Landscape architecture is a professional design discipline that addresses both the built and natural environments. It focuses on the design, analysis, and planning of outdoor spaces across a wide range of scales, with the intent of creating places that are both meaningful and functional. Landscape architects design everything from infrastructure elements, such as roadways, drainage systems, and parks, to prominent cultural monuments and gardens for public and private housing units. The education of a landscape architect includes aesthetic design skills, the development of social and environmental ethics, technical design skills, knowledge of a wide range of natural processes, an awareness of design history, and skills for working with other people. At the University of Washington, the focus is on urban ecological design education, which allows students to make a difference in the future of cities and urban regions all over the world.
348 Gould, Box 355734
(206) 543-9240, (206) 685-4486
The Department of Landscape Architecture offers the following programs of study:
The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree
A minor in urban ecological design
Certificates in Urban Design and Historic Preservation (see College of Built Environments)
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
Department Admission Requirements
Current UW students may apply after completion of a minimum 60 General Education credits. Major status is normally granted upon completion of 90 credits and requires formal application and admission.
Admission is competitive. Completion of the above requirements does not guarantee admission. Admission is based on academic record, a portfolio of creative work, three letters of recommendation, and other application materials. Contact the department for application materials and detailed information on admission, prerequisites, and required coursework.
Application Deadline: Complete applications are due by 5 p.m. on the first day of spring quarter for the following autumn quarter. Students are not admitted at other times. Applications must include the BLA application forms. Students should apply during their second year with the expectation of having completed six quarters of General Education requirements by autumn quarter.
Completion of 90 credits to include:
Minimum 135 credits, to include:
Studio Classes: L ARCH 300, L ARCH 301, L ARCH 302, L ARCH 303, L ARCH 402, L ARCH 403, L ARCH 474, L ARCH 475
Planting Design: L ARCH 323, L ARCH 324, L ARCH 325; and one from L ARCH 322, L ARCH 423, L ARCH 424
History: L ARCH 352 and L ARCH 353; and one course from elective list
Theory: L ARCH 341, L ARCH 361, L ARCH 362, L ARCH 363
Graphics: L ARCH 411, L ARCH 412
Professional Practice: L ARCH 473
Construction: L ARCH 331, L ARCH 332, L ARCH 433
Computers: L ARCH 440; L ARCH 441
Plant Identification: ESRM 331
Management: either ESRM 473, ESRM 479, or ESRM 480
Geology: Either ESS 301 or ESS 315
Directed Electives to bring major total to 135 credits, chosen from approved lists maintained by the department in the following areas: 3-5 credit course in environmental history; two 3-5 credit courses in ecology and forestry; 3-5 credit course in legislation; 3-5 credit course in soils; 3-5 credit course in urban design and planning
Minor Requirements: Minimum 25 credits, consisting of 20 credits of L ARCH courses open to non-majors; 5 credits of courses 200 level and above from within the College of Built Environments or from ESRM or GEOG courses; 2.0 minimum grade in all courses counted toward the minor.
Student Outcomes and Opportunities
Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The BLA program provides a professional, accredited degree which enables graduates to practice successfully in design firms, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies. Building from a liberal arts foundation, the program focuses on developing design knowledge, skills, and abilities through a series of nine environmental- and community-based design studios.
The goals of the program are to provide students with a broad academic and professional exposure to landscape architecture and design so their creative potential and professional growth are realized, and so they may become leaders in the field. The education includes learning to conceptualize and design through practice on studio projects, fostering creativity, developing graphic and verbal communication skills, facilitating cognitive abilities, and developing applicable computer skills in the design process. Studios use individual, team-oriented, and interdisciplinary projects to develop strong interactive and evaluative skills. Studio education applies knowledge gained in lecture courses which include historic and contemporary concepts in landscape architecture, design theory, site planning, construction, and communications, as well as elective courses in allied disciplines. The studio sequence addresses projects from detailed to regional scales, rural and urban contexts, and diverse cultures. Overall, the program focuses on the application of ecological design strategies to urban and urbanizing areas.
Instructional and Research Facilities: The five-year, 225-credit degree is structured around nine studio classes augmented by lecture courses. The program includes some opportunities for independent studies and work in professional settings. Departmental courses are complemented by elective courses from other areas, including architecture, urban horticulture, soils, geology, urban design and planning, botany, and ecology.
Landscape architecture studio classes are led by departmental faculty or members of the professional community. Often studio classes are taught jointly with faculty from other disciplines. Studio classes address specific areas of inquiry including basic design principles and processes, planting design, materials and craftsmanship, landscape planning for parks or natural areas, neighborhood and housing design, urban landscape design, ecological restoration, and design for ethnic cultures. A capstone studio class requires students to integrate their experience of design theory, practice, and construction in a design-build project for a local community. The department currently offers study abroad programs in Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Europe, and East Asia as well as opportunities to work with local communities and public agencies.
Honors Options Available: For Interdisciplinary Honors, see University Honors Program.
Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Departmental lecture courses address the functioning of natural systems, site planning issues, computer applications, and cultural and sociological forces that influence the profession's work. Students are encouraged to gain real-world experience through professional experience "practica" with professional firms, organizations, or agencies.
Students enter the three-year program in the department following completion of two years of departmental prerequisites and University requirements. In addition to required coursework, the program encourages students to pursue personal interests through directed and independent study within and beyond the department.
Department Scholarships: Limited availability.
Student Organizations/Associations: Student chapter, Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
Graduate Program Coordinator
348 Gould Hall, Box 355734
Master of Landscape Architecture
The Master of Landscape Architecture program, accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects, is a professional program that offers training in design and inquiry. The design studios form the core of this program, which is supported by rigorous independent investigation in seminars and in a thesis project. Students are expected to develop a specialty within the discipline, under the professional guidance of the faculty. The curriculum emphasizes the following:
Urban Ecological Design. The rapidly changing environment of the Pacific Northwest offers an excellent opportunity for courses and thesis projects to explore the connections between culture and nature and to test ideas for how social and spatial conflicts between development and conservation might be addressed. Faculty are particularly interested in the changing roles of familiar urban and suburban landscapes, as these areas are increasingly expected to function as part of an ecological infrastructure. At the same time, diverse human cultural communities have developed with differing perceptions of and values for these changing landscapes. The department offers students the opportunity to study the rich cultural resources of these human communities as they develop new relationships to their environments, and to participate in this overlap between natural and cultural processes. The department currently offers study abroad programs in Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Europe, and East Asia as well as opportunities to work with local communities and public agencies.
Design Leadership. The faculty is committed to training students to be leaders in design practice and education. This includes the education of both children and adults to understand the consequences of human transactions with the natural environment. Courses are offered and research is being conducted on designing outdoor educational environments. Graduate students are also encouraged to develop independent leadership skills which provide them with self-confidence and adaptability in a rapidly changing professional world. The primary areas in which students are encouraged to develop leadership abilities are in the definition and practice of design as a basis for interdisciplinary work, environmental education and the application of ecological concepts to urban design, the use of communication technology to develop creative solutions to cultural and environmental conflicts, and international design-build projects in which students confront the global nature of contemporary development issues.
The graduate program considers applicants with and without previous design education, and encourages applications from persons with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. The faculty is experienced in teaching mature students and seeks to admit those with a range of ages, backgrounds, and interests. Students are encouraged to benefit from the location of the department within a broad and excellent research university by adding elective courses in other disciplines to their core curriculum. In addition, graduate students may elect to participate in College-wide certificate programs in Urban Design, and Preservation Planning and Design. See program descriptions in the College of Built Environments section.
Candidates applying to the Master of Landscape Architecture program must apply both to the Graduate Admissions Office and to the Department of Landscape Architecture by January 15 to be considered for admission the following autumn quarter.
Admission to the Graduate School requires (1) a baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or the equivalent from a foreign institution, (2) a GPA of 3.00 or higher in the last 90 graded quarter hours or the last 60 graded semester hours, and (3) a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score taken within the past three years.
Admission is competitive and priority is given to applicants whose abilities, as determined by the department's admissions committee, enable them to complete the program expeditiously and with a high level of achievement. Contact the department for additional information.
Minimum 72 credits
Specific program requirements are arranged to fit each student's background. Seminar and field courses help students achieve their educational goals and develop a credible specialty area within landscape architecture. Students with a previous degree in landscape architecture begin coursework with the required graduate curriculum studios, while students from other educational backgrounds begin with the basic core design studios. The required graduate curriculum includes 72 approved credits. In addition, a specialization is developed in the area of a student's individual interests (12 credits), thus encouraging students to deepen their knowledge in a particular area, while maintaining substantial flexibility for each individual.
A thesis is required. This independent project is advised by a committee of faculty, but allows the student to develop greater intellectual maturity and satisfaction by pursuing a topic she or he has selected out of personal interest. The thesis also allows students to demonstrate a professional level of mastery of a specialized subject area. Students complete either a written and graphic product or a purely written product for the thesis, depending on the thesis model they choose to follow. Four models are available: the professional project thesis, the design critique thesis, the research thesis, and the design thesis. Students make choices about the type of thesis and the methods they will use in conjunction with their faculty adviser and committee members.
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