Mark Miller

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    Mark Miller

    There is truth in all these replies, It’s a great industry when the economy at it’s fighting weight, but it’s been real crummy for the past three years.

    Here’s something to consider though:

    1) I’m an LA with three years of experience struggling to to find work and keep my skills sharp

    2) If you go to school now you’ll be getting some real sharp skills, probably sharper than mine

    3) we’ll essentially be competing for the same jobs, but you’ll have sharp skills and be more of a true entry level, thus illiciting less money, while I’ll be a non-true entry level with less sharp skills and places will think I want more money… who’s gonna get hired?

    SOOOO if I (or anyone else for that matter) Discourage you from going into the field, it’s reducing the job pool by that much more, thus making it easier for me to then land that job when it finally does become available.

    So with that in mind….

    DON’T DO IT!


    It’s never gonna bounce back, why bother….

    Although I really enjoy it.

    Mark Miller

    I notice you are from PA, which means you’ll probably be going to school on the east coast and doing east coast LA.

    The thing about LA is that it is a broad field of study that will vary based on where you study it, and the practice will vary even more than that based on where you practice. The west coast is alot more savvy to environmental codes and the like than the east coast (it seems), which bodes well for LA’s on the west coast. On the ec there is more resistance to government regulation of what can be done with the land, but still a fair amount of “by the numbers” kind of work. That being said most of the work I’ve seen that is steady on the ec (I live in Baltimore, MD btw) and by “steady” I mean where most of the job postings have been, has been in the residential market and for project managers and multi-disciplinary firms.

    I think that teaching is an honorable profession and you’re crazy to believe that you won’t be able to get a job as a teacher… it might not be in your preferred location, but I believe you can always get a job teaching. I don’t have a teaching certificate, but I’ve still found myself on substitute lists and right now one of my part time jobs is teaching an after school program. If I actually had the credentials I could be teaching full time…

    If you want to be an LA though, then do this:

    Study your ass off in school: learn learn learn.

    Read every piece of info and “optional” hand out that is given to you

    learn GIS technologies

    learn Sketchup and other 3D platforms

    learn multiple CAD platforms (Autodesk, Microstation, Vectorworks)

    learn the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign in particular)

    work on your hand graphics technique: You don’t have to be an artist, just learn the tricks to creating good graphics (Mike Lin’s workshop is crucial, take it before he retires)

    When you’re not in school work for LA’s or related disciplines:

    Surveyors, Garden Centers, Landscaping Companies… DO THE GRUNT WORK!

    Pay attention construction details and learn how to do them, don’t just copy them from other sources

    Save all your projects and documentation of everything you work on, no matter how small.

    Once you graduate and get that first job, save a copy of every project you work on, even the stuff that the boss didn’t like that didn’t make it into the final draft…..

    if you do those things you’ll be set for life, you’ll be knowledgeable and marketable to any firm to work in any market you want. If you’re only interested in one tiny aspect of LA well you’re going to have a tough time of it, but if you throw yourself into the whole spectrum of it, you’ll find work, and if you don’t find a company to hire you, you’ll at least feel comfortable enough to start your own.

    Mark Miller

    Could be a good idea, and a good excuse to put in some face time. At my last job, I actually found the portfolio  that I’d sent them “filed” in a box, so I reclaimed it.

    Mark Miller

    well, I was getting ready to post something, but it appears the Chat has covered all of my points…


    But as far as a Website Critique goes:

        I’d like to see all the sections flow together better. It it’s possible, you shuld set it up so you can click through all the sections without having to return to the home screen. Otherwise it looks pretty good.



    Mark Miller

    Well Of course you don’t “need” them on site per se, but it’d be easier to study them on the train or subway or over lunch. You could actually have your entire professional library in your pocket.

    The books I mentioned would never be made into ebooks unless Wiley did it themselves, in which case they would get just as much of a cut from them as they do from their hardcopies. There is a distinction between an App and an Ebook. An app is a little computer program that runs on a device, and an Ebook is essentially just a book in digital form that would then require an App (like a Kindle App or something similar) to interpret the data in order to display the information on the screen.

    Mark Miller

    Well that is just depressing. If, as you say, “they do a reasonable job on ‘our turf'” then what hope do we have to stay afloat and get work? Actually, I don’t doubt that they can do a more than reasonable job considering the way a lot of landscape codes spell out exactly what is needed. When I was working within said codes, I liked to compare it to painting by numbers. You just read the rules and measure out the zones, then plug in the plants from the approved list. Then you send it off for review and if the reviewer doesn’t like it, they just tell you what to change and you change it and then it gets approved and it’s out the door. When you put things in those terms then we should just dissolve the whole profession and move on to something else. I mean, why should I even bother to try to become an RLA if there are Engineers and Architects that are always going to be looked to first?… Fortunately, I’m not that much of a nihilist, and I’m sure you aren’t either.


    But I digress.I don’t want to get sidetracked from the original topic of this thread, which is essentiall “where can we fit into burgeoning green industries?” And my answer is “anywhere you can.”

    We should pursue as much additional knowledge and training on renewable energies and greenroofs and green retrofits and infrastructures so that we can better position ourselves to be the first people that clients come to when they want to work on that type of stuff. If engineers can pick up some Landscaping tricks there is no reason why we can’t pursue some Solar and Wind training, amd add those tricks to our toolboxes as well.


    I see alot of LA’s griping about LEED Certification and all these different new standards, and while a lot of their arguments are pretty strong, saying that “we know that stuff anyways and all those new standards shouldn’t matter to us” and “LEED is a load of hooey”, the public doesn’t know any better. They’re gonna look to people with LEED after their name first, or with demonstrated experience in those areas. By gaining those certifications and credentials it will increase our chances of being the primary consultant on such projects, and give us a chance to demontrate our competency in those areas. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m already building up my knowledge of green tech so I can start incorporating it into my designs when I have the chance.  I’m going to approach people I know that are doing that kind of work and make them realize the benefits of involving me in their process. I think there is a real future for a firm that can offer energy efficient retrofits and design that covers the full spectrum and addresses the whole site from the beginning.


    I’ve always seen LA’s as the lynch pin of the design flow. We may not always be experts on everything but we should know at least a little bit about everything that is happening. There are various resources out there for picking up a better understanding of renewable energies that can supplement what we already know. I’ve been looking into Everblue Training Academy at It seems like they’ve got some relevant courses that could be helpful. They offer online and in-class trainings in several subject areas. I’d encourage everyone to look into it.

    Mark Miller

    Ihad a whole crazy response written out, and then I noticed  where you’d clarified:

      “by graphics I mean little figures, charts, diagrams, illustrations.  Not layout or anything as involved as that.”


    And to that I say: “Sure, that sounds like a good idea, the charts and graphs in the NY Times are dreadful”


    If you’re any good with Sketchup you might also consider hiring yourself out for that too. I noticed on Craigslist that someone was looking for a person who could do some digital models to be posted on google earth.


    Mark Miller

    I agree, and yet I disagree.

    I currently rent a lovely little row home in Baltimore, that is just right for my lifestyle. I have enough yard in the back that I could have a cookout if I wanted and all my neighbors are cool Gen-Y’ers and we even have a bit of a communal space in the front of our places due to the secluded nature of our urban enclave. I can walk or bike to about anything I want.

    But, I’d like to have some new floors in my kitchen and bathroom, and I need a new backdoor, and when my roof started leaking last winter it took my landlord 5 months to get around to fixing it, and I doubt it would have ever been fixed had I not recommended a guy to her. It’s annoying that I can’t go and make this stuff happen whenever I want.

    That being said, she paid for the roof, and if I talked to her nicely she’d probably help with the cost of the flooring if I did the work. If I owned I’d be stuck with the cost of needed upkeep, but I’d also have the freedom to personalize my nest a bit more. I think some folks just can’t stand the thought of being limited by someone elses design choices. Plus I’m not married and I don’t have any kids. If I were and/or I did, then my current digs would not be suitable.


    But this article does make me optimistic for a business idea that I’ve had. I hope this “trend” sticks around long enough for me to cater to it.



    Mark Miller

    I think we should threaten the engineering profession. We should threaten all the professions that are encroaching on our work. From what I can read across all the boards, LA’s are seeming to become obsolete in some areas on project types that we used to run point on.


    If engineers are swimming in our pool then we should go dive into theirs.


    hehe, I don’t mean that to sound as militant as it does. I’m just saying, why not?

    Mark Miller

    I think that one of the easiest ways to incorporate these new technologies into a curriculum is to offer the students a chance to explore them on their own. If I were to be employed in academia I would have my students to do research on their own into the different “Green Trends/ Advancements” and where we can fit into that. Many students have to do research papers for other classes anyways, why not allow them to do research into additional technologies not specifically covered in their curriculum. Perhaps their could be an elective course offered for students who want to explore such things.


    Personally, I’m trying to learn as much of this stuff as I can on my own. Perhaps when I’m done I can offer up my services to schools to help their students explore more “Green” Industries not directly related to LA at this time.

    Mark Miller

    I’ve not got a chance to try Vectorworks myself, but I saw a demo at LaBash several years ago and was quite impressed. And now if you say you can do Shade diagrams with it, I’m super impressed. Based on my one experience with doing a shade diagram at my last job using a combination of Microstation, Photoshop, and Sketchup (which took about 25 steps and 8 hours to complete). I would have loved to have done it all in one.


    Will vectorworks calculate shaded paved services very easily?

    Mark Miller

    You might want to also read some of the discussions in the “Digital assets and resources” Group. There are a ton of opinions weighed in there as well.



    Mark Miller

    I’ve got the Landscape Architects Portable  Handbook, and it’s a pretty good tool. I’ll have to get the Site Calculations one as well. BUT…


    What we should all do, is go look those books up on Amazon and then request that the publisher make them available for Kindle, and then after enough of us have bugged them they’ll make them available for Kindle. Then you get the Kindle App. and you’ll have those books on your phone with everything else.


    Speaking of which it looks like you can get the Kindle App for Android for free and Amazon has several decent LA books available as EBooks, they’re only slightly cheaper than the hardcopies, but just imagine all the back pain you’ll spare yourself by being able to carry Site Engineering for Landscape Architects,Google SketchUp for Site Design, and The Professional Practice of Landscape Architecture  All at once in the palm of your hand.

    Mark Miller

    I don’t have a smart phone yet, but I’m eying up an Evo so I’m excited about your guys’s discussion here. I did some quick searches myself and here’s what I found. Hopefully they’re good… I wouldn’t know cause I can’t really test them myself.


    -Master Gardeners Pocket Guide (looks like a good tool for learning tons of plant stuff)



    – Landscapers Companion (seems like slimmed down horticopia)


    I will definitely have to check out the other ones guys mentioned as soon as I get my phone.


    Mark Miller

    I need a CAD program for use on some freelance and pro-bono projects I plan on doing, but the AutoCAD version I acquired in college won’t work on windows 7.

    Does anyone have any experience with any good open source CAD programs that could work with DGN and/or DWG files?

    I learned Autodesk while in college and then used Microstation on the job so I’m familiar with both programs.

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