Landscape architecture straddles the interface between the cultural and natural worlds, addressing design issues inherent in a range of typologies and scales, from specific sites to global systems. RISD's program prepares students to thoughtfully examine the increasingly complex issues associated with these environments and to develop innovative design solutions.
- 2-year + 3-year graduate programs
In the studio
Whether working in the field, the CAD Lab, the Model Shop or on their own laptops, students are challenged to think critically and develop self-reliant design processes. Studio work is complemented by the study of drawing, history, theory, ecology, cultural geography, plants and technology.
David Mazer | MLA candidate
"The medium of landscape architecture can take on many forms, while the philosophies, demands and requirements are always in flux. In the Oystertecture studio I took last semester we took on a range of issues, from oyster harvesting to habitat and systems that deal with coastal soil erosion to water quality issues. The studio definitely changed my perception of what the practice of landscape architecture can be or the issues it can inform and challenge."
Emily Vogler | department head
“Landscape architecture is a very broad discipline that can include everything from intensely personal artistic expressions to highly engineered technological interventions, with projects ranging from a single stone wall to a riverfront that goes on for miles. With that in mind, we promote a very pluralistic education here and encourage students to go beyond our studios and classrooms—to engage with what people are doing out in the world.”
Landscape Architecture students graduate with the versatility and self-confidence to work in a wide range of land- and systems-based design fields, pursuing interests they've typically begun to explore as graduate students. In general, they are collaborative in spirit, open-minded, innovative in their approaches to problem solving and blessed with a certain joie de vivre. Above all, alumni self-identify as creators – not merely consumers – of contemporary culture.
Alumni at work
In addition to running a thriving studio in Miami, Roberto Rovira teaches as an associate professor at Florida International University, where he leads the Landscape Architecture program. Working at the edge of the built and natural environments, Studio Roberto Rovira produces diverse projects of uncompromising design quality. “We make people want to love what surrounds them and trust that our mad dedication will always pay off in the end,” he says. Among Rovira's most recent projects: a minimum-maintenance courtyard garden at FIU that welcomes users via circular benches, stainless steel sculptures, abundant air plants, blue sky above and blue glass underfoot.
As cofounder and executive director of Anchal, an international nonprofit that uses design, craft, education and community building to improve the lives of sex workers in India, Colleen Clines harnesses the creative spirit and passion for social justice she honed as a graduate student. “At RISD I really began to see how design is more than visual — how it can be used as a vehicle for problem-solving and positive social change,” she says. When she's not traveling overseas, Clines lives in Louisville and teaches Landscape Architecture at the University of Kentucky.
"Science is my muse for design," says Ian Quate, a landscape architect who expresses his commitment to scientifically-informed, green design through his work with the New York-based firm Nelson Byrd Woltz and a variety of nonprofit organizations. At NBW, Quate's projects center on cultivating environments that integrate urban wildlife with cities and other areas in the Northeast. In addition, he is engaged in interdisciplinary ventures like the BK BioReactor, an alternative cleanup proposal for Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal that won first prize in the 2015 Gowanus by Design competition.
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