The University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture is pleased to announce that their Master of Landscape Architecture program has received a six-year accreditation from the Landscape Architecture Accrediting Board (LAAB). The fledgling program received accreditation candidacy status in July 2008, offered its first classes in the 2008-09 academic year and produced its first graduates in spring 2010.
According to Emeritus Professor Robert S. Harris, FAIA, the director of the program, "This represents a milestone in our trajectory towards establishing a major center for landscape studies at the center of Los Angeles."
Under Harrisʼ visionary leadership the program has gotten off to an excellent start. An team of tenure-track, adjunct, visiting professors and lecturers from both the public and private sectors has been put in place and these faculty have developed the program's innovative curriculum. The appointment of the program's first tenure-track Assistant Professor, Rachel Berney, Ph.D., at the start of the fall 2009 semester, began the development of a permanent academic faculty for the program. A search is currently underway for a new program director.
"Through careful planning and a compelling vision," says the LAAB report, "The [USC] School of Architecture has made an impressive start initiating a graduate program in landscape architecture with enormous potential to provide national and international academic research and scholarship, and practice leadership."
Despite its size, the Los Angeles metropolitan region has only one other accredited MLA program (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona) leaving ample opportunity for expansion of landscape architecture education to meet the region's needs. (The extension program at UCLA, is accredited by the State of California but not the LAAB.)
The Schoolʼs downtown Los Angeles location has given the program a distinctive character coupled with unique opportunities: to work in a wide variety of urban and semi-urban locations, to explore different expressions of urban nature, to repair and restore the urban region's fabric, and to work with diverse communities. USC's location on the Pacific Rim also provides the program with exciting global possibilities. All four of the School's graduate programs: Master of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Building Science and Historic Preservation, have grown in recent years as the School repositions itself as a provider of cutting- edge scholarship and research-focused graduate education. The School's nondepartmentalized structure offers opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration that the Program's mission recognizes and its curriculum facilitates.
The USC School of Architecture is located in the heart of Los Angeles, a singular laboratory in which to study and understand urban conditions and their architectural implications. With the appointment of Dean Qingyun Ma the School extends its global reach into new territories, launching new initiatives in cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary discourses, strengthening ties in the community and around the world. Established in 1919, the USC School of Architecture was the first of its kind in Southern California. Educational offerings include architecture, landscape architecture, building science and historic preservation. Among its notable graduates are Conrad Buff III, Donald H. Hensman, Pierre Koenig, and two Pritzker Prize Laureates: Frank O. Gehry (1989) and Thom Mayne (2005).