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ASLA Establishing Historic American Landscapes Survey in Florida

Message from the District Officer

By now, all of you may have heard of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). Some ASLA members are already calling or emailing to volunteer. There are many ways to become involved in Florida HALS. Our great State contains a wealth of historic and cultural landscapes. Our goal is to compile a master list and create documentation of all significant historic landscapes in Florida.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation describes these heritage landscapes as ranging from rural land to suburban yards, grand estates, farmlands, public gardens and parks, college campuses, cemeteries, scenic highways, and industrial sites. They may be works of art, expressions of local culture or regional identity.

They also exist in relationship to their ecological contexts. The founding meeting of Florida HALS was held on July 21, 2007 at the Clewiston Inn, Clewiston, Florida. In attendance was Chris Ross, ASLA Landscape Architect; Rocco CEO, AIA Architect and Professor of Architecture of University of Miami; and David Driapsa, ASLA Landscape Architect and First District Officer for HALS within Florida.

If you would like to participate, please contact David Driapsa at or call 239-591-2321. I will assist you with questions about the process. Also, watch this newsletter for monthly updates.


Florida District Officer and HALS Liaison

Most ASLA chapters have a Liaison who generally will coordinate HALS activities within the chapter and region. David Driapsa was appointed the First District Officer for HALS within Florida. The title District Officer harkens back to the 1933 founding of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). District Officers coordinated HABS activities among the various AIA Chapters and developed inventories of structures worth documenting. As HALS and the inventory further develop, the role of District Officer will as well.

HALS Chapter Liaisons provide technical and other types of assistance to carry out the mission of the HALS program. Liaisons duties include:
• creating and updating lists of local examples of significant historical landscapes
• coordinating HALS activities with the State Historic Preservation Office
• advising on the review and revision of state and local historic preservation laws with the aim of including historic landscape documentation
• lobbying legislators for funding for HALS
• enlisting donations to the HALS/HABS/HAER fund
• promoting public awareness of HALS and historic landscapes

Deputy District Officers

The United States Department of the Interior National Park Service acknowledged Christopher Ross and Rocco Ceo ‘for their generous contributions to the present and future Historic American Landscapes Survey.' In recognition of volunteering their ‘extraordinary talent and expertise to support HALS in the private as well as the academic sector,' Ross and Ceo were appointed to serve as Deputy District Officers under the authority of the First District Officer for the State of Florida. Ms. Ross is a landscape architect in professional practice at Gulfport, Florida. She is a member of the ASLA Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network, and first volunteer to help establish HALS in Florida. Mr. Ceo is a professor of Architecture, School of Architecture the University of Miami. He is a scholar of historic Florida landscapes and coauthor with Joanna Lombard of the outstanding collection of student drawings published as ‘Historic Landscapes of Florida' (2001).


New Member

Mary Everett holds the distinction of being the first member after the founders to join the Florida Historic American Landscapes Survey. Mary is a Junior Associate in the Landscape Architecture Division of Keith and Schnars, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is the author of ‘A Preliminary Handbook for the Preservation of New England's Dry Stone Walls.'


National Lobby Day

ASLA's 2008 In-District Lobby Day is February 20th and Lobby Day in Washington is May 8. Please contact your Congressional representatives and Senators to request funding for the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). The entire membership of the Florida Chapter ASLA is asked to support HALS. If you would like to participate, please contact Megan Cliarfalia at or call 202-216-2357. Megan will assist you with questions about the process.


Join ASLA Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network

The ASLA Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network serves as a forum through which landscape architects exchange information, learn about recent work and research, and network with other landscape architects and related professionals within this specialized area of practice. The Network produces newsletters with articles related to your special interest. If you would like to participate please go online to join: PPN Information and Signup or contact Ms. Chris Pattillo, ASLA Chair, HP-PPN at


The Cultural Landscape Foundation Visits Naples

Mr. Charles Birnbaum, founder and president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, visited Naples on January 15 to launch the Naples Cultural Landscape Fund. The fund will be used to identify the landscape elements that characterize the cultural landscape of Naples. Naples' heritage resources are at risk. Identifying those heritage resources will help the rapidly gentrifying community understand economic and social values associated with its unique sense of place. Ongoing preservation and interpretation will yield an improved quality of life and identity for the community. The event was hosted by the Naples/Fort Myers Section of the ASLA Florida Chapter.


Institutionalizing HALS in Florida

As I am sure you are aware by now, the Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) is gaining support and popularity across the United States. Most chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) have a Liaison who will coordinate HALS activities within the chapter and region.

HALS activities within the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) are coordinated in each state by the HALS Liaison, who is appointed District Officer with HALS jurisdiction. The District Officer harkens back to the 1933 founding of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). District Officers with HABS coordinated activities among the various AIA Chapters and developed inventories of structures worth documenting. The District Officer with HALS will serve a similar role and as HALS and the inventory of historic landscapes further develop, the role of District Officer will develop as well.

What is HALS?

HALS was established in 2000 as a program of the National Park Service, in large part due to the efforts of the ASLA Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (HPPPN).

HP-PPN is one of the seventeen professional practice networks of ASLA. These practice networks provide a forum to exchange ideas and information with other advanced professionals across the nation who shares similar interests and commitments.

HALS is modeled on two successful historic preservation programs of the National Park Service: HABS and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). Following examples of these predecessors, and using guidelines established by the ASLA and the NPS, HALS was established to document historic landscapes of our nation and territories.

The HALS Partnership

Shortly after HALS was established, the three entities of NPS, ASLA, and the U.S. Library of Congress agreed to collaborate on developing and maintaining the HALS program. NPS is responsible for the daily operation of HALS and for setting policies and guidelines. ASLA provides technical advice via its Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network and State Chapters. ASLA is leading the effort to secure dedicated funding for the program from the United States Congress. The Library of Congress serves as the repository for completed HALS documentation and makes these available to the public.

ASLA Plays a Critical Role

ASLA played a critical role in helping to establish HALS, and ASLA continues to champion the effort to grow and strengthen HALS program. Unlike its sister programs, HABS and HAER, HALS is not yet funded by the U.S. Congress. For the past several years, a top federal priority of ASLA has been to convince Congress to fund HALS.

With the few resources currently available, HALS provides a limited range of technical and financial assistance to support a handful of highly rigorous and lengthy documentation projects. The funding shortfall limits the effectiveness of HALS, while historic landscapes across the country are increasingly at risk of never being documented.

Securing funding for HALS has been hard work, but now many of the building blocks of success are in place. ASLA is implementing a program to establish a strong network of HALS Liaisons in all the State Chapters across the nation. These Liaisons are leading the advocacy efforts of ASLA for HALS and will be looking to each member of their ASLA State Chapter for support. Several members of the U.S Congress are already committed to championing the HALS funding issue.

The HP-PPN has been leading this funding effort. A key to success on Capital Hill is making an issue relevant to members of Congress. Examples of exemplary historic landscapes are being compiled in each congressional district to illustrate the values of historic preservation in a local context.

ASLA and the HALS Inventory (HALSI)

An important ASLA responsibility for the HALS program is the development and maintenance of an inventory of historic American landscapes. This inventory will indicate the significance of these sites and the need for more thoroughly recording them. Each HALS State Liaison works with the Chapter to create an inventory of landscapes considered suitable for full HALS documentation. The primary instrument for carrying this out is the Historic American Landscapes Survey Inventory Form (HALSI Form). This form was developed by NPS to help ASLA Chapters identify historic landscapes.

Florida Chapter ASLA Plays a Critical Role

ASLA Florida Liaison for HALS and NPS Florida First District Officer David Driapsa is working with the Florida Chapter President Mary Bates with the mission to establish a state-wide organization that will work to institutionalize HALS in the state, beginning with the Florida Chapter of ASLA. That organization will be a subcommittee within the FLASLA. The subcommittee will consist of an executive committee, FLASLA HP-PPN members, and FLASLA members at large.

FLASLA members who are interested in historic preservation and who would like to help establish HALS in Florida are invited to join this FLASLA subcommittee.

Florida HALS Liason and District Officer

David Driapsa served as a national executive officer of the ASLA HP-PPN the past three years and as Chair last year. He continues to serve HP-PPN as web master. Driapsa was appointed by the ASLA to serve in as HALS State Liaison in Florida and by the NPS to serve as Florida's First District Officer. His contact information is listed below.

David Driapsa, ASLA
David J. Driapsa Landscape Architect
Cultural Landscape Research Planning Design
725 103rd Avenue North, Naples, Florida 34108
Telephone: (239) 591-2321

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7/30/2015 » 8/1/2015
2015 Florida ASLA State Conference

MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.