Architects venturing further into landscape design…

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Architects venturing further into landscape design…

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    Once again, you’re all over it Andrew.


    I have only seen one landscape project that wowed me done by anything other than an LA or LD. It was a planting around a telecom tower base done by a principal civil engineer whose specialty was sanitary systems. It blew my mind to see the thought he put into the design. There was an actual concept.  I later came to find out that it was one of several he had done filling in for staff over the years. I also found out that he was a big time gardener and he put a lot of time into it that he admitted he shouldn’t have.


    So my point is, why get all bent out of shape by someone dabbling in something you’re trained to do? Sure Architects can do site plans, but they’re not going to do it as well or as efficiently as a Landscape Architect. An Architect that does his own site work is either ignorant of our profession, a control freak or broke and trying to squeeze every penny out of a project. I think some of you have no idea just how much production work and coordination the Architect has to do on a typical project. We’re like the civils and the MEPs, we’re only concerned with our little parts of the project.


    Don’t fear the Architects muscling in on our work. When we start building again in this country, our services will be in bigger demand than ever. Just watch.  




    Most of the Architects that are doing their own site design because of the economic down turn will at least know what they don’t know. They’ll learn that they can do the site concept and hand it over to the Civil to “make it work”, but they won’t be happy with the results. They’ll have 4 or 5 years of lack luster site work to drive by to remind them of the value of Landscape Architects.


    Don’t be fooled Architects are just like us. They can identify crappy landscape architecture just like we can identify crappy architecture.   

    samwel kimani

    i agree with nick that once a designer always a better designer. i am a landscape arch. student but i do architectural projects with much ease since they are more rectilinear than those of landscape which involve so many curves.

    Alan Ray, RLA

    a few years ago the head of the oldest ae firm , a licensed  engineer and architct in Tennessee told me that in the 50’s and 60’s he and another architect would do everything on a project but today it takes 25 specialties to design a modern building….he named every one to me…..I’ve observed over the years that architects do the best job of  managing  multidisciplinary projects. Good for them and how boring…..Their training has them to believe they can do anything and everything and I know some who almost can…..

    I just think they are like most of us these days trying to save $$$….If the economy ever gets back up and running I suppose they will go back to their old mo…

    FYI, in most states anyone can design single family homes and many non architects do. I’ve designed additions for a few clients because they insisted they wanted me to do it….in most cases I can get them to hire an architect which is what I recomend but sometimes I have drawn the plans….actually it’s not that difficult. So, go design a house…That’ll show em!!!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Both times that I was in school (one degree – U Idaho) a number of the LA students in and around my class were former architecture students – is that true with other schools as well?

    Tanya Olson

    Not mine. Many people with other degrees ranging from theology to psychiatry to product design, but no former architecture students…


    Rick Spalenka

    It is about the money and more.  Architects, I think, do think they are better designers than Landscape Architects, indoors and out.  I’ve had to bite my tongue more than once as I’m being “told” where the walks, parking, drainage and screens, et all, should go much less what names to apply to the circles.  Recently, I asked a city manager why a landscape architect firm wasn’t invited to be lead on a business main street renovation including a focus on pedestrian use.  She said “that’s not what we wanted.  Landscape Architects can’t address the issues we have.  We wanted a civil engineer to be lead.”  Power to the ignorant.  Long live the ignorant.  Reminds me of Galileo.

    Jason T. Radice

    From my experience, I would propose that engineers are getting worse than architects as far as overreaching their skill sets at the expense of the other design professions. They think they can handle anything and are trying to run the jobs instead of the architect when a building is involved. And while they may be compitent in a few areas, they are clearly out of the element when it comes to anything other than their specialty. Then their specialty suffers. A good part of my practice is to correct design, code, grading, and detailing errors created by the engineers. There have been only a few sites in which I didn’t have to correct grading to make it ADA compliant. And to make matters worse, they have absolutely no sense of design or taste. They design things to work, they don’t design things to work WELL.   

    Rob Halpern

    This is not simply about “designers design” or else a landscape is no different from a living room. I have worked with and used over 4000 species and cultivars of plants in my work. If anyone can pick up that knowledge and experience, plus understand soils, water and climate in a two hour workshop than I can only marvel at his or her brilliance. It would be petty of me to deny such genius.

    Alan Ray, RLA

    The reason LAs are better designers than architects and engineers is because we take art courses…..

    many architects acknowledge that they never had an art course and they would be better designers if they had.

    I was required to take art history, art design, freehand drawing and 3d in college. These helped me understand design and helped me develop design talent…architects are required to take zero art courses….One architect told me that LAs make the best architects….so there!

    Jason T. Radice


    It would be nice if it were that simple. I had taken only ONE art course in college…mixed media drawing and painting. I did take a number of architectural history and theory courses, as well as LOTS of natural sciences including biology, ecology, geology, and physics. As well, I took some oddballs, like psychology and political science. Each has had a profound impact on my practice.


    It is also which school or program you have been through. Some are more technical and engineering based, while some are more abstract and design based.


    I think it is the VARIETY of subject matters many LAs choose to take that make us better designers. That is where a 5 year program is advantageous, it forces the student to broaden their perspective and experiences…gets them out of the LA dept and out of the studio. It removes them from the cabal of like-minded academics if for no reason more than to obtain a different perspective, with different people. After all, that is what college is supposed to be for. If not, we could get the same education using the master/apprentice model that design professions used to have in the old days. I really wish colleges would better recognize the advantages and need for cross-training of design professional, and adjust their programs and schedules accordingly.

    Jon Quackenbush

    Its our fault if municipalities or towns want an architect or an engineer instead of an LA.  We know what our value is, yet we are perhaps too modest when it comes time to sell ourselves.  Perhaps we need to take the approach of the architect and engineer and grossly oversell ourselves, perhaps then we’ll get the work that is rightfully ours.

    When it comes to the outdoors, engineers being problem solvers not designers need to bend to our will and make it work.  Architects, they need to shut the hell up and go back inside.

    Boil it down:
    Engineers:  Over design everything in fear of the 500 year storm and a series of magnitude 9 earthquakes.  This means lots of rebar, concrete and a 3’x3′ patch of green.

    Architects:   Nothing above the size of a shrub or a crabapple, mostly vast turf so the view of their building isn’t compromised.

    Neither are welcoming spaces.  If that is not what municipalities want… they just don’t’ know how to vocalize that.


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