AN URBAN POSITION
Today’s urban environments confront increasingly complex social and ecological challenges in which overlapping, dynamic systems often reveal competing priorities. From demographic shifts and infrastructure needs to climate change and obdurate development policies, these distinct, yet interrelated variables require technical sophistication and ecological acumen in order to create sustainable landscapes that address social needs, provide ecosystem services, and enhance a sense of place.
Recognizing that these shifts shape our public spaces, the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture frames these concerns as guiding factors in the design and construction of the urban landscape. In this manner, those spaces by which the landscape is defined—such as infrastructure systems, urban watersheds, industrial sites, suburban communities, and city fabric—become the laboratories for the program’s educational focus.
Working in conjunction with allied design disciplines represented within the school—including Architecture, Urban Design, Community and Regional Planning, and Historic Preservation—and with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the professional curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary endeavors that serve the needs of the community, the state, and the society at large. The program’s pedagogy situates design as a process of inquiry, whereby the coordinated design curriculum introduces a set of representation, spatial, theoretical, and material practices by which to integrate the landscape’s structure, function, and change over time. The curriculum places an emphasis on design of the built environment including its social dimension, sensory experience, and ecological systems. Working from measure to agency, data to decision, the pedagogy positions design as a synthetic endeavor that evolves as much from context and speculation as it does from questions of technique, beauty, and delight.
Located within a dynamic school, university, and city, the program fosters dialogue between students and faculty, as well as students within and across design cohorts. With small student to faculty ratios in all classes, the program cultivates intensive examination of the discipline's critical issues and challenges. In support of these efforts, the program's advanced studio sequence and seminars engage international sites and partnerships in order to expose students to the scope of landscape concerns and design thinking within various contexts.
Research and work advanced by the program’s students and faculty reflect the above aims. From urban streams to urban forests, parks to cemeteries, streetscapes to city blocks, historic landscapes to military training grounds, the program endeavors to integrate aesthetics (what a landscape looks like) with performance (what a landscape does).