Landscape Architecture

Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung

Mission

To advance the art and science of landscape architecture; to improve knowledge of the ways humans shape the environment; to develop principles of ecologically appropriate landscape practice without sacrificing ethical and aesthetic considerations, cultural meanings, or economic feasibility.

Faculty

Total FTE for LDA OR is 2.06 and for I&R is 4.94 (this excludes 2.5 temporary U-18).

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department

  • Environmental sustainability of landscapes: resource conservation/regenerative use strategies, bioregional theory and practice, watersheds as social and administrative units, species habitat fragmentation, new urban planning and smart growth.
  • Social uses and human experience of the landscape: the spatial needs of special populations, teens, children, ethnic subgroups, needs assessment, community approaches to urban design.
  • Historical and comparative study of landscape design: critical analysis of the built environment, landscape aesthetics and cultural practices.
  • Professional skills for landscape architects: site planning and preparation, computer assisted design, multimedia presentations, Geographic Information Systems.
  • The increased use of computers in landscape architecture will continue to have broad impacts on all areas of teaching and research.

Program Impact/Ranking

Landscape Architecture at UC Davis is the fourth ranked professional undergraduate BSLA program in the United States (the Gorman Report). Faculty in the program have received awards for research, planning, and design from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, etc. LDA faculty have given testimony or served as special advisors on land use issues to the United States Congress and the United States Secretary of Agriculture. Three members of the faculty (Thayer, McCulley, Francis) have been elected Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects, its highest professional recognition.

Extramural Grants and Gifts

The LDA Program total funding in extramural grants and gifts is $722,655. Detailed data is available in the department. Contact department MSO.

Teaching Programs of the Department

Landscape Architecture at UC Davis offers a BSLA degree. Currently there are 90+ students majoring in LDA and an additional 650 students take our courses each year. LDA faculty offer graduate course work and serve as chairs and members of graduate committees of community development masters students. The LDA Program is also houses and administers the Graduate Group in Geography. Our undergraduate courses range from large enrollment lecture and GE classes, through basic and advanced studios, a field study course, and small seminars. Recently, we implemented an innovative upper division curriculum composed of lecture-theory classes linked to studio classes.

Future plans at the graduate level include a proposed joint Ph.D. with Landscape Architecture at Berkeley, a new Master's degree in landscape architecture at UC Davis, and/or a change in the existing Ph.D. in Geography to accommodate landscape architecture as a field option. Undergraduate future plans: We are already at steady-state, limiting the number of students who wish to enroll in LDA by means of a portfolio review process. There is potential for growth. In 1999, according to ASLA, the profession of landscape architecture grew at a rate of 20.7 percent. This is the third year that beginning salaries for landscape architects have exceeded beginning salaries for architects. But we cannot accept more students into our program unless we get more faculty, and space.

Outreach/Extension Roles

Even though landscape architecture has no CE specialists, we maintain a strong programmatic involvement in outreach. Four years ago, on the initiative of Professor Patsy Owens, we founded the Community Design and Planning Service. CDPS successes have been achieved by ongoing interaction with local, State, and Federal agencies; collaboration with numerous campus faculty and centers; generation of new information and tools to improve community design and development decision making; as well as direct assistance to communities. As a self-supporting unit, CDPS generates funds to support program operations. Major applied research and outreach funding in planning and urban design has been provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Great Valley Center, UC Davis Commission on the Environment, and the UC Office of the President. Communities and agencies that have retained CDPS for specific project assistance include the California Tahoe Conservancy, the UC Davis Medical Center, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, City of Benicia, and numerous others. Our plans for the next five years include linking CDPS to Cooperative Extension or other established outreach programs in the university. In addition to CDPS our Center for Design Research CDR is emerging nationally as a center of research excellence. The CDR's four-year partnership and internship program funded by the UC Davis Medical Center to plan and improve their campus landscape (our first built project for them - The Urban Wildlife Preserve) won a Merit Award for Research this year from the ASLA. Potential for collaborative links to other units to develop clusters of excellence: LDA took a leadership role in establishing the Sustainable Communities Consortium funded by the Chancellor's Environment Initiative which brought together faculty and researchers from six departments and research units (including Ecology, Community Development, Transportation, Public Service Research, Etc.) LDA maintains strong collaborative relations with Environmental Sciences and Policy, Geography and Community Development. We can participate productively in clusters of excellence in the areas of cultural studies, environmental horticulture, environmental, and urban planning.

Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals

  1. A designer/environmental artist-landscape architect specialized in signature design work with environmental ramifications
  2. A CE specialist position in urban design and planning to be associated with CDPS
  3. A position in sustainable community design and development

Priorities

Landscape Architecture is an interdisciplinary program emphasizing synthetic solution of environmental design problems. The program areas that must be maintained in order to be effective are: environmental science; art and design; social and cultural analysis. Our near-term program priority is to maintain balance between these three areas of emphasis. "No-growth" (in permanent positions) scenario: The first projected retirement should be cycled to position (1) above. Landscape Architecture is already quite a bit dependent on unit 18 instructors to teach its professional skills and other basic courses and does not anticipate requesting more temporary teaching support. We do need to maintain our current level of unit 18 support as the presence of working professionals in the classroom is of great benefit to our students. "10 percent Initiative-based Growth" Strategy: Positions 1 & 2 remain top priorities.

Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving

The greatest need is for more space appropriately configured to program needs. The projected move to Robbins Hall should solve this problem. We also need to upgrade the software and equipment in our computer-media lab, including adding GIS capability, to maintain our standing among other first rank programs.

Student News

Design It, Build It

Aug 21, 2015 Truscott donation allows landscape architecture students to dig in.

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Research News

UC Davis Receives Unique, $1.5 Million Gift from Aggie Couple

Jul 07, 2016 Michael and Joelle Hurlston have pledged $1.5 million to endow a first-of-its-kind chair position.

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Outreach News

Summer Internships

Jul 28, 2015 CA&ES students and Salinas Valley employers find common ground.

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