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Educational Sessions

Building Bridges

From Engineers to Arborists - The Evolution of a Sidewalk Repair Project in Coconut Grove, Florida
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
1:00 PM — 1:40 PM
Osceola Ballroom A
A, M, Bm

From Engineers to Arborists – The Evolution of a Sidewalk Repair Project in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Lisa H. Hammer, RCA, Horticultural Consultant

            Aida Curtis, RLA, Curtis & Rogers Design Studio

James Urban, FASLA


In 2010 the City of Miami issued an RFP to engineering firms to repair damaged sidewalks in the Business District of Coconut Grove, an historic, upscale, bayside community known for its lush tropical canopy cover and bohemian residents.  The brick sidewalks in front of boutique shops and sidewalk cafes had been buckled by tree roots, creating significant tripping hazards.  The engineering firm selected for the project hired a landscape architecture firm as a sub-consultant, who then hired a consulting arborist.  The consulting arborist evaluated all of the existing trees and determined which should remain or be removed.  The Landscape Architect evaluated the sidewalk and planter conditions and made recommendations regarding paving and planting design.  Discussions ensued about how to protect and improve existing trees, eliminate tripping hazards, and replace trees with the best prospects for long-term health and safety.  Sidewalk and Urban Trees Specialist, Jim Urban, was consulted about structural issues and the use of suspended pavements and soil specifications. 


Local merchants, arborists, and activists were involved in the decision-making process and numerous public meetings were held.  At first there was skepticism by merchants, opposition from the community, and budget concerns by the City, but half-way through the project, with four streets completed, the project is viewed as a success and those who previously objected are now supporters. The success of this project exemplifies the critical need for municipal staff, engineers, landscape architects, and arborists to work together as a team on any major project. 

Presenter Information

    • Lisa Hammer
      Lisa H. Hammer, is a horticulturist and arborist who has had a private consulting practice in Miami, Florida since 1987. She has a B.S. degree in Agriculture from the University of Florida, with a specialization in Tropical Agriculture, and an M.S. degree in Biology from Florida International University. She is an ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist (#333) and an ISA Certified Arborist (#SO-0758). She has particular expertise in arboriculture, landscape maintenance, integrated pest management, plant nutrition, tree management during construction, plant appraisal, and tree risk analysis. She advises property owners and managers, landscape industry professionals, developers, architects, and engineers, providing on-site consultations, technical reports and specifications, project oversight, forensics and expert testimony in legal cases. She lives in Coconut Grove, Florida with her husband, Brian Duplisea. They enjoy boating on Biscayne Bay, traveling, and visiting with family in Florida and Maine.
      For more information, visit her website
      Horticultural Consultant, Miami, FL, United States
    • Aida Curtis
      Aida is a practicing landscape architect, leader of her firm Curtis + Rogers Design Studio in Miami, Florida. Her firm is one of the most respectable and successful landscape architectural practices in South Florida. She has been in business for 23 years, working primarily on urban public projects in South Florida. Her project types include transportation, recreational, institutional and civic. Having worked with many municipalities and interest groups, has increased Aida’s interest in creating sustainable spaces that work from an economic and social standpoint.

      She is currently working on several “urban streetscape” projects as well as a linear park and a zoo renovation in Honduras, she hopes to influence through new approaches and initiatives. Her goal is to influence the environment beyond the design process – through programs, activities, social initiatives and other innovative ideas. She is married to Rob Curtis, an urban planner and they have 3 children. Her interests beyond landscape architecture include gardening, cooking and she is an active Board Member for a non-­‐for-­‐profit childrens’ theater.

      Aida M. Curtis, ASLA, Principal Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, Inc. , Miami, Florida
    • James Urban

      Jim Urban contributed to this presentation; however, he will not be speaking during this presentation.

      James Urban specializes in the design of trees and soils in urban spaces. He has written and lectured extensively on the subject of urban tree planting and has been responsible for the introduction of many innovations including most of the current standards relating to urban tree plantings.  His 2008 book ‘Up By Roots: Healthy Trees and Soils in the Built Environment’, is becoming one of the principle tree and soil references.

      James Urban was instrumental in the development of structural cells and structural planting soils for use under sidewalk pavements, and is credited with helping to re-awaken the profession of landscape architecture to the skills required to successfully plant trees in difficult urban soils. In 2007 he was awarded the ASLA Medal of Excellence for this contribution the profession of Landscape Architecture. He is the 2013 recipient of the ISA Award of Achievement for long-term contributions to the profession of arboriculture.

Presentation file information