MLA 50th Anniversary logo

We invite students, alumni, teachers, support staff, and friends to join us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program and the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba.

Events will be held during the academic year of 2022-2023 and include the homecoming gathering, community planting, invited speakers, alumni exhibitions and fundraising for a 50th Anniversary Scholarship.

We will document these initiatives on this website to celebrate the program’s five decades. Announcements of these events will also be sent out by email. Update your contact information, and you will be kept in the loop.

As we celebrate 50 years of learning and teaching landscape architecture in Manitoba, we want to thank all current and past contributors for their time and attention towards growing a new generation of landscape architects and designers year by year. As of today, the MLA program has graduated a total of 440 students from all regions of Canada and many other countries.

50th anniversary celebration initiatives

MLA program overview

A learning place with charm and character

We are proud to call the legendary John A. Russell Building home. Inspired by the Bauhaus, its architectural beauty creates an excellent learning and teaching place. The two-story open courtyard brings natural light into the heart of the building, the main offices and the studio spaces. The building has undergone several renovations and updates to serve the digital era's needs without losing its architectonic identity and spatial quality. We dream of exterior test sites close by.

Superb facilities and expertise

We are fortunate to have excellent labs and workshops within the Faculty of Architecture. The Workshop, FABLab, CADLab, Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology (C.A.S.T.), and the Architecture/Fine Arts Library are superb research facilities with up-to-date and comprehensive technological equipment (digital and analogue). We seek to strengthen their use through collaboration with partners from the industry. Tour our Facilities

Passionate students

We benefit from a very motivated and engaged student body. Annual student-led initiatives have effectively evoked numerous memorable events in the life of students and teachers through extra-curricular activities. Most of our students are from prairie provinces, while international students add a valuable dimension. We promote student and leadership diversity that reflects society. Also, our faculty-wide PhD program in Design and Planning is constantly growing.

Professionally diverse teachers

The department’s faculty represents a balanced mix of mostly full-time professors from a wide range of academic, professional and geographic backgrounds. We care about students, sustainable ideas, and big targets and consider ourselves creative leaders and trustworthy partners. Through internationally recognized scholarly and creative work, faculty members advance the science, art and profession of landscape architecture. With upcoming retirements and sufficient financial funds, we wish to continue attracting instructors who have achieved recognition in design practice while keeping the current research potential of our department alive.

Enriched design studio teaching

Project-based learning is a specific characteristic of design education, and we consider the Design Studio as the opportunity for synthesizing knowledge with action and learning by doing. We provide a stimulating studio atmosphere and sufficient time to work on designs. We believe that an essential part of design education is the confrontation with complex assignments at various scales; this fosters a basic understanding of multiple interactions of all aspects of a system.  We aim to maintain a 1:15 teacher-student ratio in our design studios.

Leveraging synergies and bundling forces

We are administratively located in a distinct Faculty with all four key environmental design and planning disciplines (Architecture, City Planning, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture). There are overlaps between the disciplines, and we are re-discovering our common ground. For instance, GIS mapping and analysis, Research Methods, and Principles of Urban Design are areas where sharing resources and developing joint strategies offer a great deal for teaching and research.

Strengthened by indigenous connections

Winnipeg has the largest urban population of Indigenous peoples in the country. The University of Manitoba has Canada's second-oldest Native Studies program (est. 1974). With the 2015 opening of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), the university has become a centre of excellence in Indigenous education. Creating pathways to Indigenous achievement is one of the university’s five priorities in its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan: Taking our Place. In 2018, Shawn Bailey joined the Faculty as an assistant professor and Indigenous scholar. In Fall 2019, the Indigenous Design and Planning Student Association (IDPSA) was founded in the Faculty. Various design studios and courses of the MLA program have cultivated Indigenous awareness and knowledge, and Faculty-wide initiatives are underway to increase Indigenous student enrolment.

Proficient support staff and technicians

We are fortunate to be supported by a capable administrative and technical staff team. They manage and monitor the Faculty’s assets and provide creative services to students and teachers. With the support and the help of the Faculty’s Partners Program, we can invite and attract excellent speakers. Our speaker series is superb, and we will continue with these opportunities to stay in touch with the world beyond the Prairies.

Critical affordability and career opportunities

Our program is affordable, and Winnipeg is an affordable city. Due to the favourable combination of price and quality, our landscape architecture program has appealed nationally and internationally.

Graduates from our MLA program find jobs in the private or public sector and become registered professionals of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and members of other professional organisations. Some MLA graduates undertake doctoral studies and/or hold faculty positions in Canada and other parts of the world.


Program history

The graduate program in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba was Canada's first of its kind. It resulted from the vision of the late Dean of Architecture, John A. Russell. Its establishment was facilitated by the appointment of Alexander Rattray as Head of the program in July 1969. The initial three-year graduate course of study was offered through the University's Natural Resource Institute in 1970. The Master of Landscape Architecture program was formally accepted by the Province of Manitoba in 1972.

From the outset, the department’s mandate was directed towards landscape architecture as a design practice, with the design studio as its central focus. We currently have eight full-time and one part-time faculty member and continue to observe this mandate.

The current structure of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program comprises a multi-year program with three options under which students are admitted. Students from a non-­design background with a four-year baccalaureate degree typically enter into MLA Year 1. Students from a design background other than the L+U option typically enter into MLA Year 2. Students with the L+U background typically enter into MLA Year 3. The MLA requirements range from 42 to 111 credit hours.

Faculty of Architecture timeline (1933 - 2013)

The following chronology describes the evolution of the current structure of the Faculty of Architecture (entries in bold italics refer to events specific to the landscape architecture program):

1933    First postgraduate instruction in architecture was instituted with the degree of Master of Science in Architecture
1935    Graduate degree was changed to Master of Architecture
1938    Three-year diploma program in Interior Decoration was established to meet the growing demand for training in this professional field
1945    Departments of Architecture and Interior Decoration were combined under the name School of Architecture and Fine Arts
1948    Entire school was reorganized under the name School of Architecture, and both undergraduate curricula were revised. Architecture became a five-year program, and a new four-year program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Interior Design replaced the former three-year diploma program
1949    One-year graduate program in Community Planning, open to graduates in Architecture or Civil Engineering, was established
1957    Manitoba Legislature approved a capital grant for the construction of a building for the School of Architecture, the first in Canada to be designed for the exclusive use of a School of Architecture
1963    The School was reconstituted as the Faculty of Architecture with two departments of undergraduate study – Architecture and Interior Design. Authorization was also given for the reorganization of the post graduate program in Community Planning into a two-year post graduate program leading to the degree Master of City Planning
1966    Senate authorized the reorganization of the curriculum in Architecture to include a three-year program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Environmental Studies as a prerequisite to one of:
a) a three-year program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Architecture,
b) a two-year program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (which did not actually enroll any students and was superseded by the Master of Landscape Architecture degree in 1970)   
1970    Senate approved a new curriculum leading to the first professional degree Master of Architecture, which replaced the three-year Bachelor of Architecture program
1972    Senate approved a new curriculum leading to the degree of Master of Landscape Architecture, which replaced the original Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program
1992    Senate approved a name change from Department of Environmental Studies to Department of Environmental Design
1994    Senate approved a new curriculum leading to a post-professional degree Master of Interior Design, a research-based degree building upon the first professional Bachelor of Interior Design degree
1998    Senate approved the Faculty of Architecture Reorganization Plan, which established the program in Environmental Design as the undergraduate foundation for the graduate Departments of Architecture, City Planning, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture
1998    Senate approved the creation of University 1
1999    Senate approved the establishment of the professional Master of Interior Design program leading to phasing-out of the Bachelor of Interior Design program  
2005    Senate approved the PhD in Design and PhD in Planning
2007-2008    Senate approved restructuring of the Bachelor of Environmental Design program
2009-2010 First cohort graduating from the restructured Environmental Design program
2013    First graduate from the restructured Master of Landscape Architecture program


Program goals (1985)

The graduate program of study in landscape architecture is directed towards the analysis, planning, and design of exterior space, both urban and rural, within the context of our northern continental climate and, as well, the prairie region. The program emphasizes the development and testing of physical forms intended to positively affect the quality of human micro and macro environments; forms which are responsive to societal needs, while remaining expressive of the physiographic conditions associated with specific geographic locations.

The general objectives of the program include the development of a practical design methodology, the exploration of social, technical and natural processes as form determinants, an introduction to regional scale resources analysis and activity allocation, and an investigation of professional management issues.
The objectives of the Pre-Master’s program are fourfold: the development of a practical design methodology as the means to the successful resolution of environmental problems, the exploration (of characteristics) of social, technological and natural processes as form determinations, the development of a basic landscape architectural vocabulary, and an introduction to the total scope of the discipline.

Year I of the Master’s program is designed to accommodate both group and individual investigation of specific aspects of landscape architecture. This year includes an introduction to regional scale resource analysis and the exploration of the relationship between the micro and macro aspects of environmental problems.

Year II of the Master’s program is intended to provide a background in professional and management aspects of landscape architecture. During the second half of this year, each student will be responsible for the selection and development of a thesis or practicum.

At all levels the Department attempts to provide a sense of need and purpose for each student, through the investigation of contemporary urban and rural environmental problems, from the micro to regional scales. 

Current faculty members (2022)

  • Core faculty

    • Anna Thurmayr
      Head, Department of Landscape Architecture

1976 - 2022 (Oct) Graduates

History of department heads

Alexander E. Rattray 1969-1981
Charlie H. Thomsen (Acting Head) 1981-1982
Alexander E. Rattray 1982-1987
Carl R. Nelson Jr. (Acting Head) 1988
Alexander E. Rattray 1989-1994
Charlie H. Thomsen 1994-1999
Alfred Simon (Acting Head) 1999
Alan Tate 2000-2005
Ted McLachlan 2005-2010
Richard Perron (Acting Head) 2010-2011
Alan Tate 2011-2013
Karen Wilson Baptist (Acting Head) 2013-2014
Alan Tate 2014-2019
Anna Thurmayr 2019-current