shape their studios in response to local and regional conditions, as well as, what is most appropriate for their program.
The Superstudio will run from August 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Universities may participate in the Superstudio in the fall semester of 2020 and/or the spring semester of 2021. Other groups and individuals may participate on their own timeline as long as work is submitted by the June 30 deadline.
Green New Deal studios that took place before this call are encouraged to submit prior work. See the FAQ section for details.
The boards will be submitted as .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, or .tiff image files.
Submitted boards must be under 10MB each in size with a minimum resolution of 300 ppi.
One video with a maximum length of 3 minutes may also be submitted to accompany each set of 3 boards. Video topic, for instance explaining the 3 boards or illustrating another aspect of the studio, is at the discretion of the participants. Videos should be uploaded to a video hosting platform by the registrant and submitted as a link.
Each student or studio participant will be allowed a maximum of 3 boards to display their work if working individually. For example, if a studio has 10 students who work individually, the registrant may submit up to 30 boards total for the studio.
If students or participants work in groups or pairs, the maximum of 3 boards applies to each group. For example, if a studio has 15 students who work in teams of 3, then the registrant may submit up to 15 boards total for the studio.
Each set of 3 boards must be accompanied by one, 250-word maximum statement describing the work and its relationship to the Green New Deal. This explanatory text is not to be included on the design boards. Board dimensions must be 24” x 36” and formatted in portrait orientation. A downloadable template to be used by all participants will be provided at a later date. Images and diagrams on the boards may be captioned, but overall text on the boards should be kept to an absolute minimum. All explanatory text must be submitted separately through the 250-word statement described above.
Models are encouraged, but only photographs of models integrated into the boards will be accepted. Models should, however, be stored if possible for future use in possible exhibitions through December 2021.
What should be on our boards?
The content is at the discretion of the author but generally boards would include some if not all of the following:
• Location plan
• Plans and sections
• Phasing diagrams
• Perspective views
• Relevant diagrams
• Structural details
The pedagogical method or general approach and the types of projects participants work on in the Superstudio are not prescribed. Each participant is strongly encouraged to develop their own approach suited to their own regional context.
Below, however, is a 5-step guide to how participants might approach the challenge.
1. Review HR 109
2. Critically consider the legacy of the New Deal. While constructive in many ways, it also should be acknowledged and critically considered that the New Deal reproduced and expanded the reach of Jim Crow and represented some of the worst examples of racial injustice in the 20th century.
3. Conduct local/regional analysis to understand changes in climate, jobs, and justice in consideration of the following areas:
• Food, Agriculture, Soils
• Resource Extraction and Waste
• Water Systems
• Energy & Deep Decarbonization
• Sustainable Transport
• Land-use, Urbanization and Rethinking Urban Fabric
• Local Economy
• Culture and Heritage Inequality & Inclusivity
• Review relevant project precedents and discuss how they do, or do not, achieve economic
4. Develop ideas for physical, Green New Deal-driven concepts and projects. Study how these ideas would emerge from or be informed by inclusive design and planning processes. Describe the qualitative and quantitative benefits of your approach and design solutions.
5. Produce representations of designs appropriate for high-quality exhibition and publication and accompanying text and optional video that ties design intention back to the Green New Deal goals.
Groups that wish to participate in the Superstudio can register by completing the Registration Form. This form should be completed as soon as a group has decided to undertake the studio, even if the studio will not take place until spring.
For each studio, one registrant must be selected to serve as the official Superstudio contact charged with submitting final studio materials on behalf of their entire group. For university courses, this should be an instructor who will be responsible for gathering, formatting, and submitting deliverables on behalf of the students in their course. Students in courses registered by faculty are registered as participants as part of their instructor’s registration. Students only register directly through the Superstudio website if they are participating in a group or individually, separate from a university course.
There is a suggested flat fee of $50 per registrant, which covers all participants in their studio regardless of number. This optional fee is payable to the Landscape Architecture Foundation upon submission of the studio materials and not at registration. LAF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and voluntary fees will help offset Superstudio administration costs.
Submissions are the outcomes or final materials from studios, submitted by the registrant. These submissions must adhere to the standards below and be uploaded to the Superstudio website by the registrant by June 30, 2021. The deadline applies to all studios regardless of when work is completed, although registrants are encouraged to submit work as soon as it is complete.
To ensure some measure of continuity across the nation, participants are asked to base their studios on the document below. This briefing document is designed to inform rather than restrict or homogenize, and individual studios are strongly encouraged to shape the pedagogy of their studios in response to local and regional conditions and what is most appropriate for their program. Our aim is to have ideas representing all parts of the country contributing to the national dialogue at the Summit.
On February 7th, 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Senator Ed Markey (MA) introduced H.R. 109, a non-binding resolution “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” In it, they provide a framework for a “10-year national mobilization” that calls on Congress to pass legislation that:
Builds resiliency against climate change-related disasters
Repairs and upgrades the infrastructure of the United States (including universal access to clean water)
Establishes a zero-emission energy standard
Develops an energy-efficient and distributed ‘smart’ grid
Upgrades every existing building + all new construction in the U.S. achieve maximum energy & water efficiency
Reinvigorates federal industrial policy to guide the growth of a ‘clean manufacturing’ sector
Works collaboratively with farmers and ranchers to lower agriculture-driven GHG emissions
Overhauls the U.S. transportation system through the development of inter- and intra-city public transit
Invests in conservation lands and other ‘low-tech’ carbon sequestration solutions that also enhance biodiversity
Remediates or repurposes hazardous waste and abandoned sites
Focuses on several other technology-driven emissions-reducing investments
It departs from prior sustainability and resilience-driven policy and design work by designing a program of ideas and political strategy aimed at merging the interests of blue-collar workers, climate activists, and frontline communities—what the resolution’s authors went on to call a “jobs, justice, and decarbonization agenda” that places communities facing historic and contemporary discrimination.
1. Is this a competition?
No. There are no prizes and no formal jury. This is an open forum for ideas about connecting the principles and policy ideas of the Green New Deal to spatial planning and design with regional and local specificity.
2. Can anyone make a submission?
Yes, but generally the call is aimed at educational institutions in the fields of landscape architecture, engineering, planning, and architecture, as well as private practices and individuals in those and related fields.
3. Can previous projects be submitted?
Yes, but they need to conform to the submission guidelines and demonstrably relate to the fundamental tenets of the Green New Deal. Contact Program Manager Megan Barnes (mbarnes@lafoundation. org) if you plan to submit previous work.
4. Is the Superstudio limited to areas or participants in the United States?
No, however all entries must relate in principle and practice to goals of U.S. Federal legislation HR 109.
5. Should teams be interdisciplinary?
Given the complexity and interconnectedness of the issues addressed in the Green New Deal, interdisciplinarity would seem like a useful approach, but it is by no means essential to participation.
6. Does the project location need to be local or regional?
It is up to instructors or teams to determine how to approach a project: whether to organize their design thinking via a scale, via the public works of a Federal Agency, a system, an infrastructure, a place, a region, or something else. There may be other ways of defining a project, and innovation is encouraged.
7. Will studios have the opportunity to collaborate or discuss their work with other participants in advance of submitting?
Yes. Participants will be invited to engage with other studios through the Superstudio website and other platforms. Participants may also join online roundtable discussions and interim design reviews as part of the Superstudio network. Representatives from LAF’s Superstudio Task Force, the McHarg Center, and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes will be available to participate where possible on reviews or discussion panels with the aim of developing an exchange of ideas during the course of the Superstudio.
8. Who should our studio engage and/or partner with?
Participants, in university courses as well as organizations or individuals, may engage or partner with any other entity. Because the Superstudio focuses on the intersection of design and policy, engagement with local and regional policy-makers is highly encouraged.
9. What sort of projects are you hoping for?
As described in the brief, we are looking for designs that spatially manifest the principles and policy ideas of the Green New Deal. We expect a wide range of entries related to topics such as urbanism, agriculture, conservation, environmental justice, industry, energy, technology, biodiversity, water management, transportation, the labor market, lifestyle, and more. Entries can cross the spectrum from small to large scale and along a gradient from conceptual to “shovel ready”—however, all must address decarbonization, justice, and jobs per the goals of the Green New Deal.
10. Who determines if the work will be published or exhibited, and how?
The Superstudio partners will curate any subsequent publication and exhibition of the Superstudio deliverables. In curation for the Summit, we will be looking for broad geographic representation and scales of innovative projects that integrate the Green New Deal ideas of decarbonization, justice, and jobs with a focus on local and regional visions that can roll up to a national vision.
11. Can we use any media?
Yes, so long as the final submission is 2-dimensional and visual and fits into the project board template that will be provided.
12. Can we submit extra videos or animations?
The Superstudio submission allows for one video with maximum duration of 3 minutes per set of 3 boards. Other videos and animations will not be accepted as part of the formal submission, but there will be opportunities to share via the Superstudio website.
13. Do authors of the work retain copyright?
Yes, the authors (or university where applicable) retain any copyright ownership of the work to which they would otherwise be entitled. However, in the deliverable submission form, the registrant grants LAF and the organizing partners various non-exclusive rights to use, publish, distribute, and make derivatives of the work. Registrants will also be required to certify that the work does not infringe on a third party copyright and is original. Details will be provided in the submission form – contact Program Manager Megan Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any immediate questions.
14. Can we submit the work to other forums, competitions, and awards?
15. Does what we submit have to be a design?
Yes, it has to be a representation of a new or retrofitted thing, a new or retrofitted place, or a new or retrofitted system.
16. Is there a difference between a design and a plan?
A ‘plan’ can sometimes be a report using just words. Such a submission would not be appropriate for a Superstudio submission because it contains no visualized (spatial) designs or designed things.
17 .Do we have to be politically aligned with the Green New Deal in order to enter?
18. Can submissions be critical of the Green New Deal?
19. How realistic do our ideas have to be?
Ideal submissions will be innovative and inspirational as well as within the realm of feasibility. On the one hand this is not a forum for science fiction or utopian imaging, but nor is it only about ‘solutions’ or ‘shovel-ready’ projects. It is up to participants how they position their work along this spectrum.
20. Do we have to cost our projects or in some other way prove they are viable?
You can if it is important to your project, but it is not mandatory.
21. Do we need to show the benefits of our proposals?
LAF encourages participants to make use of a landscape performance-based approach to show projected environmental, social, and economic benefits of their submittals. These can be conceived to inform a wide variety of decision-makers but most productively advocates and policy-makers, who are looking for proof-of-concept for how the ideas in the Green New Deal can work on the ground to convince others to support Green New Deal policies. Reference LAF’s Landscape Performance Series for more information and resources for how to do this. Any text explaining your project’s benefits would be included in the 250-word statements or video as outlined in the Deliverable guidelines, not on the project panels.
22. How will the work inform the Summit?
This is to be determined in part by the outcomes of the Superstudio, but the Summit will likely consist of panels, presentations, and breakout rooms that integrate a discussion of the Green New Deal goals and ideas and themes sparked by the submitted projects. Speakers will have access to all submitted Superstudio materials to inform the discourse.
23. Can studio instructors edit student work when they submit the materials from their studio?
While they are required to comply with the limit of maximum 3 boards per individual (or team) in the studio, studio instructors are at liberty to edit the boards for the studio materials submitted on the Superstudio site as they see fit. It is up to instructors to make their students aware of any such conditions that are above and beyond the conditions herein described.
24. Are the schools with whom the organizers are affiliated also eligible to participate?
25. Can an individual work on more than one submission through more than one studio?
26. Does the Superstudio have any resources to offset our costs of producing the work?
No. This is a pro-bono effort by all involved.