News from the Studio

LA 312, Graphics for Designers/Visual Communication I

For the first few weeks LA 312 has been focused on developing the artist’s “eye” for what makes effective visual communication. Students researched what they considered excellent examples of good visual communication from a wide variety of forms (architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, fine art, photography, fashion design, game design, comics, illustrations, advertising/media, etc.) and then created a collage of their selections. They also wrote short papers to analyze, cite, and explain their selections and presented their findings to the class. Since we are introducing watercolor this year, each collage had include be a watercolor that the students painted themselves.

Collage by: Brittany Murphy

Collage by: Brittany Murphy



As we all learned, watercolor is not easy, but once you allow the technique to have a looser, “watery” quality without trying for exact precision, it is an enjoyable medium to explore. Students with more extensive backgrounds in art and design added additional examples of their own work to the finished composition. The goal of this exercise was to get a sense of each student’s artistic interests and to begin to capture the art and design elements that make visually compelling images. What is the power of visual communication? How does it inform us and create meaningful experiences?

Collage by: Li Zhuang

Collage by: Li Zhuang

Next we will move on to analyzing the elements that go into a hand-drawn sketch (tone, line, form, perspective, texture, composition), then will begin drawing still life sketches, as well as people and trees.  Students come to the this class with all levels of skill, so our first weeks help create a fun environment to try these skills as ways to learn and better understand artistic expression.

Collage by: Sarah Letarski

Collage by: Sarah Letarski


Reported by Senior Lecturer James Steiner

Photographs of Student Collages by Teaching Assistant Sruti Vanamala Guntupalli

Shawn Kelly Goes to Washington!

Faculty Associate Shawn Kelly and other members of the Executive Committee of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) were invited by the Obama Administration to meet on January 23rd with the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Climate and Natural Resources Working Group at the White House. The profession of Landscape Architecture was, literally, at the table to discuss important connections with climate resilience at the invitation of the President’s Council. The meeting was held at the headquarters of this Committee, and lasted over one hour.

Shawn Kelly Goes to Washington, DC and the White House!
During the meeting the group had a lively discourse. Individual members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Executive Committee spoke to their strengths, either in education, practice, or management.  Shawn was central to the discussions about sustainable water management decisions that must lead us to a better water security for the U.S. His firm has three projects on the EPA database for successful urban water management, and his professional practice and teaching all revolve around sensible water management and use.

The next steps will include greater sharing of data and point to specific intersections between the ASLA and the needs of the Council. The meeting ended with accord that this was an important first step. For more information please visit the ASLA website.


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Contour 2012-2013 Vol. II

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Contour 2012-2013 PDF

Welcome to Contour, our second annual catalog of senior capstone projects, and the University of Wiscon-sin-Madison’s Department of Landscape Architecture profile of student work. This issue focuses on a select group of capstone projects completed during the 2012-2013 school year.

The two-semester capstone provides students the op-portunity to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and ability to resolve a “real-world” design problem. All stu-dents in the accredited undergraduate program are required to pass the capstone in order to graduate.

Most projects fall within community design, urban re-development, conservation, or regional design. Since the 1980s, our capstone projects have addressed the needs of more than 225 client organizations, the ma-jority of these being Wisconsin communities represent-ing more than 55 counties. In addition, past capstone projects have occurred in Minnesota, Texas, New York and Illinois.

Please enjoy this issue of Contour and we encourage you to share your comments with the Department.  We are always looking for complex and engaging projects for students to undertake.

John Harrington, Chair
Department of Landscape Architecture

Fall 2013

Monthly Feature

LABash 2014

by Elyse Eastman

UW-Madison will be hosting this academic year’s LABash, an annual conference for students in Landscape Architecture.  The conference will be held March 27th through 29nd and will feature a variety of lectures, workshops, charrettes, and social events.  It is a great opportunity for the Landscape Architecture Department to showcase current student work and celebrate the success of the program.  It is recognized as a great networking event for students in the United States and Canada and provides an opportunity for attendees to learn about different landscape architecture programs throughout the country. 


The history of the conference dates back to 1970, when the first LABash was held at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.  Students from Guelph started the event to provide landscape architecture students, as well as students from similar fields, an opportunity to network with other students and professionals in the field, observe other programs, and celebrate landscape architecture.

Since then, the event continued at a different school annually.  A handful of students from UW-Madison’s Landscape Architecture Department has been attending the conference every year for at least the past several years.  UW-Madison’s attendees of LABash 2012 won in the bid to host the conference in 2014.  The last time LABash came to Madison was in 2000, and the current students are thrilled to host it for the third time.


The theme for this year’s event, “naturally designed,” plays on the environmental tradition of the Landscape Architecture program here at Madison.  The UW-Madison’s Landscape Architecture Department offers a program that focuses on ecology as a foundation for deLabash20143sign and encourages naturalistic and restorative ideals.  Moreover, the theme reflects the physical setting of the school, being situated at the core of Madison’s urban setting while still containing a variety of natural areas.  The students look forward to showcasing the environmental work being done in Madison, as well as showcasing what it means to be a student at the UW-Madison.  In addition, the planning committee is looking into ways to market the Landscape Architecture program to the student body on campus, for example by showcasing displays and the products of workshops in various locations around campus.  Part of the planning includes coordinating social events each night of the conference.  The planning committee is currently looking into holding an event at the Madison Children’s Museum, as well as a couple other venues on/near campus.


The students hope to receive support from UW alumni in a variety of ways.  Several students from the planning committee will be hosting an alumni mixer in celebration of this event.  The mixer is tentatively scheduled for March 27, 2014.  Location and details about the alumni mixer will be released within the coming months, and donations toward LABash will be encouraged.   However, donations can be sent at any time prior to the event.  If you would like to support the department and the students who are planning this event at this time, please email for more information.  Last, a list of alumni as potential speakers and workshop hosts has been compiled for the event and anticipated to be set soon.

If you would like more information about the conference, please check online at  Updates will be made frequently as more information becomes available in the coming months.