Chatham University

Master of Landscape Architecture Curriculum

22 Required courses including:

LAR508 Media I: Landscape Graphic Communication
This course develops graphic literacy as a language and philosophy for observation, analysis, expression, and presentation of landscape architectural designs. Students are introduced to a number of techniques used by landscape architects for completing plan, section, and perspective drawings Both mechanical drafting and freehand sketching methods are covered to teach drawing, color rendering. lettering, and presentation methods.
3 Credits
LAR512 Media II: Digital Illustrative Graphics
This course is an introduction to digital representation and the principles of graphic design and composition. Digital software, techniques and products appropriate for presenting conceptual illustrative graphics during the initial stages of the design process will be reviewed and applied.
3 Credits
LAR515 Geographic Information Systems
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computerized systems designed for the storage, retrieval and analysis of geographically referenced data. GIS uses advanced analytical tools to explore at a scientific level the spatial relationships, patterns, and processes of cultural, biological, demographic, economic, geographic, and physical phenomena. The technical focus of the course includes computer lab tutorials and case studies using ArcGIS desktop GIS software from Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI.) Application areas covered in this course include city and regional planning, community planning, economic development, education, election, and environmental studies, housing and property evaluation, transit and transportation issues, land use, historic studies, crime analysis and policing, emergency management, public works utilities, census population and demographic studies, health, and business applications, including marketing, advertising, and site selection.
3 Credits
LAR665 Media III: Digital Implementation Graphics
This course builds on the techniques and practices covered in both Media I and Media II courses with 3D modeling, digital drafting and computerized rendering techniques. In addition to developing advanced technical skills, this course instills a critical attitude toward using digital visualization in practice and development of implementation graphics.
3 Credits
LAR514 Landscape Ecology
In this course students will examine the role of ecology in landscape architecture and land use planning. The course will begin with an overview of general ecological principles and then move into the study of landscape ecology. Finally, students will use ecological principles to develop a conservation-based regional plan.
3 Credits
LAR516 Plant Identification: Trees and Shrubs
This course introduces students to the skills needed to identify woody landscape plants. Emphasis is placed on natives and cultivators of native plants, focusing on their uses in the landscape with sustainable site design. This course predominantly uses field work with limited classroom lecture. Students successfully completing the course will: be able to correctly identify 160 woody landscape plants and be familiar with their site requirements, acquire a practical knowledge of plant nomenclature, plant morphology, and taxonomic terminology; use proper scientific and common names for plants studied, learn to identify plants by their physical characteristics, and learn site requirements for plants covered in course.
3 Credits
LAR518 Native Plants
Native Plants focuses on herbaceous flora of Northeastern US, with an emphasis on plant communities and the cultural conditions which give rise to them. Each major ecosystem of the area will be discussed, with emphasis on recreating these in the landscape. Field trips to typical habitat locations will reinforce these concepts.
2 Credits
LAR519 Community Planning & Management
This course is an introduction to planning and management issues with emphasis on environmentally and socially sustainable development. The course provides an overview of the planning process and the methods and techniques associated with its application. It also highlights the major concerns of the emerging field of landscape planning including: land use planning; cultural and visual resources management, and the preservation, conservation, and development of natural resources within regional settings.
3 Credits
LAR522 History of Landscape Architecture
This core course introduces students to historically significant designed landscapes of key world cultures with the aim of placing the contemporary profession of Landscape Architecture within the continuum of man's place making activities. The course will consist of a brief overview of ancient civilizations and their lasting influences on modern cultures followed by topics covering the major Western and Eastern landscape design movements and/or styles which have impacted and continue to impact design today. The second half of the course will address the evolution of the field in the U.S. continuing up to today's current global practices in Landscape Architecture.
3 Credits
LAR541 Design I: Fundamentals
This is the first in a sequence of design studios focusing on concepts, skills, and methods of design. This course introduces the student to the basic vocabulary and theoretical principles of the design process, with oral, written and graphic project presentations relative to the natural environment. This studio includes a sketchbook and models for the development of three-dimensional spatial concepts in form, sequence, relationships, scale, color, textures, and values within the context of sustainable landscape architecture. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
3 Credits
LAR542 Design II: Site Design Process
In this studio, students learn to analyze, synthesize, and assimilate contextual, site-specific diagramming into the development and presentation of creative and sustainable design solutions for specific landscape architecture projects. These projects lead to an understanding of design problem definition, program development, as well as a spatial appreciation of scale, site analysis and inventory as essential elements of the environmentally focused design process. Emphasis is placed on site analysis and conceptual diagramming. Model building is a component of this course. Prerequisite(s): LAR 541. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
3 Credits
LAR643 Design III: Urban Design Studio
This course examines the emerging field of urban design. It introduces a critical analysis of various city planning factors and human systems with special emphasis on the three pillars of sustainable design - ecologic, social and economics. Actual sites located in Western Pennsylvania are utilized with emphasis on attaining civic improvements and quality of the city's aesthetic environment. . Prerequisite(s): LAR 515, 541 and 542. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
4 Credits
LAR644 Design IV: Landscape Master Planning
The focus on this studio is on land use planning, urban development, and community design of the regional landscapes with incorporation of environmental, social and economic factors into the solution of the projects. Prerequisite(s): LAR 643. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
4 Credits
LAR650 Construction I: Site Engineering
This course is the first in a series of construction courses that begin to look at the technical aspects of site design. This course specifically looks at landform as a design element. Landform is the base physical element for all landscape architectural designs. It can be utilized to accomplish both artistic and functional goals, such as managing storm water, establishing privacy, or providing accessibility in the landscape. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
3 Credits
LAR651 Construction II: Landscape Construction Materials
Focus is on landscape construction methods and materials from masonry to wood. Students will learn construction and detailing of walls, fences, planters, walks, stairs, and paving, focusing on environmentally friendly and sustainable harvested materials. Students produce construction drawings and specific site details for various project types relevant to construction. Field trips to construction sites may be included. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
3 Credits
LAR652 Construction III: Landscape Construction Documents
Students incorporate a design project into final design and construction documents. This project will allow the students to produce a complete set of construction documents appropriate for bidding. Sustainable site design, land use, and construction will be incorporated through layout, grading, construction detailing, planting plans, and general ecosystem management. Prerequisite(s): LAR 650 and LAR 651. Additional Fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
4 Credits
LAR660 Professional Practice in Landscape Arch
This course outlines many of the non-design skills needed for a successful career as a landscape architect. Topics include professional and environmental ethics; legal aspects of the profession; project management; and the professional's relationship to the client and society. Introduction of the key aspects of the construction implementation process and procedures include contracts, cost estimates and specifications. Finally the course will clarify of the current procedures for licensure in landscape architecture, including a session specifically discussing the Landscape Architecture Review Examination (LARE). Prerequisite(s): LAR542
1 Credits
LAR661 Seminar I
This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of landscape architecture exploring its historical evolution, highlighting its interaction with arts and science, and examining its contemporary leaders.
1 Credits
LAR663 Seminar III: Scholarship Preparation
This course is an overview of the methods and techniques used in preparing a research thesis or a terminal landscape design and/or landscape planning project.
1 Credits
LAR570 Principles of Sustainability
This course explores the fundaments of sustainability theory and practice. Students develop skills and fluency in evaluating the interrelationships between the human actions in the built and natural environment. Focus is placed on core philosophies of sustainable thought and decision-making approaches that satisfy environmental, economic, and social criteria. Practical alternatives are analyzed for more sustainable design, construction, landscape, and maintenance of the built environment. An experiential learning approach is used to develop facilities for assessing sustainability issues. Cross-listed as ENV 443.
3 Credits
LAR680 Graduate Research Methods
This graduate seminar introduces students to some methods and techniques that have been developed through multidisciplinary research for literary and aesthetic expression in landscape architecture. It focuses on the contributions and limitations of different approaches to the study of landscape in a range of disciplinary areas and the potential bibliographical and institutional resources that are available to the students when drawing upon other disciplines to inform the interpretation, writing, and design of landscape architecture. Emphasis is placed on the selection and utilization of data collection strategies and tools in the development of a research proposal.
3 Credits
LAR698 Final Project or Thesis 3 Credits
LAR699 Final Project or Thesis
The master’s thesis/project is the final independent project undertaken by the student under the guidance of an academic advisor. It involves original interpretive research and/or a creative design project demonstrating the mastery of the themes, ideas, and critical approaches learned through the program and include written and oral presentations of the design project. The final product is a scholarly document that has academic conceptual rigor and effective communication. A final presentation to facutly and peers is required. A total of 6 credits of Master's Project or Theses is required for completion of the Master of Landscape Architecture degree. Prerequisite(s): LAR680, LAR663, and a research/project that is approved by the LAR faculty and the program director.
3 Credits

A combination of any of the following courses must be fulfilled for a total of 4 Credits:

LAR656 Field Work 1 Credits
LAR657 Field Work 2 Credits
LAR671 Study Abroad 1 Credits
LAR672 Study Abroad 2 Credits
LAR673 Study Abroad 3 Credits
LAR681 Internship
The student will have the opportunity to work in an office environment to better understand the duties and responsibilities involved with sustainable landscape architectural design. A total of 40 hours is required for 1 credit.
1 Credits
LAR682 Internship
The student will have the opportunity to work in an office environment to better understand the duties and responsibilities involved with sustainable landscape architectural design. A total of 80 hours is required for 2 credits.
2 Credits
LAR683 Internship
The student will have the opportunity to work in an office environment to better understand the duties and responsibilities involved with sustainable landscape architectural design. A total of 120 hours is required for 3 credits.
3 Credits

The Specialized Elective Courses

A student graduating with an MLA degree will be entering a diversified job market. There are at least five major industries that employ landscape architects. These include the environmental industry, the green industry, the leisure industry, the land development industry, and the public sector. Each of these require specialized knowledge and skills that are provided through a series of elective courses that are offered by highly qualified faculty.

3 Elective courses (9 credit hours) selected from:

LAR505 Media V: Interactive Portfolio Design 3 Credits
LAR514 Landscape Ecology
In this course students will examine the role of ecology in landscape architecture and land use planning. The course will begin with an overview of general ecological principles and then move into the study of landscape ecology. Finally, students will use ecological principles to develop a conservation-based regional plan.
3 Credits
LAR526 Topics in 20th Century Landscape Architecture
This course will begin with an investigation of early 20th century strivings of landscape architects towards both modernist and conservationist approaches within the profession. These threads will be followed to discover and appreciate the context of the modern profession's main avenues of work. The class focus will be on establishing criteria for categorizing major activity areas within the profession ranging from the outrageously artistic to the courageously scientific and placing a representative sampling of specific works and practitioners within the context of the typologies defined. The many venues for practicing environmentally proactive design will be at the forefront of readings and individual research.
3 Credits
LAR527 Historic Landscape Preservation
This course focuses on the fundamentals of the Cultural Landscape Report (CLR), the primary method of documenting, analyzing and treating a cultural or historic landscape and HALS documentation. Realization of historic landscape treatment as a sustainable factor is key.
3 Credits
LAR532 Ornamental Horticulture
This course introduces the student to the many facets of ornamental horticulture including the economic opportunities of growing and caring for plants. A basic knowledge of plants, plant biology, plant physiology, plant reproduction, plant maintenance as well as evolutionary changes will be presented through the perspective of professionals in various fields including botany, arboriculture, forestry, landscape contracting, and landscape architecture. The course also covers the challenges of using environmentally healthy horticultural practices.
3 Credits
LAR534 Soil Science
The focus of this course is to introduce students to the concept of soil as a natural resource, the basic physical, chemical and biological properties of soils; the management of soils for growth of terrestrial vegetation; the role of soils in buffering watersheds and aquifers from environmental pollutants; and the role of soils in natural and managed landscape and aquifer water budgets. The role of soils and associated vegetation in global carbon budgets will also be discussed. Emphasis is placed on soil as an influential factor in urbanized and disturbed settings.
3 Credits
LAR535 Diseases and Pests
This course introduces students to the common biotic and abiotic problems caused by diseases and pests in ornamental plants, as well as basic concepts of the current techniques and beliefs on managing these problems. Students cover the general principles of diagnosis and learn environmentally friendly management options. Students successfully completing this course will be able to: diagnose common biotic and abiotic problems associated with landscape plants; identify common insects, disease, weed, and vertebrate pest; prescribe appropriate integrated pest management strategies for specific situations.
3 Credits
LAR575 Field Ecology
The goal of this course is to introduce the students to the principles of ecology in urban and rural environments. Initially there will be a series of lectures to study ecological concepts, with extensive reading and discussion from the primary literature. The students will gain the understanding of how the physical environment, global cycles and climate influence the biogeographical distribution of global and regional ecosystems and local microhabitats. Lectures will focus on the physical environment, plant and animal adaptations, population ecology and community dynamics. One-half of the classes will consist of field trips to observe flora and fauna, practice plant and animal data collection techniques using standard field methods, and to study human ecology and the impacts of population growth and resource consumption.
3 Credits
LAR578 Wetlands Ecology
This course increases general knowledge of wetland systems - the physical and biological processes that influence the formation, development and distribution of wetlands in the landscape. Focus on the physical and biotic characteristics of wetlands through a series of lectures and discussions based on extensive readings of primary literature along with study of the principles of hydrogeomorphology, biogeochemistry, energy flow, population dynamics and community structure wetlands assessment. This course will review the life histories of keystone wetland species and threatened and endangered species endemic to regional wetland habitats. Field trips to local and regional wetlands will include inland wetlands of bogs, swamps, freshwater marshes and riparian habitat complexes with their characteristic flora and fauna.
3 Credits
LAR630 Design V: Design Methods Studio
This course is an introduction to the various design methods, techniques, and strategies that are commonly used in landscape architecture. The emphasis will be on the problem-solving processes, including incremental adaptation, pattern language, modular division, and optimization. Design exercises will examine the assumptions made in the construction of conceptual designs. Additional fee(s): Course Computing Fee.
3 Credits
LAR646 Design VI
This course allows the student to explore design topics and projects that are not covered in other design studios. Each student should collaborate with a faculty advisor in writing a proposal that outlines the specifics of the proposed site, users, and program.
3 Credits
LAR654 Construction IV: Road Design and Sustainable Transportation
This course introduces the student to the basic elements of roadway design and explores how these elements can be combined with context sensitive solutions to result in sustainable transportation. The course begins with an introduction to the concept of environmental stewardship and how this obligation can be married with functional feasibility to produce sustainable and enduring transportation solutions. Technical and procedural elements of roadway design such as project planning and development, environmental clearance, traffic operation, geometric layout, drainage, structural design, traffic maintenance during construction, and benefit/cost analysis are introduced and discussed. Additional issues such as traffic calming, pedestrian usage, bicycle usages, and inter-modal transit facilities are also discussed. The final project will require the students to prepare and present a conceptual design for an urban corridor that meets its functional needs as a roadway and incorporates context sensitive solutions.
3 Credits
LAR655 Water in Natural Systems and Urban Environments
This seminar course focuses on stormwater management using natural methods for water runoff through wetlands, bioswales, permeable paving, stormwater detention and sustainable water management systems. Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) will be studied as well as innovative stormwater design.This seminar course focuses on stormwater management using natural methods for water runoff through wetlands, bioswales, permeable paving, stormwater detention and sustainable water management systems. Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) will be studied as well as innovative stormwater design.
3 Credits
LNS695 Collaboration Studio in Landscape Design and Development
This course is the capstone studio that provides an opportunity for the MLD students to synthesize and apply the knowledge and skills that they acquire during their course of study into a comprehensive project. The final project is selected to address the three MLD tracks and synthesize the steps of the typical landscape development process, i.e. commission, inventory, analysis, design, construction, and operation.
4 Credits
LNS601 Landscape Operations and Management
This course develops literacy in the field of landscape contracting. It introduces the methods and techniques used in the landscape construction industry during the implementation and the maintenance stages. Technical skills used in bidding and managing landscape projects are introduced, including: estimating costs, bidding procedures, preparing contract documents, managing projects, and scheduling field activities. Prerequisite(s): LAR 651 & LAR 516
3 Credits
LNS521 Plants and Design I
This course introduces students to the art of designing landscape spaces with plant material. Abstract relationships of mass, height, distance, perception of texture, and color in plant groupings are explored. Structural and visual qualities, growing conditions, plant spacing, and growth rate are studied to generate detailed planting plans. Pre-requisite: LNS516 or permission from the instructor. Additional fees: Course Computing Fee
3 Credits
LAR664 LEED Principles and Strategies
This course provides essential knowledge of sustainable building concepts fundamental to all LEED rating systems. Defines "sustainable" as it relates to green building, describes the structure of LEED rating systems and certification process, describes key green building concepts, goals, strategies and measurements for achieving those goals, describes case studies that represent LEED best practices, and prepares students for the LEED Green Associate Exam.
3 Credits
PSY645 Environmental Psychology
Students will explore concepts, research, and practice related to the interface between environment and psychology. The course emphasizes the effects that environmental and climate change issues have on human health and well-being.
3 Credits
PWR616 Technical Writing
This course teaches students how to prepare letter reports and technical reports about subjects that require technical explanations, diagrams, charts, and jargon understood by technical readers. In addition, this course teaches students how to present technical information to technical readers so they understand the concepts and can apply them in their work.
3 Credits
ENG528 Academic Writing
students develop the writing skills necessary for success in graduate school, including proper citations, time management, and the content and format for two types of research proposals. Students become proficient in the APA style and have the opportunity to resolve grammar and structure problems with the professor.
3 Credits
PWR601 Introduction to Professional Writing
This foundational course is designed as an introduction to professional writing genres, models, standards, and formats of the online Master of Professional Writing degree. The course features practical writing and editing experience in a collaborative work environment. The class will establish a basic level of writing skills among MPW students and will begin with the development, or enhancement, of students' skills in analysis, synthesis, summarizing, and expository writing. In the latter part of the course, students focus on the techniques that make professional writing flow and hold the reader's interest. A workshop approach helps beginning writers learn to craft their work so that it reads smoothly and communicates effectively. Topics include creating leads that command interest, developing a story idea without floundering, making graceful and unobtrusive transitions, enriching the theme, and perfecting the ruthless art of self-editing. Students write short essays and critique their own published work.
3 Credits
PWR632 Science and Environmental Writing
This course focuses on the practice of writing about science, environment, medicine, and technology for audiences ranging from the general public to scientists and engineers. It starts with basic science writing for lay audiences, emphasizing organization and clear writing techniques and also explores problems of conveying highly complex technical information to multiple audiences, factors that influence science communication to the public, and interactions between scientists and journalists.
3 Credits