May 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm #163402Theodore TegenParticipant
There also needs to be a distinction between the RLA designation and passing the exam. Passing the exam does not instantly make one an RLA, as in my case. I’ve passed all of the exams but because I work for an architecture firm, and not directly under an RLA, I need to go to extra lengths to fulfill the experience requirement.
Believe me, all I am doing is jumping through the hoops, not gaining much meaningful “experience” from the LA I am working with. So I’m doing this little dance for the state licensing board, but I can’t call myself an RLA until I finish the show for them. Seems silly to me.May 13, 2011 at 1:31 am #163401
In casual conversation if people with an LA degree who practice in the field say they are a Landscape Architect, I don’t find harm in it.
If you have the degree, and you work in the field…okay, you’re an LA, if you are registered, you’re an RLA. Bottomline, if you’re not an RLA you can’t legally get things done. Good, that’s how it ought to be, I’m simply pointing out that it hardly does anyone benefit job and salary wise to call themselves an LA if they’re not an RLA. If a company needs an RLA, they’re going to hire an RLA.
I get the point though and I would tend to agree with you on principle, but do not find it an issue or anything that would really bother me considering what I said above. Also, I find it humorous when someone puts down Landscape Architect on their resume when they aren’t an RLA. In this instance, yes I would calm correct their error.
Also, students who say they are Landscape Architects, no, they are student’s of Landscape Architecture.May 13, 2011 at 1:45 am #163400
I agree completely with RFox on the dilution of the word ‘architect.’
I’m pretty sure I can call myself an ‘architect’ if I want without penalty. I choose not to, but there are hordes of job listings and titles in the software industry for ‘architects.’ Architect is a pretty broad term. Landscape Architect denotes a specific set of qualifications. Several others make good points again about the difference between professional practice and social occasions.
I’m sorry but the egotism and insecurity is palpable in this thread. Good Luck..May 13, 2011 at 1:54 am #163399
I like how you clearly state, ‘before I got my stamp, I was a landscape architect..’ end of conversation?
Now you’re an RLA. I see a discernable difference.
About the code requirement– Have you ever thought that the code requirement actually incentivizes minimum standards over the value of good design? One way to look at it may be that perhaps 9 out of 10 developers wouldn’t have contacted you for their projects if it weren’t for the stamp requirement, but perhaps 1 out of 10 ‘enlightened’ clients would have called for good design resulting in greater fee and more fulfilling work.
Perhaps requiring a stamped plan and minimum design effort is in a sense the equvalent t lowered school test standards. The less the governing body accepts, the less that gets produced. That, and Ithink there’s always opportunity to ‘educate’ clients on the value of good site design. What do you think?May 13, 2011 at 1:58 am #163398
So, you think passing the exam alone SHOULD be adequate for licensure?
Or do you think experience is important? More or less than education and passing the actual exam?May 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm #163397Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Requirements to hire a landscape architect is a double edged sword. The initial reaction is that it gets us work because we are in an allegedly exclusive club. The follow up is that the public sees the hundreds of commercial minimal standard and poorly executed designs “by landscape architects”. Granted, this work is not done by the best of the best, or at least not by people in the best position to show their best, but it does impact the perception of the profession.
The best landscape contractors who earn the priveledge to work for the best of the best do understand the professionalism that does exist in landscape architecture. However, the contractors who have not built the gravitas to do so only get to see the lower end of landscape architecture because that is what they are invited to bid on. Consequently, you can hear, or read on contractor websites, a lack of respect for our profession,our perceived lack of knowledge of plants, and overly simple design.
A good designer is going to be hired over a poor landscape architect every time when the criteria is the outcome of the job and not a required stamp.
I’m fairly confident that I have had a number of initial inquiries because of the added credibility of having letters after my name. I don’t think it has ever mattered one way or another in actually getting a contract with the exception of the crappy commercial work in districts requiring the stamp (work I would rather not do).May 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm #163396Theodore TegenParticipant
No I believe experience is vitally important, and I’m eclipsing 5 years of it. It’s simply Minnesota’s draconian rules about how it is obtained. I’ve worked on some very cool projects, managed/led some of them, worked with some very talented architects, learned a lot about grading, drainage, and HSW from our engineers, presented in front of city boards and councils, led public forums, the whole spectrum honestly. Yet the state won’t even allow me to argue my case. They won’t license me until I have x years of experience working directly under an RLA. The funny thing is, the RLA I’m now working with has told me he’s been learning new things about the industry that he hasn’t been exposed to before.
I keep hearing that spending hours on CAD working under an RLA qualifies as diversified experience, yet my experience doesn’t count the same? I think not. I’m not saying that the former is bad, but they shouldn’t discount my experience as inferior.
So both the test and the experience are important; I’ve passed the exams and put in the time, yet I can’t call myself a landscape architect. And I don’t. I was just asked for some information about a project of mine for a local newspaper, and told them I was the landscape designer for the project. The whole thing is just frustrating is all (as you might be able to tell). Thanks for listening.May 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm #163395
“A good designer is going to be hired over a poor landscape architect every time when the criteria is the outcome of the job and not a required stamp.”
Good to know!May 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm #163394
I agree with good design vs. a title/stamp.
However, in any profession, a ‘stamp’ is valid. It maintains liability and accountability…
Also, I’m not a fan of completing with ‘Land Artists’ for a job that entails knowledge of engineering and ecology. Form ought to follow function…which, in my mind, goes back to liability. Landscape Architecture ought to be held to a higher standard, a good part of that is the certification process. I like to equate it with Civil Engineering. Once again, I would always prefer a better designer and simply have them get their plans certified by someone with the title than someone who simply has the title. It is a matter of professionalism that does everyone in the profession a whole lot of good versus unregulated practice.
I’ve stitched up someone’s hand before, it doesn’t make me a doctor…hm?May 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm #163393
I guess we can’t forget why these horrible minimal requirements exist. Without them we’d be seeing acres of astro-turf and lava rocks. Some people just don’t care. A good developer, builder or property owner understands the value that a properly designed, installed and maintained landscape brings them. These are the people I market my services to. If a prospective client can’t understand how spending an additional $15-20,000 on their $2,000,000 property will directly benefit them, perhaps that’s a prospective client you should walk away from.
Also, sometimes you need to fight for what you know is right. I’ve been going back and forth with a site plan reviewer for a town in Long Island for about a year now. The town code states that an evergreen planting screen 6’ high planted 5’ o. c. along with 6’ tall stockade fence is required to separate two commercial properties and prefers the use of native plant material. It also mentions that reasonable exceptions will be considered. I submitted a plan that used all native plant material. I used 4’ tall plants and spaced them 6’ o.c. I did this because it made sense for the plants that I was specifying and it’s what every horticulturalist I know recommended that I do. The other thing was that no one in the area was growing 6’ tall native shrubs. After a couple of years the plants would grow to meet the requirement in the meantime the 6’ tall fence would do the job.
The site plan was rejected because of the spacing and the height of the plants. I figured “no big deal”, I’ll just call and talk it over with the plan reviewer and move things along seeing that I have what should be considered a reasonable exception-right? No, she just kept referring to the 6’ high-5’ o.c. thing. I asked her, so you’re telling me in a town that encourages people to use native plants and to not plant mono-cultures, that I can get this site plan approved if I just change the plantings to all ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae, 6’ tall, 5’o.c.? Her answer was yes and we’ve been going back and forth ever since.
If we want to better our profession we landscape architects have to do more than just design cool stuff. Sometimes we have to be educators and defenders as well.May 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm #163392Rick SpalenkaParticipant
“If a prospective client can’t understand how spending an additional $15-20,000 on their $2,000,000 property will directly benefit them, perhaps that’s a prospective client you should walk away from.”
Perfect world, not real world. I wish I can move to where I can chose and pick clients. I can’t. Many of our local landscape architects are finding different lines of work because there is VERY LITTLE construction going on here. When a developer states I only want the bare minimum to get this project approved, no discussion, I would not be wise to say “shove it.” I don’t care what kind of talent one has it doesn’t take talent to locate 15 shrubs and 5 trees.
“A good designer is going to be hired over a poor landscape architect every time when the criteria is the outcome of the job and not a required stamp.”
Is totally irrelevant if the designer does not have a stamp. If a project is 5 thousand sq ft of undeveloped space and the code is 3 shrubs per thousand and 1 tree per thousand and an LA stamp there is NO opportunity for a good designer to out shine a bad landscape architect. READ “and an LA stamp.” A chimpanzee can do the fricking design. I’m fortunate to be asked to be a chimpanzee in this crappy economy. I have a job, do you? It’s the stamp, man. If a good or great designer CAN’T earn the stamp, go home.May 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm #163391Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
What I am saying is that when an individual or entity hires someone to design their landscape for the reason of having a nice landscape (as opposed to being required to do so), they will absolutely always go with whomever removes the most doubt from the outcome of the project. When that is the case,again, WHEN THAT IS THE CASE, they will choose the person who demonstrates their ability to do so over whether or not they have a stamp. In that case, a poor landscape architect is not going to get the job over a well accomplished landscape designer or design/build contractor.
The notion that there are not exceptional landscape designers who are not RLAs is unrealistic. I know several people with B(s)LAs who are primo design/build people that went into business (or already were in business) before doing any internship. They can’t get licensed here and they don’t care at all about being licensed. I’d put some of them up against any LA working within their niches.May 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm #163390
Rick – I live and work in a state that doesn’t have any requirement for LAs to stamp all commercial landscape development. There’s also a lot of LAs competing for the little bit of work that’s currently available. Right now I get about half of my jobs by competing against design/build contractors that do “free” design. Funny, around here it seems like the small to mid-sized developers are starving like everyone else. Things are tough all over.
If a developer walks into your office and wants you to do anything without any discussion and you happily go along with it. You’ve reduced yourself to being the Stampman. I know the economy sucks but you’re still a professional. This is coming guy who has up until the last few months worked all kinds of non-LA related side jobs to stay alive the last three years. I refuse to lower my fee, do any kind of work or work for just any client. I have recently had to stand-up to wealthy clients who didn’t want to take my professional advice. They were asking me to do things that went totally against common knowledge, my training and my beliefs. After an extremely tense discussion, I was able to get them to see the light. I even earned an apology for my efforts. I felt that it was my duty as a landscape architect to do my best to keep them from screwing-up their own property. Besides I didn’t want my name associated with doing crappy work, even if it cost me the job.
I’m not saying that you should be turning away these low budget developers, but you should at least make an attempt to sell them on the value of a proper landscape installation. If we as landscape architects won’t even try to educate the public on the “dollars and cents” benefit of our work, then we deserve to be looked at as a second tier profession. Our clients (even the cheap ones) expect us to advise them to do what’s right for them, not to just go along with all of their silly ideas.May 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm #163389Rick SpalenkaParticipant
Great advise from the pulpit not for the trenches. I’ve been doing design work for 40 years and have heard all the “educate the public” crap I can stand. If I have a choice between stamping a 15 shrub 1 tree design or flipping burgers I have no choice but currently being a “Stampman” since I don’t speak Spanish to qualify to flip burgers.May 15, 2011 at 4:02 am #163388
My advice to you wasn’t that you should turn away 15 shrub with 1 tree designs. I understand that a person has to eat, but to roll over and accept what’s dished out to you without a fight is pretty sad. Like I said you’ve allowed yourself to become Stampman. But I must say that I would proudly flip burgers before I would be an LA that had no passion for the profession.
I knew before I received my BSLA that it was not going to be easy to be an LA. I figured when I had to explain to everyone what a landscape architect did that I was going to have to do a lot of “educating the public”. When I was a young landscape designer I noticed that there was an assumed duty that the senior landscape architects had towards educating the public and battling with architects, civil engineers and planning departments.
I remember being fortunate enough to sit in on a design team meeting for a major transportation project. My boss who was an old ex-hippy burnout type was really giving it to a bunch of long faced blue suit wearing architects and civil engineers. The most important thing I carried from that meeting was that even though my boss looked like an absolute nut in his blue jeans and thick gum soled shoes in a room full of suits, he was effective. When he walked out of that meeting he had them all eating out of his hands.
I’m sorry Rick, but I strongly believe that you have to have a little ability to open people’s eyes to be a successful designer of anything. You might not win them all but you at least have to give it your best shot.
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