Designers have long considered the environment when planning, conceptualizing and building their designs, but ensuring that design practices have a positive impact on the natural world is a somewhat novel concept that's only been in practice for a few decades.
With the modern world’s focus on sustainability, the career outlook in fields related to environmental design are bright. Fields related to the umbrella of environmental design not only have a strong career outlook, they also promise a strong impact on society, the natural world and ultimately, the lives of others.
“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context — a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”
— Eliel Saarinen, Architect
A Field for Green Design Professionals: What is Environmental Design?
So, what is environmental design, really?
Environmental design constitutes a spectrum of interrelated and overlapping areas of design expertise. Architecture is a key part of environmental design. Technical considerations and open creativity remain pertinent to each discipline; however, human interaction and environmental connections are even greater areas of concern.
The goal of environmental design is to leverage all levels of human infrastructure in connection with nature in urban and regional settings. To accomplish this, the designer — working at various scales — develops an interdisciplinary skill set with acute knowledge towards urban ecosystems, sustainable practices and social considerations.
Growing awareness of human impact on the environment has changed the conversation around design; designers are not just expected to do less harm or no harm to the environment through their planning but to make their designed buildings and infrastructure practices restorative, for both society and the environment.
Within the broad spectrum of environmental design, a skilled and aware professional might find green or environmental design jobs in several different sectors, including architecture, interior design, community development, local or regional government, landscape architecture, development or urban planning.
It is in the overall interest of each of these green design professions to make places that seek to enhance — and not disrupt — the natural world.
Job Outlook for Green Design Professionals and Environmental Designers:
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not record job statistics directly for environmental designers, it does record statistics for the sectors in which professionals in environmental design are likely to work.
Here is a glance at the job outlook for green design professionals:
- Urban Design: The field of urban and regional design is projected to grow by an impressive 11 percent by 2028, adding thousands of jobs in the next few years.
- Architecture: While the job growth rate is slower than the national average, "about 9,400 openings for architects are projected each year, on average, over the decade."
- Landscape Architecture: The field of landscape architecture employed 23,000 people in 2020.
Let's Talk Money — Environmental Design Salary:
Similar to above, there are not exact statistics regarding an environmental design professional salary potential. But again, we’ll take a look at the salaries across the environmental design spectrum:
- Urban Design: Median salary for urban designers | $76,000
- Architecture: Median salary for architects | $82,000
- Landscape Architecture: Median salary for landscape architects | $70,000
Environmental and Innovative Graduate Programs at Kent State University:
Kent State University offers a variety of graduate environmental design programs, but of the few we mentioned, here is a quick overview:
- Master of Science in Architecture + Environmental Design: A research-based program that encourages students to undertake projects that explore the relationship between nature and the architectural design world. This program lets students focus on their interests in, to name a few, Sustainable Design, Historic Preservation and Design Theories. Once completed, students are prepared to pursue lucrative and increasingly-important positions in the field of environmental design.
- Master of Landscape Architecture: There are two routes offered for Landscape Architecture, both options provide students with comprehensive experiences, knowledge of design, ethical standards and the technical skills necessary for professional licensure. A key difference is that the post-professional Master of Landscape Architecture II offers students an opportunity to specialize in an area of their choosing. Situated in the greater Cleveland area, the program focuses on regional assets including the great Lakes watershed, hydrology and urban landscapes for hands-on learning. Kent State is nestled in Northeast Ohio, with several hands-on learning opportunities.
- Master of Urban Design: At Kent State, we value both theory and practice. The Master of Urban Design Program focuses on development and deployment of design strategies that provide comprehensive solutions to urban and community challenges. Like the landscape architecture program, we engage real-world experiences in shrinking cities in the greater Cleveland area as well as global challenges such as rapid urbanization and climate change happening in other regions.
Ready to equip yourself to secure a variety of environmental design jobs?
Here at Kent State University, we are dedicated to addressing your concerns and helping you make an informed decision regarding your next academic venture.
We hope that this information has been helpful in shedding light on the various environmental design and innovative graduate programs and in highlighting what kind of environmental jobs may be available to you once you pursue a graduate degree at Kent State University!