Why are there \"weak talented\" Licensed Landscape Architects???

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Why are there \"weak talented\" Licensed Landscape Architects???

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    Andrew Garulay, RLA


    It is nice to know that I can hire you when I need to have a nicely rendered project. I’ll call you if that happens.


    Andrew…..Well, that’s nice of you, but, I’m not so sure you could afford my services…….*smile*


    Why are there some older landscape architects not drawing with a scale? Not drawing to design regulations? Not drawing with regards to topography?

    Why are the clients still going to these firms, and why do I have to spend countless hours cleaning up the designs?

    I am planner who designs subdivisions but I have worked alongside LAs for 15 years. The same rules apply to park design, planting plans, design build, etc. I am TIRED of bowing down to the EQUALLY…TERRIBLE…work coming from HIGHER up the food chain. Rework costs the client money. It’s lose/lose having to correct a 65 year old’s hand rendered site design with 1′ sidewalks, 5′ overstory trees, 2′ landscape buffers, 7′ two-way driveways. To make matters worse, the back of the commercial building pad is not drawn along the correct elevation line, so now part of the building is in the floodplain.

    I guess that old school landscape architect used some snazzy Chartpak, Prismacolor, and Tria markers, touched it up with accents of soft pastels and some “architect” line type to get the client buy-in. But when it came time to making the actual site WORK beyond the pretty picture, the CAD drawing didn’t make sense. It couldn’t be engineered and it was overpromised, either in terms of gross leasable area or numbers of dwelling units. Now, the CAD drawing is sent over to my desk at another firm, and I have to get the same number of lots or square feet but with a smaller developable area.

    How did these older people, who are quite terrible in site design, landscape architecture, etc.stay in the profession OVER 4,5,6 DECADES…and get away with it?

    Leslie B Wagle

    That sure wouldn’t have passed basic level courses at any point in history I know of. So….the mysteries will always be there.


    Nick…I personally find your comments a bit insulting & unprofessional. Wow, you must have been doing a lot of “clean up autoCAD work” in 9 different jobs over the past 15 years, huh.

    When you graduate with an LA degree in 1977, like I did, there was no such thing as “autoCAD”…and many LA graduates never made it, because, they didn’t have descent drawing, graphic or architectural drawing skills. I did. I took my first Architectural Drafting Course the 1st semester of the 7th Grade & made an “A” in the course. Took 4 more similar courses before I finished High School…along with 3 Art Courses. Plus, 3 semesters @ The University of North Texas in Denton…more Graphic Design & Architectural Drawing Courses…made “A’s” in all of the courses too. After 4 yrs. in the Navy…an LA degree @ Texas A&M…then, 14 yrs. with 2 LA firms before going out on my own @ age 41.

    Now, at age 70, I have managed to design close to 600 projects in 14 different States. Yes, I may be “old school”, and never learned autoCAD (way too busy)…and worked as a one person LA firm since 1991. My Final Contract Documents absolutely matched up with my Preliminary Color Renderings and Prelim. sketches I presented to my clients. Never rec’d a complaint from a client or any contractors about the quality of my designs or the accuracy of my work. No other designers had to go in an “clean up my drawings” as you mentioned. I even had a couple of Civil Engineers and Architects ask me if my Final Contract Documents were “autoCAD”? And, I explained to them, “No, I have produced all of my drawings “by hand”…they really couldn’t see the difference. I could have easily retired several years ago…but, I chose to remain actively designing as I have always had a passion for creativity, design & graphic design.

    But, I have personally seen LA portfolios of LAs who have 15, 20 and more experienced that are just “seriously weak”. Poor graphics, autoCAD drawing with poor line weights where you could read or understand the drawings…and just poor quality designs as well.
    I don’t know WHY some very experienced LAs have been able to practice for so many years, I can only speak for myself.

    Since you have “zero” samples of your Design Portfolio available for us to see…we really can’t see your work. We just know that you have designed for 9 different design firms over the past 15 years.

    There are MANY very experience “older” Landscape Architects out there producing outstanding projects…most do know autoCAD, sketchUP and a variety of other computer software programs…and many also have outstand “hand drawing” and “graphic design” skills. Some of the most talented LAs in the World have 30 to 50 yrs. of experience and they deserve a lot of respect for what they have accomplished during their careers.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Can anyone offer a different opinion without getting slammed? No wonder no one participates on these forums anymore.


    It really wouldn’t matter, Andrew. We have all been criticized here on LAND 8 from time to time or another for our comments here. Just differences of opinions.

    LAND 8 says there are 1.5 Million Members…..but, I just counted ONLY (60) members who were active here on LAND 8 during the past (60) days. Members should get involved, but, they don’t. There are several BLOGS and many FORUMS…that members could comment on…but, few members get involved.

    My comment above…was because, I believe IMO, that member’s comment was being unfair to Senior LA’s. And, he’s a “Land Planner”…guess he’s an “expert” about Landscape Architecture……not. My opinion.



    There are about 40 projects on there for your viewing and critiques. I have a much larger project catalog of 100-150 projects that are not on the internet but they are carefully documented and explained and are kept as files of record.

    As for my work history:
    I have worked for 5 different employers since 2005, not 9. I was also laid off 4 times in 8 years in 3 states due to lack of work, several of the layoffs occurred during the Great Recession and the last one was due to lack of work as a result of Hurricane Harvey. You have a lot of nerve attacking my work history, especially when these were circumstances beyond my control.

    Since 2003, I have worked on 150-175 projects in 3 states. I am one of the few planners who are both AICP and PMP credentialed, and I am 5 years away from earning an FAICP designation. I run my own free lance graphics firm on the side, WorkSMART Graphics which I started in 2017 which largely focuses on non-planning work to avoid conflicts of interest. On top of that I am looking into pursuing a graduate degree part time related to land development starting in 2021, either an MSRED, MBA, or a Masters in Finance with a real estate specialization while I continue to work full time in planning. I am not some stupid, ignorant idiot who has had 15 jobs.

    Now, back to the meat of the argument.
    What does my personal work history have to do with identifying poor quality work from the older generation? As a PMP, I am a huge proponent of quality management and continuous improvement. If I see BAD work it is BAD work. It doesn’t matter if it done by someone in college or someone 5 decades out of college. It is BAD work. And there are plenty of older people who have gotten by with BAD work in their career. That’s why I responded to this post. I targeted older practitioners because poor quality work can be found at any age group and at any level of experience. It’s ALL of our responsibility to identify poor quality work. If I did a bad job producing a plan and a junior designer told me the error, I would take it seriously and make the change. I would even thank the person who told me the error because it makes the overall product better for the client (or averted a bigger series of problems for the project site if it went unnoticed). Who cares if I had 15 years or 45 years or 1 year of experience? If I can make a well-constructed, objective, impartial argument free of personal bias, then I should make that argument.

    Last but not least.
    Most licenses and certifications (engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, planning, surveying) have a Code of Ethics, and they usually say it is our PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY to identify errors on plans, or something to that effect. I have been AICP since I was 27 (and I was also an APA ethics officer for a few years) and I have been identifying problems on drawings by others since Day 1 (planers, engineers, surveyors, landscape architects, architects). All members on a project team should do a quality check throughout the project life cycle.


    Nick…I do apologize. I didn’t intend to offend you…just felt “some” of your comments were uncalled for. And, I know some of mine were too.

    I wasn’t able to view any of your projects….though, I wanted to. I’m sure you are a very well qualified “Land Planner”.

    Well, I can understand the layoff situation. IMO, during the 8 yrs. Obama was in the WH, the job situation was not very good for many professions…even many design professions.

    Well, I think to “some degree” work history does play a role in a designer’s career…but, you certainly have some valid reasons for your working for different design firms. I find way too many young LA’s and designers who don’t put in enough years as an “intern” with an established firm…where they will learn from experienced and talented designers. Many work a few years and think they’re ready to go out on their own…when they just aren’t. IMO, you can’t teach yourself “Landscape Architecture”.

    I put in 14 calendar years working for (2) different LA firms (plus, 2 yrs. worth of over-time, before I went out on my own at the age of 41. The experience I gained was extensive…designing a wide variety of projects in multiple States. So, I felt I would be OK on my own. Took 2 years of serious marketing to get my own private practice up and running. And, actually, the majority of LAs in the U.S. are actually “Freelance”, they don’t work for LA firms. And, from a financial view point, working for yourself usually works out a lot better. My annual income jumped 5x to 7x what the Dallas LA firm was paying me and I wasn’t pulling anymore hours working on my own. My own fault, should have gone out on my own a few yrs. earlier. But, I picked up a lot of fantastic experience as I moved on.

    Had I had the opportunity, I too would have considered an MLB. That degree would be especially useful should you est. your own design firm.


    I’m not a landscape architect and I don’t have a landscape architect license. I don’t have a BLA or an MLA. Who the hell cares?

    As a planner I did landscape plan reviews for several municipalities a decade ago (and I started at age 24). I remember at least 2 or 3 landscape architects who ran independent practices. Their work was filled with errors over multiple sites over multiple municipalities. They were constantly hired by different clients despite the awful work.

    Typical Planting Plan Errors by “Older” Landscape Architects (insert sarcasm here)
    (based on personal review of ~650 planting plans for 13 municipalities over 4 years of all age groups)
    1. Plant unit tables drawn by hand but not checked with a calculator. Incorrect plant unit tabulations for bufferyard landscaping, foundation landscaping, parking island landscaping, and woody plantings along a stormwater high water line.
    2. Beautiful colored hand renderings of 5 different types of parkway tree symbols (in 5 colors) but the plant species table listed them as a single tree species (Acer rubrum or red maple).
    3. Same as #2 but the tree species is Acer japonicum (Japenese maple which is not used as a parkway tree)
    4. Large 8′-10′ existing heritage trees in the middle of a property where the building will be built. These are not identified in the Tree Preservation Plan and there is no provision for replacement costs in the petitioned plans).
    5. Trash enclosures have 8′ barbed wire fences (ouch).

    Yeah, I guess I don’t know a thing about landscape design being a 38 year old land planner.


    My land8 profile has a link to my LinkedIn page. My LinkedIn page has a link to my personal website. Perhaps you should do a little more homework on me and my personal experience (all of which is described in detail) before attacking my initial post.


    Jeeezzzzzz Nick, get a grip. I’m not going to apologize to you twice. Your points are well taken…..let’s move on, shall we.
    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I think it is good to hear from other professionals on their experiences with Landscape Architects. It is not a slam on our profession. Nick did not say that all old school landscape architect’s suck. Nick does actually support Bob’s initial point that some landscape architects are not great.

    It is a diverse profession as I say all the time. None of the skills are absolutely essential to every project, but every project requires the right skills for that project.

    Landscape Architecture is not a religion. It is a profession.

    I would add that some municipal projects are done by less than elite firms that are hired by general contractors to meet the minimal requirements that the municipality has. They are often hired based on speed and cost because the GC is more interested in getting through permitting quickly than in the landscape. Some of those firms might delegate too much to interns and view the city requirements as being so basic that they don’t scrutinize their work very much before stamping it and filing it. That is why someone doing what Nick was doing is essential for the municipality – they can’t just rely on the fact that an LA stamped it.

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