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Chair's Message

Welcome to the Department of Landscape Architecture!

It has been an exciting third year serving as the department’s founding chair. Our students and alumni (over 400 strong) continue to influence South Carolina, the region, nation and world with their Tiger determined spirit and design leadership. Testimony to Clemson’s landscape architecture legacy is the 2016 DesignIntelligence survey which ranked our undergraduate program #5 Top Landscape Architecture Schools in the South.

South Carolina is enriched by its legacy of landscape architecture. Our state has one of the oldest traditional “designed landscapes” in America: a plantation garden at Middleton Place near Charleston. This cultural landscape, a National Historic Landmark, was created in 1741, more than a century before Frederic Law Olmsted designed New York’s Central Park. The Middleton Place garden followed the rational design principles employed by André Le Nôtre at Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Palace of Versailles in France. In the twentieth century, South Carolina has been home to distinguished projects in landscape architecture such as the Sea Pines resort development at Hilton Head Island and Greenville’s Main Street designed by National Medal of Arts recipient Lawrence Halprin. Clemson carries these rich landscape architectural traditions into the twenty-first century to meet today’s critical challenges: economic revitalization of our post-industrial towns; America’s youth culture, aging population and changing social needs; climate change, social equity and human resilience; food crisis, obesity and active healthy communities; globalization, technological advances, urbanization and sustainability.

An example of recent inspirational work by our students involved innovative design proposals for improving the grounds of South Carolina State University, a historically black land grant institution founded in 1890 that has been economically challenged and neglected. Our students’ work demonstrated their commitment to social equity and improving the built environment, quality of life and well-being for people from all walks of life through rigorous and thoughtful research-based design.

Our faculty members are enthusiastic and inspirational teachers who are gaining international recognition for research in areas such as active healthy and livable communities, community design-build and landscape performance, learning gardens, design theory, cultural landscapes and sustainable urbanism. It is thrilling to be housed in the AIA award-winning, LEED Gold, Lee III studio, part of an exciting cross-disciplinary student learning environment with plenty of “collision” spaces – promoting creativity and collaborative opportunities with students and faculty in the School of Architecture and Departments of Fine Arts, Construction Science & Management, and Planning, Development and Preservation. Our students are also engaged in interdisciplinary studies off-campus in Genoa, Italy, Barcelona, Spain and Charleston.

Our program emphasizes creativity, critical thinking and research, and advocacy for good global citizenship – all key foundations of landscape architecture: the profession that is committed to the design, planning and management of the land. Our students are asked to challenge the status quo and advance landscape architecture practice and research. We foster a design ethos that celebrates failure as a method to achieve design excellence and we advocate for “smart, restorative landscapes, socio-culturally responsible designed environments and healthy places” for people from all walks of life.

Like our peers in the allied professions who work in the built and natural environments, the discipline of landscape architecture is constantly challenged by rapid changes in technology and the globalization of design. Our response to these challenges builds on the strengths of our program, our local and global engagement, and South Carolina’s landscape heritage; it also includes an understanding of agriculture, part of our agrarian realm, known as “working” or “productive landscapes”. Our goals are to build on our design legacy and advocate for design that is sensitive to the socio-cultural, agrarian, ecological and aesthetic complexity of today’s environment. We are committed to educating future generations of landscape architects that are able to embrace and adapt to this constantly changing complexity through critical engagement, experimentation and exploration. We know landscape architecture can serve as a tool for economic development that reinvigorates our communities. We believe in the power of landscape architecture and ways it impacts how we live, work, play, and thrive.

Dr. Mary G. Padua, ASLA, RLA (SC #1256; CA #2934)
Professor and Founding Chair