Welcome Landscape Architecture Students

 

Admitted Landscape Architecture students, welcome and congratulations!

This section contains information to help you prepare for the MLA program. Please see below for information about the virtual Open House and special in-person group visit days to be offered in March. For comprehensive information about the admissions process, please visit the Weitzman School of Design web page for admitted students.

Missed the Open House, but want to see the Department of Landscape Architecture Faculty Introductions and Q&A? You can watch this video through this link.

The MLA at a Glance

Our educational philosophy and mission is to cultivate future leaders, to develop critical thinkers and to produce the world’s best designers. We consistently hear from senior industry representatives that graduating Weitzman School students have the best design folios and the most comprehensive skill sets. And, responding to the national survey conducted by DesignIntelligence, over 90% of Penn’s landscape students consistently evaluate their education as “excellent.”  

As a student in the Department of Landscape Archtecture, you join the extraordinary legacy set by the field’s most important figures: Ian McHarg, Laurie Olin, Anne Whiston-Spirn, John Dixon HuntAnu Mathur, and James Corner. This legacy motivates Penn faculty and students to be critical and experimental like no other school. Richard Weller, the chair of Landscape Architecture, is a devoted teacher with a background in both professional practice and academia and is dedicated to maintaining the world’s leading landscape architecture program. Read more about the 100-year story of landscape architecture at Penn in Transects
 
Our curriculum is organized so that subjects in the three streams of media, theory, and workshop all support the centerpiece of the design studio in a coherent way. Everything is designed to relate to the design studio, which in turn makes the quality of design produced in the studio stronger. We also have new subjects in urban ecology, the history and theory of ideas of nature, contemporary urbanism, cutting edge computation, detailed design, leadership, and publishing, as well as the fast-emerging area of resilience in relation to climate change. Our annual publication Process summarize the curriculum and the results of our studios. 
 
Weitzman School is the only landscape architecture program in the world to publish two professional journals, LA+ and Scenario, produced by faculty and students, and the program serves as the host and originator for some of the most important events in the global landscape architecture calendar. The department is served by The McHarg Center – a research hub for climate change related design. The McHarg Center is doing exciting work in relation to biodiversity, environmental modelling and the Green New Deal. This research involves many of our students.
 

Important Dates

March 21, 24, 28 and 31: Department of Landscape Architecture Group Visit Dates for Admitted and Waitlisted Students

April 4:  Weitzman School of Design Open House (online)

August 1: First day of Summer Institute for all MLA incoming students on Penn campus.

August 26: Weitzman School of Design New Student Orientation

August 29: Department Orientation

August 30: First Day of Classes

Summer Institute

Both the MLA I and MLA II degree programs begin with a month-long Summer Institute that occurs in the four weeks preceding the start of the Fall semester. In 2022, the Summer Institutes will begin in-person on Monday, August 1, and the weekly schedule can be found below.

The MLA I and MLA II Summer Institutes each comprise a series of week-long courses that prepare incoming MLA students with the necessary skills to "hit the ground running" in their respective programs. The institutes are also an important part of the development of the studio cohort and provides an excellent opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the Penn campus and City of Philadelphia. The Summer Institute courses are graded Pass/Fail, and students who Fail a Summer Institute course will not be permitted to continue in the program in the Fall.

All incoming MLA students are required to participate in Summer Institute prior to the start of the fall semester. All institute courses are required for all incoming students.  

Students should expect to spend class time engaged in studio and classroom learning, and additional time outside of class completing assignments. The Summer Institute experience is a full-on committment of time and energy--you should expect full days of class and project work, and some time in the evenings and weekends devoted to work, as well.  Aside from the asynchronous online course “The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement,” all summer institute courses will be in-person and based on the Penn campus.  International students and students moving to Philadelphia should make travel plans accordingly.

 

Summer Institute Billing 

Enrollment in the Summer Institute qualifies eligible MLA I and MLA II students for federal financial aid. This enables students to borrow funds to cover living expenses for the month of August and Summer Institute course fees. Tuition for the Summer Institute is $2,000. Once the Summer Institute charges are posted to student accounts, the charges will be visible to students under “new activity” in the Penn.Pay system and the bill will be due in accordance with the Student Financial Services billing schedule. Questions regarding billing for the Summer Institute should be directed to the Weitzman School Office of Student Services at: des-studentservices@design.upenn.edu.  

 

Summer Institute Course Descriptions 

 

For entering 3-Year MLA students 

 

LARP 7890-901  Lineages of Contemporary Landscape for 3-Year Students 

This one-week course will introduce students to some of the most important strands of contemporary landscape architecture, introduce important landscape vocabulary and terminology in the landscape lexicon, analyze seminal landscape case studies, and hold group discussion on these topics. It will provide an overview of the vocabulary of landscape representation and visualization, introduce students to techniques of landscape representation, and then dive more deeply into the visualization of information, grounded in landscape theory. Students will collaborate on a historical analysis of the various threads of landscape architecture, tracing its relationship to allied fields such as architecture, urbanism, ecology, cultural geography, art, and the landscape garden tradition—and use this analysis as a basis of group discussion about what landscape architecture can accomplish in the world. Along the way, we will talk about how we use visualization as a way to synthesize ideas and as a projective device for testing new concepts and combinations. This course will offer an opportunity to practice research methods, and prepare students for digital collaboration. 

LARP 7900-901  Natural Systems for 3-Year Students 

This one-week session for entering three-year MLA students will provide an introduction to the varied physiographic provinces and associated plant communities of the greater Philadelphia region. Through a review of available mapping and on-site study we will characterize and consider the connections between climate, geology, topography, hydrology, soils, vegetation, wildlife, and disturbance, both natural and anthropogenic. With a focus on plants students will begin to develop a familiarity with the local flora (native and non-native) including plant species identification, preferred growing conditions, and potential for use. Field trips will include visits to the Inner Coastal Plain and Piedmont. 

LARP 7910-901  Landscape Operations for 3-Year Students 

This one-week course will introduce some of the concepts and techniques for the manipulation of the ground plane, one of the most fundamental skills in landscape architecture. The course will discuss some of the technologies, considerations, and constraints of operating on landform, introduce representation techniques that convey how we describe and communicate landform and topography, and walk students through some simple design exercises to make a set of interventions on a topographic site. Students will develop an appreciation for the spatial implications of landform, for landscape narrative, for the movement of water and people across the landscape, and for the operation of reshaping the ground, through the construction of a set of drawings that walk viewers through students’ set of interventions on their site. Work product from this week will serve as the starting point for the following week’s course, Introduction to Digital Media for 3-year Students. 

LARP 7920-901  Introduction to Digital Media for 3-Year Students 

This four-day introductory course is intended to enable students to orient themselves to digital media facilities, programs, and workflows. The course is focused around daily projects building up to a final pinup. Each daily project illustrates a different set of work paths between digital programs, as well as teaches students how to use different software applications key to the practice of landscape architecture today. The focus of this course is to enable students to understand what each digital software application offers to the landscape process, and how to build change and iteration into digital workflows. 

DCOH 8850-001  The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement 

Asynchronous course to be completed during the Summer Institute  

This virtual online course, developed through a collaborative effort between the School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) and the School of Dental Medicine at Penn, introduces students to the connections between Penn, Philadelphia, and issues of race, racism, and other forms of oppression, as well as the cultural and institutional contexts surrounding Penn. The course features video interviews, presentations, short readings, and podcasts, and focuses on topics such as cultural differences, implicit bias, intercultural communication, gender identity, and antiracism. It is completely asynchronous, and is to be completed prior to the start of the Fall semester. The six modules take an estimated 20 hours. 

 

For entering 2-Year MLA students 

 

LARP 7940-901  Natural Systems for 2-Year Students  

This five-day session for entering two-year MLA students will provide an introduction to the varied physiographic provinces and associated plant communities of the greater Philadelphia region. Through a review of available mapping and on-site study we will characterize and consider the connections between climate, geology, topography, hydrology, soils, vegetation, wildlife, and disturbance, both natural and anthropogenic. With a focus on plants students will begin to develop a familiarity with the local flora (native and non-native) including plant species identification, preferred growing conditions, and potential for use. Field trips will include visits to the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

LARP 7930-901  Landform and Grading Workshop for 2-Year Students 

The reading and shaping of landform is an elemental tool in the practice of landscape architecture. The act of grading design – the shaping and sculpting of landform – is both art and science. This five-day session for entering two-year MLA students aims to provide an appreciation of landform as both an evocative component in the design vocabulary and as a critical tool in resolving difficult design problems. Basic techniques and strategies of grading design are introduced and reinforced, so that grading design becomes an integral part of the students’ design approach. This session is intended to provide a concise overview of the principles and process of landform and grading design, and is designed to prepare the entering two-year students for Workshop III. 

LARP 7950-901 Intro to Computing for 2-Year Students 

This nine-day session introduces the entering two-year MLA students to digital media as the primary mode of design visual communication. The course provides a short, yet intensive, hands-on inquiry into the production and expression of digital media that is essential for all designers. Through a series of working labs, students learn various software applications and associated techniques to execute precise two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional concepts. Students also learn the Weitzman systems, network basics and computer lab procedures. 

DCOH 8850-001  The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement 

Asynchronous course to be completed during the Summer Institute 

This virtual online course, developed through a collaborative effort between the School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) and the School of Dental Medicine at Penn, introduces students to the connections between Penn, Philadelphia, and issues of race, racism, and other forms of oppression, as well as the cultural and institutional contexts surrounding Penn. The course features video interviews, presentations, short readings, and podcasts, and focuses on topics such as cultural differences, implicit bias, intercultural communication, gender identity, and antiracism. It is completely asynchronous, and is to be completed prior to the start of the Fall semester. The six modules take an estimated 20 hours. 

 

3 Year MLA Summer Institute  Course 
Week 1: August 1-5  LARP 7900 Natural Systems for  3 year students  
Week 2: August 8-12  LARP 7890 Lineages of Contemporary Landscape   
Week 3: August 15-19  LARP 7910 Landscape Operations 
Week 4: August 22-25 LARP 7920 Introduction to Digital Media 
Asynchronous Course Week 1-4  DCOH 8850 The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement 
2 Year MLA Summer Institute  Course
Week 1: August 1-5  LARP 7930 Landform and Grading Workshop 
Week 2: August 8-12  LARP 7940 Natural Systems 
Week 3: August 15-19 LARP 7950 Intro to Computing 
Week 4: August 22-25 LARP 7950 Intro to Computing 
Asynchronous Course Week 1-4  DCOH 8850 The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement 

 

 

 

 

Fall Registration

Registration is now open for the Summer Institute and Fall 2022 semester. Admitted students who would like to review the curriculum and what courses they will be enrolled in during the Fall semester can visit the department curriculum web page for details on programs of study and typical semester schedules. Instructions for which courses to register can be found here for incoming students of the 3 year program, and here for incoming students of the two year program

International Students

International students on F-1 or J-1 visas are required to check in with International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). The check-in process includes an online tutorial, online arrival form, and an in-person document check upon your arrival into the US. Please plan to arrive in Philadelphia at least one business day before the start of Summer Institute to complete the in-person check-in. You are encouraged to make an appointment in advance.

Please visit the ISSS webpage for detailed information on Mandatory New Student Check-In Requirements.

Safe Driver Training

Penn Landscape students participate in a number of exciting field trips each year and to insure the safety of all students during their travels, Penn requires that students who drive a university vehicle or rental vehicle during any school-related trip must complete Penn's online driver's safety training. Log in to Knowledge Link with your PennKey and password, search for "Driver Safety Training for Van Drivers" in the "Find Learning" field and complete the nine-module course (it will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete). Please notify Rebecca Jacob (rmjacob@design.upenn.edu) once you have completed the training so that we may confirm your results have been received by the Office of Risk Management. Please also submit a scanned copy of your driver's license and your cell phone number for our records.

Computer Guidelines

Incoming MLA students are required to buy or bring a computer for your time as a student at Weitzman School. Please see the Computer Purchasing Guidelines provided by Weitzman School IT. Specific guidelines for 2022-2023 will be posted in early summer.

Get to Know Us Better

Please visit the Get to Know Us page on the Admissions website to view the profiles of current students and recent alumni.

Learn more about the faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture on our People page.

Read about our publications and view student work in our annual Landscapes in Process catalog.

Check out our recent lecture series here: Weitzman School of Design (vimeo.com)