Landscape architecture is the making of environment that meets the aspirations and needs of human, wildlife, and other biological processes on earth. It encompasses a broad spectrum of practices from design of streetscapes to restoration of habitats and ecosystems. It operates at multiple scales ranging from individual sites to neighborhoods and districts, corridors and networks, and cities and regions. It works with both space and time to support the well being of human and non-human habitats.
Landscape architects are in a sense architects of the landscape--the landscape that encompasses both natural and social realms, urbanity and wilderness, land, water and air. Landscape architects synthesize knowledge from the sciences and the arts. They design for people and communities, for plants and animals, to support social and natural processes, and to protect human and environmental assets.
The profession of landscape architecture in the United States has a strong root in the Urban Parks movement of the 19th Century. Historically, landscape architects have played an important role in the creation of urban open space as well as the regional park systems. Early pioneers such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. were skilled practitioners as well as social thinkers and urban visionaries. In their view, landscape is not only a source of recreation and enjoyment but also an instrument of social reform.
At the University of Washington, we focus on a particular area of Landscape Architecture we call Urban Ecological Design. We believe that cities or urbanizing environments, such as Seattle, with both wilderness and rapidly growing development, can be (re)designed to support the health and well-being of human beings and other species. Landscape architecture can make an essential contribution by understanding, revealing, and addressing the cumulative impacts of urban development.
These following animations, created by Daniel Tal, ASLA, show people how landscape architects use sustainable design approaches to solve pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. These animations and their supporting materials are meant to help the public get a sense of both sustainable landscape design and the type of work that landscape architects do.
- Designing Neighborhoods for People and Wildlife explains how to transform a residential property into a real wildlife habitat.
- The Edible City shows how to overlay a system for urban agriculture over a conventional community, using models inspired by some of the most cutting-edge cities.
- To address the critical health issues related to air pollution and the urban heat island effect in cities, Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air presents the latest research on how urban forests fight these problems.
- Infrastructure for All, which was featured by many leading environmental and design media, argues that we can transform transportation systems into multi-use infrastructure that serves everyone.
- Lastly, Energy-Efficient Home Landscapes clearly demonstrates how smart landscape architecture reduces the energy consumed by a typical suburban home.
Reference the sites below for other descriptions of Landscape Architecture and learn more about the kind of work we do and the growing opportunities in the profession:American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
LAAB accredited programs
Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF)
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics