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Christina Smith, Tanner, Burgdorf, and Groundwork Bridgeport Students


Learning Drawing & Design Skills


Service Learning In The Field


Hard At Work On Trail Maintenance

Since 1992, CTASLA has recognized 27 recipients with the Connecticut Olmsted Award which is given annually to a person or organization in Connecticut that has employed the principle of stewardship of the land as the guiding force in their actions. The award honors the life and lasting legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, a native son of Hartford who pioneered the modern landscape architecture profession as an advocate for public spaces and a steward of natural resources.

In Bridgeport, the signature Olmsted landscapes of Seaside Park and Beardsley Park established the “Park City” moniker and the city’s reputation of being a first-rate, prosperous industrial center. Forward-thinking advocacy by P.T. Barnum, James Beardsley, and William Noble in creating the city’s parks system helped transform these swampy, barren, overgrown areas into cherished public spaces.


Both parks emphasize bucolic elements in the landscape as a foil to Bridgeport’s industrial center. Long Island Sound, the Pequonnock River, open meadows, and undulating woods edges draw the eye away from hectic city scenes. On a pleasant summer day, the spaces in each park come alive with families strolling around, children at play, and the joyful cacophony of pick-up sports games. The persistence of these parks for over 150 years demonstrates the power of design advocacy and the importance of conserving open space for public benefit.


The 2021 Connecticut Olmsted Award winner, Groundwork Bridgeport, embodies this spirit of design activism. The nonprofit is focused on revitalizing Bridgeport through a mosaic of equitably-designed community green spaces that transform underutilized vacant land and sliver lots. Their work has the potential to deliver economic, environmental, and health benefits of landscapes in parts of the City lacking access to these amenities -- and at scales hitherto missing from the urban fabric.


The optimism of President and CEO, Christina Smith, comes from a belief in “passion for place”. As a Bridgeport native, she believes that community revitalization will achieve success when its members have a diversity of experiences and skills. Groundwork Bridgeport had a 100% graduation rate for its 22-member senior class this past year with 81% going on to collegiate programs of study in education, science, engineering, environmental studies, arts, horticulture, and landscape architecture.


Since its inception, Groundwork Bridgeport has valued landscape architects and their capabilities to shape for student learning. Program Lead Tanner Burgdorf, a 2013 UConn graduate, shares his passion for the profession through teaching of applicable design and horticulture skills for high school youth. Unlike traditional ACE mentoring programs, Groundwork Bridgeport focuses on tactical urbanism strategies and green infrastructure solutions. Built projects inspired by student designs have already planted thousands of trees, shrubs, and perennials across the city.


Groundwork Bridgeport truly understands the importance of providing healthy, beautiful, resilient spaces for all. The Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects is pleased to recognize Christina, Tanner, and all of the students of Groundwork Bridgeport with the 2021 Connecticut Olmsted Award.



Award Recipients

2021     Groundwork Bridgeport

2020     Connecticut Fund for the Environment & Save the Sound

2019     U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

2018     Bushnell Park Foundation

2017     No award

2016     UConn CLEAR Program

2015     Chris Donnelly, Urban Forestry Coordinator, State of Connecticut

2014     Terry Backer, State Representative and Soundkeeper

2013     William DeMaio, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of New Britain

2012     No award

2011     Mary Donohue, CT Dept. of Economic and Community Development

2010     Steve Broderick, Goodwin Forest Conservation Education Center

2009     James Gustave Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and                               Environmental Studies 

2008     Peter L. Malkin, Merritt Parkway Conservancy 

2007     State Senator Andrew Roraback

2006     David Leff, Connecticut DEP/Author

2005     State Senator Bill Finch

2004     Green Valley Institute

2003     Town of Simsbury, CT

2002     Lieutenant Governor M. Jodi Rell and Senate President Pro Tempore                       Kevin B. Sullivan

2001     No award

2000     Jim Gibbons, Land Use Educator, University of Connecticut

1999     Jack Shannahan and the Connecticut Historical Commission

1998     Joshua's Tract Conservation and Historic Trust

1997     U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

1996     Land Preservation and Enhancement Program, Iroquois Gas Pipeline                     Company

1995     William Niering, Ph.D., Connecticut College

1994     Joseph Hickey, Connecticut DEP, State Parks

1993     Philip Barske, Ph.D., Applied Ecologist

1992     Richard Goodwin, Ph.D., Connecticut College

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