How did you get started on the path to where you are now?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION How did you get started on the path to where you are now?

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    William Douglas

    i feel ya bro.  When I get a little jobby, I try to make it easy to maintain, usually because Im the guy thats gotta do it too.  As long as there is land, people need to scape it.  And i think I read somewhere that 70% of the earths land mass is grass, so someones gotta mow it.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    No, I’m not mad about anything. I started this side track by saying that I came from digging holes and went into landscape architecture several years later. Henry said he came from a similar background. You mentioned that as a working man, you straighten out problems caused by designers who don’t know what they are doing.


    It is an attempt at humor to imply that you would then have respect for those who came from doing what you are doing … ie, me & Henry :^) .  … much like those who walked in your boots respect what you do.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    70% is water.


    0.0001% is grass and someone has to smoke it. ….probably the real reason we all started on this career path.


    Where’s the “like” button?

    Cara McConnell

    Sir William, you sound as if you’re smoking a few magic herbs right now! Pretty simple to figure out water covers most of this planet. Listen up, sport. In general, Landscape Architects don’t desire to be called Landscapers. It’s the image most of them try to distance themselves from. LAs have enough of a difficult time convincing the public that they do more than yard design. No offense but the words landscape architect & lawn mowers don’t belong in the same paragraph.


    Judging by your rantings, you enjoy working outdoors more than kicking it behind a computer in an office cubicle. Nothing wrong by buying yourself a truck and starting a business as a landscape contractor and maintenance shop. I’m not certain you could finish a university program, work as someone’s designer in an office, pass the LARE and earn the title of Landscape Architect. The world does need you and as a landscape contractor by the name of Sir William. Good luck, Bill. I hope you don’t plan to plant any Cannabis sativa in any of your client’s landscape.  

    mark foster


    I went backwards from where you are:  LA degree (graduated in the last great recession), landscape foreman, construction specialist, design and sales, head of design,  D/B business owner.

    My advice to anyone wanting to make landscaping their profession?  If you are coming to it from mowing and maintenance, don’t skip steps. Learn horticulture, basic construction and engineering, and landscape design principles, and learn one or more to the degree you want to become specialized.  These can be learned without “going to college”, but it takes more diligence and discipline, because you don’t know what you don’t know.  You can also learn by working for someone who has gone the hard road before you.

    I have met a few great self-taught landscape contractors/designers, and a lot of bad ones.  The bad ones took shortcuts and didn’t learn their chops.  Of course, this can be said of LA’s as well.


    Trace One

    I grew up travelling around the world and was exposed to many different landscapes, many of them very beautiful, including Lebanon, Greece, the Philipenes and various European cities. When I graduated from college, I moved to Brooklyn, living right next to Olmsted’s masterpiece, Prospect Park. I worked as an urban park ranger and environmental educator in Propsect Park, and came to learn a lot about Olmsted and landscape architecture through that experience.I still believe Prospect Park is the most perfect landscape design in the world. So in looking to combine my unfulfilled artistic inclinations with my environmental convictions, Landscape Architecture seemed the perfect fit. That, and a small scholarship to the Uiversity of Pennsylvania from Ian McHarg, plus McHarg’s inspirational nature, got me going to graduate school for an MLA at UPenn.


    My recipe for anyone interested in LA is (of course!) travel, travel, travel – there is no better way to learn what is beautiful and what works. You can always hire a contractor, a drafter, an irrigation specialist, but knowledge of the history, variety and beauty of our earth cannot be taught or outsourced, and will provide an inexhaustable fount of inspiration for design.

    As for the course of my career after getting an MLA, very complicated..and that for another day. For those who respect boots in the earth experience, I planted and maintained  flower gardens in the Hamptons for three years. I think perennial garden installation is the perfect job for the girl crew, and a lot of fun.  More people should try it..


    You’ve got a lot to learn dude.

    Jon Quackenbush

    Haha, post of the day.

    Mark Warriner

    I am a son of a son of an architect. I’m married to an architect as well as being in landscape architecture. Needless to say I’ve been in and around design all my life.

    In the early 60’s my father moved us to a little known Florida town called Winter Park. He bought a lot on the corner of Park Ave and Swoop where he built his first apartments. He setup his offices in a quaint Mediterranean style courtyard called Greenada Court. I would visit him on Friday afternoons where he would let me sit at his drawing board. I would go around the corner to Irvine’s Drugstore to buy the latest comic books and bring them back to draw. Little did I know this small traditional town setting would become one of Andres Duany’s models for the New Urbanism movement.

    As a designer I’ve lived, studied and traveled throughout Europe. I studied in Tuscany, lived in Paris, owned a home in South-Central France and traveled to see most all the greatest art, architecture and landscape of the Western World. Designing the built environment is one of my life’s passions.

    While my father worked in a traditional town, we lived in a nearby standard suburban development that was built in the 50s. The community was filled with families that had moved there from all over the country, a true American melting pot. You’d be hard pressed to find any Florida natives, although there were a few. We all were from families who had traveled from other parts of the country to permanently settle in a subtropical vacation land. While a bit homogeneous, this afforded me the opportunity of growing up in diverse American environment. It also instill in me the knowledge of how traditional town designs compare with standard suburban development.

    While diverse in an American sense, my suburban upbringing left me hungry to experience other more exotic cultures with distinct and different identities. Having grown up in a relatively bland, Wonder Bread, suburban surrounding, things European appear to me rich with culture, design and overall flavor and texture. Before I could read I would pour over my encyclopedias and wonder about places like Mount St. Michele. In school, I was fascinated with ancient art history and enamored with what I learned in by humanities class. I vowed that I would someday actually experience firsthand these beautiful places and works of art.

    My chance came when I enrolled in the University of Georgia’s Study Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy. The first day, without getting any sleep on the redeye to Rome, I jump on a bus that led me to St Peter’s Square. I’ll never forget walking into St. Peter’s Cathedral, astonished by the immensity, the exquisite details, knowing that Michelangelo’s and Bernini’s designs where all around me and then looking to my right to see the Peita… I was in love.

    After the summer studying in Italy and traveling throughout Europe I raised my fascination with Europe to a new level, I wanted to someday live there and learn as much as I could about the culture and rhythms of the people and these societies. Why they lived as they did and how did they arrive at to this point.

    Later, during the stock boom of the late 90’s and early 2000’s and then the real estate runup I was able use my investments to realize my dreams. I moved to Paris and lived there for a year. Then, after the Internet stock market bubble burst, I bought an old house in an historic part of Cahors, France, one hour north of Toulouse.

    During this time I visited some of the greatest built designs in western culture, i.e., Alhambra, Piazza San Marco, Versailles, the Hagia Sophia, and cities such a Prague, Amsterdam, Brugge and so many more. I recorded my observations and published it on the web along with my thoughts on European politics, current events and culture. While living in France and renovating the house I owned, I totally immersed myself in their culture.

    I realize this deviates from the current modern career track most people have accepted as the norm but it also gives me an advantage and/or side most professional in my field no longer have. Like the tradition of the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, my experience hearkens back to traditional educational tracks that requires a certain amount of travel to study antiquity. The pilgrimage of artist and designers to Europe is legendary and something I tried to emulate and conversely benefit from.


    And for the record Cara, he said 70% of landmass is covered in grass, not 70% of the planet.  I’m sure this percentage is still way off, but relax!  I think you would do well to smoke some.

    Cara McConnell

    Nope not ranting, but giving some difficult advice and truth. Failed LA? Lol. Okay sport, whateva you say! You know everything about me and how I put myself through Grad school working at 3 different part time jobs the last 2 years. Eyes are on the prize in May 2012! Never qualified for unemployment benefits because of my returning to school, so no government handouts like the rest of you liberals.


    Ps. the “part-time” job turned into a full-time position…but for only 3 more months. Then, I’ll be permanently off landscape architecture and graphic design.

    Cara McConnell

    RA, I like the way you attack me, but leave Andrew and Henry’s responses alone. I’m sure your lone motive was to get me to respond. I’m simply stating the obvious here and some of you just don’t have the guts to say it. Some of you guys simply lack a backbone and can’t accept constructive criticism and harsh realities. The dude LOVES to work outdoors and nobody is telling him that landscape architects work mostly indoors, especially entry level types. Grow a pair. 


    And I didn’t give any percentages of water vs grass. I said “water covers most of this planet.” Which is true, ehh, sport?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Sorry that I missed the land mass part …trouble with that short term memory thing after all these years. … not sure why.


    Well, Cara, I singled out your response because, unlike Andrew and Henry’s, yours seemed mean-spirited.  Theirs seemed rather playful.  I will concede though, that I had not read the entire thread before I read yours and said to myself, “that crazy b!@#@.”  Had I done that, I would have read the portion where William made completely idiotic and disrespectful comments towards other posters, and I would have seen your comments as being completely reasonable.  My apologies on that front.


    But, sport, William’s obviously ill-informed comment was that he thought he read somewhere that 70% of all landmass was grass.  I would assume that your saying “water covers most of this planet” was in response to that statement.  Just pointing out that you’re proving him wrong wrongly.   So 70% of 30% is what, about 21%…that was the percentage of the planet that William was saying was grass.  Just saying.  There’s obviously nowhere near that much, but If he wants to be the guy that cuts it, that’s fine with me.    

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