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Thread: Landscape architecture concentration

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Landscape architecture concentration

    As some of you know I will be going after an MLA in 2009 (hopefully). What I would like as a life career would be to work in Urban Sustainable Design/Ecological Restoration. I somewhat want to involve both Urban Design and Ecological/Sustainable Development. To get a better grasp of what I want to do I would like to restore and design green spaces within cities that are functional ecologically and aesthitically that citizens could use. When looking at various programs I see that many offer a concentration in Urban Design and also Ecological Restoration.

    My question is if I want to do Urban Sustainable/Ecological Design should I shose Urban Design or Ecological Restoration? Does it even matter? I feel that Urban Design is something that can be easily picked up on, while Ecological Restoration not so much. I am kind of leaning towards Ecological Restoration. For those of you in the field or who know what are your thoughts or ideas?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I think there's a very real need for people who can do both, but that the market is pretty fractured. Firms that do one tend not to do the other, or are large enough that they use specialists.

    I also think that you'd be hard-pressed to cover one with any depth, let alone both during the course of a 3-year MLA. There's a lot crammed into that 3 years to start with.

    If I had to recommend one over the other, I think you're on the right path. The eco side of things has more hard science, and requires more 'credentials' to have credibility. It's much easier to teach yourself the urban aspects after the fact.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I work with both landscape architects and ecologists in my office (I think I introduced you to some of them when I showed you around my firm last June). From the design aspect, the two couldn't be farther apart. One landscape architect usually works on ecological design (his undergrad is in ornamental horticulture so he has a much much broader understanding of plant material and their ecosystems),

    I agree with Brian, it would be very hard to do both with just an MLA (doesn't mean it can't be done). UMich's MLA program stresses ecological restoration. You might want to pair up the MLA with an environmental graduate degree (forestry, ecology, "environmental studies" (if they offer this degree at the graduate level)) because the other degree will be far more scientific-oriented than the MLA.

    Another option is to work on your MLA (you'll get to work on plenty of site design/urban design projects in most of your studios anyway) but focus your masters thesis on ecological restoration.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for the advice guys. Yeah I think I want to go the ecological restoration route. I think my interest is mostly in designing green infrastructure. If anything I figure I could eventually down the road pursue a MUD after I get my MLA, which correct me if I am wrong, but most only take a year right?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by lucifer View post
    Thanks for the advice guys. Yeah I think I want to go the ecological restoration route. I think my interest is mostly in designing green infrastructure. If anything I figure I could eventually down the road pursue a MUD after I get my MLA, which correct me if I am wrong, but most only take a year right?
    If you already have an MLA, you can complete an MUD in about a year. I think it would be difficult to do both of them together in grad school. MLAs typically don't require a design background but MUDs do. For example, at CU-Denver, you would have to enroll in an MLA/MUP program, and then once you have advanced standing in the planning program, go for a third degree in MUD. Would probably take at least 4-4/12 years to complete all 3 degrees.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    long time for three degrees

    By the time you get close to finishing three degrees, you're going to be starving for professional experience.

    So is anyone that might be looking to hire you.

    My two cents: don't get bogged down on an academic/degree binge. Alot will happen in the time it takes to finish *just* the MLA or MLA/MUP. Take the time to develop a network in school.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Sorry guys maybe I wasn't clear. I have dropped the idea of getting a MLA/MUP dual degree. I am going strictly for an MLA. What I mean about the MUD is WAY down the road. I mean maybe like 5 years after I become a Landscape Architect. I know I am thinking way too far in the future, but it was just an idea that was floating in my head when I wrote that post. What I mean to say if all fails after working for years as a Landscape Architect, and I would prefer to do Urban Design instead of Ecological Restoration, then maybe I would pursue a MUD. But for now I am just going for an MLA, not looking for anything else.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    A lot of what you are interested in: ecological restoration and urban design, can be learned on the job. If you want flexibility in your degree, I would recommend a program like UGA. The program is a much more general landscape architecture degree, and is highly respected throughout the country (ranked at #3 in the Country right now). You can take the degree anywhere.

    However, I say this with caution. UGA is not going to give you the intense construction courses you would find at K-State or the restoration courses you might find at UMich. If you are okay with that, I would say go for an MLA that is (1) highly respected in ALL areas of the country (not just regional schools such as Ball State, UIUC, Washington State, etc.) and (2) is a general degree that offers flexibility.

    I see some validity with going back for an MUP several years down the road, especially if you can become so involved on the restoration side that you have typecast yourself in that specialization. An MUP, or even continuing education courses in site design, might show more of your interest in other areas of LA.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    An MUP, or even continuing education courses in site design, might show more of your interest in other areas of LA.
    Scratch that, should be MUD not MUP.

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