Landscape Architecture (Four-Year BLA)
Program Director: Kimberlee Douglas
The four-year accredited Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) program prepares students to address environmental problems through sustainable urban planning, design and restoration. Students learn to innovate, collaborate and create outdoor environments that reconnect society with nature, encourage healthy lifestyles and tackle climate change and natural disasters. Our program uses hands on experiential learning to increase our students’ design creativity, knowledge and skills so they may take their place as engaged citizens and professionals who want to solve the pressing problems of today’s world. Students learn to work independently and in teams and collaborate across disciplines on projects with community members, governmental agencies and environmental groups.
Program Learning Outcomes
At the end of four years, our graduates will be able to:
- Apply knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences to design solutions.
- Collaborate in intra- and interdisciplinary teams, particularly through our experiential learning based design studios.
- Exhibit critical understanding of history/theory and apply it to the design process.
- Explain the reciprocal relationship between the design of places and their socio-cultural, environmental and economic contexts through service learning projects.
- Use and relate government regulations, professional practice and ethical responsibilities to the design process.
- Analyze, interpret, and apply cutting edge research in all stages of the design process.
The landscape architecture program is committed to working with local and regional leadership in solving the pressing issues of the natural and built environments within the Philadelphia Metropolitan corridor (New York City to Washington, DC). The focus is on searching for the most innovative and sustainable solutions to problems of growth, ecological and economic degradation and development. The program is dedicated to providing leadership in confronting issues that affect urban neighborhoods, particularly those that are in need of revitalization.
Philadelphia University is uniquely positioned on the edge of the Wissahickon Valley Park, a 1700-acre park within the Fairmount Park System, where natural systems and restoration techniques can easily be studied. The area has a vast concentration of cultural, social, historic and natural systems that present a invaluable resource to the students.
Throughout the education process, students are challenged to develop a thorough understanding of a site, including its socio-cultural, environmental and economic factors. At the core of the program are experiential learning-based planning and design studios in which students focus on the development of sustainable responses and solutions to site problems and opportunities. The goal is to challenge students to create site-appropriate designs, as well as to enhance the value and sustainability of places.
During the first year, students engage in two interdisciplinary studios. Here students are introduced to principles, values and the common vocabulary necessary for effective professional work. The second-year courses continue teaching the building blocks of design for future design studios; design studio topics are Site Design and Urban Design I. Also during the first two years, liberal arts courses are emphasized, and digital, technical and history of landscape architecture courses are introduced.
During the third year, more advanced technical and professional courses are added to the curriculum, supporting design studio projects of increasing complexity and scope. The design studios focus on community design and restoration management. These studios are supported by courses in human behavior, plant community ecology and urban hydrology.
In the first semester of the fourth year, an interdisciplinary design studio focuses on larger-scale urban design issues, e.g., waterfront development, industrial site redevelopment or neighborhood design. In the construction documents course, students develop a full set of construction documents based on a previous design. During the final semester, each student completes an interdisciplinary capstone design project that articulates the physical, spiritual and theoretical objectives of the project and demonstrates full resolution of sustainable landscape architectural design.
In support of the goals for professional education, the landscape architecture program is committed to providing state-of-the-art computer technology and software to facilitate the integration of digital technologies in design process and project development. For example, GIS software is introduced in the second year and is incorporated in all upper level design studios.
The landscape architecture program is fully accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB).