What is the difference between Landscape Architecture and Landscape Design?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION What is the difference between Landscape Architecture and Landscape Design?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 41 voices, and was last updated by  Bob Luther 8 years, 12 months ago.

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  • #170712

    Andrew Spiering
    Participant

    This may seem like a simple question with a simple answer.  But, after talking with a few of my landscape designer friends the other night, I found out that it is not quite so simple.

    I’d be interested to hear what you think… 

    #170802

    Bob Luther
    Participant

    Do you want the legal answer or the touchy feely answer? Legal answer… in the US…

    States with practice acts (45) require a license to practice landscape architecture.
    States with title acts (4) allow anyone to practice landscape architecture, regardless of their qualifications, but only those with a license may use the title “landscape architect” or advertise for “landscape architectural” services.

    #170801

    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    You’ll be getting a lot of generalizations with this question, including this one. Landscape Archiects tend to have a different and much broader education beyond that of a landscape designer. You can be good at gardening with no formal education and be a landscape designer. If you become college educated in landscape design and especially the plants, you are an ornamental horticulturist. Landscape Architects are usually educated in a HUGE range of subjects; planning, urban design, architecture, horticulture and botany, ecology, soils and geology, and especially civil and structural engineering. There is also a difference in scale. Landscape design tends to be site specific, where LA can be regional or even super-regional in its scale, depening on the project and the focus of the practioner. Then there is the “backwards compatibility;” A Landscape Architect can be a landscape designer, but a landscape designer cannot be a Landscape Architect. Plus LAs charge more (jk).

    Oh, yea, and the license thing.

    #170800

    Mike G
    Participant

    I agree that much of the two allied professions overlap. I think many individual LDs are well qualified to approach topics of drainage, grading, sustainable planning, site design, specifying materials, lighting, planting, and many of things within in the LAs turf. In general it does seem that LD work focuses on residential and light commercial design excluding regulated site engineering.
    So again I would have to agree that legally the license issue is the primary factor that defines what the two professions can and cannot do.

    #170799

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    All landscape architects are landscape designers. Some landscape designers are landscape architects. Landscape architecture is an extremely diverse field and since landscape architecture is a portion of landscape design, landscape design is an even more diverse field.

    #170798

    Maureen Decombe
    Participant

    Where does Residential Landscape Design fit into this mix, and is it viewed as a legitimate subset of the broader picture? Though many Landscape Architects do Residential Landscape Design, and some specialize in that market, where does the 1,000SF-5,000SF project fit in, and where do the practitioners who serve that market fit in to the definition of Landscape Architecture and Landscape Design?

    #170797

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    Its all good. … my opinion.

    I’m not a fan of exclusion.

    #170796

    Maureen Decombe
    Participant

    And I’m a fan of non-excluders! Seems to me that the profession, however one defines it, has an essential mission ahead. Water Efficiency, Storm Water Management, appropriate (non-invasive) planting, prevention of light pollution, education of our clients… All of these are required by owners of smaller residential properties, and the exclusion of those who call themselves Landscape Designers would be a disservice to the public. My opinion, as well.

    #170795

    Gertjan Jobse
    Participant

    Essentially there is no difference in the material we use. We both deal with the landscape, nature and people. We both do consider context and time in our plans. We both deal with living material, natural processes and society.
    Principally there is not even a difference in scale, even though in practice landscape architects tend to work on larger scale.

    But there are differences in approach. You may say that is LA is both and art and science. Thus, landscape architectural works are cultural expressions of ideas. Where landscape architecture takes a conceptual approach – an abstract idea – to landscape as a start of the design proces. Landscape design is the applied form and refers to the process of planning.

    #170794

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    That is a great point. LAs are trained to work by responding to a program where most landscape designers are more focused on placement of materials without as much focus on the intangibles that should influence the placement.

    Our approach is to use the materials as a means to enhance or mitigate experiences while those not trained in this approach tend to look for ways to use materials simply because the other approach is unknown to them.

    #170793

    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    Only if he has a paper from the State that says he is a licensed LA. Even those who are formally trained in LA and don’t have that piece of very expensive paper, can’t call themselves an LA. Anyone can call themselves a LD, but not anyone can call themselves a LA. An LD can be more talented or more qualified than an LA, but there is always the chance that they are not. There are no means to quantify that within that profession. Think Attorney and paralegal, Architect and an architectural designer, Interior Designer and decorator (note the use of CAPS).

    The legal issues relate to accountability. Like Architects and Engineers, LA’s often have to their stamp drawings. It’s a State regulated Profession (in 49 states). The State says you know what you are doing by means of a minimum standard evaluated through a standardized examination. In many circumstances involving commercial work involving the public, or projects for said State, no stamp, no go. With that stamp comes professional ethics and especially LIABILITY. LAs, like Architects, have to worry about health, safety, and welfare, and an LA can have that piece of paper taken away, then you are not an LA anymore. LDs don’t have to worry about that.

    From where the conversation has headed, it seems to me that there is a misundersanding as to what many LA’s actually do. Yes, there are LAs that primarily focus on residential design or small scale landscape design, but the profession goes well beyond that. To a good LD, there may appear to be little difference between what they do and what LA does on that type of project. There may not be any. It’s everything else the diversity of subject the LA profession allows, as I have posted above. I invite those who may like a bit of clarification or education into LA to roam around the ASLA website, particularly this area… http://www.asla.org/ContentDetail.aspx?id=12206&PageTitle=Education&RMenuId=54

    This is a massive point of confusion and ire on the part of the public and professions, and something the ASLA and the industry have been dealing with for decades (almost as heated as the Interior Designer/decorator battle). There are many blurred lines, and many nuanced differences when coming to certain aspects of LA/LD. However, there are also glaring gaps in capability, education, focus, and legality. One question I have, if you are legally a Landscape Architect, why would you call yourself a designer? Personally, being an LA is a marque of attainment. And if you are a designer, and you feel you are quaified to be an LA…you are most welcome to take the test if you legally can (many states offer an experience qualification). We would welcome you into the profession.

    #170792

    Tanya Olson
    Participant

    Totally agree. Exclusion is akin to MD’s demanding that RN’s or medtechs not practice because they don’t have PhD educations.

    #170791

    Tanya Olson
    Participant

    He may also be able to call himself a landscape architect if he is working under the supervision of another licensed landscape architect. Some firms call that Landscape Architect In Training other firms just call it junior landscape architect.
    I have to say, there is a bit of a limbo for those of us who have finished our education and internship hours and are in the process of getting the “very expensive paper”…especially with so little work available, its one-at-a-time for me so the process is taking a couple of years. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying its not so cut-and-dried for everyone. (LEGALLY, its cut and dried, but we all can’t just waltz out and take all of the exams in a 6-month period…you get what I mean I hope.)

    #170790

    Bob Luther
    Participant

    I don’t know of many landscape designers doing 60 to 600 acre masterplaned communities, I don’t see many LD’s doing urban plazas, or freeways, or golf courses, or zoos, or regional parks, etc. Landscape design seems to be irrigation, planting, some hardscape work, boulders, gravel, wood decking, gazebo, mostly at a residential scale. In California this work can be done for the persons own personal property, under the license of a landscape architect, under the licnese of a landscape contractor, or under the certificate of a nursery. There is a very gray area if landscape design is even legal in California if the designer does not work under one of the above mentioned conditions (except golf courses and irrigation which do not require license or certification.) So there are some very defined boudries that most people just ignore.)

    here is how the Association of Professional Landscape Designers® (APLD®) defines the question in California.

    Landscape designers may provide design ideas, landscape plans, planting plans and lighting plans. Some also offer installation-related services such as material selection or plant placement. While they may provide conceptual ideas on garden structures, irrigation, and hardscape layout, most are not licensed to provide construction drawings. Likewise, while they may work closely with contractors overseeing the aesthetic elements of an installation, most are not licensed to provide actual construction services. Their education is in residential design, which emphasizes design strategies, hardscape options, and plant materials appropriate for residential projects.

    Landscape architects are licensed by the State of California and, in addition to the plans typically provided by a landscape designer, are qualified to produce construction-ready plans that may include complex retaining walls, grading and drainage plans, and physical structures. Their training emphasizes design for large public and commercial spaces such as parks and commercial landscapes, although some specialize in residential projects.

    Landscape contractors are licensed to install the designs created by landscape designers and landscape architects. Some are design/build businesses, and provide design services as well. When working with a design/build firm, be sure to clarify the design process used and whether you will receive landscape drawings for your review and approval or just a verbal or written description of the landscape to be installed. Some design/build companies bundle the design fees with the cost of construction, but it is still important to understand the design cost component should you decide to hire a different company for installation. To learn more about Licensed Landscape Contractors in California, visit the web sites for the California Landscape Contractors Association, and the Contractors State License Board.

    #170789

    Keven Graham
    Participant

    You really can’t answer this question based on type of work. You will have a never ending discussion (which is good) if you try and define “Architect” v “Designer” merely based on the work you do. I would say your answer comes down to, like many professions the education that has been recieved and based on that education the testing that you take and pass. Now, I am sure someone is going to argue that this does not mean you know how to design or know how to map out an eco-system. But, you can make the same case for engineers, doctors, lawyers you name it. It is how the world of professions work and we set baseline requirements for taking a minimum competence exam and there are is a peer reviewed set of educational requirements. With completion of that you attain a level of professionalism. You get that piece of paper and continue to take additional education to grow and thus are deemed an landscape architecture. Or, you can make the choice to not follow this precribed path, and your not a landscape architect. The great thing is we have alternative professions, designers, legal assistants, nurse practitioners that get to do work.

    So I think the answer comes to level of education and meeting minimum standards of practice based on helath safety and welfare and various specialties. It does get frustrating to hear individuals complain about it not being fare, I put my time and vested myself in achieving these experiences. So while I do alot of different and sometimes not so traditional landscape architecture, my background, education, broad expereience and testing allows me to prudly say LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT.

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