National board accredits landscape architecture master's program

The Design School in the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts received accreditation from the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board for its graduate program in landscape architecture, giving the young program and its graduates national credibility and endorsement.

The national board’s accreditation puts the three-year-old graduate program on the map, according to Joseph Ewan, associate professor and assistant director of The Design School.

“Prospective students can now visit the LAAB website under ‘accredited graduate programs' to find Arizona State University listed with the country’s other top flight landscape architecture master’s programs,” Ewan said.

“The newly accredited program offers students an advanced degree in the most sustainable discipline in the university as well as new concurrent degree opportunities in urban design and environmental science,’’ said Darren Petrucci, professor and director of The Design School.

“This is a significant accomplishment because we just graduated our first MLA class last year,’’ Petrucci said. He credited the faculty and students for achieving what he called “a very important milestone.”

“We are confident that in the near future this will be a top tier nationally recognized program,’’ he added.

The Design School undergraduate interior and urban design programs and the architecture graduate program were recently ranked among the top 20 in the nation by DesignIntelligence, a nationally pretigious design journal.

The landscape architecture masters program was approved in 2008 and graduated its first class in May 2011.

The national accrediting body sent a four-member team to ASU in the fall of 2011 for a series of interviews with faculty, administrators, students, area architects, alumni and Kwang-Wu Kim, dean and director of the Herberger Institute.  Accreditation was announced in March 2012.

In addition to the prestige of accreditation, receiving the LAAB’s stamp of approval also has practical implications, Ewan said.

"Having a degree that is accredited means that I will be able to take these skills into the highest level of my field as a licensed landscape architect,” said Lora Martens, a graduate of the program. “It will allow me to work on federal jobs since many build projects funded by the federal government require a licensed landscape architect on the project team, and many state and city-funded jobs have this same requirement."

Martens also credits The Design School program with preparing her to not only compete for a job in landscape architecture but to also take a leadership role quickly as an entry-level designer. Martens, who is also a member of the program’s first graduating class, works at Steve Martino and Associates in Phoenix.

Valerie Ahyong, also a recent graduate, said that the accreditation is a significant achievement for landscape architecture in Arizona.

“The accreditation process is vital in examining and ensuring that a program meets requirements set forth by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards and the profession, and ensures that the university and the school is providing the proper education and experiences required to prepare graduating students to work in the professional field,” said Ahyong, a site designer for Smithgroup JJR in Phoenix and vice-president-elect for the central section of the Arizona American Society of Landscape Architects.