CONNECTICUT OLMSTED AWARD
Christina Smith, Tanner, Burgdorf, and Groundwork Bridgeport Students
Learning Drawing & Design Skills
Service Learning In The Field
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.
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