September 23, 2009 — The Landscape Architecture Foundation announced recently that David Malda, a graduate student in the University of Virginia School of Architecture, is the 2009-10 National Olmsted Scholar, an honor bestowed upon the student who best exemplifies leadership in sustainable design and planning.
Now in its second year, the Olmsted Scholars Program solicits one nomination from every college and university landscape architecture program in the United States, from which one National Olmsted Scholar and four finalists are selected. Last year, Karl Krause, who received his master's in landscape architecture in May, was a finalist in the inaugural program.
The U.Va. Landscape Architecture Program nominated Malda for his outstanding scholarship and his leadership across several platforms: within studio; between disciplines; as a co-editor of the journal, lunch; within the Graduate Architecture and Landscape Architecture student group; and through other initiatives inside and outside of the Architecture School.
"The University of Virginia Landscape Architecture faculty are confident that he will be one of the leaders who re-imagines the forms and spaces of the 21st century urban landscape through his writings, built works, and the conversations he initiates with his clients and collaborators," the faculty noted in their letter of nomination.
Malda's design and research direction reflects his studies across disciplines, and the essay he prepared for the Olmsted Scholars Program, "Lessons for a Multi-Disciplinary Practice," outlines a detailed plan for bringing community to the forefront of public urban landscape design.
Malda expects to follow through on this plan. "Over the past few years I have been particularly interested in urban highways as sites of intersection between global and local priorities," he said. "After school, I am interested in working on these kinds of infrastructural landscapes, both as an architect and landscape architect."
The nominators also identified Malda's prominent role in highlighting the points of connection between architecture and landscape architecture. "Malda exemplifies the best of our dual-design students: he is committed to the ethic and craft of building sustainably, he assumes that form evolves from intersection of social, ecological and tectonic concerns, and he is central to the emerging discourse on the seam between architecture and landscape architecture in our department," they wrote.
Malda received the award, which includes a $25,000 prize, at the American Society of Landscape Architects' annual meeting in Chicago last week.
Architecture Dean Kim Tanzer, who will attend the event, along with associate professor Elizabeth Meyer and others, noted the school's pride in Malda's accomplishments. "We are honored and thrilled that a student in our landscape architecture and architecture graduate programs will receive this national award, which reflects on the excellence of our faculty, staff, and programs as well as our strong interest and support for interdisciplinary explorations of sustainable design principles," she said.