Kristina Zalite Receives the Inaugural 2023 Robert N. Allsopp Urban Design Fellowship
Kristina Zalite’s application was selected because of her strong research track record, her immersion in key issues affecting landscape architecture work and specifically working with Indigenous communities to learn about their traditional planting. Hers was a process-focused project that the jury hoped would result in a reference document or guidelines. But certainly any help in finding ways to prevent the wasting away of plantings due to lack of maintenance (or poor plant selection and installation) would be very helpful to landscape architecture practitioners. Kristina’s proposed research project will expand on the profession's understanding of Indigenous collaboration processes and how to design and maintain wild plantings within urban contexts. She has undertaken funded research previously and the jury is confident that she will achieve her research and communication goals. She has integrated external graphic support to ensure that her research outcomes can be shared through a visually inviting and understandable document.
Kristina Zalite has 16 years of experience designing and managing Landscape Architecture projects in British Columbia. Her interest in education and research has been a thread throughout her career, and she has steered her firm’s practice, Zale Design, to provide landscape architectural design for institutional spaces such as schools, non-profit housing, and places of worship. Recent accomplishments include being the lead researcher on an applied-design-research project for BC Housing Authority on the case study of decolonizing the design process for a transitional housing site.
Current and previous design experience includes being Senior Landscape Architect at Prospect Refuge Landscape Architects and Jonathan Losee Ltd. Kristina has also enjoyed working as a Landscape Designer at the Nunavut Parks and Tourism Department and the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
MLA studies at the University of Guelph included a research project that took me to Nunavut, culminating in the publication, “Understanding a Theory of Public Participation in Park Planning for Nunavut” (2002). While obtaining a Certificate in Restoration of Natural Ecosystems at the University of Victoria, she studied urban ecological design and published “Urban Ecological Landscape Design – A Case Study for Novel Design Process in Burnaby, BC” in Sitelines, 2017.
Project: Examining Ecological Succession and Decolonizing Approaches to Find Methods for Designing Urban Landscape Architecture Projects for Long Term Success
This research project seeks to understand how knowledge about ecosystem succession and decolonizing design can influence our planting designs in urban settings, and how Landscape Architects can use that knowledge to prepare us to design urban landscapes that perform over time.
The research examines institutional, industrial, and multi-family residential spaces and how they may be designed for maximum longevity and for ecological & aesthetic success. Historically, most landscape architectural designs look to freeze the landscape in time. Landscape Architects need more information about how to integrate ongoing management techniques and systems into their design deliverables. On other projects, clients are often not satisfied with the landscape aesthetic that may be part and parcel of an ecological landscape design. This project seeks new approaches or paradigms for successful and beautiful ecological planting designs.
The approach to this project includes a literature review, a comparative case study, interviews, and mentorship training. The research findings are to be communicated via a research report, a publication, and in-person or online presentation.
Greater Vancouver Zoo Entry Precinct
The design for the Greater Vancouver Zoo Entry Precinct offered a completely new entrance area with a combined surface/underground stormwater system, ample seating opportunities, and different planting areas for social, educational, and historical interpretation.
Or Shalom Synagogue Landscape Renovation
The Or Shalom Synagogue Landscape Renovation design is underway in the City of Vancouver, and offers a large outdoor gathering area including historical seating-steps that were designed by Cornelia Oberlander. The planting plan includes specifications for salvaging and transplanting culturally significant and native plant species that have been carefully chosen over the years by members of the congregation.
Edgewood Elementary School
The Edgewood Elementary School landscape in Surrey, BC was designed by Kristina Zalite for Jonathan Losee Ltd. Irregularly shaped planting beds adjacent to the classrooms offered the school seating for outdoor classroom gatherings, curriculum opportunities to learn about geometry, and visual respite with tree plantings next to classroom windows.