UK offers professional landscape architecture degree

The current progress of the University of Kentucky's Landscape Architecture student's community outreach project at the Learning Center on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Kalyn Bradford | Staff

By Olivia Jones
news@kykernel.com

“It’s unique,” said Landscape Architecture Assistant Professor Ryan Hargrove. “Landscape architecture is the great mixture of art and science. It allows you to have a creative output while still maintaining precision and the technical aspect of science.”

The creative output can be seen in the story behind the department studio on Farm Road.

“This used to be a dairy barn,” said Charlie Hunt, president and agriculture ambassador.

Sloped, wooden rafters hovered over the 3-dimensional scale models, blueprints and students as they began preparing for this semester’s final project.

“This project will be to your benefit,” said Landscape Architecture Studio Instructor Jordan Sebastian to the fourth-year students.

He explained that the project would be a “portfolio-type reflective project” that students could use to showcase their work to potential
employers.

According to the official department website, UK offers the only accredited professional landscape architecture degree in Kentucky.

Hargrove explained that after completing the five-year program, graduates can either go directly into the profession working under a licensed landscape architect until they receive their own license or go into graduate school.

“Harvard, Penn State, Florida, University of Massachusetts … they go all across the U.S.,” Hargrove said.

Before graduating, landscape architecture students are presented with many different opportunities.

“There are lots of design competitions,” Sebastian said. “The most current one is EPA’s Campus Rainworks due Dec. 14.”

He said the goal of the design was to take parts of campus and make them more economically friendly and sensitive to storm water management.

“The scale of the site in general was challenging,” fourth-year student AJ Bridges said.

“My group had the area around Memorial Coliseum,” Hunt said, who was in a group with Bridges. “We had to consider a lot of stuff … site analysis, inventory, pedestrian audits…and then we had a five-week design phase ending in our master plan.”

Others felt certain projects were more challenging than others.

“The 219 E. 5th St. project was most challenging,” Ben Craven, a landscape architecture student, said. “We only have a 1000-cubic-foot space to work with and had to consider what it takes to live sustainably. We definitely learned the difference between needs and wants.”

“They definitely put in a lot of sleepless nights,” Sebastian said.

The students debated over exactly how long they spend in the studio each week with answers varying from 20 to 50 hours.

“It’s like a full-time job. That’s why you’ll never see us out,” Curtis Mucci, a landscape architecture student, said with a laugh.

Students maintain a positive attitude despite all the work as discussions of paper snowflake decorations and last night’s Walking Dead episode circled around the studio.

“It’s open and fun up here,” Hunt said. “It can be relaxing.”

Hargrove explained that the hard work pays off as landscape architecture students work to implement community outreach projects.

He went on to explain how location and project scope differ every year with focuses shifting from local to regional transit systems.

“We are about halfway done with our Materials and Methods project at The Learning Center,” Hargrove said.

He described the plans for the school on 2420 Spurr Road, which include a central plaza, outdoor paving and a vibrantly colored mural titled “The Awakened Eye.” He explained how the students have worked with contractors as well as The Learning Center students to bring blueprints to life.

“Be open minded,” Craven said to those pondering a career in the field. “Let yourself be challenged.”