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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.

Degree program

MLA
2-year + 3-year graduate programs

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.

Ramon Solis | MLA candidate

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"I appreciate the focus in Landscape Architecture on visual and conceptual thinking. Here I have the freedom to experiment with materials, model-making and, of course, through drawing. I learned early to leave my assumptions about the discipline at the door and now I am engaged in experimental, collaborative, arts-based research. The faculty encourages students to work at multiple scales and teaches landscape architecture as a time-based medium. This multi-dimensional approach prepares me to be a different kind of designer."

Johanna Barthmaier-Payne | 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

Phoebe Lickwar MLA 06 | landscape architect

Phoebe Lickwar is the founder of FORGE, a Fayetteville, AR-based landscape architecture firm that, in harmonizing aesthetics and ecology, cultivates community through landscape design. Throughout her career has collaborated on several prominent memorials and cultural centers and in 2018 her installation Into the Woods! won the International Garden Competition at Chaumont-sur-Loire in France. Lickwar frequently shows fine art photography in juried exhibitions throughout the US and is an associate professor of landscape architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.

Ian Quate MLA 2011 | Landscape Architect/Environmentalist

"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.