APLA Alumnus Stephen Schrader Elevated to ASLA Fellow

Stephen Schrader

The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA) is pleased to congratulate alumnus Stephen Schrader in his elevation to the Council of Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Schrader has been heavily involved with the Alabama chapter of ASLA, serving in many positions on the chapter’s executive committee, including a term as president from 2011–13, and receiving the Chapter Service Award in 2019. Schrader is Principal at Renta Urban Land Design (RULD) in Birmingham, Alabama, and a licensed landscape architect in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. He will be inducted as a Fellow of ASLA later this year on October 29.

The designation of Fellow is reserved for those professionals who have made extraordinary contributions to their profession in the areas of creative work, leadership, service and knowledge. Through his involvement with ASLA, Schrader has spent untold hours giving advice and completing design reviews both online and in person. He is currently spearheading efforts to pilot a portfolio review for Auburn’s Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students and hopes to expand the review program to undergraduates next year. Schrader was one of the earliest contributors to Site Information Modeling, a method of documenting sustainable site credits under the LEED rating system, and he has presented at countless webinars and conferences and serves on juries for other ASLA chapters. In addition to mentoring and advising, Schrader also works with DesignAlabama, a group of design professionals who provide affordable design services to small towns. “Stephen’s work ethic in DesignAlabama’s volunteer programs is unmatched,” wrote Gina Clifford, Executive Director of DesignAlabama. “Stephen is a landscape architect with a true servant’s heart, working to create and enhance places throughout Alabama that people call home.”

Schrader served on APLA’s Landscape Architecture Advisory Council for nearly eight years, including two as chair, and received the Distinguished Service Award from APLA in 2016. “Stephen is someone Auburn Landscape Architecture can count on to lend a hand,” said Professor Charlene LeBleu. “He has generously given his time to reviewing student studio projects and meeting with accreditation teams. Stephen also volunteers every year to set up the online portal for the Alabama Chapter of ASLA Student Awards. He is one of our most active supporters.”

“Stephen Schrader has never been just a member of any organization he has served,” wrote David Lorberbaum, the president of the Alabama Chapter of ASLA. “While his service in ASLA has been extensive, his pro bono design work, legislative advocacy and sharing of professional knowledge distinguish him as a truly generous individual who gives freely from a seemingly endless supply of energy. We have been fortunate to have him working for our profession in Alabama and expanding awareness of landscape architecture through his servant leadership in a variety organizations and settings.”

Schrader never intended to be a landscape architect, having earned a Bachelor of Architecture from APLA in 2000. He completed an internship with New Orleans-based landscape architect René Fransen’s firm as a student and returned there full-time upon graduation. He spent the next five years designing high-end outdoor spaces for homes and estates across the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Texas. “That firm was a good place to start because at the time we ran our own field crews,” he explained. “We were a design-build firm. We weren’t building the walls and hardscapes, but we were on site watching it happen, answering questions and working out problems, and we did our own planting installations. It was a real hands-on experience, and just being out in the field with the construction team was really beneficial at that point in my career.”

When Hurricane Katrina hit, Schrader quickly realized it would be months before he could get back to his home and his job in New Orleans. He was soon hired at Holcombe Norton Partners in Birmingham, now known as HNP, where his work often centered on projects at Auburn. He created landscape designs for the Mell Concourse, the Alumni Walk, the Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex, the Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce, the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center, the Leach Science Center Addition and renovations to Broun Hall and Foy Hall.

In 2019, he moved to RULD, working on a wide range of projects from multi-family housing and neighborhoods to parks, educational institutions and even a local theater. However, one of his most interesting projects presented him the opportunity to return to APLA’s Urban Studio, Auburn’s off-campus Birmingham facility where he had spent a semester studying architecture. Schrader worked on the design team that completed the redevelopment of 20th Street. “My favorite project so far, or at least the one that has taken up the most of my life, has been the redo of 20th Street/Birmingham Green right in front of Urban Studio. We replaced all the crosswalks because they were just really unsafe and uncomfortable. We brought back on-street parking with the FLEX lanes. We repaired the bad paving, got rid of overgrown planting and just made the material and planting choices look more like other well-known places in Birmingham,” he stated. Schrader says he’s looking forward to seeing the grand opening of the renovated Hood McPherson Building this fall, which will function in part as a new home for Urban Studio.

Related people:
Charlene LeBleu