Fully accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects, RISD’s MLA program is unique in that it gives students access to a wide range of fine art and design courses on campus, along with classes at Brown University, study abroad options and a six-week Wintersession that allows for focused study on campus or off. In addition, the program revolves around environmental and global issues, with recent involvement in projects in Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ghana and beyond.
With approximately 45 graduate students and 20-some faculty members, Landscape Architecture offers a very hands-on experience with a low student-teacher ratio and a lot of intellectual exchange in the studio. Professors not only get to know students well by working with them on an individual basis, they offer ready insight into their own professional practices. All see teaching as a laboratory where material investigations and conceptual explorations intertwine with individual studio research and practice. This makes for a supportive community that encourages individual growth and allows emerging designers to clarify their interests and focus.
Sharing a building with RISD’s Architecture program, students readily engage in interdisciplinary exploration. As MLA candidates, they’re given opportunities to design and build within the complexities of the urban environment, and to participate in studios that bring together designers, regulators, biologists, ecologists and urban planners to develop models for environmentally sound development. Beyond campus, the department has been involved in a master plan for a sustainable community in Costa Rica; for a new university for women in Bangladesh; water issues and urban redevelopment in Italy; urban ecological issues in India; and sustainable development issues in both Ghana and Mexico City.
Yan Yang MLA 2013
Xiaoxuex Huang MLA 2013
Tyler Kiggins MLA 2013
Sarah Gould MLA 2013
Roy Small MLA 2013
Judy Tung MLA 2012
Christina Vannelli MLA 2013
Andrew Liang MLA 2013
Adrian Flores MLA 2012
David Mazer MLA 2013
RISD offers a variety of opportunities for graduate students to develop teaching skills via teaching assistantships and participation in reviews as critics or jurors. During Wintersession master’s candidates are invited to propose seminars of their own design open to students from across campus. In the past, these seminars have focused on such disparate topics as color theory and landscape design, landscape photography, environmental art and 3D imaging.
The department offers two paths to the Master of Landscape Architecture: MLA I, a three-year program for students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than landscape architecture, and MLA II, a two-year program for students entering with accredited pre-professional degrees (BLA). At the heart of the curriculum – from the initial design foundation/field ecology course to the core studio sequence – is the design studio, a forum for investigating aesthetic, ecological, cultural and technological issues. In sharing core courses, students in Landscape Architecture and related departments such as Architecture and Industrial Design develop a common language that serves as a foundation for cross-disciplinary discourse and encourages individual exploration and expression.
In the final year, students complete the course of study by developing a thesis and a methodology for testing their conceptual premise through a committed design project. This final requirement differs from most programs, and allows students to spend the time they need to develop a visual and written language that articulates their interests and future direction. All MLA candidates also participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held annually.
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