Landscape Architecture

It is official. This week we received the official notification from the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board that the Landscape Architecture Program has received a full six year reaccreditation. We also received a clean sheet with no “‘recommendations affecting accreditation”. This is a strong acknowledgement that our program is on firm ground and doing all the things that are expected from a program designed to educate future landscape architects. Everyone associated with this effort, faculty, students and alumni, should feel a great deal of satisfaction from this result.

As wonderful as this result is, one should note that accreditation is not really about excellence. It is about meeting minimum requirements. Excellence is about how you transcend these base requirements. Our goal should always be to do more, to keep thinking about how we can evolve and get better. The questions we should be asking right now are those related to the present and future. We should build on the insights of the past, but not let them limit our future.

In a time of rapid change, one thing is certain, nothing ever remains the same for very long. Our program was formed through a partnership between the College of Architecture and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Horticulture Department. This cooperative arrangement had a significant influence on our curriculum, particularly as it relates to environmental science courses. This arrangement has served us well, but as environmental challenges grow and the urgency of figuring out how to live more sustainably on our planet, the profession is changing its attitude toward this aspect of the profession. The ASLA document ‘The Field’ notes"
“A trend is emerging within the profession that expands our approach to planting design and the role of vegetation. Designers are backing away from the role of curator of gardens where plant species are selected and placed according to a theme in a created setting, without regard to how that species may be predisposed to behave in the setting.”

In response to this trend, the faculty is working on a symposium for the spring that will allow us to explore the nexus between design, horticulture and ecology pointing towards understanding ‘performance’ in landscape design. I will share more about this as it develops during the course of this semester. Right now, however, we can enjoy for the moment the positive afterglow of a positive accreditation review.

-Mark Hoistad