entering the LA field

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    It is not polarizing. Everyone always jumps to the conclusion that if you don’t make these things your number one priority, you are completely devoid of any of these values which is not the case at all. These are weighted values in every project. Some people do are philosophically predisposed to have an inability to adjust to the weighted values of particular projects.

    Okay. I wasn’t necessarily saying that your statement was ‘polar-izing,’ but that it seems the philosophical terms of practice is ‘polar-ized,’ which I think is kind of what you are also saying in a different way. I just dont think it needs to be one or the other, like you said, we weigh these values differently on each project.

    I only mean to add that I think we can generally do better in the professional world of advocating for our individual professional ideals–that is to say we can advocate for environmental protection withoutt necessarily losing a client. It’s a weighted balance, but especially nowadays it seems we give up too much.

    I dont necessarily agree with the second part of your statement where I think you’re saying there is more opportunity available in correlation to your ability to bend. Actually, this may very well be true, but I don’t like it and again I’m optimistic in that I think we can find a better balance.

    “The amount of diversity within the field is somewhat limited by the individuals going into it through their ideals and values.”

    I can read this statement several ways. I see opportunity as well as constraint in being idealistic. Is this to say that the less conviction one has about their ideals and values, the less opportunity they may have?

    Jason T. Radice

    The original poster’s timeline of three years is pretty good. The economy (if the gov’t quits messing with it) should recover on it’s own by then. It won’t ever be as mad as it was pre-crash, but it WILL get better. In the mean time, there will be plenty of retirements, and many who will leave the field or schooling for it, allowing for the dedicated to continue. Depending on the speed of the recovery, there may even be a shortage of qualified employees when things get better. It’s happened in the past, it will happen in the future. We go through this every decade or so, in certain sectors of the profession. This time, it hit all the sectors simultaneously. And every time, this same discussion comes up.

    If this is what you want to do with your life, stick it out.

    Tanya Olson

    I love this field. They’re going to have to drag me out feet first because I’m never leaving. Will I ever have to do a different job? Maybe. But I will never not consider myself a landscape architect. I just so happens that I graduated with my MLA at the tail end of the last (smaller) recession. It took a year to find a job, but it was a great job and I was being pretty picky.
    Your background in biochem and env. sci. will be a great base for landscape architecture and I think will strengthen your job prospects when you graduate. I think there will be work, but the field will be even more diversified with strange little niches everywhere. Good luck and have fun!!!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I don’t think anything you are saying is untrue. I definitely agree that we can move any project toward our values. I also believe that we can affect projects that are in greater need of such movement if we are willing to work on them. They may still not come close to being model projects, but they were going to get built either way and are much improved because of it.

    If the OP hears that there is work out there in landscape architecture, it may or may not be in an area that he’s comfortable with. Work that we don’t want to do is not opportunity.


    I am definitely optimistic about the future of the profession. I feel that before the great recession the profession of Landscape Architecture was starting to be more recognized and valued by the general public. And in some municipalities our services are now required. When we come out of this down turn I think there will be more opportunities for Landscape Architects than ever. We are just hurting along with everybody else right now. I agree getting an MLA is a great way to constructively spend your time until things get going.

    Yes, Landscape Architecture isn’t a field that traditionally brings in the big bucks, but with some hard work, creativity and few blessings, who knows what you might achieve. Besides I know there are careers that are higher paying, but I truly love my profession and I couldn’t see myself as being anything other than a Landscape Architect.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    state & local government

    Jon Quackenbush

    i think i am going to leave the profession of LA and buy a VW minibus, to then tour the country as a traveling gypsy folk singer…

    Colm Dooley

    Hi Kevin,

    I have to say I whole heartedly agree with Jon Quackenbush’s reply, It is important to know that it is not a get rich quick profession and it requires alot of personal input and hard work with very little return sometimes, it could be equated to a vocation. Its an enjoyable field to work in but can be very harsh at times. I am 33 years of age now and I still ask myself is this worth it? But I enjoy the work and can’t imagine doing anything else. whatever you decide best of luck

    Chad Crutcher

    After accepting your friend request, I thought I’d just share with all what I said to you in my response.

    You are right, more than you know. This is a way of life. Those that love it, live it. If you are lucky enough to stick with it, a reasonably comfortable life is possible, and without being a workaholic or being so stressed you seize up at 43. It can be harsh, but, that is more a reflection of what has happened over the past 3 decades with our economy becoming more Darwinic through dismantling of the New Deal. More and more posts related to the unemployment threads remark about us older LA’s recalling the pattern of recessions every 8 to 10 years because the thermostats have been taken off the economy.

    I discovered landscape architecture in the mid 60’s and immediately recognized a means to make a living that also allowed me to remain, at least in terms of purpose, more of a citizen than a consumer. The way things have been turned upside down, the economy now more readily discards excess with no concern for the humanity. The angst and rage reflected in many young people’s posts is correctly aimed at the powers that be. I can only hope that they, including my children, are more successful at overcoming their parent’s f&%k-ups than our generation was at making things worse. I can go on with the increasing sense of shame I feel about the way things have turned out, but don’t want to dwell there. And, this is a lot more than I said to you.

    Jon, I hope you enjoy your wanderings…I’m kinda jealous.

    Do well doing good.

    Colm Dooley

    Hi Chad,

    thank you for accepting my friend request, I really liked your comments on “Lost Generation of LAs?”

    I don’t think you should feel any shame regards the current situation if there where more people like you in charge in the last few decades it could be a much better situation right now. I’m not familar with the posts of younger people looking to point the finger but I would say to all of them stop looking to blame others, build a bridge people, pick yourself up dust yourself off and as mahatma gandhi would say “be the change you wish to see in the world”

    take care Chad


    I hate to sound harsh, but some of you guys need to watch the news. There are millions of people from a variety of fields that are out of work right now. I personally know professionals in real estate, investment banking, engineering, retail and more that are wondering how they’re going to pay their mortgage next month. There are very few if any professions that have not been affected by the down turn.

    After a couple of decades as an LA, I agree that there is certain “Boom and Bust” nature to our profession, but that seems to go along with being part of the overall construction industry. But, every profession has its negative aspects. Being a Landscape Architect has provided me with a “pretty decent” middle class lifestyle. Although I am by no means “kickin’ it” like I was in 2007, my craft still provides me with food and shelter through these difficult times. I am truly grateful for that. Honestly, I feel that landscape architects and other design professionals are just taking their “lumps” like everybody else.

    My mind set is to hunker down and do what I need to do to ride this thing out. If I have to deliver pizza at night and network during the day then that’s what I will do. To all of you with the gloomy outlooks, this is not the end of the world. Quit crying in your beer and do something positive. There are good times and there are bad times. That’s just life!

    I remind myself regularly that, I have made a good living doing something creative and beneficial to others while working in a low stress environment for a very long time. I know in my heart that there is no greener pasture for me. Maybe one good thing to come from this recession is that it will weed out the landscaper architects and designers that are not committed to this field. Good luck on your new career path. You’ll be knowledgeable potential clients in the future.

    Terry Smith

    Ours can be a very tough profession, and somewhat unforgiveable depending upon the economic climate at the time that you enter the field and the career choices that you make (or are made for you) along the way. If you decide to enter the field, welcome, but do give a lot of consideration to the program that you select.. If your goal is to enter the private sector, consider a program that is less “theoretical’ and more nuts and bolts oriented. While this is a very diverse field and most of the professionals do eventually specialize in a specific aspect of it. Many of the MLA programs have distinct areas of specialization, which can be problematic if you are someone that has background in another discipline and unsure of what specialty may interest you. Flexibility is important in a graduate program.

    When doing your research, ask yourself, how many of the faculty members work or have worked in the real world as consultants (public or private sector) versus the number that are theorists that conduct research and write papers. I have had both types of professors and have learned some things from the theorists. However, I cannot emphasize how much more I learned from the instructors with the practical work experience .

    Also, do some checking and find out the types of jobs people within the MLA program take after they graduate, even if you have to go back to a few years ago when the economy was better.

    Good luck to you.

    Chad Crutcher

    I am a little surprised you consider my comments uniformed (referencing the watch the news remark). Did I not elude to the wide swath of pain across the economy? And, I have done the deliver the pizza thing. Even more demeaning jobs than that. Consider being a delivery guy taking a package from a former competitor’s office to a former client’s office…all the while keeping your sunglasses on and messing up your appearance in the hope of not being recognized. Been there ? Done that? I did after my design practice was killed by a recession.

    And I’m not crying in my beer. By every measure, I am more fortunate in my market than most others right now. Knock on wood. I almost left the profession 13 years ago, if not for a lucky break after three years of that kind of life. I can relate to both the doom and gloom and the anger and frustration. Of course everybody has to buck up and muddle through. But this time, as has been the case since 1980, the folks who follow the playbook are gettin’ chop blocked and the refs aren’t making the calls because their flags are buried in their pockets under all of our taxes that have come back to them in the form of campaign bribes. You and I are currently among the lucky. And I’ve only lost enough to be at zero. Many are deep in the hole, financially floating upside down like that dead goldfish you had as a kid. Yes, I do think you were a bit harsh with the cryin’ in the beer comment. There are so many suffering more than us. At least we can try to understand their feelings and offer some support. These kids are the future of the profession. Every one of them, whether they do well now or later will need their lucky break. And yes, I agree we make them ourselves by being ready. But you still need the opportunity.

    Do well doing good.



    I’m new to this format, please forgive my ignorance, but my comments were not directed at you. I just made a general statement that was not targeting any one in particular.

    When I stated that the profession still provides me with food and shelter, I mean that literally. We are talking month to month my friend. I have recently had to make the choice between paying my ASLA and CLARB fees, or keeping the money to buy food. Please don’t tell me about being in debt or financially floating up side down. I’ve gotten beyond stressing and worrying about being in that exact state. I’ve been in this funk since the middle of 2008. I feel your pain!

    Demeaning jobs? Are you kidding me? There’s no such thing, especially right now. You have to do what ever (within the law) you have to do to eat and keep a roof over your head.

    One thing that I do know is that being negative and focusing on what you don’t have is not going to help anything. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to be an annoying “Mr. Positive Affirmation Guy”, I have my moments when I wonder how much more of this can I stand. I have a short “pity party” and then I concentrate on counting my blessings. I have my faith, health and people that love me and knowing that helps me maintain my happiness in these dark days.

    When you say that “there are so many suffering more than us”, that’s my point. Rather than wasting time feeling sorry for yourself, how about using your free time to help people that are less fortunate. This is an example of doing something positive. You would be surprised just how looking out for someone else relieves the feeling of hopelessness. This recession has forced a lot of people (including myself) to take an introspective look at ourselves. I see the silver lining on this dark cloud we are under. We will come out of this.

    I wrote my previous comments to offer encouragement to young people in or entering the profession to keep their head up, but if they choose to take a different path, that’s cool too. I’ve been battered and bruised over the years in this profession, but overall it has been worth it. I will continue to come back for more, that’s just the price I have to pay for doing what I want to do.

    Yes, these are scary times and there is nothing wrong with being afraid, but you have to face your fears and forge ahead. Curling up in the fetal position and giving up is not an option. I hope that everyone out there suffering remembers that we are all in this together!

    Once again Chad nothing that I have written is meant to be a personal attack on you. Hang in there Man!

    Chad Crutcher

    You and I are in complete agreement. I think that is why I was more surprised than feeling abused. And don’t let this format limit your sense of freedom to speak your mind. The only rule is civility. Keep posting. Stirring the pot is always helpful.

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