Why hasn’t anyone heard of landscape architecture?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Why hasn’t anyone heard of landscape architecture?

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    Matthew Cool

    I am preparing a lecture to graduate students on the topic of why no one (outside of architects, engineers, etc) has heard of landscape architecture, or know what we do. Is it because it is a generalist discipline? Is it because we don’t have a superstar? Is the profession too new? I have my own answers, but I am interested in others thoughts.


    I think it’s more because of the work we produce. In my opinion we are care less about breaking norms thus we produce more generic designs.  In my office I hear too much “this will be nice and comfortable for people”… boooooorrringggg. We need more projects and designers like Seattle’s Freeway Park by Halprin, or the Highline by JCFO in order to grab people’s attention. These kind of projects are nice and comfortable (maybe), but more importantly they have a unique, strong identity, captivate and provoke as well. Why has no one heard of landscape architecture? Because we keep producing boring-a$$ work that do nothing except be “nice”.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    What is important is that people who need us know who we are. The fact that a person knows who we are does not create a need for our services. There is so much diversity within our profession that there is no prototype “landscape architect” which makes it very hard to have a standard identity.


    There is a great deal of diversity in the profession of Architecture as well, but most of us simplify it by knowing that it is the design of buildings …. but there is a big difference between designing 800 SF starter homes and an emergency wing on a hospital.


    When someone says he is an engineer do you think civil site planner, aero-space, chemical, structural, mechanical, optical, ….. ?


    We are not alone with an identity crisis, but we seem to suffer from a greater inferiority complex for some reason. Maybe because we worry that we are identified by our lowest common denominators so to speak? It might be easier for me because I spent years behind a 48″ walk behind mower and a decade or two with a shovel in my hand before getting a degree and license. I don’t care if a client of mine knows the difference between a landscape architect and anyone else just as long as he knows the difference between me and someone else looking to get the job … no matter what either of us are called. 

    Alan Ray, RLA

    this is a good question to ask ASLA…..

    would love to read their feeble answer.



    It’s probably a good thing that most people don’t know about us. This means less people to qualify as potential clients. During the initial call one of the first things I ask a person that wasn’t referred to me is if they’ve ever worked with an architect. If they say no I spend a lot more time qualifying them. I’m only interested in spending time with people who are willing to pay my fee. I try to avoid people who watch HGTV ‘quickee” projects and think they’re going to get a $400 proposal from me.

    mark foster

    I think it’s mainly the numbers–we are a tiny profession.  Also, most of us can’t say what we do in one sentence.  


    I think it’s also largely due to the media.  Whenever a new building goes up you’ll read paragraphs about the architect who designed it.

    Whenever a new park goes up (that is also groundbreaking and spectacular and unique), there is no mention of the landscape architect.  It’s usually credited to the city, as if it magically appeared there.

    Changing that is going to be hard.

    I’d be interested in hearing what your own thoughts are on this.

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