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Landscape Architecture200 |300 |400 |Graduate Courses |500 |600 |
Douglas Johnston, Chair of Depatment
Landscape architecture is an environmental design discipline. Landscape architects actively shape the human environment: they map, interpret, imagine, draw, build, conceptualize, synthesize, and project ideas that transform landscapes. The design process involves creative expression that derives from an understanding of the context of site (or landscape) ecosystems, cultural frameworks, functional systems, and social dynamics. Students in our program learn to change the world around them by re-imagining and re-shaping the landscape to enhance its aesthetic and functional dimensions, ecological health, cultural significance, and social relevance. The profession addresses a broad range of landscapes in urban, suburban, rural, and wilderness settings. The scale of landscape architecture projects varies from broad, regional landscape analysis and planning to detailed, individual site-scale designs. The curriculum at Iowa State prepares students for this challenge as they develop their abilities to design and communicate ideas through a sequence of foundational courses and studios.
Graduates draw upon scientific and historical/cultural knowledge in applying their creative and technical skills in the planned arrangement of natural and constructed elements on the land with a concern for the stewardship and conservation of natural, constructed, and human resources. The resulting environments serve useful, aesthetic, safe, and enjoyable purposes. Graduates are able to communicate clearly and work effectively with others on complex land design and planning problems. They understand the ethical, social, and environmental/ecological dimensions of issues involving changes in the landscape.
The curriculum includes one year of the College's core design program followed by a four-year professional program. Admission to the professional program is subject to the approval of a faculty committee at the completion of the preprofessional program. Scholastic performance, aptitude, and personal development are the qualifications considered. The department also cooperates in the undergraduate minor in design studies.
Following admission to the professional program, students embark on the traveling studio during the fall semester of their second year. This studio is a full semester's credit of integrated departmental courses and involves extensive travel within and beyond the great midwest region of North America, to study regional natural systems and the cultural response to those systems.
To enhance the study of landscape architecture in off-campus settings, the department recommends that each student participate in optional College or Department-led international study opportunities such as the Rome or Pacific Rim summer offerings. In addition, the department requires students to choose from among the following three options during the spring and summer of their fourth year: a professional internship, an independent study abroad experience, or National Student Exchange. The department assists students with placement, and additional information through the department and the College of Design's Career Services Office.
Personal laptop/notebook computers and appropriate software are regularly used in classes starting with the second year. Refer to the college for options and recommendations.
The curriculum is accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board and provides the education which, combined with experience, is necessary for professional licensure.
For undergraduate curriculum in landscape architecture leading to the degree bachelor of landscape architecture, see College of Design, Curricula.
The department offers opportunities for post-professional study leading to the degree master of landscape architecture. Minor work is offered to students taking major work in other departments.
The M.L.A. degree is granted upon completion of 36 credits and the acceptance of a thesis or creative component. Typically, the program will require four semesters of study for students with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture. Students with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture may also enter a special program to earn both the M.L.A. and the master of community and regional planning (M.C.R.P.) degrees in three years. Graduate students who do not possess a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture may complete additional coursework in the fundamental skill areas of the profession. This is accomplished by concurrent enrollment in the undergraduate program to earn the B.L.A. degree before fully engaging in graduate study. The time necessary to earn the B.L.A. in addition to the M.L.A. will vary according to the student's background upon admission. Students interested in the concurrent B.L.A./M.L.A. and double degree M.L.A./M.C.R.P. programs should contact the department to receive a detailed description of requirements.
Graduates have a broad understanding of landscape architecture and related disciplines. They are able to communicate effectively with colleagues in the sciences and/or humanities as well as in the allied professions. Graduates are prepared to work individually and in multidisciplinary teams to address complex problems dealing with the cultural/ecological environment. They are skilled at undertaking research and/or creative activities and communicating the results of these efforts in a concise and persuasive manner. The department participates in the Graduate Certificate Program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), administered by the Department of Community and Regional Planning.
Courses primarily for undergraduate students
L A 201. Studio: Landscape Interpretation and Representation. (1-15) Cr. 6. F.Prereq: Enrollment in the professional program. Reading and representing varied landscapes; development of aesthetic sensitivity to the geomorphology, vegetation and cultural influences on these landscapes. Small scale interventions and exploration of landscape phenomena and change. Emphasis on a variety of documentation and drawing techniques.
L A 202. Studio: Site Design I. (1-15) Cr. 6. S.Prereq: 201. Fundamental issues of landscape planning and design at a site scale. Projects introduce a variety of (objective and subjective) site inquiry methods, space and place making, and sensitive integration of architecture and landscape for specific land uses. User needs, precedent study, programming, site engineering, planting design, and outdoor space design expressed through a variety of three-dimensional modeling, graphic, and written media.
L A 221. Native Plants of the Savanna Ecotone. (2-3) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: Enrollment in the professional program. Observation and study of the wetland, prairie, and woodland vegetation native to the savanna ecotone. Emphasis on plant communities, their distribution, structure, habitat and aesthetics. Plant identification and use in landscape design. Precedent and case studies of vegetation preservation, restoration and use in built works.
L A 222. Introduced Plants of the Midwest. (2-3) Cr. 3. S.Prereq: 221. Identification, observation and study of plants introduced to cultivation in the Midwest region. Plant cultural requirements, including adaptations to climate changes, solar exposure and soil conditions. Investigation of history of plant introduction and use in designed landscape, including consequent impacts of plant introduction such as plant invasion. Introduction to planting design at the site scale, including matching plant cultural requirements to site conditions, functional uses of plants and expressive composition using plant form, texture and color.
L A 241. Developing Identity as a Landscape Architect. (1-0) Cr. 1. F.Prereq: Enrollment in the professional program. Designed to accompany L A 201, 221, 272, 281. Development of life skills for conflict resolution, effective interpersonal communication, and CPR/First Aid. Examination of personal values as they relate to the backgrounds, abilities, attitudes, and values of others; exploration of how these influence personal decision-making and group interaction. Reading, discussion, class activities, journal-keeping, writing.
L A 272. Cultural Landscape Studies. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: Enrollment in the professional program. Exploration of cultural landscapes, from broad settlement patterns to individual sites, with an emphasis on the origins and evolution of landscapes. Investigation of relationships between vernacular and designed landscapes. Landscapes considered as modes of cultural production that shape and are shaped by social, political, and economic processes. Exploration of landscapes as persistent (yet ephemeral) repositories of culture. Lectures, reading, field studies, and writing.
L A 274. The Social and Behavioral Landscape. (Cross-listed with Dsn S). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.Exploration of social and behavioral factors pertinent to design of the domestic, civic, and commercial landscape. Focus on working familiarity with design principles as they relate to the behavior and activities of people across a broad demographic and cultural spectrum; application of these principles to design of outdoor environments. Lectures and discussions, including group exercises and field trips.
L A 281. Investigating Landscape Form, Process, and Detail. (1-6) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: Enrollment in professional program. Exploration of the poetics and principles of landscape construction. Investigation and interpretation of landform and geomorphic processes such as the hydrologic cycle, erosion, and sedimentation. Close observation and representation of detail design, with an emphasis on material types, their connections and weathering. Readings, field studies, and drawings.
L A 285. The National Parks: Culture and Nature. (Cross-listed with NREM). (2-0) Cr. 2. Alt. F., offered 2010.Reviews cultural setting for park establishment and management, ideas about wilderness, and philosophy of parks as types of land use. History of landscape architecture in the National Park Service, the development of American parks, the history of park wildlife management and nature interpretation. Recent initiatives in ecosystem management, community conservation, and international points of comparison. Readings, discussion, exercises.
L A 301. Site Design II. (1-15) Cr. 6. F.Prereq: 202. Development of half-acre to hundred-acre landscape design and planning proposals. Apply critical methodological frameworks to shape site systems while providing appropriate support for diverse user groups and creating culturally meaningful places. Assess and interpret a program of use, organize subjective and objective site inventory and analysis, develop functional and poetic design strategies for infrastructure and natural systems, and craft artistic and functionally explicit landscape architectural proposals. Development of appropriate technique and high level of craft in representations to support design thinking process and final scheme presentation.
L A 302. Ecological Design at the Regional Scale. (1-15) Cr. 6. S.Prereq: 301, 381, 465 and Agronomy 156. Application of ecological theories and processes in design and planning at the hundred plus-acre scale specifically focusing on urban and urban fringe landscapes. Apply advanced landscape analysis of soil, water, and vegetation utilizing geographic information systems. Particular focus on stream and wetland restoration, mitigation, and regulations and developing design representations for public use.
L A 309. Field Travel. Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: Enrollment in the professional program and permission of instructor. Observation of professional practice and landscapes in urban, rural, and wilderness areas. Satisfactory-fail only.
L A 322. Fundamentals of Planting Design. (2-6) Cr. 4. Alt. F., offered 2009.Prereq: 221. The art and techniques of creating plant compositions in the landscape that respond to cultural and biophysical contexts. Investigation of soil properties and plant/soil relationships relevant to the built environment. Methods of site inventory and analysis, developing plant palettes and composing plant assemblages that address expressive and functional needs. Introduction to the techniques of preparing planting plans, including standards for plant selection, plant lists and plant specification.
L A 341. Contemporary Landscape Architecture. (1-0) Cr. 1. S.Prereq: 301. Exploration of contemporary landscape architecture practice through individualized research into practicing firms. Preparation of paper and presentation outlining broad framework and specific parameters of a selected area of contemporary practice using specific projects as examples. Work may result in invitation of current practitioner(s) as a lecture series or event. Résumé and portfolio preparation in advance of required off-campus semester (L A 451 A, B or C).
L A 371. Landscape Architectural History: 1750 to Present. (Cross-listed with Dsn S). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.Investigation of landscape design concepts and trends as observed over time, from approximately 1750 to the present, with emphasis on the United States and Europe. Examination of significant figures and outstanding works (sites, gardens, landscapes, monuments, subdivisions, city plans, etc.) of varied geographic regions. Analysis of the social, economic, political, and technical forces contributing to the development of landscape design styles, vocabulary, and literature. Lectures, readings, projects, research papers.
L A 373. Landscape Architectural History: Prehistory to 1750. (Cross-listed with Dsn S). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Investigation of international landscape design concepts and trends as observed over time, from pre-history to the mid 18th century. Examination of significant figures and outstanding works (sites, gardens, landscapes, monuments, subdivisions, city plans, etc.) of varied geographic regions. Analysis of the social, economic, political, and technical forces contributing to the development of landscape design styles, vocabulary, and literature. Lectures, readings, projects, research papers.
L A 381. Shaping the Land. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: 281, Math 141. Manipulation of the land form and its change through the use of contour maps and models. Transformation of the landform and its implications on the surrounding environment. Surface drainage and storm water runoff calculations, contour manipulation to insert swales, channels, ditches, walls, walks, steps, terraces, buildings, road layout and alignment and other constructed elements. Class exercises, case study precedents, and preliminary construction documents.
L A 401. Community Design. (1-15) Cr. 6. F.Prereq: 402. Design of urban and/or rural places utilizing participatory methods and techniques. Projects address midwestern community issues including reuse of abandoned sites, in-fill, recreation, and peri-urban agriculture. Emphasis on development of user-client relationship skills and design research.
L A 402. Urban Design. (1-15) Cr. 6. F.Prereq: 302. Comprehensive planning and design for urban sites or for sites within urban contexts. Projects typically include planning for a variety of integrated land uses, and cover the full range of design scales from master planning to proposals for site details. Emphasis on written and verbal as well as graphic communications. Integrated seminar component.
L A 403. Senior Thesis Preparation Tutorial. Cr. 2. F.Prereq: 402, permission of thesis advisor, enrollment in Honors program. Preparation for senior thesis.
L A 404. Advanced Landscape Architectural Design. (Cross-listed with Dsn S). (1-15) Cr. 6. Repeatable. S.Prereq: L A 401. Advanced forum for the demonstration of sophistication in landscape architectural design. Experimentation and innovation are encouraged.
L A 405. Senior Thesis. (0-15) Cr. 6. S.Prereq: 401, 402, 403, and enrollment in Honors program; permission of advisor, chair and thesis advisor. Individual advanced forum for the demonstration of sophistication in landscape architectural design. Experimentation and innovation are expected.
L A 421. Advanced Planting Design. (2-6) Cr. 4. Alt. S., offered 2011.Prereq: 221, 222 or equivalent. Introduction to the theory and practice of planting design, with emphasis on the ecological, cultural and aesthetic factors affecting planting design and vegetation management in the built environment. Three venues for collaborative learning form the basis of the course: topical research inquiry, case history investigation and completion of one comprehensive project design.
L A 441. Professional Practice. (2-0) Cr. 2. S.Prereq: 481. Studies of conventional and developing forms of public and private practice. Explore relationships between professional life and the culture of the professional design firm; investigate firm identities and structures; understand design projects, their delivery process, and contractual agreements. Lecture and class discussion.
L A 451. Landscape Architecture Professional Internship, Study Abroad, or National Student Exchange. Cr. R. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: L A 341, permission of adviser and chair. Independent educational enrichment through exploration of landscape architectural practice in a professional internship (451A), international studies (451B), or out-of-region national study experience (451C)
L A 461I. Introduction to GIS. (Cross-listed with Ia LL, EnSci, Env S). Cr. 4. SS.Descriptive and predictive GIS modeling techniques, spatial statistics, and map algebra. Application of GIS modeling techniques to environmental planning and resource management. Nonmajor graduate credit.
L A 465. Landscape Change and Conservation. (Dual-listed with 565). (Cross-listed with NREM). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: 202. Exploration of issues in landscape ecology and conservation biology relevant to landscape change, design, and planning. Examination of foundational principles and their applications across a continuum of land uses, from wilderness to urban areas.
L A 478. Topical Studies in Landscape Architecture. (Dual-listed with 578). (Cross-listed with Dsn S). Cr. 2-3. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: L A 371 or senior classification or graduate standing. Offerings vary with each term; check with department for available sections. Course contact hours can range from (2-0) to (3-0) depending on number of credits.
L A 481. Landscape Construction. (1-4) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: 381. Development of construction details with emphasis on materials and their aesthetic and functional uses as building materials. Explore characteristics and uses of construction materials; investigate structural theory; application of wood systems, paving systems, retaining walls, masonry and concrete systems, and metals. Preliminary preparation of construction documents.
L A 482. Advanced Landscape Construction. (1-4) Cr. 3. S.Prereq: 481. Advanced site construction issues, with emphasis on water and irrigation systems, mechanical and electrical systems, site lighting, proposal preparation, project scheduling, project costing and estimating. Final construction document preparation including drawings and specifications.
L A 490. Independent Study. Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: Written approval of instructor and department chair on required form. Investigation of a topic of special interest to the student.
Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduate students
L A 501. Landscape Architectural Theory. (3-0) Cr. 3. S.Prereq: Admission to graduate program or permission of instructor. Exploration of major theories of landscape architectural design and their relationships to broader cultural and theoretical practices. Examination of key texts and projects in landscape architecture, architecture, art, and related fields. Emphasis on developing critical ways of analyzing ideas. Lectures, readings, discussion, and writings.
L A 541. Principles of Research for Landscape Architects. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: Admission to graduate program or permission of instructor. Examination of design inquiry and research methods appropriate to landscape architectural projects, including bibliographical, historical, numerical, statistical, survey, and geographical methods. Readings, discussions, and application problems. Preparation of a research proposal.
L A 562. Studio in Resource Conservation and Management. Cr. 2-6. Repeatable. S.Prereq: 465 or 565, admission to graduate program or permission of instructor. Developing plans and policies that feature ecological landscape description, planning, and resource conservation. Hands-on field experience with professional resource planners and managers. Contact hours (1-3) to (1-15) depending on number of credits.
L A 565. Landscape Change and Conservation. (Dual-listed with 465). (Cross-listed with NREM). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: 202. Exploration of issues in landscape ecology and conservation biology relevant to landscape change, design, and planning. Examination of foundational principles and their applications across a continuum of land uses, from wilderness to urban areas.
L A 567. Advanced GIS Landscape Modeling. (0-6) Cr. 3.Prereq: 302 or C R P 451/551. Application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling techniques to landscape planning and management issues. Selection, acquisition, and conversion of digital landscape data. Modeling applications for studio projects, outreach projects, and research projects.
L A 572. Landscape Architectural History and Preservation. (3-0) Cr. 3. F.Prereq: Admission to graduate program or permission of instructor. Methods applied to preservation of historic landscapes, including current federal standards and regulations. Outstanding historic landscapes and recent landscape preservation projects of varied time periods and scales used to familiarize students with methods of archaeological and documentary research, philosophical issues of significance and interpretation, and technical concerns of treatment, management, and maintenance. Lectures, readings, discussion, and independent and group research.
L A 578. Topical Studies in Landscape Architecture. (Dual-listed with 478). (Cross-listed with Dsn S). Cr. 2-3. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: Senior classification or graduate standing. Offerings vary with each term; check with department for available sections. Course contact hours can range from (2-0) to (3-0) depending on number of credits.
L A 580. Thesis, Creative Component Tutorial. Cr. 1-4. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: Permission of major professor. Hands-on participation in a creative or research activity in the student's area of specialization. Development of a detailed prospectus that defines the thesis or creative component.
L A 582. Research Colloquium. (1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.Prereq: Admission to graduate program or permission of instructor. Examination and discussion of professional practice, research in landscape architecture, and environmental planning through research and projects by faculty and graduate students in landscape architecture and related fields.
L A 590. Special Topics. Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.SS.
L A 591. Environmental Law and Planning. (Cross-listed with C R P, Dsn S). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.Prereq: Graduate classification. Environmental law and policy as applied in planning at the local and state levels. Brownfields, environmental justice, water quality, air quality, wetland and floodplain management, and local government involvement in ecological protection through land use planning and other programs.
L A 599. Creative Component. Cr. 1-8. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: Permission of major professor. Comprehensive study and original development of a project selected by the student and approved by the major professor. Completed project must be submitted to and approved by a graduate faculty committee as evidence of mastery of the principles of landscape architecture.
Course for graduate students, major or minor
L A 699. Thesis Research. Cr. 1-8. Repeatable. F.S.SS.Prereq: Permission of major professor.