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What is landscape architecture?

Landscape architecture is the work of making specific kinds of places outdoors. It could be designing a town square or a playground—even a whole city. It could be designing a pond to make it better for frogs, turtles, fish, and birds. Some kinds of landscape architecture are easy to see, like a park. Other kinds may look completely wild, like a meadow or a mountainside. Landscape architecture is dedicated to the design of healthy environments and communities, and to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of people.

 Landscape Architecture Magazine

Landscape architects are designers of environments—environments that encompass both natural and social worlds, urban spaces and wilderness, land, water and air. They design for people and communities, plants and animals. They consider social and natural processes and aim to protect human and environmental health and well-being.

The profession of landscape architecture in the United States has strong roots in the urban parks movement of the nineteenth century. Historically, landscape architects have played an important role in the creation of urban open space as well as the regional park systems. Early pioneers such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. were social thinkers and urban visionaries. In their view, landscape is not only a source of recreation and enjoyment but also an instrument of social reform.

At the University of Washington, we focus on a particular area of landscape architecture we call urban ecological design. We believe that cities like Seattle can be (re)designed to support the health and well-being of human beings and other species.

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To learn more about landscape architecture, visit ASLA’s Your Path to Landscape Architecture.

Other Resources

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association of landscape architects in the United States. Their website highlights the innovative projects and leaders in the profession and includes plenty of resources and information for the aspiring landscape architect.

Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes features a series of animations created by Daniel Tal, ASLA, to show how landscape architects use sustainable design approaches to solve pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges.

Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) supports the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment through promoting research, scholarships and leadership in the field.

The New Landscape Declaration is a 21st century call to action for landscape architects and designers across the globe. It emphasizes the role landscape architects must play in addressing the critical issues we face as a society—climate change, inequality, rapid urbanization, among others.

Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) lists professionally accredited degree programs across the country.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational handbook provides up to date information and projections on landscape architecture as a profession.