Structures in Landscape Architecture, Joint & Detail


This class explores how to design and make physical landscapes that are both rationally constructed and expressively convincing. This search is focused through the lens of structural understanding. This lens clarifies how a working knowledge of structural principles guides the tectonic development of made landscapes from the overall material configuration of, for example, footbridges, pavilions or walled enclosures, to the evolution of specific detail and jointing vocabularies for these and other site elements.


– Understanding structural principles using a visual, non-mathematical format.
– Designing and applying structural principles to physical making using the categories of: to span, to frame and to enclose.
– Exploring the rhetoric of detail and material making. 
– Exploring the role of techniques that cause specified changes in the characteristics and shape of materials.
– Exploring the future of the craft of joining in a digital design, fabrication, and construction/assembly future.

Course Objectives & Outcomes

– Understand how to structurally shape and detail material landscape forms.
– Be able to explore the structural, material, and constructional aspects of landscape expression. 
– Be able to engage in a productive dialogue about landscape making with other design professionals.

Course Format

– Lecture/Workshop.
– Lectures explaining structural/detail principles accompanied by in class workshops applying these principles. 
– Case studies of landscape structures presented and critically discussed in class.

Method of Evaluation

– In-class participation in discussions
– A graphic case study of an existing landscape structure
– The design of a landscape element – a part of a current or previous studio or professional project


There are no prerequisites for this class. Students of all GSD disciplines who are interested in the physical design of landscapes are welcome.

MLA 1 and MLA 1AP students can take this class concurrently with GSD 6242.