Best type of multi-disciplinary firm to work for?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Best type of multi-disciplinary firm to work for?

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    Jay Smith

    This question really is directed more at those who have worked in both architecture-based firms and civil engineering-based firms.  I’m just wondering if you found one or the other more desirable to work for in terms of the types of projects you worked on, your role and the level of respect you received.  I know this is a very broad question and there are other factors involved, but I’d just like to hear your thoughts.

    Tosh K

    What matters more is the studio culture – are they inter-disciplinary and collaborative vs top-down, etc.  I’ve had good experiences in both, but sometimes the LA studio in a larger office is there to ‘shrub it up’ to save on the cost of a consultant.  Some architects and engineers understand landscape issues as well as any LA, so those are the best to work for/with.

    Jason T. Radice

    It really depends on the firm and what your interests are. If you are more design oriented and architectural in your thinking, than the obvious is an architecture firm. I’ve worked in both and have had good experiences in both, but it really depends on the firm and the role you play there. I had to “fight” for responsibility and respect with a few of the old-school architects, but in the end, the services I offered them in the office were very valuable to most. Within engineering firms, you can spend more time doing zoning reviews, planting plans and property entitlements, but you can work on a few interesting projects in the right firm.

    There are adavantages and disadvanatges to each, and it really is a personal preference. I did enjoy being “top of the food chain” within an architecture firm. Architects are generally in control of the projects, so they have enormous influence on all the design an outcomes, and being in that atmosphere can really open up some control over projects.

    Rebecca R.

    Jay – 

    I worked for an architecture firm for a little while, but their approach to projects was more like what I would have expected from an engineering firm. Whereas I would expect architects to develop several conceptual solutions to a problem (similar to landscape architects,) and engineers to take a purely problem-solving approach (apply best practices, period) these architects did the latter. So, I think it’s difficult to give a hard and fast idea of what working in an office of either discipline would be like; you’d have to feel out on a case-by-case basis their reasoning for having LAs on staff.

    I interviewed at a civil engineering firm recently that has an actual landscape architecture department, with licensed/educated folks who could potentially lead or take on a landscape architecture project independent of the rest of the company. They seemed to be respected as equivalent professionals who could be counted on to bring in and do business for the company. Conversely, the architecture firm I worked for had (previously) one “landscape guy” who was not licensed and only ever worked on the architects’ projects, coming into the process at the same point every time and having a pretty limited role. The company could then tell their clients that they offered landscape design services in house and the client could save money by not hiring a landscape architect. But I think that these differences aren’t so much a function of being either civil or architecture firms, and more just a function of the culture. 

    (I realize I kind of non-answered your question, but hope you might find it helpful.)

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