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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

April 2007 Issue

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The landscape architecture program at the University of Georgia is the nation's biggest, providing students a diverse array of options for study.

By Linda McIntyre

Strength In Numbers Photo Courtesy of Todd Bennett

The National Mall is a mess, an expanse of suffering turf in compacted soil, crumbling hardscape, stagnant water, stressed trees, and trash. For first-time visitors to Washington, this prospect, in the heart of the nationís capital, is bad enough. It gets worse, though, if they linger: Bathrooms are notoriously scarce and difficult for tourists to locate, there is little parking, public transportation options are hard for visitors to decipher, circulation is poor, and signs are hidden, uninformative, or missing. And while there are various options for eating in the museums and other attractions right on the Mallóthe central part of the larger National Mallóor at nearby cafés and restaurants, those unfamiliar with Washington are not let in on the secret.

The University of Georgia (UGA), in Athens, has the largest number of landscape architecture students in the country. Do students prosper in this big, unspecialized program? Landscape Architecture visited the campus just as the fall 2006 semester was winding down to find out.

The College of Environment and Design (CED), home to the BLA and MLA programs as well as a masterís degree program in historic preservation (thereís no architecture program at UGA), is on the North Campus, close to downtown Athens, though most of its faculty offices and undergraduate studio spaces are in the distinctly unclassical Caldwell Hall, circa 1981.

What we found in Athens was a large and diverse program that gives students a strong background in applied landscape architecture and the skills they need to succeed in practice, whether they want to manage stormwater, restore streambeds, run parks, or design golf courses. A student can arrive at the university with only a vague notion of what landscape architecture is and what he or she would like to do within the profession and graduate ready to tackle almost anything landscape architecture has to offer.

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