Ecologies, Techniques, Technologies III: Ecology and the Design World

Required for both MLA 1 and MLA AP students taking the third LA core-studio.

Ecological Principles for Design (Steven Handel): 

The fundamentals of ecological science are introduced toward investigating, understanding, and shaping landscape structure, function, and change. Through lectures, discussions, field trips, and readings, the core principles of ecological science relevant to designing landscapes—from small to large—are introduced and integrated, from populations to communities, ecosystems, and the landscape ecological linkages among sites. Topics will include plant species reproduction and evolution, the relevance of biodiversity to landscape function and management, stresses facing designed landscapes, and the added values of ecological perspectives. We will discuss the particular problems and opportunities of urbanized landscapes, a dominant arena for modern landscape design work, as well as differences between natural and human-dominated landscapes. Disturbances, including climate change and sea level rise, intrude on ecological landscape design, and these processes must be included in site planning. Site analysis must include living and abiotic components of the ecosystem: How should this be addressed in your projects? Pragmatically, what can each site plan include for better ecological functioning? How can ecological needs be integrated with the other concerns of modern landscape design?

Evaluation: Two hour-long exams, short essays on species niche requirements, field trip reports, participation in discussions, and ecological ideas for your studio project work. Local field trips will give us experiences in ecological structure and analysis of habitats.


An Introduction to Woody Plants as a Design Medium (Chris Matthews): 

Recognizing that plants are one of the essential mediums of landscape architecture, this module seeks to introduce the student to the relationships between plants and people (horticulture) and the relationships between plants and the environment (ecology). The class focuses on the following topics and objectives:

– Concepts and practices necessary for using woody plants as a design medium.

– An introduction to the spatial, visual, functional, temporal, and sensorial qualities of woody plants in the landscape.

– An introduction to the horticultural requirements of woody plants particularly as it relates to the urban environment.

– Techniques and practices for using woody plants in the designed landscape.

On Tuesdays, this course will take place in Gund 111 from 8:30 to 10:00 am. The course will move into three different sections from 10:00 to 11:30 AM.

The additional Wednesday session taught by Chris Matthews is taken only by MLA AP students.