Huang, Whitaker win national landscape architecture honors

A rendering from John Whitaker’s Willow Resiliency Project. The regenerative properties of the willow make it a symbol of immortality to the Osage. Rapid growth, and the ability to sprout new roots and foliage when severed, allow willow to thrive even in times of ecological disturbance. (Photo: John Whitaker)

Weicong Huang and John Whitaker from the Master of Landscape Architecture program in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, have won national honors from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).


Huang, a master’s candidate in landscape architecture and urban design, received an Honor Award in Analysis and Planning for “The Death and Life of Great American Barges.” The project explores how a vast network of levees, locks and dams has impacted the ecology of the Mississippi River Basin — and how the river’s existing system of barge traffic might be deployed to transport trapped sediment and restore damaged wetlands. His faculty adviser was Derek Hoeferlin.


Whitaker, a lecturer in landscape architecture as well as a 2020 alumnus, received the Award of Excellence in General Design for his Willow Resiliency Project, which proposes a biomass industry cooperative between rural communities and repatriated indigenous populations of the Lower Missouri River Valley. Rod Barnett and Micah Stanek were faculty advisers.

This marks Whitaker’s second ASLA Award of Excellence. In 2020, he received the honor for “Dark Matter,” a research-by-design thesis that investigated organic reduction (composting) of human remains as a means of promoting biological and cultural diversity in human cemeteries. Earlier this year, Huang and Whitaker both received student awards from the ASLA St. Louis Chapter and from The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing more than 15,000 members. An awards presentation will be held as part of the group’s annual conference Nov. 19-22. Recipients also will be featured in the ASLA’s Landscape Architecture Magazine.

A rendering from Huang’s “The Death and Life of Great American Barges.” Restored swamps will have enormous carbon sequestration capacity. (Photo courtesy of Huang)
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