Mud Gallery: Olympia Arts Month

In March 2021, three MLA students submitted this project, entitled Mud Gallery, to Olympia Arts Month in Olympia, Washington.

We are a group of three landscape architecture students from Olympia, Seattle and Baltimore. We share a deep love of this region and a desire to connect people with place. We are excited about the way the community of Olympia is coming together right now to decide the future of Capitol Lake, formerly the Deschutes Estuary or the Steh-Chass. For our graduate capstone project we have taken a closer look at the aesthetics of a restored estuary, with a particular focus on mud. This body of work explores our own evolving relationship with mud through a series of playful art explorations. We are imagining a future in which mud is celebrated for both its ephemeral beauty and for the life it supports.

Learn more about the project by viewing this PDF.

  1. InvasiveRiceMP4
  2. TidesMP4


Liquid lands: investigating the estuaries of the Salish Sea

graphic banner of a city plan with street layouts and rivers in red and orange shades and the title Cartographic Imaginations

Course Instructor

Ken Yocom

Course Date

Academic Year

Course Type

LARCH 598 + 702
Capstone Studio

Liquid Lands is a project of design, science, and communication that builds on and consolidates emerging methods in design research and representation practices across a broad range of disciplines accessing approaches and epistemological frameworks from landscape architecture, critical cartography, art, geography, and museology. It communicates the complex research of the Salish Sea to the geographic locations of the most substantive inputs into the ecosystem, riverine estuaries. While extensive, the scope is grounded in place, excavating and reassembling the nature of these watery lands to bring new light, perspective, and questions to how we understand nature and our role within it.

Learn more about the liquid lands studio and the rest of the Cartographic Imaginations studio series at

Auburn Alleyway Activation: MLA Project

What happens when you turn an uninviting alleyway lined with dumpsters over to UW Landscape Architecture students? They produce a design that allows for sitting, eating, and gathering while adding green space and improved stormwater runoff.

The city of Auburn, Washington discovered these possibilities for such a space when three 2018 MLA graduates (Allison Ong, Sylvia Janicki, and Jack Alderman) developed a proposal for an alleyway in historic downtown on an independent study project through UW Livable City Year.

You can see a one-page overview of the project or read the full proposal.

The Auburn Reporter covered the team’s proposal to the city council on August 31, 2018. Read the article: City on board with alley plan

The team receives advice on their plant palette from a member of local firm HBB.


Alleyway Opportunities and Constraints
Site Plan

Pollinator Network: MLA Capstone

Yuchia Jan received his Master of Landscape Architecture in 2018. For his capstone project, he created a concept design to explore networks of pollinators including Monarch butterflies and Rufous hummingbirds in South Seattle and along Chief Sealth Trail.

Yuchia’s capstone project was covered on Rethinking the Future, a website that highlights architecture and design that envision a future that incorporates both human and environmental needs. Read their full article here.

Building a Healing Garden: BLA Design-Build 2016

In winter and spring quarters of 2016, students from the University of Washington Department of Landscape Architecture designed and built a therapeutic garden for the Puget Sound Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Seattle. Prof. Daniel Winterbottom guided the students through this design/build capstone project. The Garden of Earth and Sky opened in June 2016.

Located in a courtyard near the main entrance and emergency room, the site serves patients, family, and staff. Many of these patients suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress-related symptoms. The concept of the design is to reorient one’s position in relation to the sky and earth, reconnecting users to the greater natural landscape.

Plantings and materials were chosen to reflect the Pacific Northwest landscape through native plants, wood structures, basalt stones and blue stone paving. A seamless transition was created between the garden and hospital, revealed in the seating, paving, and geometry of the site.

This video documents the creation of the garden and its positive impact on both veterans and students. It was produced by Tatoosh Media.

Building a Healing Garden – UW Department of Landscape Architecture Design/Build from UW College of Built Environments on Vimeo.

Improving the Lives of Syrians


by Malda Takieddine (MLA Candidate ’14)

As a Syrian, I’ve spent the past three years struggling to accept what is happening in Syria. In particular, I’ve been trying to find a way to contribute and help the people of my country, while I am more than 6000 miles away.

As a landscape architect student at the UW, I chose to focus my thesis on improving the lives of Syrians in a refugee camp. In particular, I’m focusing on children and researching how places can help treat children’s war traumas and help with the healing process.

When I began searching for ideas, the Al-Za’atari Camp in Jordan was the first to come to my mind; it is the fourth largest city in Jordan housing more than 100,000 Syrian Refugees. In January, I joined a local charity, Salam Cultural Museum (SCM) in their January medical mission, and I spent five days in Jordan. Also, through the help of Mercy Corps I was able to visit Za’atari.


The camp is located north of Jordan, more than 30,000 of the camp residents are kids. The camp is a very sad place – it is located in an open arid area that is vulnerable to all the desert toughness. In addition, I was shocked by the conditions these people are living in. Many people are in tents, some are in caravans, and many aspects of decent human living are absent. People are crammed into small tents or studio-sized caravans, with neither private bathrooms nor basic sanitary tools. Mothers have to carry their sick children and walk long distances to reach a clinic. People have to walk a long way, on gravel and mud, and face the harsh elements to reach their daily needs. While the camp lacks basic necessities, it has few recreation areas and playgrounds. These playgrounds can take children away from the hard reality of the camp. It is like an oasis with great therapists who are giving all their efforts to accommodate and help children heal from their struggles. I was able to talk to staff and learn about their experiences in the camp and their experiences in dealing with kids. Moreover, I was very happy to be able to do some exercises with the kids. I asked the kids (ages between 3- 13) to draw the places that they like the most in the camp, and I was emotionally touched from the results. There were more than forty kids; the majority of them drew their houses back in Syria with trees and flowers; and many have sun and butterflies. Other kids draw buses and told me that these buses are the ones that bring them to Za’atari from Syria. I heard from the staff that at the beginning most of the kids drew only war images and scenes, but by the time of my visit they noticed less kids were drawing them.


With no end in sight to the crisis in Syria, the refugee numbers continue to rise. UNHCR estimates that more than five million kids are affected by the war in Syria. One million of them are refugees in the neighboring countries. The refugee camps should be a space where people feel relived and safe after their long emotional road of suffering. It is the hardest thing on human beings to be forced to leave their home, and that was very obvious in all the kids’ drawings and I felt it in all the discussions with the residents of Za’atari. Most of them watched their homes and neighborhoods destroyed. Therefore, as a landscape architect, I aspire to be part of developing refugee camp and an advocate for the need of our profession to create a difference in this world.


All Pictures were taken by Malda Takieddine