Three questions with Sam

Jan 11, 2017

Five minutes with a Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture dual degree student

Sam McFaul

Sam, who already received a Bachelor of Environmental Design at SALA, is on the way to receiving Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture degrees through the dual degree option at SALA. The four-year program is the only of its kind in Canada. It seeks to harmonize architectural design with ecological consciousness to create an inclusive understanding of built and natural environments.

What interested you in the dual degree option?

The professions of architecture and landscape architecture divide spaces both literally and metaphorically by a door. Through my time in Environmental Design and working in the field, I have learned that buildings and landscapes constantly respond ecologically, economically, culturally, and visually to one another. Similarly, people do not reside in architecture or landscape architecture in isolation but rather constantly transition between these two.

My experiences have taught me that environmental design should not be divided by the door that differentiates architecture and landscape architecture because neither the built or natural systems, nor the people who use them, are segregated by the arbitrary delineations of profession. I believe it is the role of environmental designers, architects and landscape architects to open the door between architecture and landscape architecture rather than lock it.

Likewise, as we move to a densifying world in our changing climate, the importance of architects and landscape architects who can design with a knowledge of the systems taking place on both sides of this door is becoming increasingly apparent. 

What do you like about SALA?

I love the community here. The relationship that students build with one another is unlike anything else because we are the only ones who are here doing those late nights in studio together. Having 24-hour access to the studio workspace fosters these connections between students. Through social events like Friday Good Times, SALAween, Brownbag Lecture series, SALAGALA, and the list goes on, I am able to find a social release in my busy academic year.

SALA has a fantastic relationship with professors outside of just the classroom where I have found that all of them, whether you are in a different class or even in a different course of study, are willing to meet. SALA has wonderful relationship with the larger community, as is evidenced by the downtown lecture series and events which mix professionals with students like the mentorship program, AIBC Good Times, and Landscape Corn Roast.

What would you say to a student considering SALA?

To answer this questions, I have to divide my answer into the different courses of study I am currently doing or have done. 

For those wanting to study environmental design:

The environmental design program was a fantastic introduction to both architecture and landscape architecture that taught in a broad enough brush so that I felt informed about the technical theoretical and design practices attributed to the two professions. At the same time, the education was specific enough that the courses taken were useful when I came to working, and were recognized by graduate programs as being equivalent courses of study.

For those wanting to study the dual degree:

Although this is a new program, I feel that the architecture side of the school and the landscape architecture side of the school have come together and are making this a very valuable design education. In my experience working in the fields, having both master's degrees is a huge asset in employment because it allows for the flexibility to follow a project from the very beginning to the very end and it enables you as a designer to respond to problems that someone with only education in one of the two fields is unable to do. It is intense, and is not for those who don't like coffee or some form of caffeinated beverage... but if you really love it, it is totally worth it.  

For those wondering about SALA in general:

I am one of the few people who gets to have an insight into all three of the design programs here in SALA. Having gone through environmental design, and now doing master's degrees in both architecture and landscape architecture, I have seen how welcoming, driven, and passionate this school and all those within it are about what they do, whether it is teaching quality, students doing extracurricular social events or researching for a studio, everyone here has a zealous intensity for this world and community we are a part of. It is unique, it is powerful, and it is something that attracts excitement.