Premier planners, designers to highlight spring LAUP series

Leading planners, designers, authors and educators will discuss a wide variety of trending topics at the Texas A&M [Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning] ( Spring 2019 Lecture Series. The public lectures are scheduled at 6 p.m. in [Scoates] (,-96.3405178,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x864683912b8bbb51:0x134615aa03a3b538!8m2!3d30.6184863!4d-96.3383238) 208, located on the Texas A&M campus.

Jan. 28

Barbara Brown Wilson

Educator, researcher, author

Wilson, assistant professor of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia, will focus on equity through design.

Her research and teaching focus on the history, theory, ethics, and practice of sustainable community design and development, and on the role of urban social movements in the built environment.

In her investigations, she collaborates with community partners to identify opportunities for engaged and integrated, sustainable development that creates knowledge to serve both local and educational communities.

Wilson’s planning and design students grapple with complex socio-environmental problems like climate change and structural inequities and develop technical, cultural competency and empathy skills. In her Ecological Democracy class, students work with a local community group to apply their skills in collaboration with the local knowledge of traditionally underserved partners to propose co-designed ideas to community-driven projects.

Feb. 11

Merrie Talley ‘75

Landscape architect

Talley, founding principal of [Talley Landscape Architects Inc.] ( , and an Outstanding Alumna of the College of Architecture, will focus on sustainable development.

The head of numerous, landmark projects throughout the Houston area, Talley is a pioneer in her field whose career has been marked by innovation, enthusiasm, service, and fearlessness, said Michael Murphy, professor emeritus of landscape architecture.

“She has created ecologically based designs and management strategies for numerous park and municipal utility developments that have set new standards for regenerative, sustainable urban watersheds and land management,” said Murphy.

One of her most celebrated projects, [Mandolin Gardens Park] ( in northwest Harris County, transformed a muddy detention pond into a picturesque pond and ecosystem that earned awards from the Texas Forest Service, Texas Recreation and Park Society, and many others.

March 4

Jao Surakitbanharn

Resilience program administrator, researcher

Surakitbanharn, executive director of the [Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative] ( , will focus on resilience.

SURI is a network of researchers and students, disaster managers and community planners, and other community members and practitioners working together to develop the latest tools and technologies to build resilient communities.

The initiative’s researchers look to develop quantifiable resilience metrics to help decisionmakers make a case for action; develop assessment tools to influence the development of building codes, resilience planning initiatives and investment decisions, and harness new communications technologies, crowdsourced data, remote sensing and other tech developments to advance disaster planning and recovery.

SURI’s researchers investigate the frontier of resilience science and engineering, an emerging field that applies engineering analyses to broader questions of social impact and human behavior in the context of natural disasters and extreme events.

March 25

Bjorn Sletto

Researcher, educator

Sletto, associate professor of community and regional planning at the University of Texas, will focus on informal settlements.

He researches indigenous peoples’ land rights, environmental and social justice, and alternative planning approaches in the U.S. and Latin America. He is particularly interested in the dichotomies and tensions between local knowledge and traditional environmental management systems, and formal planning and management approaches.

Sletto has investigated environmental conflicts and land rights struggles and conducted participatory mapping projects while living and working in indigenous villages and border cities in Venezuela.

As the director of the Institute of Latin American Studies’ [Research Initiative in Participatory Mapping] ( , Sletto works closely with partner institutions in South America to further international scholarship on representational politics and social justice in vulnerable communities.

April 8

Ann Forsyth

Urban planner, architect, theorist, educator

Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth, professor of urban planning at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, will focus on healthy communities.

In her research, Forsyth concentrates on how to make more sustainable, healthy cities. She analyzes the success of planned alternatives to sprawl, particularly the tensions between social and ecological values in urban design.

During her investigations of some of planning’s most chronic issues, such as suburban design, walkability, affordable housing, social diversity, and appropriate green space, Forsyth has created several planning tools and methods — an urban design inventory, geographic information system protocols, health impact assessments, and participatory planning techniques.

Forsyth is also a practitioner/theorist who has created several new ways of understanding social and intellectual diversity in planning and design.

April 22

Fred Caldwell

Real estate developer and marketer

Caldwell, CEO and president of [Caldwell Companies] ( , a leading real estate investment, development, brokerage and management group, will focus on creating enduring value.

He heads a firm that, along with its subsidiary companies and related partnerships, owns, develops, manages and markets office, industrial, retail and land properties, residential communities and business parks in Houston and Bryan-College Station.

Its master planned residential communities are some of the region’s leading real estate properties, including [Towne Lake] ( , a development surrounding one of the largest private recreational lakes in the Houston area.

The company’s commercial development projects include Remington Square, a 200,000 square-foot office and retail space in a park setting in Northwest Houston built according to [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] ( standards.

Richard Nira

posted January 10, 2019