Column: You’re majoring in what?

Editor’s note: You’re Majoring in What? is a new Aggie column that features students of UC Davis’ lesser-known majors.

Amie Patel is a fourth-year landscape architecture major.

What is landscape architecture (LDA)?
Landscape architecture is the planning and design of outdoor spaces. The world which you see outside of a building is designed by a landscape architect. It is such a broad major/profession, and there are so many different opportunities for LDA majors to explore after graduating.

Why did you choose LDA as your major?
I came to Davis as a math major, but I knew pretty much straight away that I wanted something more creative and more environmentally focused. LDA is great because you get to be creative and fluid in your designs, but there’s still a pretty strong science and factual base from which you derive your designs off of. It’s great to use knowledge and research from your lecture and lab classes and to input them into a design which has so many different functions. And all of the classes and things you learn are very relative to what’s going on the world today, environmentally. A lot of our classes are focused on how to make the world stronger for longer.

How does the process to becoming a LDA major work?
You enter as a pre-LDA major, and your freshman year you take the basic GE courses everyone else does. But sophomore year you start your pre-LDA classes where they teach you basic drafting and design concepts, which [are] really the foundation of everything. Winter Quarter you go through a portfolio process where you create a short portfolio of your work along with a personal statement really showing who you are and why you want to major in LDA. This is submitted to the faculty for review, and usually around 30 students are accepted each year.

What type of work do you plan to do once you graduate? What kind of jobs can you get with this major?
I’m hoping to get a job at a landscape architecture firm, but the possibilities are endless. LDA opens up so many doors in the design world — LDA grads are always doing new and really exciting things. I personally am very interested in urban design and designing for cities.

What has been your favorite LDA class?
Studios are always the best classes. As an LDA major you are required to take four upper division studios that are really challenging, but really rewarding. They’re also really great because each is focused on a different topic, all of which are really relevant to a current issue in the world. I’ve had a studio where we had to come up with a design intervention for one of the California state parks that was on the closure list. The challenge was to create a design that would bring activity and revenue into the park to help keep it running. On the flip side, I’ve had classes that were focused in reactivating really urban neighborhoods in San Francisco. The studios range from a lot of different topics, and they help you decide and understand what direction you want to go in after graduation.

Who is your favorite LDA professor?
All of the LDA professors are great, and so different in their focuses. The best thing about the LDA department is that even though it’s fairly small, the professors are all unique from one another and they are all so helpful. They all have different focuses which really helps us as students to really understand the different realms of landscape architecture, and for me it’s helped me get a better understanding what direction I want to take, because we have such a great faculty that shows us everyday what they’re working on.

What has been the best part of being an LDA major?
The best part about being an LDA major is the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you’ve finished a project that you worked really hard on. It’s different than finishing a really hard math assignment, which I’m sure is a great feeling. But when you’ve finished your posters for your final presentation, or when you’ve just given a really great presentation, no matter how tired you are, you just feel so good. And you have visual proof of all of your hard work and effort.

Another great part about LDA are the friends that you make. Because the class sizes are so small, you get to know your classmates really well and it becomes a sort of family. We’re always in studio together either working and learning from one another. And you get a really strong support system.

SASHA COTTERELL can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.