APA New Jersey Chapter


Sunday, February 10, 2019
3:50 a.m. - 4:50 a.m. EST

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The future of America may be trending toward the urban environment, but that typology includes the suburbs. Our suburbs account for roughly 70% of the US population. Our urban cores have been much prized as places of research and design excellence, changing elevated railroads into parks in the sky and derelict waterfronts into prime parklands. However, our suburbs have developed rapidly with ubiquitous landscapes focused on backyards and playgrounds that fit neatly into dated and ineffective ordinances and codes. Most of our suburbs lack holistic design strategies that embody our cultural and natural communities and regions. Since the publishing of Ian McHarg’s book Design with Nature, most of our American suburbs have continued to flounder. While both the private and public sectors have introduced recent sustainable interventions, suburban strategies, as a whole, remain focused on “the American dream” involving auto-dependency, social isolation, and ecological destruction.

Michael Fleischacker and Tom Salaki explore the influences that Ian McHarg’s theories of designing with nature have had and should have on the growth of our suburban environments. They will look at suburban case studies that have succeeded or failed in designing with nature. Through thoughtful and meaningful retrofits, Michael and Tom believe that the suburbs of our past can become the ecologically vibrant, people-scaled communities of tomorrow.

This session will identify opportunities and constraints for ecological improvements to existing suburbs. Attendees will gain an understanding of how trends in suburban planning and landscape design have influenced America. The speakers will discuss how regulations often hinder, but can instead aid in healthy suburban community planning and landscape design strategies.


Michael Fleischacker

Impassioned for regenerating systems, Michael’s 20-year career includes parks, mixed-use, transportation, ecological, and other urban, rural, and suburban projects. Since 2009, Michael has been an educator at Delaware Valley University. He is now an associate professor, department chairperson, director of the Regenerative Land Institute and has founded the school ... Read More

Tom Salaki

Tom Salaki is a Landscape Architect with over 13 years of experience in the profession. He worked at a variety of firms including Back to Nature, EDAW, HMWhite, and AECOM, before establishing Square Acre Studio LLC in 2013. Tom has extensive experience in both urban and suburban landscape architecture. His ... Read More

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