What is landscape architecture? – University of Colorado at Denver
When architecture is mentioned, thoughts of large structures and expansive infrastructure come to mind, but what about the surrounding spaces? This is where landscape architecture comes in. Although it may not sound like the stereotypical architecture to some, this field of study surrounds our daily lives. Encompassing a multitude of technical and soft skills, landscape architecture encompasses the art and science of design, land management, ecology, and more.
The practice of landscape architecture is basically designing everything that is outside the building. So urban places, large parks, national parks, trails, community master plans, river systems, ecological restoration, focusing on how species coexist and how we can work and live with the systems…”
—Louise Bordelon, Ph.D.
Famous landscape architecture projects span the world through the centuries. Some notable projects are the Palace of Versailles (Paris, France), Millenium Park (Chicago, USA), Summer Palace (Beijing, China) and Parc Guell (Barcelona, Spain). Projects such as Skyline Park, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, and Paco Sanchez Park represent the variety of landscape architecture initiatives in the Denver metro area.
Landscape Architecture at CU Denver
The landscape architecture department is headed by Louise Bordelon, PhD. Through the department’s research and curriculum, students engage with topics such as social justice, sustainability, and environmental racism through the lens of research and design. Rich in talent and accolades, CU Denver’s landscape architecture programs continue to thrive.
For those who wish to continue in this field of study, two degree courses are offered. A minor in Landscape Architecture is available for undergraduate students. This program aims to create a fundamental understanding of landscape architecture. Students will emerge with a specialist perspective that fits well into a range of architecture, design and engineering degree courses.
For graduate students, a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) is available. The MLA is a fully accredited, STEM-designated degree program. Intertwining theory and practice, this program focuses on flex design to achieve ergonomic and environmental balance.
Landscape architecture changes our interface with the natural world. It has the ability to bring ecology and biodiversity back to our cities…to bring people together and celebrate place and culture in a way we really need.
—Louise Bordelon, Ph.D.
For the Minor in Landscape Architecture, students can expect these courses: History of Landscape Architecture, Introduction to Landscape Architecture, Site, Society and Environment, Ecology for Landscape Architects, and Manipulation of Forms of relief.
For the MLA, students will work in specialized design studios, lectures/seminars, and research/elective opportunities. Courses such as Ecology for Landscape Architects, Introduction to GIS, Landform Manipulation, and Computer Applications in Landscape Architecture are all incorporated into the curriculum.
What can you do with a landscape architecture degree?
The field of landscape architecture is more promising than ever. From 2014 to 2019, the landscape architect workforce in the United States grew by 10%, peaking at 24,500 total employees. The demand for landscape architects in Colorado is healthy, and the state boasts the highest location quotient in the United States. Residential design is the largest sector of the landscape architecture market. This area includes the planning and design of single family residences, large multi-family housing structures and residential communities.
Landscape architecture companies
In Colorado, large companies such as Stantec, Aecom, Design Workshop, Sasaki, DHM and HDR employ a significant number of landscape architects. Small businesses, such as Livable Cities, Dig Studio, and Superbloom, also loom large in the Denver metro area.
How much does a landscape architect earn?
Landscape architecture salaries have a median of $67,950 in the United States. The salary in Colorado is between $65,100 and $69,060. Salaries vary widely, with the top 10% earning more than $115,380 a year and the bottom 10% earning less than $43,260.
Landscape Architecture Jobs
In addition to a landscape architecture-specific role, those who complete CU Denver’s landscape architecture programs typically work in the following areas:
Architect—Average salary: $80,180
Architects plan and design a variety of new buildings, additions and renovations according to client specifications and resources. Projects can range from single family residences to large civic developments.
Civil Engineer – Average salary: $88,050
Civil engineers design, build, supervise and maintain infrastructure projects and systems. Projects include bridges, roads, airports, dams, bridges, etc.
Construction manager – Average salary: $98,890
Also known as a general contractor or project manager, this role handles the planning, coordination, budgeting, and oversight of construction projects.
Draftsman – Average salary: $60,290
This role revolves around the preparation of technical drawings and plans. Drafters use software to turn engineers’ or architects’ designs into technical drawings.
Urban/regional planner — Average salary: $78,500
Planners review site plans submitted by developers. They also develop land use plans to form communities and prepare for population growth.
Surveyor—Average salary: $61,600
Surveyors take precise measurements to update property boundaries. This helps prepare sites for construction and avoid legal disputes.
Dr. Louise Bordelon
Professor Louise Bordelon, PhD, joined the Department of Landscape Architecture full-time in the fall of 2019. She holds undergraduate degrees in Architecture from the University of Cape Town and Landscape Architecture from the University of Pretoria, both in South Africa, as well as a Masters in Landscape. architecture and a doctorate in geography and anthropology from Louisiana State University, where she was a Fulbright scholar. Bordelon also held a postdoctoral fellowship in geography at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
Learn more about CU Denver’s landscape architecture opportunities and how you can build your career in today’s engaging industry.
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