LA’s searching for a JOB….a few suggestions.

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums STORY BOARD LA’s searching for a JOB….a few suggestions.

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    1) And you are way off base if you think you would have any sort of chance in a profession that feeds off the entry-level if only10% of your peer cohort found entry level jobs (due to the economy). You would also be mistaken if you think that more experienced people don’t displace less experienced people. Of course everyone suffers, but some people are just flat out pushed out of the industry or were so severely squashed that they never got a chance to begin with.  

    2) take a management class; or, better yet, have a career in something that isn’t architecture/consulting. I have and do so I know the difference. And save your entitled garbage for the kids. 

    3) Hey, it’s called work for a reason. 


    Really. You don’t think everyone accepted into an architecture program has talent? Or, that anyone who graduates from an accredited LA program worked hard? Or that they persevered through public humiliation via critiques because of a positive attitude? Give me a break. And smart networking is what – sucking up to the right people? I thought you just needed talent? Or maybe this is a case of it’s better to be lucky than good. Eh? 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Jon, you started this last paragraph suggesting that everyone has talent and worked hard and then circled back to the expectation that advancement comes from talent.

    You are making my point. If you approach this profession based on talent you are one of a big group of talented people. Someone like me stands no chance in that competition. Someone with a lot of talent stands SOME chance, but with lots and lots of others with near equal talent.

    Don’t play the game using a fictitious book of rules that work against you. That is the narrative that the people who are teaching instead of practicing told us in their classes. If they knew what they were talking about they’d be successful practicing. Make a set of rules designed to make you win.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Another aspect of this profession that I think is overlooked is that there are not a lot of areas of this profession where we are not on a team whether working in a big firm, in a small office, or as a firm working with other professionals. There are very few times when you or I will be the person that is benefitting the most from our work. If you can’t accept that you are screwed in this profession from day one.

    Working with people, even if they are directly benefitting from your efforts more than you are at the time, has the potential to open up far more opportunities than talent ever will. You can’t allow yourself to resent people who may benefit from your efforts or you are in the wrong profession.

    “Sucking up” never works. People see right through it. Being good to work with is highly valued.

    Everyone in this profession has talent. I’m about as low on the graphics talent as anyone who ever got a degree in landscape architecture, but I have enough of that talent to make a living at it. It is the cheapest commodity in our profession and for some reason we are taught to believe that it is the most valuable. It simply is not.


    I whole-heartedly agree.


    I’m just parroting. My opinion is this: by selection, everyone who gets into LA school is talented. Some are better than others, but all are talented. Everyone who gets through LA school has the right skillset to find work. That’s a fundamental of getting through an accredited problem. We should stop blaming students for their lack of attitude or desire or talent – it’s just a function of the greater economy and the way architectural culture has been groomed. The idea that people should be fanatical in order to prove their chops in the LA industry even if: it doesn’t pay, doesn’t have rewarding work, doesn’t have opportunities, doesn’t have work/life balance, etc. is something we should institutionally dismiss. Maybe we should take some criticism from people leaving the industry as ways to improve the LA industry instead of labeling them entitled sellouts. 


    I agree that university’s are businesses and to be skeptical, but when I applied to my MLA program I was one of about 50 candidates for 12 spots. Maybe for the BSLA there are better odds.

    Leslie B Wagle

    Congrats on hanging in there and getting revival at 66. My ’74 trauma was move to take a great job that lasted 3 months before layoff, followed by patched together work enough to sit for and pass exam in ’77, then loner business with its ups and downs until offered another “great” job in ’87 that gave me 3 years instead of 3 months before layoff again. The resulting ’90-’92 experience was like yours, slow but reviving work, and when I responded to the planning ‘opportunity’ I had to break off the local contacts (no side work allowed). Then retiring 15 years later, I found I just couldn’t mount that effort again in one lifetime….So from 2008 forward, have kind of re-invented myself in pro bono work (advising with or without illustration of concepts) for non-profits mixed with the other passion (music). Now at 70 I’m still finding that blend has enough challenge. Our next thread should be how do we really know when to rest? I’m thinking some of us can just never cease to lend a hand or thought to the fullest of our ability, since it was never based on pure logic, but a degree of passion all along.

    John Hotto

    The education received in a typical college LA program is actually pretty good, it just took me a couple of decades to realize it. Good problem solving, communication and environmental skills are usually acquired. I think one problem is that too much emphasis is placed on drawing and graphic skills which the civil engineering community is more than happy to take advantage of, since their drawings are more straight up technical construction type instead of presentation and/or idea sales. So, we get pigeon holed into being their drafting/cad monkeys and they really have no use for landscape architecture as a legit profession, because, guess what? “It’s not in the budget, believe it or not.” This of course is not a universal truth, but I have experienced it throughout my so called career. The juicy la projects, if any come in, are given to the favorite, usually younger and attractive female la’s since the la profession is perceived as a more feminine pursuit by your typical he-man engineer. I believe it is more important to emphasize la design implementation through education and real world results and benefits, then maybe we all can get more work and the profession can grow to where it can be. Keep in mind that Frank Loyd Wright really didn’t draw many of his plans; his drafters actually took his basic sketches and transformed them into schematics and construction documents which is the way it was done in the old days.



    Sorry, but, I have to disagree with your statement in your comment…..that “too much emphasis on drawing & graphic skills is placed on LA degree programs”.  Theses SKILLS are the the very basic and critical skills for a successful Landscape Architect.

    If you talk with even the large ICONIC LA firms in the U.S. (and I have interviewed with some of themn….including EDSA & Belt Collins….ALL of their design projects start off with hand sketches…concept drawings (by individuals or design teams)…then, they get with their autoCAD staff members to refine the designs….then, produce all of the final contract documents on autoCAD.  

    I feel SURE, that during at least the first HALF of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture Career, he did “hand sketches and final drawings – by hand”….preliminary & final plans.  Later in his career, as the Owner/Principal….of course, he handled most of the “creative” aspects of the projects in his firm….then, turned those “concept sketches” over to his young Architects to produce the final contract documents and specifications.

    Landscape Architecture is NOT a “verbal” type profession like being an “Attorney”.  Well, yes, explaining preliminary design drawing ideas to our clients is a “verbal” skill….but, hand sketching and hand preliminary drawings are just part of the “design process”… is autoCAD and other computer generated drawing programs. 

    And, as with ALL design professions these days (CE, Architecture, Interior Design & Landscape Architecture)….when you first enter a design profession, yes, you will without a doubt start out spending time as a drafts-person or producing computer generated drawings.  As you gain experience….you will or should advance to being a “designer” in the firm….and maybe from their….a Principal or the Owner…’s just the way it works.  I put in 14 yrs. (plus, 2 yrs. of over-time)….before I went out on my own to create my own LA private practice.

    And, no, Landscape Architeture is NOT a feminine dominated profession…Fredrick Law Olmstead was the Father of Landscape Architecture.  To me, Interior Design IS more of a feminine profession.  But, I do know of some very talented and gifted female LAs as well as many talented male LAs….I don’t think the LA profession is really gender driven.

    John Hotto

    Of course drawing is an important communication tool, but if you can’t build an idea or it doesn’t work, then all you will end up being is a graphic artist, which is fine in its own right, but that not what we want to be, is it?


    But John…..BEFORE you can build “anything”……you must first create the ideas & normally these ideas must come from sketches & preliminary drawings.

    Do you realize that in the film industry… for those blockbuster Sci-Fi movies, the space ships, alien characters and futuristic scenes are all first created by “hand sketches”?!!!  Then, the production design staff takes those “hand sketches” and get on computer software programs….to begin developing the final versions of the movies.

    EVERY Landscape Architectural Design Project must begin with sketches and preliminary design ideas (along with cost estimates)……to be presented to the client for their approval.  Final drawings (contract documents, are then produced)….(now on autoCAD) in great deal….contractors use these Final Drawings to bid on and then use these same drawings to construct the projects…….THIS is what Landscape Architecture is.

    IMO, too few LA grads have descent “sketching or drawing skills”.  And, without those skills, they will have difficulties being successful LAs.  

    But, what do I know………..I’ve only been practicing Landscape Architecture since 1977.


    John Hotto

    Drawing is definitely important in all design professions, but there are great landscape designers, gardeners, furniture makers, sculptors, etc. that don’t do a lot of super fancy drawings first. I simply stated that in my experience too much emphasis is placed on fancy drawings in the la educational system, then we get pigeon holed doing renderings and drafting instead of meaningful design, and I believe that is true based on my experience of 33 years. Also, you don’t always need drawings to build things, maybe a nuclear reactor or submarine, but not a garden, patio, table, bird house, fence, etc. I have an old friend who makes furniture out of metal without doing drawings first and he sells his stuff all over the world.


    P.S. John;

    OK, I now “understand” where you are coming from.

    I looked up your LAND 8 Profile and noticed that you were once employed by a New York Civil Engineering Firm…..”McMahon LaRue Associates, LLC.  With all due respect, I’m sure that CE firm is a high quality design firm.  But, surely you KNOW….Civil Engineers do NOT know how to draw “by hand”….they are married to their computers…from day 1.

    Had you held a position at a “Landscape Architecture Firm”, I am certain that you would have a completely different perspective on the necessity of knowing how very important “hand sketching & graphic design” is to ALL Landscape Architects.

    I have personally worked closely with many CE firms during my LA career.  I have had more than one CE tell me……no, they can not do sketches or drawings.

    It’s just my opinion…….that no Landscape Architect should go to work for a CE firm….IMO, it’s a dead end career path for an LA.

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