Landscape architecture is larger than simply the design. According to architect Mark Johnson, it can be used to promote positive change in a community.

Johnson gave a lecture entitled "Landscape Architects as Agents of Change" in the Art and Architecture Building Monday at 5:30 p.m.

"There's a history of us distancing ourselves from nature," Johnson said.

Many landscape design and architecture students attended the lecture, as well as teachers and people who have an interest or profession in the field.

Mark Johnson is a part of the Civitas's firm, located in Denver, Colo., that deals with large-scale urban planning and landscape architecture. The company deals with a large variety of urban planning projects all across the globe.

Their main goal is to help improve living environments for people, whether they are neighborhoods in Afghanistan, colleges in America or parks in Canada, Johnson said.

The lecture included an hour-long PowerPoint presentation by Johnson, as he showed the audience pictures of the projects he's worked on over the years and the currents projects he's working on now.

"Cities have to mean a lot to the people," Johnson said. "It's necessary to push the envelope where design firms go."

Johnson spent several minutes showing the future plans for a large amount of waterfront land along the San Diego bay. He said the waterfront in San Diego is being wasted by large parking lots and other unfortunate structures that inhabit a potentially-beautiful piece of land.

Along with others in the Civitas firm, Johnson is in the process of recreating the strip of land by putting in a park and a unique convention center that is covered by grass and other environmental elements that go on top of the building.

Johnson said the goal is to create an environment for people and families to visit and enjoy the beautiful elements of the nature around them, and perhaps even a future place for concerts and festivals to be held.

"I'm interested in making cities healthier," Johnson explained. "Seventy-three percent of mortality in cities can be associated with the lifestyle choices."

Recently, Johnson just got back from a visit to Afghanistan where he spent time helping for the new plans of suburban layout among an Afghan city.

Most of the troubles in Afghanistan deal with a lack of space amongst other houses, Johnson said.

He added that many of the houses are crammed together and all look alike, which creates an unpleasant environment for civilians to live in. Johnson, along with his co-workers, aims to fix this common problem for the Afghan suburb.

After the lecture, a Q&A session took place and the audience had the opportunity to ask Johnson more in-depth questions about his profession and the past and current project he's associated with.

"It's really good to hear from practicing professionals," Bryce Holmes, a junior in architecture said. "It's the best part of your education; hearing these lectures from all these experts and their experience."