Master of Landscape Architecture candidate Liz Camuti wins national award recognizing exceptional leadership and research in landscape architecture

UVA School of Architecture and the Landscape Architecture Department congratulate Liz Camuti (Master of Landscape Architecture candidate, 2018) for being named the Landscape Architecture Foundation 2018 National Olmsted Scholar! This is the highest honor in the Landscape Architecture Foundation's Olmsted Scholars Program, the premier national award program for landscape architecture students. 

LAF’s Olmsted Scholars Program recognizes and supports students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.

Named for Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of American landscape architecture, the National Olmsted Scholars Program is part of the leading national award program for landscape architecture students, awarding one undergraduate student ($15,000) and one graduate student ($25,000) nationally each year through a jury process. Liz was selected from a group of 50 graduate and 35 undergraduate student nominees from 64 universities across the U.S. and Canada. Now in its 11th year, students are both honored for past achievements and recognized for their future potential to influence the landscape architecture profession.

"This year's Olmsted Scholars showed a breadth of interest and commitment to bettering our environment through the agency of design that is truly inspiring," said Adam Greenspan, LAF President and Graduate July Chair. "LAF is proud to honor these students and to support them in their interests and perseverance to create great places and a better world."

Olmsted Scholars are identified as future leaders of the profession; The prestige and publicity associated with the award serve to promote the significance of the landscape architecture profession and help attract inspired and motivated leaders. By joining fellow UVA Landscape Architecture alumni, David Malda (2009 National Olmsted Scholar; MLA and M.Arch, 2010), Lauren Hackney (2010 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist; MLA and M.Arch, 2011) and Harriet Jameson (2014 National Olmsted Scholar Finalist; MLA, 2014), Liz continues the program's long history of student excellence. 

The Olmsted Scholars Program is made possible with support from Lead Sponsor: The Toro Company; Annual Sponsors: HOK, IRONSMITH, Kimley-Horn, LandDesign, OLIN, Sasaki Associates, Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly, Steven G. King, FASLA, and Bill Main, Hon. ASLA; Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

About the Landscape Architecture Foundation

The Landscape Architecture Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. Established in 1966, LAF invests in research, scholarships, and leadership initiatives to increase our collective capacity to achieve sustainability and cultivate the next generation of design leaders.

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From Detroit to the Mississippi Delta, Liz’s research investigates how landscape architects can couple cultural practices with non-human forms of intelligence to design responsive modes of infrastructure. At its core, her work expresses an optimism about the potential for varied conceptions of durability in rapidly evolving landscapes. Before transferring to the University of Virginia, Liz received a bachelor’s degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University and worked as a designer at Spackman Mossop and Michaels in New Orleans, LA where she contributed to the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, a 2017 ASLA Professional Honor Award recipient. Influenced by her personal experiences living in Louisiana and working in post-industrial cities, Liz’s work primarily engages communities faced with de-urbanization and climate-related relocation. Coupling highly specific cultural narratives with new technologies, she strives to design infrastructural ecologies that allow for more gradual social and ecological adaptation to change.

Liz's current research primarily builds on the work she began in Shishmaref, AK, continuing to focus on the relationships between isolated populations and land threatened by climate change. In the wake of an extremely destructive 2017 hurricane season, she began to question the way current relief efforts, characterized by cumbersome bureaucratic processes and exorbitant costs, might be reconsidered to inspire new landscapes in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (where much of her extended family now lives).  While two back-to-back Category-5 hurricanes struck these islands in September 2017, crippling already failing infrastructure, destroying between 80-90 percent of homes, and leaving most residents grappling with daily survival for months on end, this devastation was largely overshadowed by the damage left behind by the same, or concurrent storms, in Florida and Texas. As with her previous projects, funding from the Landscape Architecture Foundation's Scholars Program will go toward supporting a design methodology that allows her to couple new technologies with local knowledge. With a goal of better understanding how infrastructural improvements implemented in the wake of recent storms might interface with new forms of human occupation, Liz's project continues to asks what other forms of infrastructure might landscape architects design to preempt abrupt relocation. Furthermore, her research interrogates new forms of infrastructure that are informed by local climatic knowledge and the development of more responsive technologies, including but not limited to forms of artificial intelligence, remote sensing and real time feedback.