Student Awards of Excellence

Student Award of Excellence 

The Student Award of Excellence Program is based on the best work of:

a) a thesis or practicum, and 
b) a studio project.

The Program is intended to recognize and promote excellence in the profession’s educational institutions and recognize excellence in work by students in CSLA’s LAAC-accredited programs. The Awards program replaces the CSLA Student Award of Merit.

This program is administered in cooperation with each accredited landscape architecture program in Canada.

Student Award of Merit

The CSLA Student Award of Merit, given for the last time in 2019, recognized a graduating student who, in the opinion of their school, exhibited outstanding imagination, innovation and ingenuity in their studies of landscape architecture, and who had contributed service to the profession in their school.

The CSLA Student Award of Merit was replaced by the Student Award of Excellence.

See the list of winners from 1973-2019

2024 Student Awards of Excellence Recipents

Thank you to jurors Nastaran Moradinejad, Matt Williams and Tracey Hesse.

neglected landscapes

Aaron Bomback (University of Manitoba), Neglected Landscapes: A transformative future for Winnipeg’s infrastructure corridors (Thesis or Practicum Category)

According to the jury, this practicum was a robust take on a difficult subject which combined beautiful drawings with a rigorous research framework and analysis. This is an important topic which is easily overlooked and can be difficult to tackle. Aaron Bomback has addressed it in a comprehensive, professional manner, with solid research underpinnings, and provided the practice with a guidebook to enhance biodiversity and achieve our climate objectives by transforming infrastructure corridors. Read his report here


Aaron Bomback is a Community Planner and Designer who graduated with his Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Manitoba, where he received the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize for his Practicum “Neglected Landscapes: A Transformative Future for Winnipeg’s Infrastructure Corridors.” Aaron previously completed a Master of Planning degree from the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at the University of Calgary, where he received the APPI Danny Makale Silver Medallion. He was fortunate to obtain experience working in Alberta and Western Canada, where his interests in regional planning and prairie landscapes grew.

While in Winnipeg, he enjoyed discussing shared origins and reimagined futures between prairie landscapes in Manitoba and Alberta. His interest in regional planning and the need for urban ecology in cities guided his research to address biodiversity loss in urban spaces, explore opportunities for a cohesive parkland strategy, and create an ecological network to meet the need for future parkland and transformative change in Winnipeg. Aaron currently resides in Calgary, Alberta, and is a Community Planner at the City of Calgary, focused on planning for growth and change to redevelop established and inner-city communities for the next 30 years and beyond.


Erin Schwab (University of Calgary), Agricultural Futurism: The Un-settling of Agriculture in Southern Alberta (Studio Project Category)

According to the jury, this studio project was a fascinating topic that was addressed through compelling images, a visionary idea and a narrative which was engaging. The research into the growing techniques linked to climate adaptation and viewing the problem from a local and land-specific point of view all contributed to a fascinating approach on the topic. The beginning-to-end lifecycle approach was of great interest and the process of exploration resulted in a thoughtful and engaging presentation. A futuristic approach that is rooted in regionalism and connected with craft was very compelling. Read her report here / Watch Erin's short film


Erin is currently a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate at the University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. Her studies merge her passion for art and landscape by articulating regional nuance and processes in the landscape. Through thought inciting design ideas, Erin pushes questions of settler’s place and duty to the land they use and inhabit and what the landscape architect’s role is in mediating design solutions. 

She also holds a BFA from the Alberta University of Arts and a MFA from University of Alberta’s in Drawing. An avid woodworker and maker of things with an extensive art background, Erin’s exhibition history include Future Station: 2015 Biennial of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Alberta and 2020 Craft Excellence Exhibition: Alberta Craft Council. 

Erin has worked extensively in Arts Governance and Education through Municipal and Provincial Boards and Post-Secondary intuitions in Alberta. She was Chair and founding member of Arts Council Wood Buffalo and member of the Arts Advisor Committee for the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. She has been teaching multidisciplinary art disciplines in post-secondary institutions since 2004 and currently works as a Landscape Architect Intern at Stantec in Calgary, Alberta. 


2023 Student Awards of Excellence Recipients

Thank you to jurors Nastaran Moradinejad, Matt Williams and Bernard St-Denis.

Stefan Herda, Seven Generations of Pickering Nuclear (Thesis Category)

pickeringThe Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is one of the oldest nuclear power stations globally and Canada's second-largest, producing 13% of Ontario's power and 3,000 workers. Operating four years past its life expectancy, Pickering Nuclear is slated for decommissioning in 2025. As Pickering is “mothballed” by its owners, the Ontario Power Generation predicts that the task of its decommissioning will span over several decades.

As nuclear facilities of the Great Lakes region approach the end of their operational lives, landscape architecture can lead the cultural and ecological reimagining of the valuable waterfront sites they occupy. This thesis explores a series of interim and future conditions of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station as it evolves. Challenging the deterministic approach of master planning, this thesis depicts a range of outcomes across timescales, exploring Pickering Nuclear’s transformation from a source of energy generation into landscapes of carbon sequestration, a site for people and all our relations and potentially, a future site of sustainable energy production.

The jury was very impressed with Mr. Herda's treatment of a pertinent topic with a generational view. The subject challenges current themes in landscape architecture, and his research proposed multiple rigorous and well-developed solutions to return space to public use. The jury was particularly impressed by the thorough research presented in the thesis, accompanied by  a sound, systematic, consistent case around his proposal. 

About Stefan Herda

Growing up exploring the ravines of Scarborough, Stefan nurtured a curiosity for botanical knowledge and land-based learning that led to a career in the visual arts. After several years of exhibiting and working across diverse media, Stefan redirected his interests toward realizing community projects and understanding successful planting design.

Stefan received his Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from the University of Guelph and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Toronto. He was selected as a 2021 Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation Regional Scholar and was awarded the Heather M. Reisman Gold Medal for his thesis "Seven Generations of Pickering Nuclear." As a graduate mentor at Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag, an Indigenous Youth and Elder-led program based in Ontario, Stefan developed an enthusiasm for cultivating landscape literacy in others. Stefan currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and is a Senior Designer at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc.

Chloé Henri and Francis Laforest, The Generations Gateway (Studio Project)

passerelleThe Generations Gateway is a project that aims to reconcile the private and public realms by restoring access to the banks of the Rivière des Prairies to the residents of the neighbourhood. Located at the rear of the Quartier des générations, it is the unifying piece of the chemin fondateur Gouin. The footbridge offers landscapes with a sober and natural aesthetic; a balance that reflects the desires of the various stakeholders. The new footbridge is a hybrid structure that combines conventional engineering techniques with a green infrastructure. Since the area is currently heavily mineralized, the project aims to transform the area's backyard into a space where coastal biodiversity is is celebrated.

The concept builds on the notions of commons and property rights to provide hierarchical spaces based on the limits of privacy and openness. Thus, the project presents a strategy that spans the private, the semi-private and the public.

According to the jury, this studio project was clear, clever, interesting and well thought-out. It featured excellent graphics, and demonstrated how little interventions that are good technical solutions could have a great impact. The jury was particularly impressed with the broad scale analysis of the project, and the contextualization of the approach with details like interpretive signs, which provide a heightened sense of place.

About Chloé Henri

With a Bachelor's degree in environmental design and a Master's degree in landscape architecture, Chloé Henri explores the relationship between humans and their environment through the multiple scales of design. Her background in visual arts and her experiences working abroad guide a holistic conceptual process with an aesthetic concern. Her interest in Aboriginal issues has led her to undertake university training on the subject and to participate in an anthropological study within a community. She is particularly interested in landscapes as a vehicle for self-determination and political leverage. In this way, she directs her practice towards tactical urbanism using design as a tool towards inclusiveness, environmental awareness and heritage conservation.

She has worked with several social and solidarity organizations that address urban resilience through transitional architecture, urban agriculture, pollinator conservation, heat island mitigation and community landscape enhancement. Her final year project focuses on the creation of intergenerational transmission spaces in the Atikamekw Nehirowisiw community of Manawan. The objective is above all to promote local initiatives, to generate agentivity through participatory design and to bring out the intrinsic qualities of the territory to the outside world. This initiative is the beginning of a professional approach that focuses on empowering planners through reconciliation.

About Francis Laforest

Francis Laforest is a graduate in urban planning and a master's student in landscape architecture. With a background in biology, he is particularly interested in the relationship between good environmental practices in planning and their coherent and aesthetic integration in public space. He quickly developed a strong interest and ability in design and landscape architecture through his academic and professional experiences. He completed a terminal project as part of his master's degree regarding the implementation of green infrastructure in the city. The project included a proposal for a green infrastructure network at the scale of the city of La Prairie, as well as functional and landscape integration criteria on the territory. Francis developed his skills as a landscape architect at Atelier Urbain, as well as in analysis and diagnosis while working for the City of Victoriaville in the transportation and special projects division. He has designed several park, public square and street layouts, in addition to participating in the development of various planning documents (Master Plan, PPU, Urban Plan, Strategic Plan, etc.).

2022 Student Awards of Excellence Recipients

Thank you to jurors Nastaran Moradinejad, Matt Williams and Bernard St-Denis.

Aaron Bomback, BA, MPlan, RPP, MCIP, in the Studio Project category

Aaron Bomback is a graduate student completing his research practicum in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba. His research explores Neglected Landscapes and how underutilized energy infrastructure and vacant industrial lands can address the need for reclaimed parks and ecological networks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During his time in Winnipeg, he has volunteered as a Student Affiliates Representative for the Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects (MALA), which focused on organizing opportunities and events for students to get involved with professionals in landscape architecture. As an Executive Council Member of the Landscape Architecture Students’ Association (LASA), he enjoys connecting with new students and professionals interested in discussing synergies between other disciplines and landscape architecture. He has been an active Student Mentor and Ambassador for the Faculty of Architecture since 2020. 

In addition to his passion for landscape architecture, he also obtained a previous Master of Planning degree from the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at The University of Calgary and currently works at B&A Planning Group in Edmonton, Alberta. He has worked as a Community Planner in private consulting, research labs, and the public sector in Western Canada. As an aspiring designer and Registered Professional Planner, Aaron believes successful projects are often a creative collaboration between multiple disciplines. He is dedicated to continuous learning and focuses on applying new ways to integrate policy, geospatial analysis, and landscape design across disciplines.

His long-term plans include bridging his planning credentials with knowledge in landscape design to become a fully licensed Landscape Architect and Community Planner. He believes to be proactive on issues facing Canadian landscapes in the future will require designers who can reveal the transformative opportunities that emerge through partnerships between landscape design and responsible planning.


Jennifer Chau Tran in the Thesis Project category

Jennifer Chau Tran is a landscape designer who received her Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto in 2021 where she received the Faculty Design Prize. Jennifer previously completed a degree in Art History and Earth Science at the University of Toronto in 2017 where she received the Pearl McCarthy Scholarship. She has worked as a landscape designer at SvN and NAK Design Strategies in Toronto and at SCAPE Studio in New Orleans, LA where she gained experience in projects centering coastal resilience and green infrastructure in urban developments. 

She joined MASS Design Group in Boston, MA in 2022 as a landscape designer. In her current role, Jennifer seeks to utilize landscape design tools to improve the health of communities and urban ecologies. She is currently involved in projects which address memorialization, public memory, and the carceral system in the United States of America. 

Jennifer’s research interests are focused on environmental justice and how landscape architecture can be used as a tool for social and political empowerment in historically marginalized communities. Jennifer is also an active member of several mutual aid groups focused on food security in Toronto.


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