What can you expect from a Landscape Architecture education and what is Landscape Architecture? A Landscape Architecture degree is different than a landscape design education as it covers all aspects of the land. An example is grading and drainage so that you learn to work with the topography of the land.
Why did I choose a landscape architecture education?
At that time (over 17 years ago), I was contemplating the following:
I was taking classes at the NYBG and loved it. But someone said to me, "Why not go the more professional route?" I wish I could remember who that was to thank him, as that is what I did. I received a degree in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers University in NJ and graduated with Honors.
How do you even begin to create a landscape design and a drawing? Well...there are actually methods! Here are some of the subjects related to Landscape Architecture. It is not just about plants and design.
When I was at Rutgers, we used to take walks on the grounds where we were shown actual characteristics of particular trees and shrubs. And part of our exam...to take that walk and identify them!
Learning about the earth, its layers and various rock formations is another topic. Different types of rocks and how they formed over time is included, along with the geological history of the earth.
This is helpful in many ways. An example is hardscape. If you know how a stone was formed, you will know how hard or soft it will be for use on a patio, walkway, driveway, etc. This is just one piece of information you will learn with a landscape architecture education.
Surveying entails locating property boundaries and features. It also includes capturing topographical information, or elevations of the land. This is necessary for proper grading of a property.
Have you ever heard about soil that does not drain well? Clay soils are typical of this. But why? You will learn about different types of soils and how this impacts both plants and structures.
You may or may not want to actually build a landscape element such as walls in your designs. However, having this knowledge helps you design appropriately and safely.
Grading and Drainage
Many things are covered in this topic in a Landscape Architecture education. Some examples are how to grade a property so that water flows properly, creating retaining walls, and the various types of drainage systems.
Here's an example of one of my designs where grading and drainage knowledge was a must.
Learning Cad these days is included. Other software programs may also be part of the curriculum depending on the school.
Study lighting with regards to fixtures and how much light they give off, types of fixtures, and lighting safety. You will learn which types of lights to use (path lights, uplights, etc.) in different situations. Knowing the amount of light they provide is necessary for determining lighting fixture placement.
I read some exciting news in the September, 2011 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine today.
The Academy of Art University in San Francisco offers not only classes and a Landscape Architecture education, but also online classes. It hopes to have all of its classes online within five years.
Critiques of designs are done individually online, but there is a discussion board which is similar to a "community" class where designs of classmates can be seen, commented on and where you can also see the professor's design markups.
The Academy of Art University is not accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board at this time, but the school will be seeking accreditation.
Whether this type of teaching in this field will be successful will have to be assessed after a few years. I can see both pros and cons.
Students can also take a combination of classes at the University and online courses for a Landscape Architecture education, which might be the best of both worlds. However, this would only be possible for those in the San Francisco area.
If you are just interested in landscape design, Columbia University in New York City offers a Master of Science in Landscape Design degree. The classes are offered in the evenings and Saturdays to accommodate working people!
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