SCI-Arc Launches New Program on Emerging Topics in Landscape Architecture

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Shortly after Hernan Diaz Alonso became Dean of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 2015, a suite of four graduate programs (Architectural technologies, city design, fiction and entertainment, and Design theory and pedagogy) were proposed, which confirmed the progressive and speculative position that the school took when it opened in 1972. Yesterday, SCI-Arc announced that a fifth postgraduate program will soon be added to the mix.

Synthetic landscapes will be a one-year, three-semester Master of Science program that, according to the school’s website, “focuses[s] on advancing knowledge and developing expertise in designing complex landscapes for the 21st century. Reflecting on the decision to create the programme, President of Postgraduate Programs David Ruy said that “landscape design, the often overlooked counterpart of building design, is increasingly becoming a primary arena for the development of ecological awareness and innovation”. The program will incorporate lessons familiar to a landscape architecture curriculum – including those from horticulture, botany, climate systems and zoology – while challenging the conventions currently present in landscape design to imagine alternative relationships between the built and natural environments.

“There should be no distinction in the landscape between the metropolitan and the natural,” said SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso. “With Synthetic Landscapes, we are trying to determine if there is a SCI-Arc way to conceptualize landscape architecture as a synthetic problem and to approach the larger scales of architectural thought. I want to see if we can think of new forms of nature as a way to both produce and destabilize our built environments. Landscapes are cultural objects as much as anything we design.

Join the Synthetic landscapes program as visiting professor will be Timothy Morton, a longtime member of the object-oriented ontology school of thought and author of more than 20 books on the subject, including Ecological thinking (2010), Hyperobjects (2013), and dark ecology (2016). “Besides being the author of what have already become seminal books,” Ruy said. “Timothy also had a profound influence on film, music, fashion and art. The opportunity to work closely with such an important thinker on an exciting new landscape architecture program is truly unique.

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