What is Landscape Architecture?

What is Landscape Architecture?

November 15, 2022

When architecture is mentioned, thoughts of grand structures and expansive infrastructure come to mind—but what about the surrounding spaces? This is where landscape architecture comes into play. While it may not resemble stereotypical architecture for some, this field of study surrounds our everyday lives. Encompassing a slew of technical and non-technical skills, landscape architecture embraces the art and science of design, land management, ecology, and more.  

The practice of landscape architecture is essentially designing everything that is outside the building. So urban places, big parks, national parks, trails, master planning of communities, river systems, ecological restoration, focused on how species co-habit and how we can work and live with systems…” 

—Louise Bordelon, PhD  

Famous landscape architecture projects span the globe across centuries. Some notable projects are the Palais de Versailles (Paris, France), Millenium Park (Chicago, U.S.), The Summer Palace (Beijing, China), and Park Guell (Barcelona, Spain). Projects such as Skyline Park, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, and Paco Sanchez Park represent the variety of landscape architecture initiatives within the Denver metropolitan area.  

Landscape Architecture at CU Denver 

The Landscape Architecture Department is led by Louise Bordelon, PhD. Through the department’s research and curriculum, students engage with topics including social justice, sustainability, and environmental racism through the lens of research and design. Rich with talent and accolades, landscape architecture programs at CU Denver continue to thrive

For those looking to pursue this area of study, two degree paths are offered. A landscape architecture minor is available for undergraduate students. This program aims to create a fundamental understanding of landscape architecture. Students will come out with a specialized perspective that fits well within a range of architecture, design, and engineering degree paths.  

For graduate students, a master’s in landscape architecture (MLA) is available. The MLA is a STEM-designated and fully accredited degree program. Intertwining theory and practice, this program focuses on bending design to achieve ergonomic and environmental balance.  

Landscape Architecture changes how we interface with the natural world. It has the ability to bring ecology and biodiversity back into our cities…bring people together and celebrate place and culture in ways that we really need.” 

—Louise Bordelon, PhD

For the landscape architecture minor, students can expect these courses: History of Landscape Architecture, Introduction to Landscape Architecture, Site, Society, and Environment, Ecology for Landscape Architects, and Landform Manipulation.  

For the MLA, students will work through specialized design studios, lecture/seminar courses, and research/elective opportunities. Courses like Ecology for Landscape Architects, Introduction to GIS, Landform Manipulation, and Computer Applications in Landscape Architecture are all built into the curriculum. 

What Can You Do with a Landscape Architecture degree? 

The field of landscape architecture is more promising than ever before. From 2014 to 2019, the landscape architect workforce in the U.S. grew by 10%, peaking at 24,500 total employees. Demand for landscape architects within Colorado is healthy, and the state touts the highest location quotient in the U.S. Residential design is the largest market sector within landscape architecture. This area consists of planning and designing single-family residences, larger multi-family housing structures, and residential communities.  

Landscape Architecture Firms 

In Colorado, larger firms such as Stantec, Aecom, Design Workshop, Sasaki, DHM, and HDR employ a significant amount of landscape architects. Smaller firms, such as Livable Cities, Dig Studio, and Superbloom are also prominent in the Denver metropolitan area.  

How Much Does a Landscape Architect Make? 

Landscape architecture salaries have a median of $67,950 across the U.S. Pay in Colorado sits between $65,100 and $69,060. Salaries range greatly, with the top 10% earning over $115,380 per year and the lowest 10% earning less than $43,260.  

Landscape Architecture Jobs 

Aside from a landscape architecture-specific role, those who pass through the landscape architecture programs at CU Denver commonly work in the following fields:

Architect—Average Salary: $80,180 

Architects plan and design a variety of new buildings, expansions, and renovations according to client specifications and resources. Projects can range from single-family residential to large civic developments. 

Civil Engineer—Average Salary: $88,050 

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems. Projects include bridges, roads, airports, dams, bridges, and more.  

Construction Manager—Average Salary: $98,890 

Also known as general contractors or project managers, this role handles the planning, coordination, budgeting, and supervision of construction projects.  

Drafter—Average Salary: $60,290 

This role revolves around the preparation of technical drawings and plans. Drafters use software to transform designs from engineers or architects into technical drawings.  

Urban/Regional Planner—Average Salary: $78,500 

Urban planners review site plans submitted by developers. They also develop land use plans to form communities and prepare for population growth. 

Surveyor—Average Salary: $61,600 

Surveyors make precise measurements to update property boundaries. This helps prepare sites for construction and avoid legal disputes. 

Dr. Louise Bordelon

Professor Louise Bordelon, PhD, joined the Landscape Architecture Department full-time in fall 2019. She holds undergraduate degrees in Architecture from the University of Cape Town and Landscape Architecture from University of Pretoria, both in South Africa, as well as a master’s in landscape architecture and a PhD in Geography and Anthropology from Louisiana State University, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Bordelon has also held a postdoctoral fellowship in Geography at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Learn more about CU Denver’s landscape architecture opportunities and how you can build your career in today’s engaging industry.   


Contact us to learn more about how much programs cost, how to apply, and when you can start any of CU Denver’s Landscape Architecture Programs.