URI undergraduate Landscape Architecture program rated among top 15 in nation

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Program is newest, smallest of those ranked

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 11, 2009 – The undergraduate program in landscape architecture at the University of Rhode Island was ranked among the top 15 programs of its kind in the country by Design Intelligence magazine, the first time it has been recognized at the national level.

URI’s program tied the University of Florida for 14th in the rankings. The top three programs were the University of Georgia, Kansas State University and Louisiana State University.

“I’ve been here since the formation of our program in the 1980s, and it is very gratifying to see our program recognized in this way,” said Professor Angelo Simeoni, acting chair of the department. “It is even more exciting when you note that all of the programs listed ahead of us are old, well-established programs that are considerably larger than ours. We’re in very good company.”

In 2008, Design Intelligence surveyed hiring decision makers at more than 200 firms employing architecture, design and landscape architecture professionals from around the country. In addition, deans and chairs from more than 100 academic programs participated in the study. Respondents were queried about the programs they considered to be the best at preparing students for professional success, and they were asked to cite programs they considered to be the best in educating and training for specific skills.

“We’ve been blessed with an incredible group of students from the outset,” said Simeoni. “They have gone out into the industry and made a name for themselves, and their success built the reputation of our program. We now have a great alumni network that backs us and spreads the word about URI Landscape Architecture.”

The first URI students to earn degrees in landscape architecture graduated in 1989. Just 20 students each year are accepted into the program, which has five full-time faculty members.

A key element in the success of the program is the requirement that students take part in community design projects. These have included the redesign of the schoolyard at Stony Lane School in North Kingstown; a landscape plan for the Route 95 corridor from the Connecticut line to the visitor’s center in Richmond; a southern Rhode Island onshore wind study; an examination of the effects of human settlement along Quonochontaug Pond in Westerly; and a campus master plan for the University of Rhode Island, among many others.

“Students work on these projects as a team, and while they realize that the projects won’t necessarily get built as they designed them, they get the vital benefit of going through the process much as they would as professionals,” explained Simeoni. “In the case of the URI master plan, former students are still coming back to campus in awe to see how the project is coming along.”

Simeoni said that future community projects the students will work on will increasingly focus on energy issues, coastal issues, and sustainable design projects.

For more information about the URI Landscape Architecture program, contact Simeoni at 401-874-4549 or aes@uri.edu.