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Joining Architecture and Landscape Architecture Departments Fosters Multidisciplinary Teaching and Collaborative Research
A New Model For Design Practice

September 9, 2003 -- Dean Karen Van Lengen of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia has announced the formation of a new Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture to be chaired by William H. Sherman, the Mario di Valmarana Associate Professor of Architecture.

Van Lengen believes that the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia is one of the first educational institutions to formally reflect a structure of multidisciplinary explorations between the fields of architecture and landscape architecture.

"The formation of this new department of architecture and landscape architecture, which includes two highly regarded professional programs, not only acknowledges the symbiotic nature of our programs here at U.Va., but also offers new opportunities for collaboration and for a more comprehensive intellectual discourse as we move forward," Van Lengen said.

Sherman anticipates the joining of the disciplines will open fresh perspectives for research and teaching at the departmental level.

“We are formalizing a pre-existing relationship between architecture and landscape architecture in order to support new opportunities in many areas of exploration,” Sherman said. The disciplines were divided at the end of the 19th century when many modern professions were established. “Perhaps it is time for them to come closer together,” he said. “We are joining forces because the modern categorization of knowledge has reached its limit; the recognition of complexity demands new design processes, new intellectual structures, new educational models.”

Associate Professor Julie Bargmann has been named Director of Landscape Architecture. A major focus of the new department includes plans to preserve the autonomy and integrity of
the accredited graduate program in landscape architecture while expanding upon the collaborative curriculum.

“The ecological design paradigm emerged with force in our department this past decade, and this systems approach forms a natural alliance with architects interested in constructing regenerative relationships between buildings and site, infrastructure and cities,” said Bargmann. “There is a fluid, generous and rigorous common ground that this new department builds upon, and we are all eager to cultivate a terrain of both distinct and hybrid potential.”

According to Sherman, the joining of the disciplines is in line with the primary ethic of the school, which remains unchanged.

“It is an ethic of investigating the dynamic natural conditions we’re inhabiting and trying to work with them, not to escape from them,” he said. “For landscape architecture, that means recognizing the ecosystem that pre-exists on a site, instead of imprinting on it. For architecture, that means really exploring the building envelope, all the systems that interact at the point where the building and the site meet.”

The decision to join the previously distinct departments of architecture and landscape architecture emerged from a series of joint initiatives manifest at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The establishment of a dual-degree program, available between any four of the disciplines offered at the School of Architecture (architecture, landscape architecture, urban and environmental planning, and architectural history) has grown particularly popular among students seeking education in both architecture and landscape architecture.

Sherman plans to expand avenues for research collaboration between faculties and also between faculty members and students. Upcoming projects will include the launch of a publishing program to promote collaborative work, the development of a series of workshops led by visiting theorists and experts in emerging technologies, and the continuation of digital explorations in design and practice.

The University of Virginia School of Architecture offers nine degree programs in four disciplines. Approximately 350 undergraduate and 170 graduate students are enrolled for the 2003-04 school year. The school’s graduate programs were ranked 6th in the country in the U.S. News and World Report’s most recent rankings (1997).

Contact: Derry Wade, (434) 982-2921

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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