January 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm #165869
I agree that landscape architects are separate profession altogether from wind turbine engineer. To me it is the technology that impacts design that could be better explored in our universities. Soils, phytoremediation, low impact design methods are all examples I see as being directly related to our profession and to properly functioning design. How can we design a downtown for improved walkability and function without also considering the needs of urban trees, at least to some degree? Or parking areas without giving some thought to stormwater? It seemed to me as a student it was sufficient to say this or that technology would be utilized to great effect, without needing to have any understanding of the technology beyond what might be available in a marketing brochure.
Ultimately this discussion leads me to note that while landscape architecture is a profession that enjoys a wide variety of specialties, it also seems to suffer from some lack of definition among its professionals. How is it that half of the discussions are seeking to defend the role of the landscape architect from the likes of the engineer, while the other half of discussions are arguing that the technical aspects of design are not our concern?January 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm #165868Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
I would not say that technical issues are not a concern of ours. I’m simply pointing out that projects move from required professional toward beneficial professionals and that in many cases the required professionals have completed much of the design that the beneficial professionals would work on. The situation seldom works in reverse and if an issue is already addressed, it is seldom that a new pprofessional is brought in to re-invent it at additional cost.
In other words, no one is going to consult a landscape architect to determine the proper location after the turbine engineers and local CEs have determined where the wind turbine is going to go. Nor are they going to have a landscape architect determine where a wind turbine is going to go and then hire the others and hope that they concur. The landscape architect with the added knowledge is not going to displace the specialists, so there is no major benefit to getting that added knowledge in school.January 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm #165867
I agree that university programs should not spend any time learning how to handle such specialized situations as wind turbine placement, since these matters are indeed the purview of other professions. It doesn’t mean that a landscape architect can’t be involved in these projects, just that it’s not common enough to occupy time in school. I think I understand what you’re saying, and it seems that we are in agreement!
I do hold to my opinion that other more common technologies should be given more attention in school. There is much of the mundane to an effective design. These details are needed for implementation, and in fact do impact the final design. The width and depth of an effective bioretention cell, for example, is important to know but was not covered in my program. I ventured into engineering to find the information, and there it was treated with vocabulary and approach foreign to me. I am an advocate of bringing more of the engineering into our studies; not to the point that we threaten the engineering profession, but enough to enable us to better support our own.January 24, 2011 at 6:00 am #165866
I think that one of the easiest ways to incorporate these new technologies into a curriculum is to offer the students a chance to explore them on their own. If I were to be employed in academia I would have my students to do research on their own into the different “Green Trends/ Advancements” and where we can fit into that. Many students have to do research papers for other classes anyways, why not allow them to do research into additional technologies not specifically covered in their curriculum. Perhaps their could be an elective course offered for students who want to explore such things.
Personally, I’m trying to learn as much of this stuff as I can on my own. Perhaps when I’m done I can offer up my services to schools to help their students explore more “Green” Industries not directly related to LA at this time.January 24, 2011 at 6:07 am #165865
I think we should threaten the engineering profession. We should threaten all the professions that are encroaching on our work. From what I can read across all the boards, LA’s are seeming to become obsolete in some areas on project types that we used to run point on.
If engineers are swimming in our pool then we should go dive into theirs.
hehe, I don’t mean that to sound as militant as it does. I’m just saying, why not?January 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm #165864Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
It has nothing to do with what you want to do and everything to do with who a client hires. They tend to move from who they need first toward who can enhance the project if and when they think the people already working for them are failing to do that.
More often than not the most important thing is the building and they start with an architect. That is followed by infrastructure and a site plan for review (almost always requiring a civil engineer and or a land surveyor). There are not too many instances where a landscape architect is going to displace those as required professionals early in a project. How far they carry a site plan may differ than how far we would, but more often than not it will be to the point where it meets the needs for site plan review. At that point the client may or may not be satisfied with not having to hire another professional even though we feel they should.
Also, after years and years of doing site plans with ever so many more landscape requirements, many do a reasonable job “on our turf” within the context of many projects. Ironically, many civil engineers have more experience in landscape plans than many landscape architects. One would think that some learn through experience.
The point is that this does not work backwards very often. Just how are you going to get hired to stomp all over their turf? It is a natural process that they will spill over into “our turf” because of the regulatory process whether they want to or not. It is water running up hill the other way around.January 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm #165863Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
There seems to be a lot of opportunity for LA’s to do work associated with energy. Visual impact studies, site planning, remediation. Very specialized (gov’t and big industry contacts required) but it would be a good thing to be involved in.January 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm #165862
Well that is just depressing. If, as you say, “they do a reasonable job on ‘our turf'” then what hope do we have to stay afloat and get work? Actually, I don’t doubt that they can do a more than reasonable job considering the way a lot of landscape codes spell out exactly what is needed. When I was working within said codes, I liked to compare it to painting by numbers. You just read the rules and measure out the zones, then plug in the plants from the approved list. Then you send it off for review and if the reviewer doesn’t like it, they just tell you what to change and you change it and then it gets approved and it’s out the door. When you put things in those terms then we should just dissolve the whole profession and move on to something else. I mean, why should I even bother to try to become an RLA if there are Engineers and Architects that are always going to be looked to first?… Fortunately, I’m not that much of a nihilist, and I’m sure you aren’t either.
But I digress.I don’t want to get sidetracked from the original topic of this thread, which is essentiall “where can we fit into burgeoning green industries?” And my answer is “anywhere you can.”
We should pursue as much additional knowledge and training on renewable energies and greenroofs and green retrofits and infrastructures so that we can better position ourselves to be the first people that clients come to when they want to work on that type of stuff. If engineers can pick up some Landscaping tricks there is no reason why we can’t pursue some Solar and Wind training, amd add those tricks to our toolboxes as well.
I see alot of LA’s griping about LEED Certification and all these different new standards, and while a lot of their arguments are pretty strong, saying that “we know that stuff anyways and all those new standards shouldn’t matter to us” and “LEED is a load of hooey”, the public doesn’t know any better. They’re gonna look to people with LEED after their name first, or with demonstrated experience in those areas. By gaining those certifications and credentials it will increase our chances of being the primary consultant on such projects, and give us a chance to demontrate our competency in those areas. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m already building up my knowledge of green tech so I can start incorporating it into my designs when I have the chance. I’m going to approach people I know that are doing that kind of work and make them realize the benefits of involving me in their process. I think there is a real future for a firm that can offer energy efficient retrofits and design that covers the full spectrum and addresses the whole site from the beginning.
I’ve always seen LA’s as the lynch pin of the design flow. We may not always be experts on everything but we should know at least a little bit about everything that is happening. There are various resources out there for picking up a better understanding of renewable energies that can supplement what we already know. I’ve been looking into Everblue Training Academy at http://www.everblue.edu It seems like they’ve got some relevant courses that could be helpful. They offer online and in-class trainings in several subject areas. I’d encourage everyone to look into it.January 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm #165861
Landscape architecture becomes fundamentally important as soon as you recognize the value of good design. There is no other profession trained to see as we see, so their ideas will fall short of what is possible, what is optimal for any site. We alone are trained to take a wider view that bridges form and function. The professionals trained in function are by definition specialized in matters not having to do with form, or ‘design’ as I define the word. Therefore, professionals trained in engineering are by definition incapable of accomplishing on a site what could be achieved with a landscape architect. Design is broader and more general than the tools and techniques we use. Landscape architecture is a profession of synergy. It is not a skill that can be mastered ‘on the side’ while main focus is given to other pursuits.
I, too, think this opinion may be a little bit more negative, and too solidly reliant on what I believe may be your own personal experience, and perhaps the experience of your cohorts in the profession. It does not need to reflect the future, nor the experience of any other landscape architect clever enough to forge for themselves a more expansive definition of the profession. I for one do not view landscape architecture to be a sort of dressing, but rather view it as the required basis for any high functioning landscape. I do not think yours is the definition of the profession I intend to honor in my own work, nor do I think it is representative of the opinions held by other professionals.
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