School of Architecture

Landscape Architecture (MLA) SD

Understanding the current ecologies of our world to imagine and create new, emerging ecologies.

Our Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program in San Diego trains students to design for climate change and a transforming urban landscape. The curriculum is aimed at providing students with the intellectual and professional tools necessary to negotiate the contemporary landscape.

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Creating New, Emerging Ecologies

Our mission is to graduate a new generation of landscape architects through immersion in a critical debate about the current technical, creative, ecological, and social issues. These issues will be the foundation for students to perform design research through impactful solutions, critical writing, civic engagement, and bridging multiple perspectives. Graduates will develop the knowledge and skills to ethically engage challenges, prepare and deploy critical research, and contribute as responsible designers to the world.

Our MLA program emphasizes the landscapes unique to the international territories of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, providing opportunities for design research applicable to climate change–impacted regions around the world.

A Close-Knit Community of Creative Minds

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Internships & Careers

Woodbury School of Architecture supports our students in building a strong foundation for professional practice while investigating the nature of practice itself.  Throughout our architectural degree programs, students gain knowledge and skills that they will use in their professional lives.  Graduate students have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork, research projects or teaching assistantships that give them firsthand experience of practice.  These experiences prepare students to make informed choices regarding their diverse career options.  Visit our School of Architecture Career Services page for more information about the services offered by our Career and Outreach staff.

School of Architecture Careers

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Facilities

The San Diego facility houses a School of Architecture-only curriculum in a complex composed of design studios with 24-hour access, a library focused on architecture, urbanism and development, a lecture hall and gallery space, classrooms, a wood/metal shop, a digital fabrication lab, and computing facilities.

Courses

Woodbury School of Architecture offers two Master of Landscape Architecture tracks (pending WSCUC approval and LAAB candidacy):

3-year first-professional MLA for students with no prior degree in the design professions

2-year professional MLA for students with an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture or another relevant professional or pre-professional design degree

LARC 500: GROUNDWORK
This intense 4-week session introduces students to concepts of landscape architecture through studio exercises, seminars, lectures, workshops, and field trips. Deeply immersed in design culture, students begin formulating ideas about what education and work are like in the discipline and profession of Landscape Architecture. Prereq: none.

LARC 583: STUDIO 1
Panorama to X-ray (fall, 6 units)
In this foundation studio, students explore ways of observing and representing landscape. Emphasis is on various ways to measure material, space, time, movement,
temperature and rhythm and represent them through drawings, constructions and other media. Students develop awareness of landscape through recording a trajectory and its spatial/qualitative relationships as a creative experiment in a landscape intervention. Studio themes include space, qualities of phenomena, and site specificity in the San Diego/Tijuana/Los Angeles region. Prereq: Graduate standing.

LARC 544: ECOLOGY ENVIRONMENT MATERIALITY 1
Natural and Plastic Assemblages (fall, 3 units)
Unit 1: Environmental Systems asks students to examine regions in the vicinity of San Diego County (inner and outer coastal plains, arid regions, etc.), developing an understanding of the relationships between geology, vegetation and hydrologic and human flows. Field trips help students become familiar with the building blocks of the landscape and the various flows that construct it.

LARC 554: HISTORY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
(fall, 3 units).
Students gain familiarity with landscape design milestones through a study of selected sites, the historical contexts that informed their development, and their designers. Students research the disciplinary literature and demonstrate understanding and assessment of a given site and its cultural production from pre-history to Olmsted. Prereq: Graduate standing.

LARC 562: VISUAL COMMUNICATION 1
(fall, 3 units, cross-listed with ARCH 562) Students learn to understand drawing as a way to record, explore and imagine. Students are inducted into the cultural and traditional conventions of architectural representation, learn drawing’s basic vocabulary, and both digital and analog methods of expression and representation. Landscape architecture students focus their exploration through projects in LARC 583 Studio I. Prereq: Graduate standing.

LARC 584: STUDIO 2
The One and the Many (spring, 6 units)
In the second foundation studio, students explore relationships among sites, the performance of individuals and landscape design. Students work with residual urban sites, determining location and human performance using photographs, video recordings, sketches, measured surveys and other documentation. Projects engage students in (1) the relationship of public and private through material organization, and in (2) prototyping to reevaluate the large urban park for contemporary users/uses. Prereq: LARC 583 or permission of chair.

LARC 545: ECOLOGY ENVIRONMENT MATERIALITY 2
Technologies in Constructing Landscapes (spring, 3 units)
Unit 1: Topographic Manipulation focuses students on earthwork grading and the technologies informing the process. Students develop ability in manipulation of the ground plane and an understanding of organizational, textural, scalar and procedural comparisons between natural and constructed landforms derived. Students develop understanding of drainage, aspect, growth, the relationship between planting and landform, and processes in construction.

LARC 555: HISTORY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE 2
(spring, 3 units)
Students continue their historic survey of landscape design milestones. Students research the disciplinary literature and demonstrate understanding and assessment of a given site and its cultural production from Olmsted to Post Modernism. Prereq: LARC 554 or permission of chair.

LARC 563: VISUAL COMMUNICATION 2
(spring, 3 units, cross-listed with ARCH 563) Building on the foundation established in Visual Communication I, students expand the essential tools and methods to develop, test, produce and communicate spatial ideas with clarity and detail. They analyze numerous representation techniques across multiple scales, engaging 2D and 3D analog and digital hardware and software. They develop representation as spatial enabler and interpreter to establish and convey perspective. Prereq: LARC 562 or permission of chair.

LARC 587: STUDIO 3
Traditional Projections of Landscape (fall, 6 units)
2-year and 3-year students work together on a project covering a wide range of fundamental issues and skills related to landscape architecture, from site analysis and planning, to placement of elements, to grading and storm water management, to natural and socio-cultural considerations, to design development and realization in form and construction. Students investigate collaboration with clients and other professionals and grapple with translating program and ideas in physical construction. Prereq: LARC 584, admission to MLA 2, or permission of chair.

LARC 546: ECOLOGY ENVIRONMENT MATERIALITY 3
Site Engineering and Water Management (fall, 3 units)
Unit 1: Site Engineering: Landform and grading asks students to continue their exploration of constructing landform as it relates to infrastructure design. Students experiment with complex parameters of contour manipulation, vehicular and pedestrian circulation systems, road and path alignment, and drainage and utility planning.

LARC 556: THEORY IN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
Students build their understanding of landscape architecture theory. Drawing from historical knowledge and critical readings of interdisciplinary philosophy and theory, students focus on recent contemporary built works and their designers and on larger issues for professional theory and practice today. Students begin to construct problems and stake positions with respect to the discipline in the 21st century. Prereq: LARC 555, admission to MLA 2, or permission of chair.

GRADUATE ELECTIVE
Graduate electives can be selected from a list of approved courses issued by the department each year.

LARC 589: STUDIO 4
Nontraditional Projections of Landscape (spring, 6 units)
Students identify and analyze contemporary problems and issues related to landscape, challenging received ideas about urban parks, waterfront developments, residential community developments, and urban renewal. The studio focuses on residual zones within the metropolitan area. Students analyze development models and test design strategies. Students produce construction documents and present these alongside strategic and conceptual drawings/models. Prereq: LARC 587 or permission of chair.

LARC 547: ECOLOGY ENVIRONMENT MATERIALITY 4
Landscape Construction (spring, 3 units)
Unit 1 introduces students to intentional landscape design for appropriate construction in varied environments. Students investigate the materials available for design and their physical characteristics, modes of production, sequences of assembly, maintenance needs, and life cycle. Students study ground plane design and its conditions of change: surfaces, transitions, accessibility and the laws of ADA, joints, seams, edges, etc.; free- standing and retaining walls; decks and overhead structures; and specification development. Students study construction techniques including reinforced concrete and in-earth retaining wall systems, reinforced concrete superstructures, wood frame superstructures, steel frame superstructures, glass superstructures, and tensile membrane or cable-net superstructures and ETFE type air-inflated superstructures.

LARC 557: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
(spring, 3 units) Students interrogate contemporary issues in professional and academic theory and debate their relationship to current and future practice. Using local and regional contexts, students address how we understand and critique recent built work and the idea of landscape itself. Prereq: LARC 556 or permission of chair.

LARC 620: PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
(spring, 3 units)
Students explore ideas and methods in current landscape architectural practice. Students visit construction sites, professional offices and archives, and become familiar with professional procedures, office management, project development, contracts, and collaborative ventures. Coreq: LARC 589 or permission of chair.

LARC 691: STUDIO 5
Studio 5 (fall, 6 units)
This advanced topic studio provides students with opportunities for focused exploration of particular themes in contemporary landscape architecture. Important emerging and accomplished designers, often with divergent points of view, interests and backgrounds, are invited to lead these studios. The School of Architecture occasionally offers collaborative options across the topic studios of all graduate programs. Prereq: LARC 589 or permission of chair.

LARC 648: THESIS PREPARATION
Thesis Preparation (fall, 3 units)
Students undertake individual research and develop a proposal for a project- and/or theory-based thesis. Students engage in peer critique throughout the semester and present their proposals for review and acceptance by the faculty. Prereq: LARC 557 and LARC 589.

GRADUATE ELECTIVE
Graduate electives can be selected from a list of approved courses issued by the department each year.

GRADUATE ELECTIVE
Graduate electives can be selected from a list of approved courses issued by the department each year.

LARC 692: STUDIO 6: THESIS
Thesis (spring, 9 units)
Following the development of a thesis proposal in LARC 648, each student pursues a topic of relevance to landscape architecture. Students demonstrate through the thesis products their mastery of academic inquiry, iterative design exploration, and clear and multiple modes of communication. Prereq: LARC 691 and LARC 648.

GRADUATE ELECTIVE
Graduate electives can be selected from a list of approved courses issued by the department each year.

Faculty & Staff

Our faculty are landscape architects, architects, academics and policy makers practicing in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana. This internationally recognized and award-winning group works closely with students, teaching the skills required to push the limits of practice and explore disciplinary possibilities in both theoretical and professional arenas.

Dedicated staff members bring their professional expertise to students throughout the student experience.  Through individual attention, we foster close mentoring relationships between faculty, staff and students.

Faculty & Staff Contacts