Retreat to Reddit?

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    Leslie B Wagle

    Please refer to this story for context (click to get past Forbes’ entry screen if you get that):

    The young man who is the subject of the story has his explanation of leaving the LA field in the middle of the article (below the picture of the couple on the beach) which was essentially, that he couldn’t be comfortable “selling” landscape architecture because he felt nature should be left unchanged. He didn’t notice that he was designing during his education? Anyway, he had what sounds like a good opportunity and then left it to become a social media celebrity. I thought maybe someone would like to philosophize in response.

    I think we all respect nature but recognize that our role is to harmonize man’s impact with his natural context, and make liveable built environments to the best of our abilities. Human activity isn’t going to stop. If we could all abandon the effort, the culture will roll on with its own momentum without us. We can’t despair just because we only get to affect a small percent of construction, and work for higher quality, even under various adverse conditions that come and go. 


    I would really like to weigh in on this one!

    I read the info. and background on the young Landscape Architect…..who decided, Landscape Architect just wasn’t for him, that instead, he would go write & submit articles on Reddit.

    I think if you do the “research”, you will easily find, that in today’s world….making a good living “writing”….whether it’s novels, a newspaper, magazine, etc…..not much upside.  Though, I’m sure there are a small percentage of very talented writers who do well.

    Over the years, I have really never understood why a High School Grad. will enroll in a 4 or 5 yr. University Landscape Architecture…..put themselves through all that.  I mean, LA programs are seriously stressful and time consuming.  Then, many graduate, can’t find a job and many practice Landscape Architecture for 3 to maybe 10 yrs….then, just bail out of the profession.  I had an LA friend who practiced for 10 full yrs., then, left to get into the “banking industry”.  

    I personally do enjoy writing, always have.  But, tend to limit myself to blogging here and there.  I have “considered” writing a book on a couple of different Landscape Architecture issues….but, haven’t seriously pursed that effort.

    I think it’s with ANY profession a young person is considering……you really have to find the “passion” to move forward……with your “eyes wide open”.  Do the research, before you take the leap.  You wouldn’t want to major in Civil or Structural Engineering…only to learn later on, you had to be very good in math to succeed.  Back when I was a University student, I would constantly see some of my friends “changing majors”…and more than once.

    I think “writing” for a professional career is great….IF that is truly your “passion”.  But, as popular as is….I’m not so sure that writing for that web site is going to lead to a successful career in “writing” anything.

    I personally knew, at about the age of 13, that I wanted to be a professional designer….just didn’t know what design fields were available….or that, there were so many to choose from.  After 3 semesters in a North Texas University…..then, 4 yrs. serving in the U.S. Navy….I discovered “Landscape Architecture” at Texas A&M.  I didn’t even know until then, what Landscape Architecture was.  I did the research and carefully studied the course catalog….didn’t take long to know, that, I believe “Landscape Architecture” would be a very good fit for ME.  I became passionate about it during my first semester at Texas A&M…, by the time I graduated, there was absolutely “no doubt” in my mind…….this is the profession where I belong and where I feel I could possibly contribute the most to society.  I graduated from A&M 40 yrs. ago…..and have absolutely no regrets about my decision to pursue “Landscape Architecture” as a career.  I can look back at the “results” of my many years of design work and feel (or at least hope), that I have improved the quality of life for many people.

    I’m not saying that “career decisions” are easy decisions to make……but, spending 4 or 5 years studying Landscape Architecture (plus, all the money for tuition, books, housing, etc.)….then, bailing out  on the profession after only 1 or 2 yrs……make no sense to me.  Doesn’t that person still owe thousands of $$$ in college student loans?  Or, would that student feel an obligation to reimburse his/her parents for all that money their parents spent putting them through College?

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    Leslie B Wagle

    Well the article doesn’t tell the whole story and maybe he got an irresistible (to a young person) offer and most of us never face such a distraction. I’m not inclined to think it was a language problem since he can write. He had a Master’s rather than 4 or 5 year degree. But he didn’t seem to have a survival problem, which is what puzzled me…and the depiction of what LAs actually DO seemed weird…how many of us just present a design and claim it is the best possible one?

    I have to wonder if he had a bad mentoring situation that didn’t let him in on the process of solving a problem, in order to communicate the proposal well to the client…and was just left to draft it up or couldn’t handle the normal process of required revisions. (The job as a first job sounded a little strange). With a father who’s an architect, how could he not know that leaving things to nature isn’t exactly an option in cases where there is a site needing design in the first place? How are you going to accommodate delivery vehicles, handicapped, pedestrians….and for that matter, satisfy zoning, watershed, and other permit reviewers?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    It WAS a nice change of pace from recent threads.

    I have no problem with people changing careers as they may. Olmsted started off as a journalist, if I’m not mistaken. This guy in the article is doing a similar thing in reverse. I think it was a good trade from this profession’s perspective.

    I’ll share some of my philosophy on the subject of design.

    The best design is never reached, it is only approached. You can not measure the success of a design without knowing the criteria it was attempting to solve.

    Believing that nature is the sole objective is to ignore all other criteria. The word for the act of ignoring is “Ignorance” if I’m not mistaken.

    Ignoring the criteria of a project is to fail in this profession no matter what the scope is, what level a person is in the profession, or the simplicity of the project.

    I believe this is fact rather than opinion.

    Leslie B Wagle

    Right, on Olmstead writing but his parents took a lively interest in nature, people, and places and helped him buy a farm when young and eye problems prevented his progress in college. He also seemed to focus on learning agricultural matters as he travelled, and seemed to grasp for a deeper understanding of the link between how the land was used for the betterment of society as he went along. And that must have shown up in the design submission with Vaux in the competition for Central Park. I suppose we could say his career that included his social critique literature and building of political connections -culminating in becoming a conservationist- is meandering, but it seemed to have a core. It’s great to broaden insights with travel, no question there. But I suspect he had a people/places focus throughout. Then, work and fortune linked up his experiences to serve a central purpose and leave a remarkable legacy. 

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