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American Society of Landscape Architects


July 2008 Issue

Educating for a Region in Change
ACal Poly Pomona offers a glimpse into the profession’s future.

By Frank Edgerton Martin

Educating for a Region in Change

The future, it’s been said, starts in California. One glimpse of the future of landscape architecture education is visible at California State University–Pomona, or “Cal Poly,” roughly 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. This is a landscape architecture teaching program that’s based in an urban region and is financially accessible. In April 2007 Cal Poly Pomona’s landscape architecture department celebrated its 50th anniversary. It’s a relatively old program at Cal Poly, given that the entire campus dates back to only 1938.

With its explorations into sustainable—or as they prefer at Cal Poly, “regenerative”—landscapes, Cal Poly’s is a landscape architectural education where the gritty landscapes of the Los Angeles region are not made to look sleek. It is an education where the precedents of star designers are less relevant than creative appropriation from a global palette of grassroots precedents in Brazil, Mexico, China, and Los Angeles itself. With regenerative strategies at its heart, Pomona’s program looks beyond the design of gardens or plazas—icons that landscape architects such as Tommy Church and Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, invented for California throughout much of the 20th century—to the creation of self-renewing systems for an entire region that is both socially rich and environmentally stressed.

With about 55 graduate students and more than 300 undergrads, Pomona is California’s largest landscape architecture program, and it is the only California program with accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees. For both undergrads and grads, tuition is only $2,500 per year for in-state students. Although nonresident tuition is more (capped at $10,100 per academic year), California makes residency relatively easy to achieve within a year.

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