This Memphian just won the prestigious Olmsted Award at statewide conference of landscape architects

What’s happening: This year’s Confluence, the annual conference of the Tennessee Chapter of American Society for Landscape Architects (TNASLA), was held in Memphis on April 20 and 21, gathering the state’s top landscape architects for a series of talks and tours here in the heart of Shelby County. And while everyone involved was no doubt a winner in one respect or another, it was one of Memphis’ own who took home the prestigious Olmsted Award during the annual industry-wide awards ceremony.

The aWard: Memphian Ward Archer, founder and president of the Protect Our Aquifer nonprofit organization, was honored with the TNASLA’s Olmsted Award, so named in recognition of Frederick Law Olmsted. It’s Olmsted who’s widely considered the founding father of landscape architecture in the U.S. and who is most famous for co-designing New York City’s Central Park, among many other notable projects throughout the country.

Why Ward won: The Olmsted Award is awarded each year to a Tennessean who promotes Olmsted’s ideals for ensuring "the health and enjoyment of the environment by all mankind,” according to the TNASLA. Archer’s work with Protect Our Aquifer (POA) certainly meets those lofty standards, with the TNASLA saying that Archer is this year’s recipient because of his “significant contributions to the State of Tennessee through the preservation of its landscape and enhancement of its physical features.”

“It’s really special to get this award, not for me, but for all of us,” Ward said. “It says we’re on the right path.”

About POA: Ward Archer founded the Protect Our Aquifer nonprofit in 2016 in an effort to protect Shelby County’s source of drinking water, the Memphis Sand Aquifer, from pollution and other threats. Located well below the Mississippi River, the Memphis Sand Aquifer – also known as the Sparta Aquifer outside of Tennessee – stretches from the southern tip of Illinois and across parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

[Related: Read “Environmental racism runs deeper than Memphis’ water source” on High Ground News.]

A rendering from Kimley-Horn's award-winning West Jackson Street Master Plan.

That’s not all:
Memphis was also represented among the winners in the design category, with the Memphis office of the Kimley-Horn firm taking home the Merit Award in Analysis & Planning for its West Jackson Street Master Plan.
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