“The ‘scape’ is killing the profession.”

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION “The ‘scape’ is killing the profession.”

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    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    What a pleasant first post.

    Do those who can spell Olmsted correctly (not like the 35+ who list “Olmstead” as an inspiration on their Land8Lounge folios or the over 30 other times “Olmstead” has been written on this wbsite) have an opinion on the subject of this thread?

    I have mispelled Olmsted several times, so I understand if a reply is not in order.

    Leland Walmsley

    Part of our profession’s problem perception due to lacking participation. By this, I mean. Too few Landscape Architects are taking leadership professions. Generally, we are an apathetic bunch. I see too few LAs particiapting in public forums, involved in politics (even local politics) or residing on boards (Architectural Review Boards, Planning Commissions, etc.). I am on the Central Calif Coast Chapter of the USGBC and until recently I was the only LEED AP in my county that was a LA. LEED is “the best” way to insure our involvment early and before it is too late AND it is a requirement of the LEED process.

    Landscape Architect’s GET INVOLVED!!! We are already outnumbered by Engineers, Architects and contractors. If we don’t put ourselves in a visiable position we accept the default. That default is being defined by others as “landscapers”, “gardeners”, etc. You know the drill.

    In other words, the squeeky wheel gets the grease… Stand up. Be heard. Get recognized!


    Good points Leland, and I think you’re echoing a lot of what others have already said.

    It seems the last page or so of comments is circling nearer to what I think is the core issue- Being that there may be a fundamental difference in the way some of us think about the well-being of the profession as ‘reactive’ or ‘proactive’ both in the way we design and approach projects and the way we choose to market ourselves.

    Nancy Eastman

    I think all this is very true, and many articles have been written, about how LAs must participate on a bigger level in the political sphere.

    Nancy Eastman

    Right On!


    I accept either spelling.


    I read something in a novel which was saying “The people don’t realise their lackings, if they have never heard about fortune of better conditions.” İf we do good jobs, why don’t they respect us?Because ı think, this is primerly, a respect problem about their enviroments(consequently our jobs..) They don’t know or respect LA’s as much as architects because, they don’t respect the nature as much as their homes and their interior designs.. In fact when we are shaping the land, we are also shaping their perceptions of landscape. So, in my opinion, just we can show and learn them “seeing” enviroment. Maybe this is more than explanation, this is showing what is landscape.

    And, thanks for sharing this portion, in this way ı could read many point of views i was also curious about..:)

    Sherry Alexander

    Yes, I agree with you regarding the title of Landscape Architect not being clearly understood like the title of “Architect.” However, I wonder how much better the public’s perception of the profession would be with a name change.

    One of the issues is that Architects and Professional Engineers can stamp any plans that we design, but conversly, we cannot stamp any of their plans. They often wonder why they need us at all.

    I’m going through the licensing process at this time, and therefore cannot refer to myself as “Landscape Architect.” Instead, I say that I work in Landscape Architecture. “Landscape Associate” is the title that all of us are called here at the California Dept of Transportation (Caltrans).

    It’s great that you have people asking what you do for a living! You must be meeting people who are interested in others.

    My friends and I notice that at parties or other gatherings that we learn a lot more about others than they learn about us. That is, if given the chance, most people love to discuss what they do, but aren’t all that interested in what others do for a living. But on the occasion that we tell others that we work in Landscape Architecture, almost always the response is “oh, I’ll LET you come over and design my yard.”

    I usually politely say that I do not do residential landscape design. Most likely people would not say such things to those who work in other professions such as (to a chef ) “I’ll let you come to my house and cook for me, ” or (to a clothing designer) “I’ll let you come over to my house and design clothes for me,” or even (to a housepainter) “I’ll let you come over and paint my house, or let you come over to give me suggestions on what colors to use on my house.”

    Over the years I’ve decided to no longer be offended by these remarks, but am amused by these offers of “letting me come to their house to give them suggestions.” It’s really not the fault of the public that they don’t know more about our profession. I don’t know what promotional programs CLARB or ASLA has, or what we should do to promote our profession.

    To compare ourselves to architects isn’t quiet fair to any of us. We all know that everyone needs some type of shelter – take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy. Architects design structures to house us. But designing “pretty flower beds,” as many think that we do, is just not essential to life. It’s only when we have other basic needs met that we start looking at the aesthetics of our environement.

    There just isn’t enough public knowledge about the scope of our profession.

    Christina Hicks

    I think the issue landscape architects face most when discussing our field with people not from design backgrounds, is a lack of understanding of the range of scales. Most of my friends and family that aren’t in a design field are only aware of the designed landscape at the residential scale of a garden or a backyard. Maybe this is due to the popularity of shows on HGTV about “doing backyards” or garden design, and the term “landscape” makes them automatically associate LA with the practice of landscape design. But as with architecture, I think what distinguishes LA from landscape design is the potential to design at an extremely broad range of scales. Someone might just not be aware that landscape architectural projects can take place across so many scales. These can include projects at the scale of the backyard, all the way up to a city or region.

    Landscape is such an ambiguous term, so I don’t think every LA should automatically pretend to love designing at all scales. Nor should anyone feel obliged to take on a project just because it’s a landscape or to be polite. We all have different preferences for projects we’d rather work on, just as architects may prefer to specialize in detailing a threshold, designing a residence, a skyscraper, or an entire city.

    I think your response to “can you do my backyard” should depend on your own openness to working at that specific scale. Every LA is entitled to have his or her own preference.

    Mike G

    Thats great! Maybe this thread should be retitled : Is HGTV killing the profession?
    On another note…I wonder how many constitutional lawyers get asked about fixing traffic tickets?

    J. Waldron, RLA

    “are we currently capable of achieving a clear and accurate cocktail party summation of our job description?”

    When I am asked what a landscape architect does, I always answer “we are designers of functional exterior environments”

    I remember an interesting story from college. We had a wolpert rep come in and speak to our professional practice class. He mentioned that he once sat next to a woman on a plane who asked what he did for a living. Figuring she wouldn’t understand what an LA is and not willing to go into it, he simply answered that he was an “architect”. The woman responded “my daughter is a landscape architect” then proceeded to tell him all about her work for the entire flight.

    There are two types of clients in my experience. Those who hire LA’s because they understand the need for such services and can afford it. And those who nip at the landscape budget and just hire a guy with a truck to go “do it”. The latter doesn’t care if you are a land architect or landscape architect.


    I dont think you could limit HGTV to the detriment it has on the public perception of landscape design(ers), but design in general.

    The public thinks design is fashion du jour- spiky hair, skinny jeans, and lime green. LA is just not that glamorous. We design streets and move dirt around. Sometimes we design intimate spaces which I think tend to be more tangible for the average person, but the craft itself is still far off the radar of most anyone not doing it.

    Hollywood still thinks we use drafting tables with maylines and rolls of E size plans rolled up in a corner. The average design life of new construction in America I would bet is around a decade..maybe. In ten years, it might be less.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The Army is another diverse “profession” . What do people at cocktail parties think when someone replies “I’m in the Army”?

    Much like landscape architecture, the impression is going to depend on two things. One is the understanding that the observer has of the field and the other is going to depend on how the observed carries himself. Not everyone is an infantryman, nor is everyone an office Colonel. I would venture to guess that most people at the cocktail party will have an idea of whether the idividual is closer to one end of that spectrum or the other before an answer comes out. There is a clear difference between a Private and an Officer. There is also a clear difference between a Lieutenant and a General.

    I don’t think it is different with landscape architects either. If anyone is getting confused with lawn maintenance guys it probably says more about who he parties with or how he carries himself than the overall perception people have about landscape architecture as a profession. Likewise, if he is right out of school he will likely to be perceived much like the Lieutenant, at least at first glance.


    Thats pretty much what I was saying.

    I dont think it’s a ‘huge’ detriment because plenty of ‘us’ prefer to practice this way, but I think it does tend to ‘disparage’ the wealth of capability of the profession..which ultimately affects the public more than fashion design (‘project runway’ et al).


    I’m a landscape architect. There are a lot of architects in my office, who generally think landscape architect mostly work on planting and the left-over space of buildings.

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