Landscape Architecture (MLA)
Although the profession of landscape architecture is small in terms of numbers of people, it is broad and versatile in application. Its science is founded in cultural and ecological analysis. Its art is to create places that are meaningful. Its ethic is the care of land and the people who live with it.
Landscape architects design communities and environments that aim to be ecologically sound, functionally efficient, and preserving of community values. They solve problems of development, protection and restoration. The land use contexts in which they work range from wilderness to city; the scale ranges from a multi-state region to a garden or courtyard.
Job demand and average salaries for landscape architectural graduates have been steadily increasing in recent years. In addition to competitive salaries and plentiful job opportunities, the profession offers the satisfaction of designing and shaping the built environment alongside architects, planners and urban designers.
MLA graduates are important to the profession and society. Most of the country’s leading practitioners, most recent ASLA presidents, and essentially all of the country’s landscape architectural educators hold MLA degrees.
Georgia’s MLA program aims to assure a basic professional grounding in landscape architecture, to allow individual students to develop special focus areas within the profession, and to educate and encourage them to make lasting contributions to the profession and to society.
Georgia’s MLA program is one of the oldest graduate landscape architectural programs in the country, having been initiated in 1954. Among Georgia’s MLA alumni have been winners of national design competitions, Presidents and Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects, heads of prestigious university departments, senior editors of national journals, leaders of the National Park Service and other public institutions, designers of the 1996 Olympic venues, and leading practitioners all over the world.
Georgia provides landscape architectural education that is distinctively broad and adaptable to the interests of individual students. Georgia employs its considerable resources and student-defined research to develop the unique professional roles of individual students, and to produce graduates who can use powers of scholarship, design and communication to discover and advocate superior solutions to landscape problems.
Georgia’s MLA program is staffed by the largest full-time landscape architectural faculty in the country. All specializations within landscape architecture are represented here. Dialogs among competing viewpoints are frequent occurrences. In this large, diverse, active school, small graduate classes are supportive intellectually and socially. This is a good program for students who have the self-motivation and self-direction to explore alternative viewpoints, to define for themselves what their roles in the profession will be, and to seek out the specific resources that contribute most directly to those roles.
Students are tracked through 3-, 2-, 1½-, or 1-year programs depending on their educational and professional backgrounds. Students in the three-year track build upon a solid liberal arts background with their first professional degree. A structured series of courses disciplines these students to acquire professional fundamentals in a systematic way. These students also experience the breadth of specialties and viewpoints within the profession and related fields, through their exposure to the college’s numerous faculty, the college’s numerous professional speakers, and interdisciplinary connections. Seminar courses introduce theory as a tool to penetrate practical problems, and to question conventional design assumptions and rules of thumb. Students with prior degrees in design enter Georgia’s 2-year,1½-year, or 1-year tracks, seeking further professional development and intellectual content in their work. All advanced students define their individual roles in the profession by taking elective courses and identifying specific faculty for focused study.
Careful faculty advisement is essential to effective individual discovery and planning of a course of study. The MLA Coordinator meets with each student every semester to review the prospective course of study. Major professors give further direction toward elective courses, additional readings, and conception of thesis. In turn, the program demands of each student the self-definition and self-motivation to choose a coherent combination of electives, timely completion in preparation for his or her future roles in practice.
In the concluding written thesis, students learn to utilize the latest published literature and rigorous design process and critique to develop new and valid solutions to landscape problems. The approaches of some theses are artistic; some are scientific; some are historical; and some are theoretical. All respond to contemporary needs. This exercise trains students to address open-ended questions of the types posed to advanced practitioners, and to make real contributions to the field.
Recent thesis topics have included the impact of rising sea levels on the Georgia coast, mitigation of an industrial landscape in southeast Michigan, green roofs on parking garages, urban food forests, rainwater harvesting, the use of environmental art to engage communities with the impact of sea level rise, redefining memorials to re-imagine activism, and empowering the homeless through the design of inclusive public space.
Students participate in experiential learning throughout their course of study in a variety of ways. Faculty incorporate service projects within studios; students have a variety of options to study abroad during the summer months; and students usually complete at least one internship.
Each spring the school hosts a career fair, which brings alumni from all parts of the country to interview students.Endowed lecture series bring distinguished practitioners of landscape architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation for major lectures and extended meetings with students. The Red Clay Conference is an annual environmental law conference, held each spring at UGA. Seminars and lectures in environmental ethics, ecology, and the humanities are held year-round. Georgia has been home to the first American conference on landscape ecology, two annual conferences of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, two LABASH conferences, a Southeast Society of Architectural Historians conference, and the first two international conferences on environmental ethics.
The program is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board sponsored by American Society of Landscape Architects. All program tracks are included in the accreditation.