Auburn Welcomes Students into the New Undergraduate Landscape Architecture Program

Auburn Welcomes Students into the New Undergraduate Landscape Architecture Program

The School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture (APLA) in Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) is pleased to welcome incoming students into the new undergraduate Landscape Architecture Program (BLA) this August (2021). The BLA program at Auburn University received approval from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education earlier this year and is the only undergraduate landscape architecture program in the State of Alabama.

The discipline of landscape architecture involves the design and management of the built and natural world. Building on the momentum and spirit of the longstanding graduate program in landscape architecture (MLA), the undergraduate Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) program will be committed to design as a way of engaging rich, complex, and messy situations—in order to imagine and build better futures. Recently the MLA program has worked on an urban wild adjacent to downtown Montgomery, Alabama; a working conservation farm in the mountain valleys of north Alabama; and with dams on rivers in Georgia and Alabama.

The undergraduate Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) program will emphasize studio-based learning as the core means for educating students in design. In addition to six design studios, the BLA program also incorporates two studio-like ‘workshop’ courses in its second year, which explore design possibilities through the media of the landscape: landform, water, material assemblies, and plants.

The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) program at Auburn distinguishes itself from other programs by focusing on four critical aspects of landscape architecture practice (excerpted from the program’s mission):

  • Fieldwork: We believe that landscape education and landscape practice begins outside, in the landscape. But we aren’t tourists. When we’re outside, we’re working. We measure and observe, we experiment when called for, we learn to test our assumptions from the studio against the messy realities of mud, vines, and stone. We fly drones to make our own maps; we draw to understand what we see.
  • Landscape Advocacy: We believe in the value of public interest design, and we seek out opportunities to better understand communities. We listen. We don’t wait for work to find us. Landscape architects engage the public to shape our perspective and our work. We help rally communities around issues. We build constituencies and momentum for meaningful change.
  • Design Thinking: We learn by making. We prototype. We generate propositions and test them. Much of our energy is spent exploring potential futures through drawings and models. These are critical tools for inquiry, providing us with techniques and methods to challenge assumptions and explore alternative design opportunities.
  • Expanded Field: Landscape architecture is a broad and varied profession, with roots in a diverse set of disciplines, including architecture, gardening, and ecology. We value that breadth and encourage undergraduate students to explore the many ways that their training in reading, understanding, and shaping landscapes may form a career trajectory. We believe that landscape architects should continually find new ways to apply our skills to address the ever-shifting needs of society. This requires being comfortable working in new terrain, with new problems, and with new collaborators. We seek out opportunities to engage this expanded field.

With these tenets the BLA program strives to provide students with the tools to meaningfully contribute to society as critical thinkers and designers. Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture will be prepared for professional practice with a path toward professional licensure in Landscape Architecture.

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David Hill