The design studio is the primary setting of professional landscape architectural practice. As a physical classroom and virtual space (i.e Google Drive), the studio is a place where you have communal space for formal and informal group discussions and presentations, posting and sharing of information and other course related activity. As an environment, the studio is a place for design research and experimentation, a place to take risks and speculate, a place to collaborate. As both a space and environment, the LA 8201 studio should reflect a professional atmosphere similar to that of a professional design practice. It should be organized, well-kept, free of continued disruption and distraction and a place for creative expression and critical inquiry. It is your responsibility to make it into a desirable place to work; don’t sacrifice this opportunity to participate in the studio environment, as it is one of the most unique aspects of your educational experience.  In order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to creative production, I have adopted the following guidelines:


At the beginning of each semester you must set up and maintain a fully operational work area. The instructor will provide guidance as to which areas of the studio space need to be kept clear for instruction use (i.e. pin-up areas). Please make it a priority to have a clean and organized workspace. If you use community resources- cutting boards, light tables, etc please cleanup after yourself. Remember, our building cleaning services personnel are not your personal housekeepers. If the studio work space becomes too messy, the instructors reserve the right to use class time for a group clean-up of the work space. You are strongly encouraged to work in studio to benefit from the serendipity provided by the studio environment.


The studio is unlike typical University learning environments. As a peer community the studio should be treated as a communal public space. Your conduct, words, and images used in this space must be respectful to everyone. As such, you should be careful to treat your work, your environment, and your colleagues with workplace respect. Showing up to class being prepared and on time is a great way to respect both professors and other students as well as for you to get the highest return on your tuition investment.


Model the behavior of the professional that you will become as a future design professional.  Therefore, civility should be practiced both within the confines of the studio and in written communication between professors, colleagues, students and staff, and in any anonymous written evaluations at the end of the semester. If you are frustrated either by other students or by instructors, talk to us and let us know. Do not let an issue or a frustration “fester”!


Critical discourse and analysis, especially critical self-analysis of your own work, is an essential skill for the design professional. Throughout the semester we will work on skills related to critical discourse and project criticism. This will include candid and honest feedback provided by your instructors and the development of your own critical analysis capacity and ability to provide and receive project-related criticism.  Throughout the semester, your peers can also be a very important resource for discussion, feedback and debate. We encourage you to engage in discussion and conversation with your peers but please be mindful of everyone’s time and the volume of your conversations. During reviews and pin-ups students are also encouraged to be involved with respectful verbal and written project criticism.


Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, offers the following parable: “Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. ‘What are you doing?’ you ask. ‘Can’t you see?’ comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’ ‘You look exhausted!’ you exclaim. ‘How long have you been at it?’ ‘Over five hours,’ the woodcutter returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’ ‘Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?’ you inquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’ ’I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,’ the woodcutter says emphatically. ‘I’m too busy sawing.

We will be busy “sawing” this semester; but, we it will be done with a sharp blade. As your first professional design studio we will emphasize the value of time and time management. You will find that time takes on an entirely different and important role in professional consulting. The compression of time in practice favors those that are inquisitive, focused and are prepared to throw an idea away looking for better solution. In practice, you learn to make mistakes faster (homage to Andrew Grove, stolen by Bruce Mau) and learn from those mistakes. You must be inquisitive and do iterative work to understand the complexity of landscape and landscape architecture. You must practice your craft over and over again as process is what we are teaching. Throughout the semester you will hear us encourage you to develop “another option” or “ try it again” or “what would happen if….”. We are encouraging you to try rapid experimentation utilizing a method of continued iterations catalyzed by critical self-analysis. We are encouraging you to sharpen the saw and try again.

We will have weekly “check-in” updates each Friday. These will either be informal discussions with you or progress pin-ups. In conducting the weekly check-ins we are encouraging you to think in terms of a larger project schedule and methodical steps leading towards an unmovable deadline.

Here are some resources related to time management fundamentals.
Fundamentals of Time and Task Management

Managing Time: Perspectives and Practices

Time Management: Project Planning Tool

Finally, I wish to discourage “all nighters” as a standard practice- its unhealthy and a reflection of poor time management. From our experience, effective time management results in more productive work than staying up all evening and not giving your brain and body a rest. To this end, while you have access to Rapson 24 hours/day and 7 days/week, I recommend that you consider thinking of the studio “closed” from midnight to 6am.


In a few short years from now, when you are creating award-winning professional work, you will see images of your projects everywhere.  And when you do, you will probably rather not have your work (or the work of your photographer) shown without credit to your or your photographers brilliance. So think of yourself in a few years when you properly credit ALL precedent study images and cite all quotations and uses of source material used in this class. Make sure to distinguish your original production and thoughts from material downloaded or created by others. Citations are not only an essential practice to all scholarship but necessary when your projects are shown to prospective students or in award submittals. This also extends to visual materials procured from the internet. A great “how to” source for citation of visual media can be found at the RMIT University library.


Effective visual and verbal presentation of your work is one of the most essential aspects of being a professional consultant. If you cannot communicate a proposal, an idea, a strategy, then it is highly unlikely that your proposal, idea or strategy will be accepted- no matter how brilliant it may be. The primary benefits of formal project reviews as gaining experience in effective project presentation techniques and receiving feedback on additional considerations for your project. Project reviews are an important opportunity for you to sharpen your critical analysis skills. Please be respectful of your colleagues by planning on attending all presentations and contributing to the reviews.


While the studio may be your home away from home, it’s not your kitchen, bedroom, living room or the local pub and the desk is not provided for use as a liquor cabinet, so please keep those locations and associated activities out of the studio. Alcohol and drug possession or use is not allowed in the studio classroom. See the University policy here.  As for food, please be mindful of others when eating in the studio. If possible, use one of the common areas in Rapson or on campus for meal preparation and eating. This prevents accidental spills, obnoxious food odors, food detritus, refrigerator funk and gives your brain a quick, but much needed, break. If you do consume food in the studio, please promptly clean up after yourself.


Please respect that the studio is also not a movie theater or concert hall and is a working environment for all of you- including your instructors. Please feel free to listen to media while you work but do by wearing headphones. As this is your instructors work environment as well, the instructors prohibit the use of online entertainment during regular class hours. This includes entertainment videos, movies, cartoons, television, video games, etc. And besides, when we get a reference check from a future employer, we would like to be able to tell a them how focused and hard working you were in the classroom.


Smartphones, iPads and/or laptop are ubiquitous in our life, so just like a pen, paper or sketchbook, we do not expect you to be un-tethered from (hyper)reality for the entire class. And like pen and paper, we also don’t expect you to need digital media if you want to be disengaged from class- a doodle, is a doodle, is a doodle. If you wish to use your laptop, iPad or smartphone during class discussion or presentations for course-related work, please do so with mindful discretion by being courteous to other and limit use to note taking, topical research, etc. If using digital media during discussions, expect to be called to look up facts, etc during class; appropriate social media posts using #2015LA8201 are encouraged, so join the conversation. A few ground rules: Do not play “stump the professor” if you are searching for information on a research or lecture topic in class and find something of interest; rather, just raise the information as supplemental for discussion, share with the class what page you are looking at so other can see it later or if appropriate, we can display it on the big screen, etc. You should not use laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc during class to follow a game, pay bills online, check a betting line, etc. Such activities distract you and you are less able to participate meaningfully in the class’ discussion; they also distract anyone around or behind you. If you often seem distracted by what’s on your screen- or others are distracted by what’s on your screen, at a minimum we will ask you to put your laptop away. If it becomes problematic, we will remove you from the class. Please step out of the classroom to take phone calls.

There will be times when the laptops and smart phones need to be closed. For the sake of courtesy, we will have a standing rule of no digital media when we are having conversations with guests or during review presentations. Please make sure your smartphones are set to vibrate or silent mode. If you need to take a call, kindly excuse yourself from the room and take the call. Replies to texts and social media can wait until we take a break.


Do not take or borrow books, equipment, materials, supplies or other things that aren’t yours without someone’s permission. Be mindful of the issue of security in the studio by not propping open the studio doors, securing your own valuables and locking materials and tools in your desk.


Look for ways to practice sustainable principles in your daily actions. Be sensible about print materials and presentation techniques that are wasteful. For example, do not produce a final, presentation-quality model when you are working on a design study; build a study model instead (see #6 above). We encourage you to use reclaimed or recycled materials for study models or other drafts. It not only cuts down on waste, it helps with your pocketbook.


The above Studio Culture guidelines were developed by the course instructors. They are not meant to substitute for University, College or Department policy. Many of the guidelines were developed by reviewing Studio Culture guidelines from other institutions, including the USC School of Architecture, Princeton School of Architecture, Pratt School of Architecture, and others.