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Welcome to ARCH 072: The History of Landscape Architecture

Are you ready to take a journey with me?  Because this course is not your traditional history lesson.  I will not be asking you to memorize dates or the chronological order of events!  This course is really about both time travel and visiting places all across the globe.  Think of this space as your virtual world tour while understanding the origins of landscape design.  I will do what I can to be your tour guide.  We will learn about the people and cultural influences that nurtured the designs of the past, from ancient civilizations to present day landscape architecture.  If you are new to studying landscape architecture, you are in the right place.  Consider this course as your introduction, where you will gain access to the world of landscape design.


The following syllabus is abridged for general reference.  Students will have full access upon enrollment at West Valley College.



  • Catalog Description: This course is a study of world landscape architectural history from prehistory to present.

  • Objectives

    • Describe how landscape architectural movements are a response to broader conditions of society.

    • Identify key works of landscape architecture in history by name and designer.

    • Identify the major landscape designers/architects of a period under study, including but not limited to “Capability” Brown, Andre le Notre, Frederick Law Olmsted, Beatrix Farrand, Russell Page, Lawrence Halprin, Ruth Shellhorn, Peter Walker and Martha Schwartz.

    • Recognize key aspects of the roots and major movements of modern landscape design/architecture including but not limited to: Classical Designs, Arts and Crafts, Bauhaus, Expressionism, and Environmentalism.

  • Student Learning Outcomes:

    • Research and critique a significant work of landscape architecture from the period under study.



Maintaining a sketchbook is highly recommended for those of you who wish to pursue a degree in landscape architecture.  Landscape architects doodle, sketch, compile photos all the time.  It is a good habit to acquire, even if you do not pursue the degree but are interested in design and creative expression.



This is a partial list, but I have found the following sources most helpful.  Note: Do not rely on Wikipedia for your information.  Wikipedia is too general, can have errors, and is not geared toward our study.





This will be very open ended.  Since this course also acts as an introduction to Landscape Architecture, this is your opportunity to talk about what is on your mind.  Therefore, I welcome your requests or suggestions on topics, either related to history or contemporary discussions.  I may prompt activities for you to do, either on your own or in teams.  There may be higher extra credit opportunities presented.

Online Discussions

Weekly, you will be prompted with a subject related to each chapter, where you have an opportunity to share your understanding of the subject.  You should enter your comments earlier than the day it is due because the next requirement is for you to reply to at least two of your peers’ posts before the deadline.  Provide thoughtful and respectful feedback, pose questions, or even share new ideas or images.  This is your opportunity to engage further into landscape architecture.



Journal writing was a method I learned while learning California history during my master’s program, but rest assured, this will not be a formal process.  Journals are useful tools to think “out loud,” without always having to pay attention to the rules of formal writing.  Therefore, the foci of your journal entries are threefold:

  • Chapter analysis: With the presentation of each lecture, you will be prompted to answer a single question.  Primarily, you will be asked to analyze the author’s key point about a specific subject.

  • Personal response: Provide your opinion or perspective about the question.  Focus on how the information is relevant to you and to your interests in landscape architecture.  Some journal assignment will simply say “free write,” and in such cases, you may write about anything within the reading including your personal response to it.

  • Practice writing skills: This is a recommended exercise, particularly if you are stuck with “writer’s block.”  Simply, set a timer for 15 minutes and write anything that comes to mind, even if your thoughts are not in any order.  When the timer stops, you stop.  See what you have and try to organize it around a journal entry.

Note: Address the assigned chapter in your free write.  But do not worry if you get off track, or if your answer does not come out sounding at all well-organized or direct.


Research Project

Analyze the historical significance and landscape architectural style of a major landscape work from the period between prehistory to present.  Profile the landscape architect/designer and discuss how they address design challenges to meet the final work.  This should include social influences, site opportunities and challenges, and a brief comparison to works by the designer’s contemporaries.  Actual text shall be 5-6 pages, double spaced, plus references.  Supplemental images, renderings, and illustrations, preferably by you, are encouraged and count toward presentation.  Note: the fewer images that support your research, the more reliant readers will be on your ability to articulate the historic design.  Submit the final project as a PDF or PowerPoint format.  The research project is due the first day of Finals. NOTE: Final research projects will be available to all students to read and learn about the places and designers you selected.  We may schedule a Zoom meeting for you to share what you discovered with your peers (informal).



  • Quizzes & Examinations: multiple choice, true/false, essay, matching items, and short paragraph

  • Writing Assignments: online discussions, journal, and research project

  • Problem Solving Demonstration: research project, field exploration, quizzes, exams

  • Respond to questions relating to course material

  • Participation: online discussions



Syllabus Disclaimer

The instructor may make changes to the syllabus during the semester. It is the student’s responsibility to stay informed of these changes. Students may contact the instructor during office hours and by email, time permitting.


Disability Statement

West Valley College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students should notify DESP (Disability & Educational Support Program) located in the Learning Services building (408-741-2010) of any special needs.


Unlawful Discrimination/Sexual Harassment

If you have a complaint or someone has shared information with you as a student or employee that is unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources at West Valley-Mission Community College District, Human Resources Department, (408-741-2060). If the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources is not available, contact the President of the college in which you attend or are employed. For West Valley College, contact the office of Dr. Philip Hartley at 408-741-2097.


Policy of Student Conduct
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