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LSU Landscape Architecture Now a STEM Degree

The LSU landscape architecture program, offered by the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture (RRSLA), has been designated a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degree.

The degree change follows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s July 2023 announcement designating landscape architecture a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degree program. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) advocated for the designation change.
The LSU landscape architecture program has been consistently ranked among the top three undergraduate and graduate programs in the nation according to DesignIntelligence magazine, the leading journal of design professions. The STEM designation will further attract highly competitive design students to LSU from around the world.

“Landscape architecture is important because we make our communities more resilient,” said Haley Blakeman, RRSLA associate director. Well-designed spaces bring people together, she said. For students, the major is “all about problem solving, learning how to talk to community members, and using the design skills they’re trained with to come up with solutions for the future.”

There is a common misconception that landscape architecture is landscaping, Blakeman said. The field is in fact often an intersection between urban planning, sustainable design, and land resource management. Landscape architects plan and design traditional spaces from parks, campuses, and gardens to commercial centers, transportation corridors, waterfront developments, and more. Today’s landscape architects design and plan the restoration of natural places and work to revitalize post-disaster sites and redevelop blighted landscapes of urban settlements. In Louisiana, more than ever, landscape architects are involved in coastal adaptation.

Landscape architecture degree programs are now pioneering some of the most innovative research and developing new technologies – from using artificial intelligence for urban agriculture, to urban planning for autonomous vehicles; to hydraulic modeling, robotic fabrication, and augmented reality for water bodies, and more.

“Landscape architecture applies science, technology, cutting edge research, and engineering principles, to design healthy communities, active transportation projects, campuses and parks. We help communities adapt to climate driven extreme weather and support biodiversity,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of ASLA. “The infrastructure challenges in municipalities across the country are enormous — landscape architects bring transformative solutions. The decision will advance landscape architecture education and practice, and that is great for America and the global community.”

Learn about the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture.


In Memorium: Bruce Sharky

Bruce Sharky portrait, black and white, man in hatProfessor emeritus Bruce G. Sharky, 82, of Baton Rouge passed away peacefully, with his family at his side on Saturday, September 16, 2023.

He joined the LSU landscape architecture faculty in 1990. He served as the director of the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture (RRSLA) until 2001, and as a professor until his retirement in 2021.

“Our RRSLA community is saddened by the loss of our dear friend, colleague, and mentor, Bruce Sharky,” said Haley Blakeman, associate director of the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture. “We will pass on the details of his service soon so you can join us in remembering him and his legacy.”

Bruce’s dedication to his family, the profession of landscape architecture and his undivided care of the landscape architecture students at LSU, continued throughout his career and retirement. He was designated as one of the RRSLA’s ‘Legacy Professors’ to honor his achievements. He was a gifted artist and inspired many students to become landscape architects through the passion he showed for the profession and the RRSLA program, and generously shared his time to any student or faculty member in need. His method of teaching through the sharing of his professional experiences was especially appreciated by his students.

Throughout his life, Bruce enjoyed hiking and sketching, and travel. His international study programs and field trips with students inspired many to make a positive change in their world through the profession of landscape architecture. Bruce led study programs to Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, and China, gave a seminar in Chile, was a visiting scholar in Japan and had two Fulbright Fellowships to Mexico and Portugal. While teaching, his undergraduate studio classes worked with the National Park Service in developing alternate plans for a backcountry camp at Denali National Park in Alaska, and he led a collaborative agricultural and ecological tourism studio with LSU landscape architecture students and Sichuan Agricultural University in China. During retirement he continued to participate remotely in student critiques in China and a studio class at the University of Austin, Texas.

Bruce befriended many faculty members from other disciplines, and often participated in collaborative projects with other faculty members in the LSU College of Art & Design. He also loved to walk across the LSU campus or spend time in coffee shops and interact with others, particularly those involved in the arts, including music and dramatic arts. Perhaps his most valuable contribution was his enthusiasm and passion for making life better for others in general.

Bruce was also an author of four published books on subjects as varied as professional practice, grading and drainage, introduction to landscape architecture, the theory and use of shadows in creating memorable outdoor spaces and most recently, nature-based design in landscape architecture. His books are valued for their ability to make complex topics understandable for all. In 1990, Professor Sharky was honored as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects for his years of service and contributions to the profession, having served as an ASLA National Trustee and Executive Committee Vice Presidency positions both before and after coming to LSU.

A Celebration of Life will be held in Baton Rouge (date to be determined.)

In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be sent to the CLL Leukemia Cancer Research, or to the LSU Bruce Sharky RRSLA Support Fund. 


Art History Faculty Release Robert Williams: Conversations

Robert Williams Conversations book cover

Image courtesy of the University Press of Mississippi.

Robert Williams: Conversations, edited by LSU art historians Joe Givens and Darius Spieth, has been published by the University Press of Mississippi.

Exploring the works of prolific artist Robert Williams, the book includes interviews with Williams, founder of Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine and coproducer of ZAP Comix who is known for his underground comix cartoons and oil paintings. He has been called “the originator of Lowbrow Art.”

“A legendary figure of underground comix, Robert Williams (b. 1943) is an important social chronicler of American popular culture. The interviews assembled in Robert Williams: Conversations attest to his rhetorical powers, which match the high level of energy evident in his underground comix and action-filled canvases.” Read more.

Givens is an art history instructor in the LSU School of Art. An advocate for marginalized artists, he specializes in the scholarly investigation of overlooked and neglected art movements. In 2014, Juxtapoz magazine praised Givens’s underground art course as “the only known class in existence where modern and contemporary art that emerged from outside the traditional historical canon is thoroughly explored.”

Spieth is a professor of art history and the San Diego Alumni Association Chapter Alumni Professor. A specialist in modernism, Spieth focuses his scholarship on the interrelationships between art, intellectual history, and economics. Major monographs include Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art (Brill, 2018) and Napoleon’s Sorcerers: The Sophisians (University of Delaware Press, 2007). Spieth is also subject editor for Art Markets, Law and Economics for the Grove Dictionary of Art (Oxford University Press). He has been repeatedly named LSU’s “Favorite Professor” by The Reveille The Mag‘s campuswide polls.

Robert Williams: Conversations is part of the Conversations with Comic Artists Series, and is a collaborative project between Givens, Spieth, and Williams.


LSU Art History Program

Rod Parker Named Interim Dean of the College of Art & Design

Rod Parker

Rod Parker, School of Art Director

Rod Parker, Director of the LSU School of Art, has agreed to serve as Interim Dean of the LSU College of Art & Design following the announcement that Alkis Tsolakis is stepping down as Dean of the College of Art & Design effective September 1, 2023. Parker will fill the role until a permanent leader is selected, and he will continue as Director of the School of Art. Professor Parker joined LSU in 1981 and has been the Director of the School of Art since 2008.

“I am honored to have been asked to serve as interim dean during this time of leadership transition for our college,” Parker said. Read more about Parker.

“I am grateful for his experienced leadership during this time of transition,” said LSU Executive Vice President & Provost Roy Haggerty.

“The College of Art & Design is of vital importance to LSU, the state of Louisiana, and all whose lives are enriched by the fields of art and design. It is nationally renowned for its creative excellence and impactful research. We will quickly begin a national search for an experienced, dynamic, and visionary leader who will further elevate the college’s distinguished programs,” Haggerty wrote to the LSU community.

Tsolakis will continue as a School of Architecture faculty member, teaching in the Design Paris study abroad program this fall 2023.

“Please join me in thanking Alkis Tsolakis for the many contributions his leadership and research have yielded for LSU.”

LSU College of Art & Design

Meredith Gaglio a part of MoMA Exhibition Emerging Ecologies

Meredith GaglioMeredith Gaglio, assistant professor of architecture, collaborated on the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibition Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism, which is dedicated to both realized and unrealized projects that address ecological and environmental concerns by architects who practiced in the United States from the 1930s through the 1990s.

On view from September 17, 2023, through January 20, 2024, in the Museum’s Third Floor North Galleries, Emerging Ecologies will feature over 150 works that reconstruct how the rise of the environmental movement in the US informed architectural practice and thought. Models, photographs, diagrams, and sketches will be placed in context with archival materials such as posters, flyers, and articles to showcase innovative, fantastical, dystopian, and daring architectural projects that sought to navigate the fraught relationship between the built and natural environment. The exhibition celebrates the path-breaking environmentally conscious work of architects like Emilio Ambasz, Charles and Ray Eames, and Frank Lloyd Wright, while shining a light on many less familiar, historically significant practices like The New Alchemy Institute, Glen Small, and Mária Telkes.

“By highlighting projects that both foreshadowed and anticipated the ecological effects of overpopulation, the depletion of natural resources, and rampant industrial pollution, the exhibition looks to the past to suggest solutions for the future,” according to MoMa organizers.

Seven newly commissioned audio recordings that draw inspiration from these little-known projects will feature contemporary practitioners—Gaglio, Mae-ling Lokko, Jeanne Gang, Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Amy Chester, Carolyn Dry, and Emilio Ambasz—sharing their thoughts on what contemporary architects can do to mitigate against climate change.

Gaglio was a historical consultant for the show and for the exhibition catalog, as well as lending her voice for the audio collage of architects and scholars who contributed to the exhibit. She wrote a piece in the “Counter Ecologies” issue of Art Papers in relation to the exhibition.

“I am one of the voices you’d hear in the exhibit,” she said. “In the audio tour, I discuss the history of the New Alchemy Institute and its relevance to contemporary architecture. I also speak to the importance of understanding the rich history of ecological architecture in an ‘audio collage’ with other experts in the field.”

Gaglio is a historian of modern and contemporary architectural technology, urbanism, and the environment, with previous experience in professional practice. Her research interests include the development and implementation of sustainable community planning and architectural strategies in the United States from the late-1960s through the early-1980s. Read more.

She is also speaking at The Third Ecology conference sponsored by MoMA and the European Architectural History Network (EAHN) in Iceland in October 2023.

Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism is organized by Carson Chan, Director, the Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and Natural Environment, and Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, with Matthew Wagstaffe, Ambasz Institute Research Assistant.

More about MoMa

More about the LSU School of Architecture

Photography Professor Ariaz Published in Washington Post

lsu school of art faculty jeremiah ariaz

Jeremiah Ariaz, professor of photography

Jeremiah Ariaz, professor of photography, took a sabbatical in 2022 to photograph newspaper offices across his home state of Kansas, “thinking of them as beacons of democracy in a divided America.”

“The photographs celebrate the civic function, labor and technology at the heart of local newspapers’ production, while also documenting an industry in peril as the country loses on average two newspapers a week,” he said. In the last two decades, over 2000 papers have closed nationwide.

Ariaz photographed 135 news offices in all. Recently, one office he visited multiple times, The Marion County Record, found itself embroiled in a controversy embodying the concerns behind his project – about community, division, democracy, and first amendment rights. These issues collided with real time events after law enforcement raided the newspaper office as well as the homes of its editor, owners, and reporters, seizing computer equipment, routers and cellphones, becoming an international news story. 

“Reporting has been widespread from outlets such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and the Guardian,” he said. “I’m thrilled to have an opinion column published in The Washington Post.”

Read the piece.

“See the Kansas weekly that’s standing up for press freedom” included 12 of Ariaz’s photographs from his visits to The Record.

Washington Post Opinion page. Photo by Jeremiah Ariaz, courtesy of Washington Post.

Washington Post Opinion page. Photo by Jeremiah Ariaz, courtesy of Washington Post.

Ariaz’s next publication, The Kansas Mirror: The Fourth Estate in the Heart of America is forthcoming. The 32-page tabloid in the style of a newspaper contains his photographs alongside essays from 10 contributors: Kansas newspaper men and women from across the state. It happens that the Maron County Record’s editor, Eric Meyer contributed a column to the publication. The paper will be released in September 2023, and was made with generous support of the Tallgrass Artist Residency, Volland Foundation, and the LSU Provost Arts/Humanities Fund.  

The photographs will be on exhibition in October 2023 at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.

Read more about The Fourth Estate project.

New to LSU: Q&A with Huili Wang

huili wang

Huili Wang is an assistant professor of interior design at the LSU School of Interior Design. She is an interdisciplinary researcher who investigates physical work environments, and designs learning environments. She was a key contributor in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded Technical Assistance to Brownfields community visioning projects. She has certification in Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments from North Carolina State University and participated in Texas projects as a trained OLE designer.


What is your background?

I received a PhD and an MS in Interior and Environmental Design from Texas Tech University, and a B.S. in Environmental Design and a MA in Fine Art, from Yangzhou University, China. Prior to joining LSU, I gained teaching experience at South Dakota State University. As an interior designer, I participated in various design projects including hospitality, showhouses, sales offices, the development of new communities, and residential design.


What are your research interests?

My main research interest is physical work environments, including investigating flexible office design solutions that perform well for multi-generational workforces, and gaining in-depth views on workspaces in the future.

My dissertation was a mixed method research project that focuses on increasing understanding of how specific workplace design features affect millennial new hires’ transition outcomes, including job satisfaction, job stress, organizational commitment, and turnover intention. The mixed method research collected and analyzed data from two online focus groups and 252 online survey responses. The results indicate satisfaction with workplace design features significantly predicts millennial new employees’ transition outcomes.

My secondary research interest revolves around designing learning environments, including classroom design for autistic children and early childhood outdoor learning environments.


What is your teaching philosophy?

My experiences in education and industry have led me to believe that employability skills are keys for students successful at long-term jobs or careers. My current teaching philosophy has evolved around how to create a supportive learning environment where students can learn actively and be prepared to enter professional positions. My teaching practice is founded in three concepts to reinforce students’ employability skills: fostering collaborative learning, applied knowledge, and inclusion and empathy.


What is your first impression of LSU & Louisiana?

I really like Mike the Tiger. Every time I go to campus, I visit him and exchange greetings. Also, I enjoy the food in Louisiana and the warm smiles on people’s faces here.


Courtney Barr Named New Associate Director of the LSU School of Art

Courtney BarrCourtney Barr, professor of art/graphic design, has been named associate director of the LSU School of Art. Barr has been a faculty member at LSU for 15 years, and a manager of the Graphic Design Student Office (GDSO), which provides professional design services for university departments and local community organizations.

As associate director, Barr works with School of Art Director Rod Parker to manage the school’s administrative activities. Barr works with fellow faculty, art students, and the community as a liaison on many projects.

Barr is a graphic designer, letterpress artist, and educator. In her work she uses visual explanations to reveal new understandings and perspectives. She merges digital printing techniques with letterpress printing to create unique information/art pieces. Her professional graphic design work has received recognition from AIGA (the Professional Association for Design) and the American Advertising Federation. Her work has been published nationally in the Print Regional Design Annual and Graphic Design USA magazine. She has received research grants, including the LSU Council on Research Summer Stipend Grant and a Junior Faculty Travel Grant. In addition, she has collaborated with researchers on grants from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her work has been exhibited in North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. Barr received her BA from Lynchburg College and her MFA at East Carolina University.

Read about the LSU School of Art.