Should I major in landscape architecture?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Should I major in landscape architecture?

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    I initially became interested in LA through taking a critical view of the environment in which I found myself when I was growing up.  I looked at the strip malls, car dealerships, apartment complexes and so forth and decided that most of them were pretty ugly.  It all combined to create an atmosphere that was patently depressing.  Then I found that there was a profession that actually tries to do something about that mess.  As you learn about the effects of development on the environment, you find that not only are certain forms of development ugly, but they also cause harm through things like over-reliance on the automobile through car-oriented design and increased runoff from paved surfacing contributing to pollution of streams and rivers.  I grew up near large northeastern cities with large areas of blight like Camden and Philadelphia.  They were considered to be places to be feared and avoided.  Cities were losing population as people fled to suburbia in search of a better, safer life.  I had an opportunity at an early age to travel to Holland a few times and see cities that were considered vibrant, desireable places to live.  The economy of city living was obvious to me when we could walk to a train station and get on trains that could take us all over the country.  I was never warned about parts of cities I should avoid.  I thought more should be done to make our cities more livable, and I found that some landscape architects were involved in that kind of work.  That was part of the genesis of NYC’s Central Park, after all.


    Even though I’ve made very little money in landscape architecture in the last few years, these are still issues that I care about and will continue to care about even if I find myself in another field.  The values of the profession work well with my personal values.  Having an agenda like that has rubbed some of my superiors the wrong way, but if I can’t have that kind of satisfaction of creating great places or better places, it wouldn’t be worth it to me.  So I would say go for it, but be aware of the competition for jobs and have a plan B, such as a sideline you can use to maintian an income when the economy is bad.  There is no reason to be like the art major waiting on tables when there are so many decent jobs you can get with one or two semesters of training.


    There is also great satisfaction that comes from seeing an idea in my head, putting it on paper, watching it get built, and then seeing people experience and enjoy the place that I helped create. That is why I’m a landscape architect.


    Been following this discussion, and those few lines hit home. Thats the reason why I want to become a LA.

    April Prey


    Been following this discussion, but did not feel compelled to add anything until I saw your most recent post.  Based on that, I would say: yes, go into LA.  Why?

    I am finishing year 2 of a BLA.  The few paid internships in the Seattle area have gone to people who either had experience in the field prior to setting foot in the program, or have exceptional software skills.  And you appear to fall into both categories (assuming you have done some work with your dad, or have at least done lots of observation at his work sites).

    Story #1: one of the best paid internships available in our area went to a guy I know who will be graduating soon…he got the internship in year 2.  How?  He had dropped out of high school due to his family having some financial issues, and started doing landscape construction/maintenance at 15 or so.  Fast forward several years…he got his GED…now in a BLA program.  I had a chance to talk to him about how he got the job (it pays as well as a job…) and asked “do you think it was the program that got you the job, or your prior experience?”  Without hesitation, he said “my prior experience – the degree is just a piece of paper”!

    Story #2: the second best internship went to a classmate of mine.  He got that gig due to the fact that he’d taught himself 3ds Max – a 3d modeling application our program doesn’t even teach!!!!  He is our software “go to guy” in our class – and that has put him way ahead of the rest of us in terms of employment.

    With the exposure you [may] have gotten via your father, plus the fact you are already good at AutoCAD…you will have an advantage before you even start school!  And your interest in law and health care?  That will serve you as well in terms of having to navigate bureaucracy – AND designing for health care facilities is a specialization unto itself.

    You sound like the type of person that would have the best shot at a job afterwards. Just my two cents from what I have observed.  Your mileage may vary and all that….

    Leslie B Wagle

    I know, it’s “Fox”  business etc. but if you can still read it, this wasn’t what I was expecting it to say:


    Michael —

    Get some hard sciences under your belt if you wander into LARCH — your designs will actually be viable versus strictly conceptual. It’s a tough career, you have to have a passion for it.


    Jordan Lockman

    What  a great article. They had a similar discussion on public radio here locally about six months ago.

    Michael Tracy

    Hello all, I’ve gotten some emails about post in this thread.  I’m sorry to inform you guys but I decided to not major in LA, I’ve decided to major in Interactive design & media.  I however do have a friend whom has just graduated from the LA program at my school.

    I don’t think I ever posted my work from high school, it’s more architecture stuff then LA, but here it from sophomore from high school.


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