Is Land8 withering on the vine?

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    I pop in here on occasion, usually after receiving an email notification. There seems to be a major lack of participation. I wonder why. Where are all of the LAs going these days to talk shop?

    Leslie B Wagle

    I also check by relatively often and harbor a thought or two now and then for possible topics. But what I think happened, is that when it was last active, the blog suffered somewhat (as everything nowadays) from disgressing into the poison of politics and/or climate change, even on other topics or the leanings of the participants just surfaced (worse when highlighted). Some people are fervent, many others more nuanced. But people not coming here for that, or who have independent positions, just get tired and wander off rather than deal with it (since nothing is going to change minds of the writers readers, let’s face it).

    Anyway, back to the challenge. Look for me to make a new effort to see what happens in a few minutes (since the sponsors have provided this for us and must wonder too)…one being kind of silly topic on Sketch Up. And another more serious one about longed-for fulfilled and unfilled designs.


    Unfortunately it may not be Land8 that is the issue here, but rather the profession as a whole. I recently read in the May 2019 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine that employment for LA’s has fallen from 45,000 in 2006 to less than 25,000 in 2016. That’s more than a 55% reduction over 10 years!…yikes!


    Well…more like a 45% reduction but you get the point.


    I tend to agree with you, Joseph. The Landscape Architecture profession seems to be the one that’s “withering on the vine”.

    I recently read in the U.S. Dept. of Statistics….and learned that during from 2016 to 2026, there will ONLY be 1,600 job openings for Landscape Architects in the United States. Well, if you consider that there are approx. 70 U.S. Universities with LA degree programs (and about 50 graduates per class each year)…..WHERE are all of those LA graduates going to get a job??? I realize that every year there are LAs who retire and some who change to a different career path….still, it sure looks like a HUGE shortage of future LA jobs in America.

    Leslie B Wagle

    It’s strange if true. I’m sort of finding (nothing scientific) that more people seem to know what we are and can do. But I agree I don’t think all that many positions are available in large swaths of the country, and invisibility will whittle away at the numbers over time as fewer young people get inspired to enter the field. I wonder if the Joseph’s reduction can be explained by people leaving? Or are they doing related but differently-labeled work which is hard to detect in gathering statistics? Andrew in another topic has mentioned other “gray” areas where we end up. That would also affect Bob’s numbers on job openings if some aren’t counted.

    Leslie B Wagle

    Note: 2006 to 2016 were the recession years. And if that is projected forward, it might yield Bob’s 2016-2026 numbers. Could such further sliding be warped by the grimmer past? (I’d be interested in how architects fared and are predicted to do along these same time frames).

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I say it all of the time. Landscape Architecture work has not disappeared. The title and structure of the profession is what has changed. It was an emerging profession that seemed like it was growing and taking off toward something on an equal footing with other licensed professions coming out of the 60’s. Something clearly happened or is happening to have diluted the need for it to stand as a separate profession in a big way. I don’t know if it has to do with how professional associations may have over played the self important hand or if it is something else.

    The fact is that Design on the land is real and it is thriving. Being part of it is not dependent on title or professional affiliation so much as just finding who is doing the work that is going on and finding a way to be part of it. I think “the profession” was once the vehicle for becoming a part of doing the work of designing on the land, but I think anyone wanting to do this type of work can’t just lock into that one channel and expect that all doors are opened through it.

    If you identify yourself too closely with “the profession” you will rise and fall with it rather than based on going out there and finding a place to be productive regardless of what the sign says on the window of the firm that you work for or own.


    Well, just a P.S. from me. I tend to agree that much of what you have stated is correct, Andrew. But, I’m also thinking that here in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area…there are MANY different types of businesses who are offering “similar” design services as Landscape Architects…..

    Like: CE’s, Architectural Firms, Landscape Design Build Firms, Landscape Nurseries, Landscape Contractors, Swimming Pool Contractors, General Contractors, even Land Survey Companies, etc.

    Here in the Dallas area, there are easily OVER 1,000 Landscape Architects – Landscape Designers OR others who are providing those services. The competition is a MAJOR issue here.

    Many Landscape Contractors offer FREE “Landscape Design Services” to their clients, IF, they buy plants from them and hire them to do the installation. IMO, nothing really worth having is really “FREE”.

    I believe also, for far too long, most clients don’t really understand the importance of “great design” or even if the design they receive is good or poor. SO, too many clients tend to go for the “lowest fee” they can get for the services as they seem to believe that EVERY Landscape Architect (regardless of their experience level, talent and how good their Portfolio is) are the same. I’ve been in this business over 40 yrs…and I KNOW there is a huge difference in various LAs…and that it’s just sad that most clients “don’t get it”.

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    Leslie B Wagle

    “going out there and finding a place to be productive regardless of what the sign says” is right on….except that convincing someone to let you participate depends on some kind of credentials. So, I think LA will need to have credibility with other professionals or whoever forms teams of people to work in those promising future areas. But the label will be hurt if what Bob says is true about LA’s becoming submerged in a mixed population of unreliable quality. People ultimately learn what they need to look for in skills and portfolios. An existing field really needs to be sure it has a “defining core” that is solid among most of its members.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I agree that LA needs to have credibility and that professional licensing helps in that as well. There is nothing new about many other professionals and non-professionals doing design on the land. I don’t see them as competing against Landscape Architecture. They all fill needs in different ways for people with varying needs or they simply would not be able to get the work. A lot are taking on work that most LA’s would not want to compete for unless the clients were looking for more than what those designers are offering. Some of us expect the client to rise up to whatever our own office standards are. Some simply don’t feel that need and get what they want from those who will match the standards they are looking for whether that is based on price to produce or to simplify the process.

    “CE’s, Architectural Firms, Landscape Design Build Firms, Landscape Nurseries, Landscape Contractors, Swimming Pool Contractors, General Contractors, even Land Survey Companies, etc” …. These are opportunities for experience if you are a young person trying to move forward in the profession if there are not opportunities in a traditional LA office. Many of these are in fact people who have LA degrees and did not have doors opened for them in LA offices. They are doing the work and some are doing so by understanding the client needs and adapting to those rather than complaining that the clients are not adapting to what standards “Landscape Architecture” dictates that they SHOULD do.

    If Landscape Architecture firms are shrinking it is because they are not meeting the needs in the market while others are. It is that simple.

    Adapt, adapt, adapt! Don’t expect the market to adapt to what you have been taught to be ideal. There is still a need for every type including the very traditional Landscape Architect, but every market has different market segments in different proportions. Once a segment is full it is not easy to keep piling on. Sometimes a slight alteration in your services better meets the needs of some prospective clients than what others have been offering them. That could be to do more or it could be to simplify a little bit.

    If you are losing work to others, it means that others are meeting the needs of that clientele. That is just reality.

    Always remember that between any two points is another point. Just because the market is settling for a lower standard than what some others offer, it does not mean that their needs are being fully met. There is ALWAYS a place in between which could be the sweet spot to exploit the market that you are in.

    Are you not doing enough? Are you doing too much? The key is to understand your prospective clientele’s values and try to apply them to your approach. Openly discussing them might be something you do or it might be something that seems too awkward or unprofessional, but it is a realistic way to get a conversation going. “How can I serve you better than you are currently being served?” rather than announcing that we have higher standards which seems to be the current philosophy of our profession.


    I’m disagreeing with MUCH of what you have stated, Andrew. Well, of course times change and LAs should be willing to adapt their design services along the way.

    However, IMO, if an LA graduate has to join a CE or Architecture Firm…or go to work for a Landscape Contractor, Pool Co., Landscape Design Build Co…..then, maybe their skills and/or portfolio aren’t what they need to be…to get them into a quality Landscape Architectural Design Firm?! But, I do agree, ANY experience a young LA grad. can get early on will help. I just personally believe young LAs will get so much more
    out of an LA firm than working anywhere else.

    And, I do realize, that every LA has a “different career” path. There’s really not a right or wrong career path…whatever works for each LA, whatever they find to be their comfort zone is probably where they need to be.

    Even for my own personal “career path”…I sometimes wish that I had expanded my LA practice to add several additional LA’s; might have been a good move back around 1999/2000 for my future. Also, I passed up an offer I received from “Belt Collins” (their Hong Kong, China office with 120 LAs on board)…that was my 28th yr. of my career; again, that would may have been a huge boost to my LA career, because of the major projects they design. But, decided to remain in the Dallas area near family and friends. So, we all make choices that have effects on our LA careers.

    Also, I’m finding that potential clients, developers, the public in general are just now willing to pay descent fees for quality LA design services. They want to pay as little as possible, because as I mentioned before, they don’t understand or value “good design”. To me, that tells me that YES, the Landscape Architecture Profession IS beginning to die on the vine. I think now days, that unless you’re a very well established and descent sized LA firm, you’re probably struggling, no matter what part of America you’re located in.

    I really feel for the young LA graduates…I don’t see a solid future for them in our profession. As I mentioned above…even the U.S. Dept. of Statistics predicts ONLY a 6% increase in LA job openings over the next 10 years OR 1,600 jobs. That is NOT a promising outlook for the LA profession…no matter how you wish to interpret that.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    My whole point is that even if Landscape Architecture firms are failing (not sure of that, just hearing the statistics) there is good design going on. You can’t tell me that there is nothing being built that is well designed these days. And you can’t tell me that everything designed by Landscape Architecture firms in the past was all good design. I don’t see a that there is an overall degradation of design today over yesterday. That is just not true. There are people doing good and I suspect many of them have degrees in Landscape Architecture whether or not they took the licensure route or not. The whole point being that a degree in Landscape Architecture with a good rigorous studio training should position people to have lots of opportunities to design on the land no matter what profession the firm that is doing it falls under.

    Landscape Architecture as a religion may be dying, but landscape architecture as an activity is as vibrant as ever.


    Thanks for posting. Back to the original question… Yes, we have also noticed a decline in forum comments generally. We think, in part, that this is due to the explosion of popular social media platforms. Our own outside social media channels have 1.5 million followers which see lots of activity. When Land8 began, the iPhone was just invented and major social media platforms either didn’t exist or were not popular with professionals yet.

    So, we’ve continued to keep content relevant. Our website has never had more traffic (millions of pageviews per year), so we think it’s a bit of comment-fatigue (particularly on a publicly viewed forum), but people are checking in on the great content that people produce on Land8, including this thread, and other media, such as jobs and the articles we publish that get thousands to tens-of-thousands of views.


    Well, I guess I got a bit off topic here. With 19,000 members here on LAND 8, I would think there would be considerably more “views” and participation. 1.5 followers is one thing, but, how many views per month? I would think, there would be at least 3x as many followers or views.

    It seems to me, that some of the problems with LAND 8 began back recently when LAND 8 did their merger with another web site…..there were just IT issues; web site was down for days at a time; difficulties logging in; messages that wouldn’t send. Personally, I felt the OLD FORMAT of LAND 8 was a lot better than the current format…but, that’s me.

    I’m sort of surprised that there isn’t MORE Advertising here on LAND 8…the potential to for LAND 8 to earn a TON of advertising money is definitely here. Just need more LINKS to other web sites, more marketing and keeping the content fresh. IMO, too many of the Articles that I’ve been reading are “Liberal” leaning. I know that Landscape Architecture “shouldn’t be” politically left OR right…just seems it is LEFT. ASLA is definitely “Liberal”.

    I’m no expert on web sites, but, I have learned a LOT from my 41 yr. old Son, who designed his first 2 web sites at age 18…and sold them both to a NYC Computer company (when he was 20 years old) for $4 million. And, another web site in 2012 for $34 million. I just believe LAND 8 has a TON of potential….to be better and to reach more design professionals…even reaching out to Architects, Civil Engineers and Interior Designers…as well as the general public.

    I wish LAND 8 well….and I personally will continue to visit and contribute to LAND 8 on a monthly basis.

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

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