BLA Professional Degree

The Bachelors in Landscape Architecture degree is a four-year professional landscape design program nationally accredited  by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB). Completion of the program is one of the first steps in becoming a licensed Landscape Architect and also serves as preparation for graduate programs in advanced landscape architecture design, planning, or in programs specializing in research.

MISSION STATEMENT

The BLA Program mission is to provide students with a solid base of knowledge and skills reflective of the landscape architecture discipline.  We emphasize place-making based on an understanding of ecological principles, societal needs and cultural foundations.  In particular, we provide students opportunity to explore their interests in design and planning for healthy living environments, healthy ecosystems, community development and cultural resource preservation.

People walking through Alumni Park by Lake Mendota
Alumni Park next to the Red Gym (Armory and Gymnasium) overlooking the Lake Mendota shoreline. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate competence and critical judgement in applying intellectual and technical skills necessary for site and landscape-scale design, in particular skills of problem-solving using site inventory/analysis; spatial/temporal  analysis; programming; synthesis; oral, written, and visual communication; construction implementation; and post-occupancy evaluation.

2. Demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to explore ideas and synthesize information, both independently and in collaboration with interdisciplinary team members to identify and solve complicated landscape design and planning problems.

3. Understand, apply, and evaluate the principles, theories, and recent research findings in the discipline of landscape architecture.

4. Integrate humanistic, scientific, legal, political, economic, social, ecological, and technological dimensions in solving novel design and planning problems concerning the betterment of rural and urban natural and cultural landscapes.

5. Understand, analyze, and apply design and planning theories and principles to urban and rural landscapes to benefit human living conditions.

BLA Curriculum

The professional degree program requires four years to complete. In addition to courses that meet University and College requirements, the curriculum requires a series of classes taught by Landscape Architecture faculty, each of which is offered only once a year. Students must take the courses in order, as the content of each relies on information presented in previous courses.

The curriculum features a sequence of studio courses during which students receive personal feedback as they work through design problems individually or in teams. Courses introduce students to principles of planning and design theory and to several problem-solving approaches and help students develop the technical proficiencies such as design communication, design synthesis, and environmental and cultural sensibilities required of professional practice. As students progress through the curriculum, they are required to take on more and more responsibility to set-up the parameters of a problem and gather information relevant to finding solutions. By the senior year, with the two-semester Senior Thesis (capstone), the instructors step out of the way and take on the role of coaches and mentors.

Especially in the third and fourth year studios, many projects involve actual case studies with community partners. Fourth-year students have the opportunity, during our year-long capstone course, to solve a real-world design problem. Each student develops a unique project from start to finish for an actual client, for example, a Wisconsin community or non-profit agency. This experience both helps students synthesize and apply the ideas and skills they have learned in a real world setting, and provides assistance to the people of Wisconsin. You can find examples of recent capstone projects in our biennial Contour publication. If your business, government agency, Non-Profit, or community organization would like to be considered for a Capstone project, please email Eric Schuchardt.

Students are required to complete internships with landscape architecture firms. They are also encouraged to participate in study abroad opportunities, several of which are tied to faculty programs and interests.

Once students are admitted to the second year of the program and for each subsequent semester, they are assigned their own personal workspaces the Agricultural Hall studios with 24/7 access. By working in the studio, students not only get to know their own classmates well, but also have access to undergraduate students in other years of the program, as well as graduate students and faculty. The studios include state of the art computer facilities through which students interact with each other, faculty and the global network. The result is that students and faculty form an active learning community.