March 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm #159050Jay SmithParticipant
I haven’t been on here for a while, just checked backed in and I see that these same discussions are still going strong. It’s sad/scary that this debate has raged on for some 4+ years. I understand those who are fed up with people coming on here claiming the profession is dead, but at the same time, here we are 4 years later, basically the same people making the same arguments, and little has changed out there in terms of full time job prospects. So fine, maybe the profession is just in a state of dormancy, a deep sleep if you will, but at what point does dormant = dead? 5,10,15 years? Can anyone offer up any studies/stats that suggest our profession will eventually pull out of this in the near future? And if so, will it be any more stable than pre 2008? I understand those of us staying the course don’t want to be exposed to pessimism, but at the same time, I don’t think those coming on here to vent are necessarily a bunch of irrational Debbie downers either. Their fears and perspectives on the situation are valid.March 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm #159049
Well Jay all I can tell you that after 4+ years of twisting arms and kissing butts to land mostly “not-so-impressive” projects to keep the lights on. I remain positive about the future of the profession. Seriously, what else can I do? I’ve asked where are the greener pastures over and over on this forum and no one has had a real answer. As I drive around the metro-NYC, I see empty storefronts, vacant car dealership and foreclosed homes. Look around you the answers right in front of you. When you see businesses moving into vacant properties, regular folks leaving their survival jobs and going back to their chosen careers, then you will see Landscape Architecture alive again.
I think it’s irrational for people to think that the profession should be rolling along like its 2005 when everything else is jacked-up. I’m scared just like everyone else; I just refuse to be a harbinger of doom. I’m going to be shaking my pom-poms for the profession until the day I die.March 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm #159048
There are two perspectives – one is from those on the inside and one is from those on the outside.
Those on the outside – Job seekers are in the dumps for good reason. The profession has gone through some shrinkage in the last six years which added previously employed to the usual job seekers coming out of school. Universities and others marketed landscape architecture as a rapidly expanding field and a place for environmental activists to make things happen which increased the number of recent graduates who amount to more job seekers than were around in the past. Jobs only become available when there is expansion. There is no expansion right now.
Those on the inside – Established individuals and firms are still working. Firms manage by increasing their size or shrinking it to adjust to the anount of work that they have. You might not like it, but it is reality. They also manage by adapting to what work is available, competitive pricing, adjusting their geographic market, and adjusting scope of work in order to remain competitive. They get work because they are a known commodity where new firms or individuals, whether they realize it or not, are trying to sell based on potential. Developers and property owners are also feeling vulnerable in a down economy and just are not willing to invest in potential, so they stick with known commodities – established individuals and firms.
If you are on the outside, landscape architecture is dead because it is nearly impossible to get in right now. If you are on the inside, it’s not great, but it is definitely alive. Projects are still fun, challenging, and profitable.March 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm #159047Leslie B WagleParticipant
I have been rolling around a concept something like that in my mind, maybe zooming it out to more of a worldview. While many of us were either sold on (or hoped for) LA being treated as a profession among others, it is actually something else, if I can redefine terms a little. If a profession is something like, let’s say, nursing, that is pretty much always understood as “needed,” then it has a foundation under it that is pretty solid in all but the worst social breakdown situations. Nobody would start a hospital without planning to hire nurses, in other words. It is a knowledge and skill but also nursing has been enshrined as a function within the basic operational “code” of how things run.
However, there are a number of high knowledge/skills areas that never quite get incorporated into the social hard wiring over time. Classical musicians, skilled photographers, plastic surgeons, certain kinds of therapists…..many others you can probably think of. They spend their time and effort to acquire just as complex and in many ways, treasured skills, but have to constantly jostle for inclusion and their prospects fluctuate more widely with the times. I don’t know what the term for these fields should be to imply their personal mission aspect, as they are not unique in a sense of mission, but those entering and pursuing them have to make a more sobering choice involving financial reality and the generally unsteady nature of it. Vocations, maybe?
It’s not that LA’s don’t have a great deal to offer and add to the world culture, but in looking back over more than a century or so since dawn of the label, I don’t think we’ve made much if any headway towards the “essential” category. Each one of us has to be creative, and sell as well as perform. Even teachers, as obvious as their role would seem, have to keep doing that. Some service groups band together and shift the sales burden to the political realm, but that can have its negative consequences also.March 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm #159046
I think there might actually be more than 2 perspectives. What about established firms that are stripped down from 10+ employees in an office space to just one person working out of their newly acquired apartment? I know of one LA and a few Architects that fall into this group. These guys are working, but I don’t think they would consider themselves on the “inside”.
Then there’s me, a Great Recession start-up that manages to get just enough business to actually be in business. I’m not in the dumps because I still have hope, but I not celebrating because I know I’m a couple of cancelled projects away from moving my wife and I into my mother’s spare bedroom.
I’m not sure how I feel. What do you think Andrew? Am I on the inside or the outside?March 2, 2012 at 11:20 pm #159045mauiBobParticipant
Craig, you sound like the Captain of the Titanic. “This ship cannot sink. I find that idea impossible.”
It was a year and half ago when we debated this topic and nothing has really changed. The profession is never going back to the pre-2008 days. LAs need to adapt, because I see lots of future work overseas. Yes, projects will become alive again…someday, but firms will not employ a glut of designers during the next frontier. And if you didn’t put any money on the stock market then, boy-ohh-boy, you missed the boat.
Andrew, there are more than two perspectives! I know of several San Diego, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Phoenix firms that went from 20+ employees to just 3 or 4 people. I used to work for 2 of them and my former co-workers haven’t found work or entered another field, like selling insurance or chef. One of those firms rehired 2 or 3 designers recently, but still nowhere to their previous high point. I also know of two “established” firms that closed its door forever. And then there’s me…who is on the inside and accepts that LA is dead!! Long live stock market speculation and the Planning profession! Darn, why did I choose LA?! Such a knucklehead.March 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm #159044
There is nothing in your post that I did not cover in mine. Employees got laid off – they are now on the outside. The three or four people left are on the inside … doing their LA thing.March 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm #159043
You are on the inside as a fellow recession start up. The reason that you are on the inside is that you not only learned to design, but you learned where work comes from and what you had to do to position yourself to get work. If you did not, you’d be on the outside.
So many on the outside complain that they have skills that the firms that laid them off don’t have. The difference is that they don’t have the essential ability those firms have which is to have work find them. I think this profession operates on the client finding the professional and not the other way around. A problem is that most of us are programmed to think it is the other way around. Another problem is that we not only have to be found, but we have to be found in a the condition that they have already envisioned as what they need. In other words, they want to see that what they want you to do is what you normally do and not a relatively new thing.
You can’t get that from sporting a stamp and hanging a shingle. You have to have a portfolio of built work, you have to have some kind of history, you have to be perceived as knowledgable, confident, and understanding so they understand that you are on a solid foundation or they’ll move on very quickly whether your doing twelve plant foundation plans or hospital campuses. What you need to know is different, but the way you know it has to be as deep to consistently get work.March 3, 2012 at 5:45 am #159042mauiBobParticipant
Andrew, isn’t that a rather elitist view? You’re saying if you can’t get any work for yourself or unemployed, its because you are not good enough as a landscape architect. Completely ignoring the fact that some people were laid off due to circumstances beyond their control. Example: You are a project manager/senior associate of a 25 person firm. The principal/owner downsized and all but 3 or 4 people are left. The remaining are the 3 Principals and one administrative staff. So you’re saying, the outsiders have no ability and no idea on where to find work? You are looking at others through an “owner’s view” and not one from an employee. Guess what…these 3 Principals have no knowledge on doing Sketchup or Photoshop plans. Many of them don’t even know how to use cad. So yes, people on the outside do have skills that the firm who laid them off don’t have. I don’t understand your comments.
PBS & J in Henderson was acquired by Adkins recently and they laid off a considerable amount of designers on the LA side, including a Principal and senior associates. Your two perspectives doesn’t include mergers and acquisitions.
Someone who has 3 to 8 years experience doesn’t necessarily have large amounts of “built” work on their portfolio. I’ve worked on major urban projects that took 5 years to complete. Have you ever done a hospital campus? Its not done over a 3 month span like a residential design. Getting permits, EIS reports, the politics, etc are half the battle. And client contacts can be quite limited for designers with 8 years or less experience. And your views have no category for me. The ones on the inside who think LA is dead anyway! The profession is a sham! It needs to be buried and let all the engineers and architects do the landscape design. No more LAs.March 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm #159041
Elitists are the ones who are too proud to vary from the script that they learned in school. They don’t want to take a position beneath them. Or they took on another profession and have to continually repeat that the profession failed in order to keep thinking that they did not fail within it.
Yes, hard working skilled people are laid off. People that worked 8 years in a pidgeon hole at a firm have to now realize that they were laborers. Now many of them are laborers without an employer and missed their opportunity to look beyond the pidgeon hole until it was too late. Many left themselves with only the option of being hired as a laborer again, but no one is hiring.
If you are in a firm now, for God’s sake, make sure you network, do everything you can to understand where the work is coming from, who those people are, and why they are using the firm that you work for. The most important thing you can do is to try to understand how the clients think in order to position yourself to be of value to them or people like them down the road. None of them hire a firm based on their skill sets – those are a dime a dozen, it is based on how they think. You have to learn to project that understanding so that potential clients know that you are on their team and not just providing a skill set. That is what separates being inside and being outside.
Bob, you like to keep coming to this forum to poke and laugh at those of us stupid enough to not leave the profession. If that did not make me think you were insecure, the fact that almost every time you post, you feel the need to say that you are very successful in stock investments certainly puts me over the tipping point. Cling to something. You are not a loser. I sat in the same studio with you for two years, I know you.
As you continue to poke at us in the dead profession, don’t take it to heart that a lot of us are out here enjoying what we are doing and making a living at it just fine.
I’m a little guy in a little office, but I’m designing nice landscapes and making a living at it just about the way I envisioned it when I went back to school. I did not do the big firm thing, but worked for design/build contractors and civil engineers. The thing that I learned most was about working for clients – design is the easy part.March 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm #159040
What makes it even more ridiculous is that he’s just as much a participant in the Lounge as those of us still in love with the profession. We’re talking about years of gloating about making the big bucks in stocks and chilling on the beach, while I freeze my rear off in the NE trying to make a living as a harmless LA. MauiB sounds more like an elitist than anyone.
Dude is actually putting time and energy into discouraging folks that want to practice their craft. I used to find him funny but now I just find him kind of sad.March 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm #159039ncaParticipant
“Dude is actually putting time and energy into discouraging folks that want to practice their craft. I used to find him funny but now I just find him kind of sad.”
Quoted for truth.March 4, 2012 at 1:11 am #159038Jay SmithParticipant
Craig I’d venture to say that the majority of those disgruntled right now about the profession would settle for pre-boom job prospects and stability. Sure there are the occasional radicals who fear the sky is falling and feel it is their moral obligation to go all Paul Revere, but there are many professionals out there who just want to discuss their legit concerns over the future of the profession without getting lit up by opposing extremists of this topic. I’m amazed that after four years there are still only about 6-10 people (mostly the same people) discussing this particular subject on Land8, despite the fact that Land8 has a membership of over 13,000 people (not to mention those who read these forums who aren’t members). Why don’t they participate? I’m guessing the often condescending vibe that permeates these discussions deters many intelligent, hard working people who otherwise would like to share ideas.March 4, 2012 at 7:23 am #159037idaParticipant
13,000 different ideas, or a few different ideas written differently 13,000 times?March 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm #159036
Fair enough, I respect your opinion. If you find a struggling LA that joins in on a forum for LAs that offers encouragement with a dose of reality condescending, I will proudly wear that label. I’ll admit that I can be a bit snarky sometimes, but it’s usually all in fun. I care about this profession and I think I’m contributing more to it by being positive and offering honest advice, as opposed to discouraging people from entering into it.
Jay you’re a person asking if someone has done studies or stats suggesting a rosy future for Landscape Architecture. If you’re looking for a rosy outlook check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Come on how silly. No one really knows what the future brings. My suggestion to you if you want a future in this profession is to toughen up, be positive and do what you need to do today to prepare yourself as a professional just incase the world doesn’t come to an end.
I’m sorry, coming into the Lounge saying the profession is dead to a bunch of battle scarred LAs is not what I would call venting. I think it’s kind of selfish. Most of us are fighting for our survival and I’ll bet peanuts to dollars that the 13,000 members here that care about Landscape Architecture would rather have a guy like me on there team than a guy like you.
There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. Like I said, I’m scared too. I just don’t think its right for you to provide nourishment to the seed of doubt in our little village.
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