Academy of Art U. Director Shares Vision for Landscape Architecture Education

heather 3Heather Clendenin, director of the Academy of Art University’s new School of Landscape Architecture, recently shared her educational vision — including coming innovations in online instruction — in an interview in Landscape Architecture Magazine. In it she reveals personal motivations as well: Her mission includes re-establishing landscape architects as indispensable specialists planning society’s future.

In the September edition of the magazine, Clendenin reflects, “During the recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s, we lost this critical mass of presence across the nation. And in some of the large projects where landscape architects would have been the natural leaders, architects and engineers stepped in. It’s as if we lost an entire generation of possibility.”

She views landscape architecture as one of the few careers where practitioners are trained to work in a gradient of scales, from private homes to large public works. Preparing and designing for the future — considering environmental variables as well as social progress — is just another way she says landscape architects differentiate themselves from professionals in similar fields.

Her plan for embracing electronic education at the Academy of Art University is but one step towards building a new approach to the curriculum for educating future landscape architects.

Clendenin says she is a firm believer that online courses provide advantages to students, especially in terms of diversity of opinion and personal backgrounds. She’s convinced that software has finally caught up enough to allow real, actionable critiques of work, worldwide. From the interview: “The technology that’s been developed here at the Academy, it’s basically a desk crit without the other students leaning over. You can actually mark up drawings. … The rapport you build up on the discussion boards is overwhelming.” She notes the Academy will still try to bring online students together in person. One proposal she discusses is that students could work locally on projects that develop their own communities.

Read Heather Clendenin’s full interview in Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Stay abreast of related developments at the Academy of Art University and beyond by visiting the School of Landscape Architecture’s new blog, Landscape Architecture Daily.

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