Courses

We offer a wide variety of courses and are receiving increasing recognition for our leadership in the use of innovative teaching methods in studio courses, research on emerging landscape design issues, and community-building services.

Our courses integrate the development of core design skills with our research, teaching and service focus on urban ecological design. Highlights include:

  • Culturally-based place making, through design build studio, cultural landscape, and community design studios
  • Ecological infrastructure through natural processes, ecological planning and design, and landscape technology studios
  • Design for ecological literacy in all coursework
  • Participatory design in advanced landscape architecture and interdisciplinary studios

The University of Washington Course Catalog provides a general description for our courses. See below for recent and current course lists. Contact belarc@uw.edu for course syllabi.

2021 – 2022 Course Lists

2021 Autumn L ARCH Courses

2020 – 2021 Course Lists

2021 Winter L ARCH Courses

2020 Autumn L ARCH Courses + Other Course of Interest

Autumn 2021 Courses

L ARCH 212: Designing the Future

MWF 1:00–2:50
Keith Harris
5 credits, VLPA or I&S (SLN: 17190)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

How do landscape architects and other designers shape our cities, our lives, and our futures? Through fieldwork, hands-on activities, research, and discussion, this course explores innovative and interdisciplinary design thinking and practice that addresses critical human issues from the local to the global scale.

L ARCH 300: Intro to Landscape Architecture Design Studio

MWF 1:30–5:20
Kristi Park
6 credits, VLPA (SLN: 17192)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

This studio provides an introduction into the methods and practice of integrating landscape architectural design into urban environments. This is a heavily collaborative class in which students work closely with instructors and one another to discuss, observe, and design local environments.

L ARCH 341: Site Design + Planning

TTh 10:00–11:20
3 credits, VLPA (SLN: 17194)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

“Site design and planning is the art and science shaping the places we live and work. Its aim is foundationally moral and aesthetic: to enhance everyday life. This course serves as an overview of the varied issues, scales, land uses, and contexts of site design and planning.”

Kevin Lynch and Gary Hack, Site Planning, Third Edition

L ARCH 352: History of Landscape Architecture “(re)Righting Landscapes”
Course Flyer

TTh 1:30–3:20
Elizabeth Umbanhowar
5 credits, VLPA or I&S + Writing (SLN: 17195)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

This survey course interrogates landscape sites, systems, and symbols from the Paleolithic to mid-nineteenth century. And thematically explores the writing, production, and performance of landscape and its histories through the diverse lenses of: power and ownership, memory and representation, knowledge and experience, labor and production, materiality and technological innovation, climate disruption and social change and race, class and gender.

L ARCH 498: Therapeutic Design for Human Health, an Interdisciplinary Seminar
Course Flyer

MW 6:00–7:20 PM
Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affiliate Faculty in Landscape Architecture
3 credits (SLN: 23084)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

What if design was approached with a commitment to human health and wellness focused on the user and wellbeing? Designers, planners, healthcare, and public and population health practitioners each have their own unique perspectives and each typically practice siloed from the others. Reported rates of collaboration between these groups is low, while potential to design for health and wellness is high, particularly as we navigate through the current public health crisis and pressing issues of social and health inequities. By expanding awareness and creating opportunities to collaborate, this paradigm can change. As with most interprofessional collaboration, the respective professions profit; however, in the case of therapeutic design there is synergy and an even greater beneficiary: the end-user. This interdisciplinary seminar is timely and will provide students opportunities to learn about and engage in a conceptual collaborative therapeutic design project.

L ARCH 498: Digital Fabrication in Landscape Architecture

TTh 6:00–7:20 PM
Roark Congdon, roarkc2@uw.edu
3 credits (SLN: 17215)

Offers an introduction to digital design and manufacturing technologies for utilization at multiple scales.  An emphasis on developing appropriate machine coding strategies.  Students utilize digital design software, digitally enhanced fabrication tools, as well as traditional, analog techniques.

Summer 2021 Courses

L ARCH 300: Introduction to Landscape Architecture Studio
Course Flyer

MWF 110–1250 | Full-term
Patrick Pirtle + Biruk Belay
6 credits, VLPA (SLN 11943)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

Introduction to history and environmental influences in field while developing design and graphic skills. Site analyses and drawing to convey design concepts. Relationship of visual perception to drawing, role of values in design, verbal communication, and behavioral analysis of design process. Required for admission to Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program.

L ARCH 407 | Advanced Studio: Taking it to the Streets
Course Flyer

MWF 110–1250 | Full-term
Elizabeth Umbanhowar
6 credits (SLN 11945)
For Add Codes, please contact Jenni Li (jencyli@uw.edu)

Pandemics. Protests. Public space. Traumatic loss and upheavals during COVID-19 have underscored anew the vital role of parks, streets, and other landscapes as vital sites of mourning, resistance, and healing. This studio explores the street as landscape–for art, protest, ritual, and (in)habitation–and the power of “being outside” in the communication, creation, and stewardship of healthy, equitable, and resilient public spaces.

This two-part studio explores design of accessible, safe, and inclusive streetscapes and the role of collaborative design in shaping habitats and hearts. We will work with Neighborhood Greenways and Stay Healthy Streets to rethink rights-of-way as democratic and creative spaces, and Sawhorse Revolution to develop related concepts for a built project with high school students led by Jescelle Major (Well Outside) as part of the annual Bellevue Art Museum Biennial opening in November 2021.

CANCELED: L ARCH 498 | Special Topics: Landscape Literacy
Course Flyer

MW 1020–1150 | Full-term
Jenn Engelke
3 credits (SLN 11948)
Questions? Please contact Nick Dreher (ndreher@uw.edu)

It is crucial for planners and designers to engage site users through design allowing them to form meaningful connections with the land. In this advanced seminar, we will study lenses of ecological literacy, ecological placemaking, and environmental storytelling and delve into strategies for effectively incorporating them into design. Through readings, research, and discussion, we will:

a) discover educational opportunities, personal connections, and
stories that landscapes tell us,
b) identify designed landscapes that reveal past histories, present conditions, and future possibilities, and
c) explore approaches used to encourage landscape literacy and demonstrate ways to promote it within our own designs.

“landscape literacy is a cultural practice that entails both understanding the world and transforming it”
– Anne Whiston Spirn,
From Landscape Literacy and Design for Ecological Democracy

Past Terms

Spring 2021

Courses for non-majors and special topics

L ARCH 322: Intro to Design with Living Materials
Course Flyer

TTh 100–1250 | Kristi Park, RLA
3 credits, VLPA (SLN 15870)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

Course Schedule:

  • Asynchronous lectures and exercises posted weekly.
  • Synchronous zoom discussion: Thursday @ 1p – 2:30p

Course Summary:

As urban and rural areas continue to accommodate an ever growing population, we must also reckon with harmful development patterns from the past. How do we balance equitable and healthy ecological and human health? We will tackle this question through an unsung heroic method; designing with living materials (aka. plants).

This quarter, we will continuously jump between global and site-specific scales through weekly exercises, diagramming, sketching, and observations. As an introductory course, prior knowledge of plants, space, drawing, design, or ecology is not required. However, a willingness to explore, discuss, exercise your imagination, think afresh, and work hard is essential.

TTh 100–1250 | Kristi Park, RLA
3 credits, VLPA (SLN 15870)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

Course Schedule:

  • Asynchronous lectures and exercises posted weekly.
  • Synchronous zoom discussion: Thursday @ 1p – 2:30p

Course Summary:

As urban and rural areas continue to accommodate an ever growing population, we must also reckon with harmful development patterns from the past. How do we balance equitable and healthy ecological and human health? We will tackle this question through an unsung heroic method; designing with living materials (aka. plants).

This quarter, we will continuously jump between global and site-specific scales through weekly exercises, diagramming, sketching, and observations. As an introductory course, prior knowledge of plants, space, drawing, design, or ecology is not required. However, a willingness to explore, discuss, exercise your imagination, think afresh, and work hard is essential.

L ARCH 363/563: Ecological Design and Planning
Course Flyer

TTh 830–950 | Mackenzie Waller, MLA+MArch
3 credits, NW (SLN 15871)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

Introduction to landscape ecological theory applied to urban environments. Comparison of different vocabularies used to describe landscape structure and function, from the fields of landscape design, urban design, and biology. Discussion of design theories that have sought to re-center landscape planning and design around the goal of achieving ecological sustainability. Synchronous course attendance required unless previous approval by instructor.

563 graduate student discussion section Th 10-10:50am.

L ARCH 423: Plant Identification + Management
Course Flyer

TTh 230-520 | Brooke Sullivan, PhD
3 credits (SLN 15874)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

Plants, and the soil in which they grow, are living materials that form the foundational palette from which cultural communities, including landscape architects, design and cultivate landscapes. Students in this course will learn multiple ways of ‘knowing’ plants through investigative methods for species identification and key management considerations of Pacific Northwest native and naturalized plants. The course will include investigations into ethnobotanical histories, relationships with and uses for plants as well as key ecological conditions and maintenance considerations. As such, this course provides students with an opportunity to gain broad insights to botanical topics in landscape architecture including ethnobotany, horticulture, taxonomy, biological complexity and the structural and cultural contributions of plants to urban ecology.

L ARCH 454: History of Urban Landscapes + Environments
Course Flyer

MWF 1000-1120 | Maria Taylor, PhD
5 credits, I&S + Optional Writing (SLN 15877)
Contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for questions.

This course explores the history of urban landscapes as effected by the intersection of three fields: industrialization, afforestation (tree-planting), and hygiene reform/hazard mitigation. While current professional and disciplinary norms might silo these fields, historically urban landscape design and urban hygiene/health infrastructure were tightly connected. As landscape historian Sonja Dümpelmann writes, “street trees have stood at the very core of events that have shaped and characterized the evolution of the modern city”[1] and remain central to discussions of urban heat island, neighborhood disinvestment / red-lining, and urban biodiversity today.

Understanding the historical connections between urban environmental design (i.e. street-trees), environmental hazards (smokestacks), and healthy living conditions (sanitation) takes on additional urgency in the current context of the global CoVID-19 pandemic. The historic relationship of urban eco-system services to community and environmental health is also directly relevant to the crises of ongoing anthropogenic climate change and social inequality.

Using insights gleaned from recent scholarship in urban environmental history, landscape and urban design history, and post-colonial eco-criticism, this course will begin with urban landscapes affected by the emergence of global networks of trade and exploitation (circa 1500), tracing themes of power, aesthetics, and hygiene up to the early 21st century. The urban environmental history of specific North American cities (Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Mexico City) will share the stage with international examples based on student interests (Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Delhi, Tokyo and others to be determined). Emphasis will be placed on the history of urban landscapes developed outside “Western” capitalist traditions, including the so-called “Second World” of socialist countries, and the impact of ideology on the development of urban forestry and other infrastructural systems.

L ARCH 498/598 (see also ANTH 469 + JSIS 484/584): Special Topics: Spaces of Creative Resistance in East Asia
Course Flyer

F 130-520 | Andrea Gervurtz Arai
5 credits (SLN 15879)
Contact Andrea Arai, araia2@uw.edu for questions.

Learn about the bottom-up, diverse and creative spaces of social change throughout East Asia. Put your studies into action by participating with UW and East Asian scholars and activists in our May 2021 workshop.

L ARCH 598 Special Topics: Design Justice Seminar
Course Flyer

T1030-120 | Lynne Manzo
3 credits (SLN 15887)
Contact Prof. Lynne Manzo for add codes, lmanzo@uw.edu.

What is design justice and what does it look like?  How can design and the placemaking professions advance social justice?  What is our agency in this?

In order to imagine a different future – one that is more equitable and just – we need to make space to dig in, explore and have conversations about what that would look like. This graduate seminar offers an opportunity to engage in discussion, debate & exploration around the ways that design and the place-making professions – long used as tools of oppression – can be reclaimed to advance social justice, equity and inclusion.

The spirit of the seminar is exploratory and experimental – it is a venue for us to think together about these complex issues and consider ways forward toward more equitable environments and strategies. This course is designed to enhance critical reflexivity, challenge our assumptions, become aware of our own positionality, and consider alternative framings. This is what Paolo Freire calls “Conscientization.”

Topics will include:

  • explorations of conceptions of justice and equity 
  • environmental and climate justice
  • critical race theory/anti-racist work
  • examining privilege & white supremacist culture/exploring meaningful white allyship
  • decolonization/indigeneity
  • social & ecological reciprocal healing
  • radical approaches to design & planning

In exploring these topics, the course will offer creative freedom to pursue your particular interests in design and social justice through a creative/research project of your choosing

This course is open to all majors, welcomes a diversity of perspectives and skill sets, and encourages innovative thinking.

Winter 2021

Courses for non-majors and special topics

L ARCH 353: Modern History of Landscape Architecture

MWF 1130–1250 | Maria Taylor
5 credits, VLPA/I&S, Optional Writing (SLN 16157)
Honors section (contact Nick Dreher, ndreher@uw.edu for add code)

The words “emergence” and “emergency” stem from the same root, as do ecology and economy. In this time of intersecting climate, social and economic crises, this course will explore the modern history of gardens, designed landscapes, and other forms of intentional interventions in human and material relations with land and place. In covering the period from the late 18th century to the present, we will look critically at the historical development of landscape architecture as a profession and its entanglements with industrialization, urbanization, colonialism and social inequality.

History in this framing is more than the study of precedents; it is the study of causes, contexts, and alternatives. What will emerge from this present moment depends on what we choose to celebrate, critique or continue from the past.. Topics covered will include historical landscapes of industrial and food production, political power and resistance, domesticity and domination, community and conflict, art and infrastructure. Class time will be split between brief lecture, small group activities, and student discussion. Taught  synchronously with some flexibility.

L ARCH 361: Human Experience of Place

Taught asynchronously | Jeff Hou
3 credits, VLPA/I&S, Diversity (SLN 16159)

The version of L ARCH 361 this year will examine the human experience of place in the context of city design. The complexity of cities today requires design investigations that address not only the physical forms but also the social and political forces that shape the built environment. This course examines the multiple and often competing forces that influence the making of contemporary cities and human experience of place. As a survey course, it investigates different paradigms and visions of cities, contested meanings and understandings of urban space, the social and political processes of placemaking, and the everyday experiences and imaginaries. It sees the urban environment, or cityscape, as a continuum of ideas, movements, processes, and change. Furthermore, it questions the conventional notion of design and examines a wider repertoire of spatial practices. Cases around the world including North America, Asia, Europe and Latin America are introduced to contrast and compare design practices and cultural contexts. While exploring the broader processes of city making, the course also explores specific design strategies and tactics that could begin to negotiate the competing social and spatial forces in the contemporary urban environment. For question, please contact Jeff Hou at jhou@uw.edu.

L ARCH 498: Climate Changed Urban Agriculture

TTh 1.00–2.20 | Julie Johnson
3 credits (SLN 16159)

With mounting evidence of accelerated climate change and increases in greenhouse gas emissions, concerns for food security gain greater attention. Patterns of drought, extreme heat and flood events impact regions across the globe and portend challenges for Puget Sound. While regenerative agricultural practices and other emerging approaches hold promise for large scale farming, local urban agriculture merits creative visioning to not only supply food, but improve local climates and foster community resilience.

This synchronous 3-credit (C/NC) seminar explores current and emerging paradigms for growing food in cities, and how these contexts may contribute to a more resilient future. Specifically, we will investigate urban agriculture models and practices, and explore how these can adapt to anticipated climate extremes in the Pacific Northwest. A framework for resilience includes consideration of: food security, food sovereignty, environmental justice, community networks, personal well-being, biodiversity, carbon capture, and integrated civic systems.

We will collectively prioritize research themes on the first day of seminar. You will choose and co-lead a session you are most interested in delving into. We will engage with readings, guest speakers, and virtual site visits. In-class discussions and exercises, reflection assignments, and a visioning project will be undertaken across the quarter.

Questions? Suggestions? Please contact Associate Professor Julie Johnson: jmjsama@uw.edu

Autumn 2020

Courses for non-majors and special topics

L ARCH 212: Designing the Future

Taught asynchronously | Keith Harris
5 credits, VLPA / I&S (SLN 16935)

How do landscape architects and other designers shape our cities, our lives, and our futures? Through fieldwork, hands-on activities, research, and discussion, this course explores innovative and interdisciplinary design thinking and practice that addresses critical human issues from the local to the global scale.

L ARCH 300: Intro Landscape Architecture Design Studio

MWF 1:30–5:20
6 credits, VLPA (SLN 16937)

This studio provides an introduction into the methods and practice of integrating landscape architectural design into urban environments. This is a heavily collaborative class in which students work closely with instructors and one another to discuss, observe, and design local environments.

L ARCH 341: Site Design and Planning

TTh 10–11:20
3 credits, VLPA (SLN 16939)

“Site design and planning is the art and science shaping the places we live and work. Its aim is foundationally moral and aesthetic: to enhance everyday life. This course serves as an overview of the varied issues, scales, land uses, and contexts of site design and planning.”

L ARCH 352: History of Landscape Architecture

MWF 12:00–1:20
5 credits, VLPA / I&S + Writing (SLN 16940)

A critical and historical analysis of the breadth of landscape architecture as idea, art form, experience, place, and practice. How do we read designed landscape, particularly in an urban context? How has the design of landscape reflected ideas about nature, culture, and cities throughout history? How has the role of designer manifested in design of landscapes across cultures, places, and history?

2019–2020 Course Lists

2018–2019 Course Lists