What don’t you know (well enough)?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE What don’t you know (well enough)?

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #3561619
    Leslie B Wagle

    After reading the discussion below, I thought there must be many variations of the “not knowing something maybe I should” syndrome. The discussion between professional architects was rather revealing but understandable. What areas of knowledge have you suspected you lack and haven’t had time or opportunity to develop? That even standard training left you feeling weak about? Maybe time was misspent on too much that turned out to be useless and we can assist each other. Maybe we need comfort that the situation doesn’t matter that much, or maybe we can give guidance on where there are good succinct pathways to close some of each others’ deficits (by reading, observing, etc.). And of course there are always the unexpected realms the world expects that are surprises along the path….


    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    One thing that I did not understand early on and for a long time after was that the concept of that all landscape architects need to know and be good at a certain template of skills and knowledge to succeed is not necessarily true due to the diversity of the profession. I think I wore cement shoes for quite a while trying to do what I was taught was the way to do things and how to compete in the profession. Once I got over that the things that I had to learn were specific to the niche that I was/am working in. You’ve heard that out of me a million times, so I’ll move on to more general thoughts.

    How to get work.

    Learning how business was being done locally is a huge thing that is true in any niche. We are all taught a cookie cutter idea on this in school, but I really had to observe the bigger picture on who was doing what, how work (and referrals) flowed in my niche, where opportunities might lie, what that I could do that was

      valued by others in that work flow

    , and what things I needed to learn to make me a valued team member.

    Leslie B Wagle

    Yes, I thought right after I posted that, it would depend on what you find you must (or what you want to) aim for, and there are different sets of skills needed accordingly. Then there is the general innocence most of us have about how hard it is to find the right niche and to get work, period. But being motivated and feeling competent helps get the work, and the completing of work builds the portfolio that you mentioned to someone in another topic.

    I admit I am weak on a couple of areas (irrigation, lighting design, and even swimming pools at the guts level of how they work vs. aesthetic form and placement). But if the issues don’t come up a lot in your normal flow and you don’t feel a crying need for them, hence don’t enjoy the unfamiliarity that breeds, then it’s hard to focus on covering the deficit and you stay in your groove unless it becomes a handicap.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Leslie, those three areas that you mentioned you are weak in are exactly the types of things that were beaten into our heads by professors and cheerleaders of the profession.

    I do a ton of pool plans (especially since the Great White Shark spike here on Cape Cod). I don’t touch the pool guts other than for accounting for the structure of an automatic cover if one is being used. The pool contractor is going to hold the clients hand and pick out interior details and try to upsell on the gadgetry, so thee is no reason for me to do it.

    I used to do some basic lighting plans, but there again the products and gadgetry options are huge and ever changing. I tell clients that and they are all good with it.

    Irrigation in my area is not something people like too pay to have designed, so again nothing to worry about. The contractors take care of it (in the field without a formal plan).

    A really good example of some of the things young people coming out of school can dwell on unnecessarily. … that and having to have superior hand drawing skills.

    Leslie B Wagle

    I’ve been passing that on to people closer to the gadgetry myself with no problems as well but I feel a little weird that I have to explain it to clients (saving on design fees helps the issue).Those are areas that someone really interested in the work will gladly do and rather than charge my time (if I had ever invested in learning it), contractor referral seems to make the most sense, so far not causing any loss of work on master planning/grading/planting plans/some details. I didn’t think any schools really take took to drill it into grads but wasn’t sure; it’s understandable if they don’t.

    On the other hand, if grads can’t cope with understanding some planning (how to comply with ordinances of various sorts), that would be a noticeable deficit, but it’s one that has grown in importance over the years.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    We were also taught that we are important and need to take control of everything landscape – the less you do the more diminished you are. This is something that took me forever to learn. It goes back to the most important thing that we need to do -Get Work. Every time we over reach we are affecting someone else’s livelihood. Some would call it “leaving money on the table”.

    But here is the thing. Most of us work in a not so huge environment where we are known and cross paths with other players in our markets whether they are builders, architects, landscape contractors, nurseries, stone yards, lighting suppliers, irrigation installers, excavators, arborists, …. We can affect them by what we do and they can affect us as well. One of the biggest things is that anyone of these is a potential marketer for us.
    Bringing us on board for any of these folks has the potential to enable them to make more money or to lose money they could otherwise make by using someone else. It can speed up their project or it can slow it down. We can leave open opportunities for any of them to upsell, or we can close those by over specifying. We can make their lives easier with a plan to follow, or we can complicate their lives by specifying methods that are not how they normally do things. Plenty of other examples out there, but the main point is that if you can make as many of those things positive for the people around you without compromising the job you will be a valuable asset and they will all be referring you as much as they can …. especially if the next landscape architect is not following the same philosophy – ie, doing it the way he was told to in school and by professional organizations.

    When you think you can’t compete with the ones that are doing everything because they do the complete menu better than you can, you might not realize that the one thing that you can do better is serve a different menu that meets the jobs needs better.

    Never underestimate the importance of making the entire design/build team happy and not just the client. The team and/or its members are going to be around a lot longer than a single landscape design client. They are potential free marketing. Just make sure that they have reason to market you over others.


    Since we are not dealing with the military weapons, 3d gaming, or Hollywood-to-silicon-valley industry “digital personality”, we can look at landscape architecture as a severely retrograde industry composite applying digital tools today, that it should have been applying by the early 90s. So, as we should be applying aplha AI to problems for permanent but dynamic solutions, we find landscape architecture not even understanding late-automation principles already programmed into the OOP apps it uses.

    For me in this industry, keeping up with the wake of this technology is my objective, since it is going the way of AI in time anyway. As such, we will always be behind, but deeper technological understanding of even basic automation and object-oriented software principles is the road less traveled, but the road it is going in any event, as the younger generation gets clued in by the technology element, because landscape architecture in academia is still at least two decades behind it all.

    Now doing things the slow way only eats up more time which could, by now, be put to dynamic automation solutions and documentation to also ready for the next level asap. So, landscape architecture as an industry will continue to resist where it is going, because now the model is one of ever increasing inefficiency, so it cannot “make” the time now to even try to keep up, only the uncommon will. Only a rare few will take it to the next level, but it will be the way for the rest to follow in time.

    Landscape architecture today is a brontosaurus which needs to go the way of the velociraptor which increased technological depth of application provides the new “DNA” for.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Lost Password