LAF Announces 2021 LAF Medal and Founders’ Award Recipients

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is delighted to announce the 2021 recipients of its LAF Medal and Founders’ Award. These two annual awards are LAF’s highest honors, recognizing individuals and firms or organizations that have made a significant and sustained contribution to the LAF mission of supporting the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment.

LAF Medal

The LAF Medal is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work over a career in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes. The 2021 LAF Medal goes to Karen A. Phillips, FASLA.

Credited as a leading figure of the second Harlem Renaissance, Karen’s career spanned real estate, urban planning and revitalization, environmental design, community development, and public service. As CEO of Harlem’s Abyssinian Development Corporation, she used historic preservation and architectural rehabilitation to uphold the neighborhood’s physical fabric, revitalize landmarks, and created affordable housing in tandem with economic development, civic engagement, and social services. Karen later established and served as Director of the Office of Sustainability at New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which resulted in policies, programs, and coordination with other public and private partners to promote energy efficiency and resiliency in economically challenged communities. Prior to that position she was the New York City Regional Director for New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, following nearly 10 years as an appointed member of the New York City Planning Commission.

From 1994 to 1998 she served on the LAF Board of Directors, and over the years served on numerous committees of ASLA. She contributed to the formation of the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN) and continues to serve on the organization’s fundraising committee. Recently retired, Karen is engaged in documenting her experiences in rebuilding communities sustainably, shares her expertise through her consulting firm, and serves on the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum Board of Trustees.

LAF Founders’ Award

The LAF Founders’ Award is conveyed to a firm, agency, or organization that demonstrates a significant commitment to preserving, creating, or enhancing landscapes over a sustained period of time. The 2021 LAF Founders’ Award goes to the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD).

MICD is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors. MICD organizes technical assistance workshops where mayors engage leading design and development experts to find solutions to the most critical planning and design challenges facing their cities. Since its inception in 1986, MICD has enlisted landscape architects in its efforts to transform cities, including the likes of Laurie Olin, Mia Lehrer, Walter Hood, and many more.

MICD has a significant track record of advocating for the role of design in tackling important environmental, social, and economic issues and effectively conveying the value of landscape solutions to local elected officials. Their work has touched over 640 diverse cities and towns across the US, addressing the unique challenges and considerations of each.

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Image Credit: Courtesy of LAF

About Damian Holmes 3313 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at