How many of you (students and professionals) have subdivision and master planning experience?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums STORY BOARD How many of you (students and professionals) have subdivision and master planning experience?

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    My boss and I are both flooded with work designing subdivisions, master planned communities, mixed uses, town centers.  We draw street patterns and lots for tracts anywhere from 10-2000 acres, and more.  We also draw by hand and in AutoCAD.

    This post is NOT an advertisement, but I want to get a feeler for just how many of you have this experience.  I understand that this work is often kicked to the curb, is equated with sprawl, etc.  My employer IS looking for help but I am not privy to any details (when, who, what etc.).  I want to make the case (to my boss in private) of reaching out to websites like land8 (and others if you can think of any).  I want to change HOW they look for quality talent.  I personally found out about my employer through a very obscure listing of construction companies.  I don’t even remember the website myself  and that was three years ago!  

    I am just looking for feelers to know how many fish are biting at this work so to speak.  My boss claims it is VERY hard to find students with the design potential or designers with a few years of experience.  I beg to differ!  Again, this post is not a job advertisement. 


    Robert Anderson

    I for one have a ton of experience doing just as you described from early in my career and then again before the CRASH! The later was more in keeping with trying to use “New Urbanism” and make communities not sub-divisions.

    If you are seeking an opinion on whether this website is good for finding talent I can’t speak to that. Additionally if you are looking for a way to locate part time or contract employees this may be better than most sites. Back in the day when I struggled with the idea that sprawl was destroying our farms and forests I tried to make myself feel better by saying to myself. Well if I don’t do it then some Civil Engineer will do it and it will undoubtable be very bad for the landscape, ergo why not do it and try to be sensitive to the landscape. This worked for several years and even with trying to influence zoning rules I became disheartened and gave up and moved onto another area of our profession.

    I don’t know about other schools but back in the day WVU had a session or two on street layout and subsequently sub-division layout, but it was only a couple of projects not too extensive. From a technology stand point you should consider either an add on for AutoCAD to facilitate the production or switch to a truly superior software platform in Vectorworks Landmark! 

    Best of luck in your endeavors.


    Thank you for your thoughts.  Software is not the issue, and there is no computer program that can automate a street pattern and lot design.  Not Vectorworks, not Civil 3D, not Carlson, etc.  Basically, if I have a 300-400 AC tract, I want a landscape designer to quickly sketch out a street pattern (preferably by hand on trace) with collectors, local roads, lots and reserves, open space, etc.  And then, be able to scan that with a digitizer, and lay out centerlines, ROWs, building lines, lots, and streets. 


    Among other things, neighborhood design is what I do. I tend to agree with your boss: it’s tough to find folks able to lay out a neighborhood anybody might want to live in, although many firms advertise the service. I don’t think the subject is emphasized as much as it once was in LA programs.

    Regarding software… I did see an Autocad 3rd party application a few years ago (10 years?) being demonstrated at a convention booth. If I recall correctly, the input parameters were ROW width, minimum CL turn radii, minimum lot dimensions, access points, and property lines. Maybe some others. The output was a rudimentary neighborhood design. If you had an area to avoid, you drew a property line around it. The resulting layout was… interesting… but if you played around with it you might get an idea you wouldn’t have otherwise had. I thought it was cool in a geeky sort of way, but not much of a time saver for me. I passed on the purchase.

    Tosh K

    I did a lot of this type of work with a planning and engineering firm – seems for the large part that sector holds the market and they tend to have a few LAs on staff.  ‘New Urbanism’ ideas were the predominant design push from planners both public and private, but the interpretations in some cases were horrible and prevented some better designs from moving forward.  As for dimensions, road layouts, etc., once one knows the rules of thumb on what works for pedestrians, utilities and driving, the rest falls in place quickly.  I don’t think this is an area too many students are keen on – more planning students may be interested, but fewer and fewer schools teach the basics of this type of work.  There’s a lot of early learning necessary – those that tend to be in this type of work seem less inclined to job hop as well.

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