Initially established in 1924 and later revitalized under the leadership of Professor Ian McHarg in the 1960s, the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning is recognized around the world for its pioneering contributions to ecological planning and design. Today, the Department advances this legacy through its commitment to innovative design as informed by ecology, the history of ideas, techniques of construction, new media, and contemporary urbanism. The work of both faculty and students reflects the ambitious character of the Department, and continues to be deeply influential internationally. Rapidly changing social and cultural conditions around the world require that future professionals will be able to respond with new concepts, forms and methods of realizing projects, and it is to the global future that we look.
The diversity of the profession of landscape architecture is well represented at Penn. Students are introduced both to the varied scales of practice (from gardens and small urban parks to larger territories such as city sectors, brownfields, and regional watersheds) and to its broad scope (from formal and material issues to techniques of reclamation, management, and communication). These concerns are most developed in the design studios, where students are encouraged to explore and expand their own creativity while learning the necessary conceptual, visual and technical skills to properly develop their work. Seminars and workshops in history and theory, technology (ecology, horticulture, earthwork, construction, and project management), and visual and digital media further complement this work. Advanced, speculative and/or independent work takes place in the final year of study, where students may choose from a wide array of offerings across the School.
The faculty is internationally distinguished and provides expertise in design, urbanism, representation, technology, and history and theory. In addition, leading practitioners and theorists around the world are invited to lecture, run seminars, or teach advanced studios. Together with very strong links to the other departments in the School—and especially to the Department of Architecture - the Department is exceptionally well served by talented and committed teachers, each a major authority in the field.
The Department offers two primary courses of study leading to a professionally accredited Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). The first professional degree program is three years in length and is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture or architecture. The second professional degree is two years in length and is designed for those who already hold an accredited bachelors degree in either landscape architecture or architecture. Students may be admitted with advanced standing into either of these programs depending upon their respective backgrounds. Dual degree programs with architecture (MLA/MARCH), city planning (MLA/MCP), or fine arts (MLA/MFA) are also available. All of the above named degrees may be combined with certificate programs in Historic Preservation, Urban Design, or Real Estate and Development. The Department also offers a Certificate in Landscape Studies, designed for students who may wish to augment or focus their prior work through research into landscape topics.