State of the Profession

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    steve phillips

    Hummmm…….Thanks for the info, Hans. Yes, that is sad.

    Edward Gates

    I can’t answer any of your questions Tom, but I’ve noticed a reduction in numbers of positions being advertised by recruitment firms especially in europe and the middle east. A survey of these business’s may be one means to establishing a clearer picture and they should be able to give you a percentage figure from the last 5 years which I guess is what you’re after.

    Rob Halpern

    A survey sounds more optimistic… and pessimistic at the same time

    Thomas J. Johnson

    I’d say the situation is grim in Orange County and San Diego. I’ve stopped by 25+ firms in the area and it’s like a ghost town. There are seas of unoccupied drafting tables and only 2-3 people in an office designed for 40+. You can hear a pin drop in these places. It’s really sad/ depressing / disheartening to see. I’ve handed out more resumes and cut-sheets than I can count and haven’t gotten a single interview. Everyone has been very kind and apologetic but they all say the same thing, “we’re barely staying afloat”.


    Every ten to fifteen years we in America go through a recession on average. Every one has a story to tell about the downturn that effected them the most. It has been usually at the turn of the decade give or take a little. This one 2008 through 2012, depending which part of the country and what part of the building cycle you work in , it may be different for you. The key is diversification in your work type and market area. If you are in to housing in the Southwest your market slammed closed 2007 and is beginning to awake. It will take till mid 2011 before we will see any significant construction, but the planning process is beginning.

    What happened to firms? Unlike government, the private sector must expand or contract according to the dynamics of the market place, or be crushed by it. The successful ones were nimble enough to stay head of the cycle. The next to be put under pressure are the firms who are exclusively public works, that cycle is nearing bottom and will be while before they head up the cycle.
    Jobs will be found in firms who are residential and are small, they need the talent to become what they once were large and dynamic.
    My thoughts.


    Never work for free, anyone who has an intern work for free does not value their contribuition. I hired five interns this summer, they are all getting paid. We are burning through a lot of work, but we are all having a good summer experience. These people came to me with skills that I could use, they were specialists.


    But that does not change the fact that if you do not plan for a down turn you may be a victim of it. Too many people did not diversify their skills, portfolios, spending habitats. No recession is the same the impacts will be felt differently by everyone depending where you stand. The Last recession I was working out of my garage with a twenty six thousand dollar computer system that I could not run. I was determined that would never happen again. To me that was not an average recession it was a character builder.


    I’m about ready to throw in the towel. I started looking at certificate programs for x-ray technicians and medical assistants last night. I’m going to apply for security guard jobs. Still no sign of things picking up in Las Vegas. I recently went back east and had a couple of interviews. They were with design/build firms and they seemed to want sales superstars because the staff they had wasn’t bringing in the work. You want to say hey, its not your people, its the economy, but they like to think there is the right business model out there somewhere and they will find it. I guess you call that pluck or extreme naivete. The latest economic news doesn’t look too good, with consumers reining in spending and unemployment the same.

    Jay Smith

    There is a similar discussion going on in another forum in this thread link:

    To be honest, as much as I love land8, I’m surprised there isn’t more discussion here / more threads on the unbelievable crises that has hit our profession. I’m always amazed when I log on and so many people are discussing topics that seem so trivial in comparision what is going on out there right now. I realize there is only so much to say and no point in dwelling on it too much, but sometimes I just find myself shaking my head on here.



    It’s true, there is a crisis and the most recent unemployment numbers don’t offer much encouragement. I took a few minutes to peruse the forum you linked to and I have to say it’s not a place I would care to spend a whole lot of time. I imagine that a great number of people posting there are unemployed and looking for a place to vent. That is a very healthy thing and anyone who has lost a job should give themselves the freedom to express their frustration. But there can come a point when the “misery loves company” approach doesn’t get one any further along.

    As a compliment to the members of this site, employed or unemployed, discussions like this one can prove more affective in creating long-lasting change. There is strength in numbers and if we all do our part, though spread across the country, our profession can emerge from this current recession and better position itself for when the next one inevitably comes. We claim to be creative thinkers; problem solvers. Perhaps it is time to do some soul searching and put those skills to good use and not only become strategic in how to survive, but equally as much how to thrive.

    Jay Smith

    John, I agree that there is only so much one can say about the situation, and at some point it becomes counter productive. I guess the point I was trying to make was that the overall Vibe on the Land8 lounge forum to me isn’t a true representation of the state of our profession today, and I find that fustrating at times. Overall, it’s a great site with some very intelligent posters, so hopefully no one mistakes my vent as a criticism.

    Phil Heifner
    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    “The powers at be who ‘head’ this profession have dropped the ball by allowing engineers, architects, urban planners, landscape contractors and developers the ability to do everything we are trained to do..”

    I have to disagree. This has always been the case before “the profession” was ever carved out. It is not a wide stand alone profession that encompasses those others. It can support and enhance those other professions, but it does not displace them. When things are tough, everyone tries to do as much as they can with as little as possible. That includes not adding additional consultants when the ones you have can “cover” for the ones you don’t. That happens in the best of times on under funded projects and it happens more often when all projects are “under funded” such as right now. Like it or not, those other professions do have some very able people who can absorb our profession. It certainly has to be pointed out that even if they were not educated in “our stuff” they sure have gotten the experience over the years since they have always done so much of it.

    I don’t blame “the powers” for that. I do blame them for getting our profession synonymous with extreme environmentalism and fooling idealistic people into a land development profession with the idea that there is great opportunities to be activists within it.. That was a total scam to fill universities and professional associations. …. now they’ll be pushing to make master’s degrees standard within the profession. Watch for it because it is already happening.


    So you’re saying that landscape contractors, architects and engineers can generally do a passable job at landscape architecture?

    If so, I really wish I could take back the last ten years.

    I was listening to AM760 on my way home from work Friday. Bernie Sanders from Vermont was on talking about the economy, unemployment and the role of government. Overall, I think Mr. Sanders is one of a small few of genuine public servants with a finger truly on the pulse of the nation, not just the lobbyists. I was surprised to hear him mention figures released by the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) which he credited, proclaiming the precariousness of our aging infrastructure, archaic mass transit system, and the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of unemployed, willing, and able engineers, architects, construction workers ready to bring this nation into the 21st century.

    Your point about other professions having ‘very able’ people who can ‘absorb’ our profession when needed is ludicrous. With that, you would lead us to believe that we are all practicing out of the kindness and generosity of the architects and engineers who presumably employ us. Take away professional licensure–practice and title acts from architects and engineers along with the associated regulation and I’m sure you could find quite a few developers who could do a passable job at architecture and engineering.

    Obviously, the ASCE has been making the case for the civil engineering profession at the federal level. What is ASLA doing?

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you on your last point. Certainly, academia is bloated–the bubble will burst as in the real estate market and it’s not just a problem within LA in my opinion. It’s a cultural issue along with our complete and utter worship of money.

    steve phillips


    I agree with what you say regarding the land 8 lounge, your candor is much appreciated. The urgent and pressing problems within our profession are just not even alluded to but, clever rhetoric prevail here. The more convoluted, intellectual, verbose sounding the post, the better. Instead, topics of semantics or the nuances of the quantum leap are discussed. What about a crazy thing called a JOB? BTW, I would not call your posts “rants”, you are equally upset with the nonsense on here as I am! Sometimes this site is wonderful!

    Obviously our country and profession as we know it are gone. Everybody wants to think that the minute the recession/depression are over, things will resume as they were. I hope not! Our profession has been dying out for years (actually, it never took foot). Take a poll and ask 50 people what a landscape architect is…you know what the results will be. Since overall, we never did have a recognized profession, other than adding “frou-frou”, wouldn’t this be the time to establish ourselves?

    Developers, engineers, and architects have taken the reins of this country’s development since the beginning and have deemed us unnecessary. Given their presidented development techniques, WE WERE not needed! Example: the notion of “suburbia” that they instituted is now, 60 years later, dead. Our role in the past has been putting fixes on their irresponsible efforts. Gratefully, those days are gone. Their techniques were bad for society to name just one aspect,….. not to mention traffic, carbon footprint, accidents, etc.

    Our infrastructures have imploded and finally the public notices. Look at Buford Hwy. in Atlanta! Compare that mess with Europe!

    There is a white elephant in this room. I would think that this forum is the time and place to discuss it! We are needed now more than ever in the past, THIS IS GOOD! Could we talk about exactly how?

    The defunct and archaic ideas of the past are now evident. What are the new and more responsive solutions for the future? When we answer that question, therein lies our future. It will be a bumpy ride, but worth it!

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