Student Research

One of the ways we find things out about the world is by asking why? or how?

When we ask questions that don’t accept things at face value, that dig into causal webs, we look beyond surface features to the social and political frameworks that organize and activate environmental conditions. Research is about finding things out and making discoveries—and, through these—developing novel ways of thinking and acting.

Students in the Master of Landscape Architecture program engage in independent research, joint research projects with their peers, and faculty-led research projects. They are encouraged to see landscape architectural design as an investigation through the processes of making and doing.

This section of our website features student work created as part of independent study courses, internships, or summer special projects. Everything about this featured research was developed by the students—from the rationale that motivated the study to the research question to the design operations to the outcomes and conclusion.

Through this self-directed process, students build critical thinking skills, learn how to raise vital questions and formulate them clearly, and figure out the best way to explore their ideas through inquiry by design.

transposing a tree: a phenomenological account
Alisa Blatter, spring 2017 independent study
Adviser: Rod Barnett, professor and chair of landscape architecture

The goal of this project is to investigate the territory of the tree as a phenomenological landscape. Blatter used an angle grinder to make a hollow in the living material of a pin oak in the Washington University campus allée, which would be felled soon after. The operation is grounded in experimental veins of cultural geography and archaeology that use performative landscape practices, specifically those involving movement and feel, to foreground the body in the revelation of the human and nonhuman world. Full research summary>>