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    As I mentioned, I’m in one of the worst hit metros in the country (Las Vegas). There are unfinished construction projects all over the valley. Some are rather bizarre scenes, as they look like all the workers just left one day and didn’t come back. The equipment and materials are still on-site, presumably because there is no place else to take them. For one big casino/resort, they announced that it wouldn’t be restarted for 5 years. The starting of a small park project was announced recently, so that’s a bright spot. I was recently contacted about doing some design and CD work for a water park with related retail and housing in Laughlin, NV. That’s right on the Colorado river at the south end of the state. I was amazed that someone could even get the water allottment for such a project. Hopefully it will be going forward and I get some real work out of it.

    Chris Whitted

    Now that it’s been opened up for more general comments…

    This survey was conducted by the Colorado Chapter of ASLA, and the results recently reported in our Exposures newsletter on page 8 (which showed up in my mailbox last week). Survey was conducted back in October.

    105 respondents, representing approximately 20% of membership
    50% reported no change in status
    13% reported salary reduction with same hours
    9% reported reduced hours
    10% laid off and seeking work
    5% changed to another job in the field
    4% started their own firm.

    As a side note, at the time (October) Exposures also reports there were 709 licensees in the state with 31 lapsed licensees and 47 applications in progress.

    I can also report that a recent job posting in this state received approximately 350 applicants.

    I’m a bit farther north than Nick and I can say that all of the LA and civil firms I know of in town have been and are still being pretty severely affected in terms of staff being laid off. I hear some of the same optimism that he does, but objectively speaking it isn’t anything I haven’t been hearing from someone or another for a year. There’s a lot of potential that firms here and there are tapped into and it’s just a matter of if and when it breaks free. Those I talk to tell me that the open market (ie, public RFPs) is still seeing unprecedented attention and competition.

    Jay Everett


    Erin Carpenter

    Our office had an unprecedented number of applications for the internships we offer. So I assume students are feeling the pressure, too.

    Tanya Olson

    I don’t know if we can still be considered ‘front range’ but just a little further up north – Black Hills SD / WY….laid off from a black hills firm October 2008 and started my own company summer 2009. The firm I was laid off from is really really busy, but not hiring anyone new. Most of their work is city/state/federal. I think they are waiting to hire someone until the profit margins go back up…the few other landscape architects in the Black Hills appear to be getting by – heavy competition for local municipal projects across SD – LOTS of TIF projects underway.

    Work is slower for my new design company – I’m scraping together whatever I can get – residential in the Black Hills and in Denver and occasional commercial.

    I went to school in MN and its an absolute disaster there according to peers still in the state.



    Thanks for the tidbit about the high interest in your firm’s internship offerings at this time, which comes as no surprise.
    Can you elaborate a bit more such as:

    * What part of the country your firm is located ?
    * What the current economic picture is as it affects the design professions.
    * Any other anecdotal or tangential observations about what state firms are in and whether they will be remaining as-is, staffing up or laying off ….


    Tanya Olson

    On a related note: Does the ASLA seem woefully out of touch in recession-related discussions to anyone else?
    I haven’t seen much at all in LA Mag. and the ASLA conferences are still just as expensive. Are you all members? Do you pay your own membership fees? Can you afford the ASLA conferences? 20-50% unemployment? Why isn’t this a front-page story???!!!

    I know we’ve had a lot of threads about what we’re doing to weather the recession, but not much about how we feel about our representation….like it or not, the ASLA is our main professional organization. Personally, I find the cost unaffordable.

    Ryan A. Waggoner


    Jacqueline Trainer

    End of January was my 1 year anniversary of unemployment..
    I am considering changing professions it looks so bad out therer for us LA’s. I am in the Northeast states.

    Jeff Waters

    yes ASLA is woefully out of touch OR perhaps just blatantly disregarding the very large elephant in the room. I did not renew my membership this year, simply not in my budget.

    Brett Lord

    Starting at the end of February 09 my ex-company here in Dallas started to dismantel their Urban Design group company wide. This included jobs in LA, DC, Chicago, Madrid, London, and Shanghi. Oh, they kept the planning groups in tact. Being one of the first two to have our positions eliminated I watched as the rest of my former team were slowly eliminated through the end of August 09. Once everyone was gone the company brought me back to do an extremely limited part time contract for any outstaning design obligations we were committed to. This has equated to roughly 2-6 hours a week, sometimes no hours in a week. I take what I can get.

    I have heard in the company circle about several projects coming back to life in foreign markets. Poeple in Dallas I’ve talked to remain upbeat. There’s alot of talk about increase in activity but there certainly aren’t any job postings as a result. As I quickly approach my 1 year anniversary of being released from my company I found it very ironic that we are in one of the ten best professions set for significant growth between now and 2018.


    I have let my ASLA membership lapse as of last Fall 2009 and frankly don’t see the need to renew right now.

    There have been several discussions over the last 12 months on professional advocacy, ASLA, and CLARB. Many of those discussions have concluded with the notion that ASLA seems interested more in selling magazine subscriptions for a decidedly ‘vanilla’ collection of editorials and commentary than addressing obvious concerns. At the same time, I’m not sure LA Mag is the place for hard-edged commentary on the profession- There needs to be more publications and honest discussion.

    Brice Bradley

    No – Feb 19, 2009 was day 1; doing some consulting here and there but nothing full-time.

    Chad Crutcher


    Hi, Brett. That project we collaborated on in Sparks dried up fast, as you probably know. I admit to shock hearing how your group was dismantled. For you, and all those struggling now, please know I know this will sound trite, but…I was bankrupt 11 years ago…it will get better. Believe me, it will. Like I did, you may have to take on some pretty demeaning employment to make it, but you will do what you have to…sometimes it gets that simple. I was essentially out of the profession for over 3 years and headed out for good when my break came in a most unexpected way…by means of the circumstances of one of the most humbling of my lousy jobs that put me in a design office with an opportunity to ask if they needed any help. Long story short, I have been solidly employed for the past, and most exciting, 13 years (not all with that company).

    Current circumstances for our firm are very, very fortunate, considering the market we’re in (Reno,NV). We are a multi-disicplinary engineering and design firm with 5 offices across Northern Nevada & Northern CA (Chico). Our design department serves all offices and is free to secure its own contracts. We are mainly a public works business, allowing us to absorb a bigger hit than most who lost all/most of their private sector work. We have seen many companies who came here during the boom years retreat to home waters, leaving our firm now the Northern Nevada region’s largest engineering company in terms of licensed professionals on a recent list in a local biz rag; that, after layoffs of more than 50 people. We are also having success in landing new contracts, but, it feels as if the number of future opportunities are falling off rapidly, especially with continuing local and state government budget woes. I think we have about 6 months of landscape architecture backlog, most by virtue of a recent urban design contract we won.

    I’ve been lucky so far, this time around. I can admit to being less afraid this time, having hit the bottom before, and knowing how to deal with it. But I can also identify and empathize with those currently suffering the harsh realities of the bass-ackwards American economic priorities that have our society turned upside down and tearing itself apart, unable to square our values with what we have to do to survive. Our anger and frustration need not be turned on ASLA, rather the short-sighted profiteers who manged to get their hands on the levers of power and, like Brett’s company, essentially dismantle the foundations of the republic. No wonder many of our checkbooks and balance sheets look and feel like Haiti; the structure of our society could not handle the shocks.

    Thanks for reading my rant.

    Do well doing good. Well, at least try.

    Tanya Olson

    Honestly, I’m not angry or frustrated with anyone. Personally I think the recession is a great excuse to access our most creative thinking and do a lot of long overdue self reflection and reflection about our profession. The only thing I have seen in LA Mag that relates in any way to the conversations that the rest of us are having is the letter from Michael VanValkenberg encouraging people not to ditch the profession and that lots of seemingly unrelated experiences make us better landscape architects overall… blame on them from me, just wondering if they are fiddling while Rome burns….

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