Landscape Architecture Courses

Studio I
LARP 501 Fall Sean Burkholder & Team
The focus of this foundation studio is to explore ways of recording and representing landscape - with an emphasis on material, space, rhythm and measure - through a range of drawings and constructions. The studio attempts to create a sensibility toward landscape where the act of surveying a site is as much an imaginative endeavor as is the crafting of an artifact or the construction of a path in a landscape. Emphasis is placed on visual and manual skills in two-dimensional and three-dimensional constructions (drawing, fabrications, model-making, etc.), while developing ways to "see" landscape. The studio is structured around the themes of wetness/dryness and enclosure/disclosure, and works with one or more sites in the Philadelphia region. In the past, the studio has focused on a territory around Martha's Furnace in the Pine Barrens, NJ; a part of the Meadowlands in northern NJ; an anthracite strip-mine in part of Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains; the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River Trail in
Philadelphia; and Great Falls in Paterson, NJ. Most recently, the studio has focused on a stretch of East Fairmount Park near the Brewerytown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Projects involve the making of pathways in these otherwise undesigned environments.
Studio II
LARP 502 Spring Karen M’Closkey & Team
This foundation design studio explores the relationship among sites, drawings, models and the making of landscape architectural projects. The studio site is typically located on vacant or abandoned land in North Philadelphia along the Delaware River. Such sites are fairly large in size and present a complex set of issues, including fragmentation, lack of access, and contamination. Through the design of a park, students test and refine the relationship among project concept, modes of visualization, and project formation (organizational and material).

As a precursor to site work, students experiment with methods and materials for making organization and form in two and three dimensions. In the early part of the semester, we explore techniques of imaging that generate multiples (scenarios), serial progressions (transformations of a sort), and iterations (transformations of another). Through various grafting techniques, we use the resultant drawings and models as analogous structures in order to imagine possible future organizations and uses for the site. These studies occur in conjunction with site interpretations ranging from photographs and sketches, to measured drawings and diagrams. The objective for the studio is to develop an informed and imaginative response to the site in order to create new relationships among the site, its immediate edges and the larger neighborhood or region.
Studio III
LARP 601 Fall Ellen Neises & Team
Prerequisite(s): Students in the 3-yr MLA program must complete LARP 501: Studio I and LARP 502: Studio II prior to beginning LARP 601: Studio III. This studio brings together both two-year and three-year MLA students for a landscape studio problem that works at a regional scale, as well as multiple design scales. LARP 601—the Green Stimuli studio—emphasizes rigorous site analysis, the strategic organization of living material, and the potential of design to produce a wide range of effects. Studio problems are “live”—local leaders and experts are actively trying to solve them, there is an audience for student work outside the University, and projects have the potential to stimulate debate and new directions.

The Green Stimuli studio takes on design problems where soil, terrain, geology, mineral resources, climate, water, plants, wildlife, and living systems interactions are major drivers. Studio projects explore one or more of these dimensions in depth to reach high levels of design exploration, strategic thinking, technical resolution and physical expression. The studio’s topics intersect with a broader universe of practical concerns, including land use, local and regional economies, real estate development and public policy, as well as philosophical and artistic questions about nature and ecology. The intent is that designed Green Stimuli make new connections between the material of landscape and the economic, infrastructural, scientific, social, cultural and creative attributes of a region.

Studio IV
LARP 602 Spring Christopher Marcinkoski & Team
Prerequisite(s): Students in the 3-yr MLA program must complete LARP 501: Studio I, LARP 502: Studio II and LARP 601: Studio III prior to beginning LARP 602: Studio IV. This studio is the fourth and final studio in the core sequence and is designed to introduce students to essential competencies related to contemporary problems in urban design. The studio operates in what have been referred to as ‘global cities’ – contexts in which there are significant pressures on the physical form of a metropolis from substantial population and economic growth (both ongoing and projected). These pressures induce considerable demands for the development of new infrastructures, dwellings and industry within rapidly transforming metropolitan contexts. The studio is focused on managing and negotiating these pressures through landscape-driven strategies capable of guiding and organizing this urbanization. Students develop individual design strategies through a process of mapping, modeling, scenario building and fieldwork that lead to both conceptual and physical proposals for the development of new urban districts and metropolitan agendas.
Studio V / Studio VI
LARP 701 / LARP 702 Fall / Spring
These advanced elective studios provide opportunities for focused exploration of particular themes in contemporary landscape architecture. Important emerging and accomplished designers, often from divergent points-of-view, interests and backgrounds, are invited to run these studios. Collaborative options (between Landscape and the Departments of Architecture or City Planning) are sometimes offered across the School. In addition to our own faculty who offer some of these studios (Corner, da Cunha, Fabiani Giannetto, Gouverneur, Marcinkoski, Mathur, M'Closkey, Neises, Olin, Pevzner, Sanders, Tomlin, Van Eyck, and Weller), international visitors have included Valerio Morabito (Italy), Paolo Burgi (Switzerland), Peter Latz (Munich), Catherine Mosbach and Bernard Lassus (Paris), Claudia Taborda (Lisbon), Martin Rein-Cano (Berlin) Peter Beard (London), Alessandro Tagliolini (Italy), Stanislaus Fung and Peter Connolly (Australia). New York and Boston based elective studio critics have included Mark Thomann, David Maestres, Nanako Umemoto/Neil Smith, Sylvia Benedito, Sandro Marpillero, Nicholas Quennell, Chris Reed, Ken Smith, Charles Waldheim, Dennis Wedlick, Lee Weintraub, James Wines; as well as Perry Kulper from Los Angeles. Local guest critics have included Trevor Lee/Ari Miller/Judy Venonsky, Keith Kaseman, Carol and Colin Franklin, Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, Margie Ruddick and former associate professor Anita Berrizbeitia.
Workshop I: Ecology and Built Landscapes
LARP 511 Fall Sally Willig & Marie Hart
This workshop explores a sequence of sites extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains that illustrates the changing geology and topography of the regional physiographic provinces including the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Valley and Ridge. In moving westward along the transect, field trips to natural areas and constructed sites will highlight the diversity of regional plant communities ranging from primary dune to salt marsh, pine-oak forest to Atlantic white cedar swamp, beech-oak forest to tidal freshwater marsh, serpentine Virginia pine-oak forest to seepage wetland, and more. Analysis of the inter-connections between the underlying geology, topography, hydrology, soils, vegetation, wildlife, and human interventions will reveal patterns reflecting process and demonstrate key ecological principles. An in-studio component of the course will use representation to explore the cultural landscapes of the regions studied. Students will observe, analyze and represent ecological and cultural systems and processes through the production of field notebooks as well as large-scale measured drawings. Ultimately students will develop a vocabulary (recognition, identification and nomenclature) of the materials of landscape, its substance, its ecology, and its changing nature owing to place and time.
Workshop II: Landform and Planting Design
LARP 512 Spring Anneliza Kaufer
Corequisite(s): Spring Field Ecology Laboratory/Willig. Workshop II combines two of the most elemental tools in the practice of landscape architecture: landform and planting design. Grading - the shaping and sculpting of landform - is both art and science, and thus Workshop II aims to provide an appreciation of landform as an evocative component in the design vocabulary as well as a critical tool in solving difficult design problems. The basic techniques and strategies of grading design (slopes, terraces, water management, grade change devices) will be introduced, practiced and reinforced, so that grading design becomes an integral part of the students’ design approach. Lecture, field trips, modeling, in-class exercises, and group projects will be used. The Planting component provides students with a working overview of the principles and processes of planting design. Plants will be considered both as individual elements and as part of larger dynamic systems. The natural distribution of plants, concepts of plant community and successional patterns, and the relationship of planting and topography will be used as the initial framework for planting design. Planting design typologies will be examined as an outgrowth of these ‘natural’ patterns. The role of plants as a key element in the structural design of the landscape will be explored through a combination of modeling, plan and section drawing, temporal studies, writing, field trips and case studies. Emphasis will be placed on process and evolution: the temporality of planting (daily, seasonal and annual changes), establishment and maintenance of plantings, and the process of planting design. During the first week of May, a five-day field ecology course focuses on techniques of urban revitalization, sustainable land use, reclamation, and restoration. The field trips offer insight into the diversity of approaches to using plants to promote positive environmental change.
Workshop III: Site Engineering and Water Management
LARP 611 Fall Anneliza Kaufer
Prerequisite(s): Students in the 3-yr MLA program must complete LARP 511: Workshop I and LARP 512: Workshop II prior to beginning LARP 611. Building upon the skills and concepts developed in Workshops I and II, this intermediate workshop focuses on technical aspects of site design, with an emphasis on landscape performance. Functional considerations related to landscapes and their associated systems – including circulation, drainage and stormwater management, site stabilization and remediation – will be explored as vital and integral components of landscape design, from concept to execution. Lectures, case studies, field trips, and focused design exercises will enable students to develop facility in the tools, processes and metrics by which landscape systems are designed, evaluated, built and maintained. In concert with the concurrent design studio, students will consider the means by which functional parameters can give rise to the conceptual, formal, and material characteristics of designed landscapes.
Workshop IV: Advanced Landscape Construction
LARP 612 Fall Greg Burrell & Brad Thornton
Prerequisite(s): LARP 611: Workshop III. Advanced Landscape Construction: The Art and Craft of Design Documentation and Detailing introduces students to the process of landscape documentation as means of strengthening design intent through careful material selection and articulation of form. The course builds upon Workshop III by expanding the concept of site systems to the full range of drawings, details, specifications and contracts used by landscape designers in the creation of the man-made environment. The course features lectures, case studies and field walks, exploring documentation from initial concept through construction administration. Topics will include materials and their use in exterior environments, documentation phases and their role in a projects evolution and the art of detailing to ensure beautiful, durable landscapes that define cohesive design.
Media I: Drawing and Visualization
LARP 533 Fall Misako Murata
Drawing is the ability to experience deeply things we see and envision. It allows us, not only to represent things or images seen, but, to discover and construct space and depth on the two dimensions of drawing surface. Expanding the tools of drawing, this course presents inquiries into applied media providing a basis for envisioning the speculative and developing an economy of expression. Work will be closely related to work in Studio I. Students will be introduced to the formal syntax of drawing (line, contour, structure, texture, chiaroscuro), graphic grammar (orthographic, oblique, perspective projection drawings and free-hand sketching) alongside exercises in material expression (collage, assemblage).
Media II: Fundamentals of 3D Modeling
LARP 542 Spring Keith VanDerSys
Design is increasingly dependent on the collection and control of organized georeferenced information. As such, this course provides students with an intensive hands-on inquiry into the exploration and extrapolation of digital landforming strategies. These models provide a basis for students to speculate on what processes and programs might be engendered or instigated through precision surface profiles. With an emphasis on generative analysis, where geospatial data is an essential part of the design continuum, Media II addresses the increasing recognition that temporal and relational techniques are explicit components of landscape analysis and formation. Modeling demos are complemented with readings and lectures; These supplements help provide students with the necessary theoretical and technical foundations in which to thoughtfully operate with both established and emerging design and visualization tools.
Media III: Landscape and Digital Dynamics
LARP 543 Fall Keith VanDerSys, Theresa Ruswick
Prerequisite(s): Students in the 3-yr MLA program must complete LARP 533: Media I and LARP 542 Media II prior to beginning LARP 543: Media III.
Media III continues the curricular emphasis on visual communication and methods of generative analysis. As such, this media course helps students develop effective methods for locating sites of strategic impact through the collection and analysis of regional scale geospatial datasets. Through directed lab sessions, students learn to work through complex geospatial analysis methods and the creation of custom parametric tools as a means of isolating significant factors from an array of landscape attributes (i.e. slope, aspect, landcover, etc). By linking attributes parametrically, a site or terrain can, subsequently, be construed as a constituent feature of the larger geophysical and ecological exchanges that arise throughout a landscape. The course helps students develop effective workflows to iteratively process data across a variety of related analysis and design platforms (i.e. ArcGIS Pro, Rhino, Grasshopper, and AfterEffects).
Theory I: Histories And Theories Of Landscape and Environment Design, Use, Representation, and Reception
LARP 535 Fall Sonja Duempelmann
This course introduces students to relevant topics, themes, and sites that help us understand the conception, production, evolution, and reception of designed and found landscapes throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It aims at building an understanding of landscapes as both physical spaces and as cultural mediaand constructionsthat sit at the nexus between art and science and that contribute knowledge about humankind’s relationship with non-human nature. Landscapes are the result of social,political, artistic and intellectual endeavors. The topography, soil and climate of a site also condition its design, use and habitation. As much as designed and found landscapes are a product of their time, they have also contributed to shaping history, both through their physical materiality and through the mental worlds they enable. Embedding found and designed landscapes into their social, political and cultural contexts, the course also pays close attention to the role of expert knowledge and the professions that have contributed to creating them. The course explores the various tensions and relationships embodied, created and represented by designed landscapes; the tensions between nature and culture, practice and use, design and reception, the visualreception of landscapes and their inhabitation, and site-specificity and purposefully “international” design expressions. Using a variety of sources including texts, illustrations, and film the course offers insights into the development and transfer of ideas between different cultures, countries and geographical regions, and time periods.
Theory II: The Culture of Nature
LARP 540 Spring Richard Weller
Landscape architecture, architecture and visual art are all mediations between nature and culture. This course is designed to help students form their own world view regarding our relationship with the ‘natural’ world around us in an age of ecological crisis. To achieve this, the course provides a stimulating historical and contemporary survey of ideas of nature. We explore ways ‘nature’ has been understood mythically, theologically, ideologically, philosophically, scientifically, and artistically throughout the ages, with an emphasis on contemporary culture. We survey the way in which the polarity of culture and nature has been historically constructed and more recently, deconstructed. The pedagogical philosophy of this course is that an appreciation of the broad pattern of history and the ideas that have shaped it are foundational to living a critical and ethical life and central to the process of making contemporary art, architecture and landscape architecture.
Urban Ecology
LARP 761 Fall Stephanie Carlisle, Nicholas Pevzner
Corequisite(s): LARP 601 Studio III. This course introduces students to the core concepts, processes, and vocabulary of contemporary urban ecology. It aims to provide a conceptual framework and grounding in an understanding of ecological processes, in order to empower students to develop and critique the function and performance of landscape interventions. Urban ecology describes the interaction of the built and natural environment, looking at both ecology in the city, as well as ecology of the city. Lectures, case studies, critical reading and design exercises will enable students to increase their ability to analyze and interpret ecological systems and processes. By analyzing the application of ecological concepts in the design and management of urban landscapes, urban ecology will be explored as a dynamic, human-influenced system. Registration limited to MLA students in the LARP 601 studio.
Implementation of Urban Design
LARP 710 Spring Candace Damon, Alex Stokes
This class, which is a requirement of the Urban Design Certificate Program, focuses on the various ways in which urban design is affected by the opportunities and constraints associated with market conditions, development feasibility, political and community dynamics and the incentives and restrictions applied by the public sector to influence development. The premise of the class – and its organizing structure – is that urban development of lasting value requires all of visionary leadership, great design, a demonstration of financial feasibility, and a narrative that establishes value for diverse stakeholders. The class will walk students through the process of proposing and refining a redevelopment plan for a parking lot located in the vicinity of the University of Pennsylvania. Students will be tasked with demonstrating the feasibility of their redevelopment plan from a market, financial, community and public policy perspective. Students will further their understanding of key concepts that drive urban transformation through case studies, presentations, class debates and conversations with leading design, real estate and public sector professionals from the Philadelphia region and beyond.
Topics in Professional Practice
LARP 730 Fall or Spring Lucinda R. Sanders
These seminar courses explore ideas and methods in current landscape architectural practice. They include instruction in professional procedures, office management, project development, contracts, and collaborative ventures. They include visits to construction sites, professional offices and archives. These courses are open to all interested Weitzman students. Recent topics have been: Office Practice (spring annually) instructor: Lucinda Sanders.
Topics in Digital Media
LARP 740 Fall or Spring
Prerequisite(s): LARP-543, MEDIA III. These media courses offer advanced instruction in the uses and applications of various digital media, including spatial analytics, 3D modeling, simulation, remote sensing, and animation. These courses are open to all interested Weitzman students who already have a working knowledge of basic digital modeling techniques. Recent topics include: Sensing and Sensibilities: Arduinos, Drones, & Satellites (fall 2019-2021), instructors: Keith VanDerSys and Sean Burkholder; Game Design Toward Posthuman Relational Aesthetics (2021), instructors: James Billingsley and Patrick Danahy; Simulating Natures (fall 2016-2019); Digital Fabrication (spring 2012-2015), instructor: Keith VanDerSys; Interoperable Terrains (fall 2008-2013), instructor: Keith Kaseman; Static Representation: Video, Animation, and Interactive Media (fall 2012, 2013), instructor: Todd Montgomery.
Modeling Geographic Space
LARP 741 Spring
This course explores the nature and use of raster-oriented (i.e. image-based) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for the analysis and synthesis of spatial patterns and processes. Previous experience in GIS is not required.
Geospatial Software Design
LARP 743 Fall
The primary objective of this course is to equip students with a selected set of sophisticated and specialized tools for the practical use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in a variety of application settings. The course is open to any student with experience equivalent to that of an entry-level class on GIS.
Advanced Topics in GIS
LARP 745 Spring
This course offers students an opportunity to work closely with faculty, staff, local practitioners, and each other in conducting independent projects that involve the development and/or application of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. The course is open to all students who can demonstrate sufficient experience, expertise, or initiative to purse a successful term project.
Topics in Construction, Horticulture and Planting Design
LARP 750 Fall or Spring Abdallah Tabet
These courses explore relevant topics in construction, horticulture and planting design as they relate to contemporary landscape architecture. The aim is to supplement fundamental skills and ideas explored in the core curriculum workshops with more advanced, cutting-edge research, technology and case studies. The teaching faculty are leading practitioners and researchers in the field. These courses are open to all interested Weitzman students. Recent topics have been: Urban Horticulture and Planting Design (fall annually since 2009), instructor: David Ostrich; Detailing New Urban Landscapes (spring 2012, 2011), instructor: Tom Ryan; Building New Urban Landscapes, Construction, and Planting Design (fall 2009, 2008), instructor: Tom Ryan; Urban Horticulture: Designing and Managing Landscape Plantings in Stressful Environments (1998-2003), instructor: Paul Meyer; Advanced Planting Design, instructors: Rodney Robinson (2003-2009), Dennis McGlade (fall 2006), Sheila Brady; and Sustainable Large Scale Planting of Trees, Shrubs, Perennials and Grasses (fall 2001), instructor: Wolfgang Oehme.
Arboretum Management I: Understanding Plants
LARP 755 Fall Cynthia Skema
In this course, students will learn about plants from an oraganismal perspective, an applied/practical perspective, an aesthetic perspective, an environmental perspective, and an evolutionary perspective. Utilizing the plant collection of the Morris Arboretum as a living laboratory and the expertise of arboretum staff, this course will bring students, novices and experts alike, to a better understanding of plants. Session topics integrate both theoretical and hands-on practical work. Course assessment will be based on weekly practical assignments and two exams. Please note that this course takes place at the Morris Arboretum in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and students are responsible for transporting themselves to and from the arboretum on their own for class each week. For further information about the course, students may contact Cynthia
Skema (
Arboretum Management II: Evaluating Public Gardens
LARP 756 Spring Anthony Aiello
This interdisciplinary course looks at public gardens as a whole, studying these public institutions and their performance in the four major services they undertake: research, horticultural display, conservation and education/outreach. Students, of any level or discipline, begin the course by learning what arboreta and botanic gardens are, how they function, and what role they fill in our society through a series of lecture sessions at the Morris Arboretum. For the remainder of the semester, the students take that knowledge into the field to apply what they have learned and evaluate some of the many public gardens in "America's Garden Capital," the Philadelphia region, with expert instructors from the Morris Arboretum as guides. Course assessment will be based on one exam, and a series of essays pertaining to their garden evaluations. Garden evaluations and the written work can be tailored to a particular subject of interest to a student, if pertinent within the public garden realm.
Please note that this course takes place at the Morris Arboretum in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and students are responsible for transporting themselves to and from the arboretum on their own or to other Philadelphia area public gardens as required for class each week. For further information about the course, students may contact Cynthia Skema (
Topics in Ecological Design
LARP 760 Fall or Spring
These elective courses explore relevant topics in ecological design and new technologies as they relate to contemporary landscape architecture. The courses explore topics such as ecology, sustainability, habitat restoration, hydrology, green roof and green architecture technology, soil technology, and other techniques pertinent to the construction of ecologically dynamic, functioning landscapes. The teaching faculty are leading practitioners and researchers in the field. These courses are open to all interested Weitzman students. Recent topics have been: Green Roof Systems (spring annually since 2010), instructor: Susan Weiler; Large-Scale Land Reclamation Projects, instructor: William Young (spring annually since 2005), James Ludwig (spring 2004); Restoration Ecology (fall 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004), instructor: David Robertson; Sustainable Development: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London (fall 2012), instructor: John Hopkins; Ecological Economies and Infrastructure (spring 2012), instructor: John Hopkins; Contemporary Issues in Sustainability: The London 2012 Olympic Park and Other European Examples (fall 2011), instructor: John Hopkins; Sustainable Landscape Design for Watershed Protection (fall 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004,2003, 2002), instructor: Katrin Scholz-Barth; and Ecological Restoration in the Urban Context (spring 2002, 2001), instructor: Deborah Marton.
Topics in Landscape Architecture History and Theory
LARP 770 Fall or Spring Sonja Duempelmann
These advanced seminars explore central issues in the history and theory of landscape architecture from the Renaissance to the present day. The focus is upon the cultural context of built works, their relation to conceptual writings (contemporary with the designs as well as modern) and the dialogue between modern professional practice and historical example and method. These courses fulfill the Landscape Architecture Theory III requirement and are open to all interested students in the Weitzman School and elsewhere in the university. Recent topics Therapeutic Landscape Seminar (spring 2014, 2013), instructor: Aaron Wunsch; seminars taught by Professor Hunt include: Place & Peacefulness (fall 2012); Texts & Topics (fall 2011); The Role of History in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (fall 2010); Understanding Venice Research Seminar (spring 2009); Sculpture Parks and Sculpture in Parks (fall 2008); Six Landscape Architects & What We Say About Them (spring 2007); Open Spaces & Open Places: The Design and Use of American Landscapes (spring 2006), co-taught with Emily Cooperman; Reception, or the After Life of Landscapes (Spring 2005), Land Art and Ian Hamilton Finlay (fall 2004), Lawrence Halprin: Theory, Practice, Context & the Archival record (spring 2004) co-taught with Emily Cooperman; French Landscape Architecture: Case Studies (spring 2003); Picturesque as Modernism (spring 2002). Recent topics taught by Professor Fabiani Giannetto have been: Villa Gardens and Villa Life: Cultural and Social Transformations (spring 2012); and American Landscape Architecture & Its Sources (spring 2011).
Topics in Theory and Design
LARP 780 Fall or Spring
These advanced seminars explore advanced ideas in contemporary landscape architectural design and theory. A special link is made between the analysis of built work and text to design practice and the making of projects. Topics include the intersections of art, nature and creativity; practices of analysis and criticism; ideas of urbanism and infrastructure; collaborative ventures and cross-disciplinarily; vision and visuality; and representational structures, both verbal and visual. These courses fulfill the Landscape Architecture Theory III requirement and are open to all interested Weitzman students.
Independent Studio
LARP 796 Fall or Spring
An independent studio may be undertaken in the final semester but is not required. The independent studio is intended to provide highly motivated students who have demonstrated their ability to work independently with the opportunity to pursue topics that extend the boundaries of the profession. For permission, students must prepare a written proposal in the preceding semester and apply for approval from the faculty. Details available in the Landscape Architecture department office.
Independent Study
LARP 999 Fall or Spring
An independent study may be taken for elective credit at any point during the degree program for a letter grade. For permission, students must prepare a written proposal in the preceding semester and obtain a Landscape Architecture faculty advisor to oversee their work. Details are available in the Landscape Architecture department office.
Primary Department/Section