ENGAGING THE COMPLEXITIES OF OVERLAPPING PHYSICAL, CULTURAL + ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
The field of Landscape Architecture is rapidly evolving to address and redress contemporary environmental and societal issues. The next generation of practitioners, scholars, and educators are facing important problems and challenges. Landscape Architecture at UVA strives to educate and inspire the next generation of landscape architecture leaders. As a department we develop innovative ideas, critical perspectives, synthetic frameworks, and new techniques to address landscape problems through design across a broad range of contexts and scales, from the garden to the region. In this design approach we emphasize issues of ecology, social and environmental health, technology, and cultural expression. As internationally recognized academics and practitioners, the Landscape Architecture Faculty at UVA present varied perspectives, skills and expertise. Collectively, we promote a broad perspective on socio-ecological contexts, innovation and tradition, inter-species articulation, cultural and artistic expression, ecological health, and the challenges of living in a rapidly changing environment.
From the time students enter their studies, they are encouraged to shape their own individual educational trajectories by integrating their design or non-design undergraduate backgrounds, intellectual interests, and skills into their studies in landscape architecture. We aim to cultivate the passions and individual insights of students while preparing them with the conceptual and technical tools to work across disciplinary boundaries, with human and non-human communities, to help make a more inclusive and resilient world.
2-year, 2.5 year, or 3-year graduate program
As of Spring 2019, UVA School of Architecture's Master of Landscape Architecture Program (Path 2, Path 2.5, and Path 3) is STEM-designated.
WHY UVA LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE?
UVA Landscape Architecture Chair Brad Cantrell and Graduate Program Director Leena Cho share highlights of the program.
Learn about the MLA program from our students.
Our curriculum challenges our students to imagine new landscape systems through rigorous research, design speculation, and the deployment of nascent technologies while remaining grounded in the discipline's professional practices and methods of material construction.
Our curriculum is built around the design studio (6 credit hours), taken each semester. The studio sequence exposes students to the range of scales and topical issues in landscape architecture. In emphasizing the ability to read and interpret a site within its context and shape its future based on those findings, the initial studios are based locally and emphasize on-site experience and documentation of place. Studios in the second and third years offer students opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary studios in cities and locations around the country and abroad. These advanced studios are research based, which encourages students to investigate the broader issues beyond a specific design problem and arrive at innovative and bold proposals.
Supporting the design studios are three curricular tracks related to technical and theoretical content:
Histories + Theories:
This track establishes underpinnings of ancient and contemporary precedents, histories of ideas in landscape architecture and in affiliated fields, challenging students to put their scholarly and creative work into an evolving body of critical thinking and practice.
EcoTech (Ecology + Technology):
This track integrates the design and science of plants, soil, water, climate and landform as well as local and regional ecological systems through material assembly, site engineering, landscape construction and technologies; focuses on innovation through living and computational systems in both native and urban contexts in multiple scales.
This track investigates a broad range of digital and computational design tools—including drawing, modeling, simulation, monitoring, and advanced fabrication—and their creative synthesis in use to develop design, design processes and workflows; incorporates historical and conceptual contexts to the technical exploration and experiment.
We promote and create global research and travel opportunities for our students, with the recognition that the future of landscape architecture is increasingly global. Direct engagement with the sites and communities we are studying and designing for is a critical part of our curricula. Our students travel locally and nationally, but also internationally to experience design in-situ, to engage in fieldwork, and to gain a deeper awareness of global cultures.
Students have many options to study abroad for summer sessions or for full semesters. UVA School of Architecture offers ongoing programs in Venice, Vicenza, Barcelona, China, and Ghana, and continues to build its study abroad opportunities.
In addition, our research studios focus on global sites, cultures and questions; Recent studios, as well as ongoing research developed by faculty, have speculated on design propositions in India, China, Argentina, Japan, Germany, the Arctic, and more.
The Landscape Architecture Department also leads the development of Milton LandLab — a collaboration between faculty and students, with support from the FABLAB. Milton LandLab provides a unique opportunity for students to study and propose methodologies and practices for design research based in landscape mediums. Milton LandLab is based at the 172-acre Milton Airfield, located about eight miles east of Campbell Hall, and a formerly operating airport owned by the University of Virginia. As a historically disturbed site (from its use as a WWII airstrip to its present utilization by the Rivanna Radio Control Club's model airplane runway), with frontage along the Rivanna River, forested in parts, meadowed in others, Milton Airfield provides a site for extended study, large-scale intervention, and intimate engagement with landscape media. As a University asset, Milton Airfield is a shared space for learning and experimentation — it offers a unique place for the UVA School of Architecture's students and faculty to engage in innovative research and teaching in landscape design — a place and facility to experiment with landscape forms and processes rigorously on-site and over time.
The Natural Infrastructure Lab (NIL), directed by Landscape Architecture faculty Brian Davis and Michael Luegering, works to develop innovative and culturally significant forms of coastal and riverine infrastructure through landscape design research. They partner with governmental, non-profit, and private entities to focus on the potential of plants, sediments, currents, waves, rocks, and the historical and contemporary human practices that engage them to deliver the services society relies on, including coastal resilience, landscape migration, and flood protection. NIL research products work across scales and provide partners with the concepts, forms, and data-driven insights needed to implement innovative natural infrastructure that enhances human and ecological health over time. The Natural Infrastructure Lab supports the EcoTech course sequence in the Department of Landscape Architecture connecting curriculum and research. These courses include: LAR 6220 - EcoTech II and LAR 7220 - EcoTech IV.