Launch of MLA Program

Sam Fox School announces new MLA program

Posted by Liam Otten November 3, 2009

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will launch a new Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program in Fall 2010, announced Bruce Lindsey, dean of the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design.

"The discipline of landscape architecture is central to solving many of today's most pressing environmental concerns," said Lindsey, who also serves as the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Community Collaboration. "In terms of sustainable design, the use of natural resources and large-scale ecological planning, landscape architecture is leading the way. Indeed, within contemporary architectural practice, landscape architecture has been key to developing a new sense of environmental ethics, one that stresses architecture's capacity to connect us with our environment and to one other."

The MLA program — the first in the state of Missouri — will offer both two- and three-year options (depending on students' undergraduate backgrounds) leading to a professional MLA degree. Enrollment for the first year will be limited to 10 students, though subsequent classes likely will expand to 12-15 students. In addition, the program will offer a number of joint degree opportunities, including a dual MLA/ Architecture and an MLA/Urban Design.

Chairing the MLA program will be Dorothée Imbert, currently associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). A noted scholar as well as a practicing landscape architect, Imbert was program director for the GSD's MLA Degree Programs in 2004-05. Her appointment in the Sam Fox School will be effective Jan. 1, 2010.

"The landscape architecture program draws on a unique set of institutional, regional, and international resources available at the Sam Fox School," Imbert explains. "St. Louis will function as a laboratory for understanding and testing ecological and urban theories at the local scale, from brownfield reclamation to urban agriculture systems."

"Our program will focus on design, ecology and urbanism," Imbert continues. "This three-pronged approach is geared to developing students' critical and conceptual abilities, and to preparing them to become leaders within professional and academic spheres."

The curriculum will be centered on a sequence of core and advanced design studios supported by instruction in technology, history and theory. Additional coursework will focus on ecology, horticulture, materials, construction, and other related issues. Students also will have the opportunity to explore different landscapes and cultures through international graduate architecture studios in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Seoul, and Tijuana.

Drawing on the university's wider resources, the MLA program will offer additional joint degree options with the Olin School of Business, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and the Master of Construction Management in the School of Engineering. Meanwhile the Sam Fox School will begin offering a new undergraduate minor in landscape architecture in Fall 2011.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 1, 2010. Students can apply online through the Sam Fox School's graduate admissions page. For more information, visit or call 314.935.6227 or 800.295.6227.

Dorothée Imbert

Imbert has written widely on landscape architecture and modernism. Her most recent book is Between Garden and City: Jean Canneel-Claes and Landscape Modernism (University of Pittsburgh Press) released at the end of October 2009. Other books include The Modernist Garden in France (Yale University Press, 1993) and Garrett Eckbo: Modern Landscapes for Living, co-authored with Marc Treib (University of California Press, 1996/2005). She currently is conducting research for books on Swiss landscape architecture and on the California mid-century modernist Geraldine Knight Scott.

Imbert joined the GSD in 1999 as an assistant professor of landscape architecture and was named associate professor in 2003. In addition to directing the MLA Degree Programs, she designed and curated the exhibition and convened the international symposium Constructing the Swiss Landscape (2006-07). Her seminars include "Designing Women," "Landscape and/in the City: The Case of Switzerland" and "Food Forms: Agriculture and Urban Systems."

Imbert practiced as a landscape architect at Peter Walker and Partners in Berkeley from 1996 to 1999. She has designed installations, with Marc Treib, for the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. In addition to pursuing scholarly research, she has remained engaged in design through studio teaching, projects in Italy and Qatar, and through speculative investigations such as proposed urban farms on the Harvard University campus extension in Allston, MA.

Imbert received her architect's diploma from the Unite Pedagogique d'Architecture n°1in Paris, as well as both a Master of Architecture and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.

Imbert's appointment follows from the work of a search committee chaired by Peter MacKeith, associate dean and associate professor of architecture in the Sam Fox School. 

Other committee members included Kathryn Dean, director of the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design; Adrian Luchini, the Raymond E. Maritz Professor of Architecture; John Hoal, chair of the Urban Design Program; Heather Woofter, assistant professor of architecture and Graduate Core coordinator; Ron Fondaw, professor of art; Anne Lewis, founder and president of Lewisites Landscaping Architecture; and Clayton Holmes, a graduate student in architecture.