The first portion of the class introduces the concepts of topography and grading by focusing on the use of landforms in history, art and landscape design. By examining the origins and inspiration for shaping the land, students will acquire a deeper understanding of how grading can inform their designs, and by extension, how people will experience their landscapes. This understanding is supported by technical topics including surveying techniques, characteristics of contours, grading terminology and formulas, drainage patterns, and accessibility issues. Students will learn how to use topography to support the poetic and prosaic aspects of design while gaining confidence in applying technical techniques.
Assignments in the first portion will provide students with opportunities to explore and understand the technical realities of manipulating land and the vast possibilities for using land as a basis for experiencing the landscape. Two local field trips are scheduled to observe the contrast between overall grading strategies that work successfully and unsuccessfully with an overall design vision. A final assignment will explore how well known designers have used topography in their work.
The second portion seeks to develop the students\’ understanding of two essential relationships: the links between plants and people (horticulture) and between plants and the environment (ecology). Recognizing that plants are one of the essential mediums of landscape architecture, the course explores them through the organizing principles of plant taxonomy and morphology, ecological communities and adaptability to the living landscape. This is achieved through a series of both field trips and lectures that focus on the following topics: concepts and practices for effectively using plants as a design medium; demonstrations of how to identify individual plants in the landscape communities they comprise; the ecological factors that define plant communities and the relevant impact on plant selection; introduction to the cultural requirements and spatial, functional and aesthetic qualities of approximately 100 plants; the nature of commercial nursery production; the proper selection of plants for, and integration into, the designed landscape.
The second portion will include one session per week, with a combination of lectures and design exercises to develop a planting design methodology based on knowledge of individual tree species and their performance in the landscape. Evaluation of student performance is based on design exercise grades, class attendance, and class participation. The first class will take place on Monday, March 19th.