September 6, 2017 Landscape Architecture Students Earn Top National Award for HydroLIT

Four students in the School of Landscape Architecture earned a top national award from the American Society of Landscape Architects for their publication, HydroLIT, Southeast Tennessee Water Quality Playbook.

The Award of Excellence, which is the society’s highest award, was given in the “Communications” category of the 2017 ASLA Student Awards Program. Students Lindsey Bradley, Erica Phannamvong, Kyra Wu and Sarah Newton, advised by Asst. Professor Brad Collett, developed the book to empower the region to protect natural resources.

HydroLIT (short for hydrologic literacy) is a 213-page manual that proposes innovative strategies for improved water quality in the southeast Tennessee region. It highlights the relationship between the quality of regional water resources—streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and groundwater—and urban, suburban and rural systems and proposes innovative water quality improvement strategies to inform future planning in the region.

“The process of working on HydroLIT gave us students invaluable experiences of team collaboration, working with community partners, conducting research, refining graphics and written content and task management, experiences that have already been helpful in my career at Firma Studio,” said Sarah Newton, who graduated in May.

Click to download a free copy.[/caption]

The book is a result of a 14-month teaching and research project that began in 2015 with Collett’s fall studio, which was part of the university’s Smart Communities Initiative in collaboration with its 2015-2016 community partner, the Southeast Tennessee Development District. SETD sought a regional water quality improvement plan, and throughout the semester, students developed a series of strategies that are scalable and adaptable to the range of landscapes typical throughout the region. HydroLIT includes those strategies, proposals and research.

The ASLA Student Awards Program aims to feature the future of the profession of landscape architecture. Jurors for the 2017 competition included nine professionals from across the country with expertise in landscape architecture, academia, preservation, parks and planning.   The jury in part referred to HydroLit as “a truly substantive publication by students.”

Nearly 300 entries in seven categories were reviewed by the jury, and the UT entry received the only Award of Excellence in the category. The award includes a trip for a student to attend the ASLA Annual Meeting in Los Angeles in October and a feature in Landscape Architecture Magazine.

“We’re humbled to receive this prestigious recognition from ASLA,” said Collett. “The award is a testament to the merit of the students’ work and how far we’ve come as a young program, as well as the value of relationships between our school and Tennessee communities.”

The UT School of Landscape Architecture is a collaboration of the College of Architecture and Design and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. It is graduate-level initiative that expands students’ knowledge of landscapes as interconnected networks of systems and empowers graduates to expand the capacity of the profession in Tennessee and beyond.

Read more about how HydroLIT came about.

For more information about the School of Landscape Architecture, visit