Ecologies, Techniques, Technologies II

Topography is one of the primary and most powerful elements of landscape architecture, forming a founda-tion for plant growth, habitat, the flow of water and energy, and human experience.  This course is dedicat-ed to developing students’ facility in reading the land and manipulating topography and water flow through a variety of representational tools with a focus on plan drawings of contours, slopes and spot elevations, mod-els, and section drawings.  Students will learn techniques that cumulatively build toward an ability to resolve difficult grading problems with many layers of complexity.  

The course begins with reading the land, geomorphology, and the act of grading and contour manipulation, and then introduces the conventions of grading representation, terminology and communication in the con-struction industry, as well as accessibility codes.  The flow of water is inherent in all grading activity, thus we will include techniques used to calculate the amount of water flowing over a site and the various ways that the topography can be manipulated in order to convey, filter, collect or disperse water in order to help im-prove its quality and control water flow emanating from a range of storm events.  The case studies and prec-edents presented throughout the course help to illustrate a broad range of approaches to problem solving and the act of sculpting the land.

Learning Objectives
This course focuses on the agency of landform and water flow in the creation and design of landscape.  At the end of the course, students will be able to manipulate contours toward a given intention and will under-stand the factors that contribute to stormwater volumes and flows and ways to embrace and incorporate those factors toward a desired design intent.  

Pedagogical Structure
Asynchronous, flipped, with in-class workshops:  The course is taught as a series of lectures and individual, in-class short-term exercises that focus on core competencies.   Most lectures will be recorded in advance and available for asynchronous learning.  The course will use a “flipped” classroom approach in which stu-dents will review lectures independently in many cases, and use class time for questions and assistance on the assigned exercises.  Select lectures will be live and recorded, or played live, with instructors available to answer questions during the lecture.

2 class sessions per week: Each week will include two class sessions:  one dual session attended by both MLA I and MLA I AP students, and one session dedicated to a smaller group of students, per the schedule de-scribed at the beginning of this syllabus.  The smaller group sessions will be primarily work sessions on the short-term “techniques” exercises, during which students can request assistance from the instructors.  The exercises will require additional out-of-class time in order to complete them.  

Digital and hand work:  Early core competency exercises are completed by hand, and grading in AutoCAD is introduced during the second week, in order to help provide students with few shifts in media types during the pandemic.

The following tools should be brought to each class:  engineering scale, architect’s scale, calculator, trace, drawing implements, computer.  Computer programs incorporated into this course will include:  AutoCAD, Excel, Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, InDesign and other graphic programs.  

Grade Evaluations
Grades will be based on submitted exercises and participation in class as follows:

In-Class Exercises: 85%
Participation: 15%

Work submitted late will be marked down accordingly.  Attendance will be taken in class and absences will be noted.

Course schedule

– Tuesdays from 9.30 to 10.30 am – all students (MLA1 + MLA1AP)
– Thursdays from 9.30 to 10.30 am – MLA 1 students only
– Friday from 8.30 to 9.30 am – MLA 1AP students only