J. Robert Wainner

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  • #3557569

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    Just a P.S. on this issue. To “Tim”…I’m not really convinced that there are “thousands” of LAs dropping out of our profession or changing their career paths in any given year. I would like to at least “believe” that a majority of those 30,000 LAs I mentioned have a desire to be a successful Landscape Architect. But, I know, many just won’t make it.

    I recall a few years back, reading on an INDEED.com thread, where an LA grad from a major East Coast University spent 4 years searching for an entry level job…and she had zero luck.

    Looking at the LAND 8 Job Board….it’s interesting that a majority of the LA job openings are in areas like California or New York (where the cost of living is very high and the State income taxes are also high). Those locations, IMO, are probably not the best locations to begin an LA design career…unless you’re able to live at home with your parents OR have a couple of roommates. Young LA grads need to do a lot of research on the particular design firm, the city and State, just learn everything you can about the situation before you go for an interview…if you can get one.

    Over the past 8 to 10 years, I have just got the sense that Landscape Architects aren’t in demand as they once were. Developers and Home Owners are searching for short cuts and don’t seem to believe that the design services we offer are worth the Design Fees we charge.

    Well, and I also have seen and know of personally….young inexperienced LAs (with only a small handful of yrs. of experience) who believe they have enough experience to start their own LA design firm (and, in my professional opinion) they really don’t. But, that’s pretty much true with nearly every profession. You can’t just jump out there with little or no real experience and know what you’re doing…because, you can’t teach yourself. Well, IMO, you can’t…especially Landscape Architecture.

    J. Robert Wainner

    #3557547

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    I just recently “Retired” from Landscape Architecture @ the age of 69 (graduated from Texas A&M University) in 1977…so, what happens with our LA Profession will not have a direct effect on me or my life.

    However, in my opinion, I don’t believe this profession is on solid ground….OR is in demand as it once was. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, Landscape Architect jobs will increase at a rate of 6% over the next 10 years…or a total of 1,600 jobs for Landscape Architects.

    What, ONLY 1,600 jobs available in a 10 year period in the U.S.

    OK, consider this. There are a total of (75) Universities in the U.S. who offer Landscape Architecture degree programs….and there are (6) Universities in Canada. I’m thinking approx. (40) students @ every University graduate each year with a degree in “Landscape Architecture”. That pretty much works out to be a total of (3,000) LA graduates nationwide each year. Multiply those 3,000 graduates x 10 years you get………30,000 LA Graduates (looking for a job)…in that
    10 year period.

    So, HOW are 30,000 LA Graduates going to get a job…even an entry level job, when the U.S. Bureau of Statistics predicts that there will ONLY be a total of 1,600 job openings for Landscape Architects???

    I also noticed looking at the LAND 8 Jobs Board…..a majority of the LA job openings are in locations like New York and California. Those locations have high costs of living and high State Income Taxes…and I seriously doubt that the employers will pay higher salaries to compensate for those issues. Especially for young or entry level LAs, high cost of living areas with high State Income taxes would create some hardship just starting out. I recommend do a LOT of research on the design firm, the city, State…..everything you can learn about the area before you even consider travelling for a job interview.

    To me, that doesn’t look good for our profession. I designed for about 14 years for (2) differen3t LA firms, before going out on my own at the age of 41……and then, just recently Retired earlier this year. If I were a High School student looking for a design profession and was aware of the information I mentioned above…..I’d probably hesitate about going into Landscape Architecture. It worked out great for me…..but, times are changing.

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    #3557537

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    April 8, 2019
    Hello Zelkov………….

    I understand where you’re coming from. IMO, it really is very important to get maybe 8 to 10 years (or more) of professional practice in an LA firm (not one that’s too small); one that has several experienced and talented LAs.

    In my case, I had been designing for a Dallas, Texas LA firm (25 LAs) and in Feb. 1991, almost everyone was laid off due to a very sluggish economy…just not enough projects out there. At age 41, I decided to go it alone. I got a ton of experience from the time I graduated from Texas A&M in 1977 thru 1990…so, that made going out on my own that much easier. Still, it took me 2 yrs. of marketing and taking on every little design project I could get. Finally, landed a major Multi-Family Developer client…one of the TOP in the Nation. In the Dallas LA firm I was with, approx. 70% of their projects were multi=family, so, I had developed a pretty strong Portfolio (especially with multi-family projects).

    In the Dallas LA firm, the pay was just not what it should have been…the Owners refused to pay any LA over $30k plus double-time for over-time…but, I DID gain a TON of great knowledge and experience from some very experienced and talented LAs.

    As I moved forward with my LA firm, I decided NOT to expand beyond myself. I worked very long hours for over 14 years…then, began slowing down (around age 55…and finally retiring recently at the age of 69. BUT, the great thing about working for myself was the INCOME was MUCH better than working for an LA firm. As, multi-family project Fees ran from $20k to $50k…and I designed from 6 to 9 per year for almost 15 years. I had 6 other multi-family accounts…designing various number of projects for each. For my main client, Fairfield Residential, LLC., I designed a total of 105 multi-family projects in 8 different States.

    I have designed several Single Family projects as well over the years. I believe the upscale Single Family market will ALWAYS be around…even when the economy is down.

    I agree, BEFORE you leave an LA firm to go out on your own…..you really need more experience AND a strong Portfolio (you’ll need that Portfolio to do marketing). Finding 1 or 2 clients on the side who will give you “repeat” business would really be helpful in going it alone. But, remember, no matter how much start up money you have, talent or experience…..it STILL takes about 2 years to get a “start up” company up and running…so, be aware of that.

    Also, once you get out on your own…..consider eventually “expanding” your firm by adding additional LAs. I have several LA friends who have LA firms with 8 to 25 LAs on Staff…and they are doing exceptionally well, financially. Be sure to keep your “overhead” LOW. I worked out of my Home Design Studio, so, paying the IRS was really my only over-head…I never learned autoCAD, I’ve only drawn preliminary and final plans “by hand”…approx. 600 projects. Also, be SURE to “invest” every month, if you can, you’ll be glad you did. Being on your own, means you have to pay the IRS Quarterly payments…I used a 1 man CPA firm to help me.

    I don’t really have a website per se, I have a FLICKR website where I have posted many of my Portfolio samples. If you GOOGLE my name “J. Robert Wainner”, you’ll see my FLICKR website pop up.

    GOOD LUCK TO YOU!

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    #256270

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    Wiktor…..I sincerely admire your enthusiasm for Landscape Architecture! I have to say, your “English” is much better than my “Polish”…since I don’t know a single word of Polish…*smile*.

    Throughout my design career, I too was able to travel throughout the U.S…but, it was to fly to various cities to inspect projects I designed. For many years now, when I needed to do “research” for a design project, I used the Internet; I didn’t travel to gather info. or photos. Time, just didn’t allow me to travel much…I needed to stay on my drawing board (I have always designed “by hand”…as I never could find the time to learn autoCAD.

    Starting a new LA design practice takes at least (2) yrs. Once you get established, yes, it can be very rewarding…it was for me. But, our profession has been going thru some MAJOR changes over the past 8 to 10 yrs. I don’t see a really bright future for Landscape Architecture. Even now, at age 68, I find myself “marketing” every week for new design projects…and I live in the Dallas, Texas area (population over 8 million)…but, even with 41 yrs. of experience & having designed 600 projects….finding new projects is VERY challenging!!!

    But, as an LA…..I ONLY do “design” work. The only gardens I have done myself were at homes I have owned…not for clients.

    I realize this is unsolicited advise….but, the best advise I can give young Landscape Architects is: first, join an LA firm that has 10 to 50 LAs where you who you can LEARN from…and don’t start your own LA practice until you have at least 10 years of solid experience; Learn HOW to “market”; Invest at least 15% of your monthly income…every month and don’t touch it; Build a very professional Portfolio (photos, sketches, autoCAD drawings, color renderings, etc…and keep adding to it every year, as you will need it in the future for “marketing” your services to new clients; spend some time each month improving “hand drawing skills”…as really, you should begin to design every new project “by hand”, not on computer software; Learn several computer software programs…sketch-up, 3D renderings are getting very popular, 2D color renderings; Learn everything you can about running an LA firm – there’s much to know (liability, safety, code compliance, income taxes, overhead issues, dealing with employees – hiring, etc.

    GOOD LUCK TO YOU…..Great to read about Landscape Architects who are so ENTHUSIASTIC about our profession. I’ve had a great ride…and hoping for a few more good years!

    Very Respectfully,

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner
    Plano, Texas

    #212672

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    I have to agree with most of what Leslie and Andrew have stated above.

    I earned my B.S.L.A. degree @ Texas A&M and went thru on the G.I. Bill (after serving 4 yr. in the U.S. Navy). Well, all of my expenses weren’t paid…but, I managed to get thru (with my ex-wife’s assistance as she worked locally full time – minimum wage)…I graduated with zero debt.

    If you’re going to pursue an MLA…I would recommend researching various MLA programs (search for the best value…in a location where living expenses are reasonable too). If you can get a partial Grant or a College Student Loan, it could be worth the debt. Be sure to research “Landscape Architecture” and the types of courses you will be expected to take. Having an artistic background will help. And, realize you will need to learn several computer software programs. Learning all you need to know in a 2 yr. MLA program would be tough…a 3 yr. program is more realistic for your situation. I would recommend trying to work in Landscape Architecture firms’ offices in the Summer…at least try to get paid $12 to $15…it would be GREAT experience for you…and sometimes, doing this will open the door for a “possible” entry level job after your earn your MLA.

    Andrew is absolutely right about working for yourself. However, designing for an established mid-size or large Landscape Architecture Firm would be a good opportunity to surround yourself with experienced and talented Landscape Architects. Work for a good LA firm for 6 to 8 yrs…be a sponge and learn everything you can from everyone around you. Be sure to begin to build a “professional design portfolio”…as that Portfolio will be very helpful to your LA career as you move forward (sketches, plans, color renderings, photos of final projects you helped design). You’ll know WHEN the time is right to go out on your own. Remember though, It normally takes (2) yrs. to get a start-up business of any kind up and running (regardless of your experience level, talents and amt. of start-up funds). I had (15) yrs. exp. when I went on my own…took me those 2 yrs. to get my own LA firm up and running…I was married during those 2 yrs., so, we had my wife’s income and I took on every little design job I could get my hands on (when not designing, I was marketing all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area for more work).

    But, going out on my own as a (1) person LA firm was the best thing I ever did for my LA career. I have worked out of my home design studio since 1991. As you get BUSY…you can always “consider” expanding and adding some younger LAs; creating a small design office & allow it to grow. I have several LA friends who have very successful LA firms…they expanded and have 3 to 12 LAs on their staffs. Working for other LAs doesn’t pay very well, as Leslie mentioned….but, after you gain enough experience to go out on your own…you should see your income increase substantially. It worked for me. Learn business and marketing along the way…you’ll need both.

    Like Andrew said, Landscape Architecture is a GREAT profession. A lot of long hours though and much to learn. When you DO start looking for an entry level LA position…do a LOT of research on the city/location; Because, every city has different costs of living. Some States have State income taxes too. Don’t be afraid to re-locate for the LA job you want. And always remember, your employer will be watching you very closely during your first 6 months to a year; so, being on time and doing all that is asked of you (and more) will be a big plus for you.

    If you do decide to go for your MLA and get into the LA profession…be sure to look down the road. Take control of your “career path”. Of course, you’ll probably have a certain amt. of student loan to pay each month, but, don’t forget to invest some of your income every month too.

    GOOD LUCK to you, whatever you decide!

    Best Regards,

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    #150799

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    Hello Smithhart;

    You’re correct, that you will need (2) years of professional exp. working under a Licensed Landscape Architect (for 1 yr.)…then, you can get your 2nd year working under a Licensed CE or Architect.

    I think, in today’s economy (though, it does seem to be improving)……you need to get exp. and a design job where ever you can get it.  However, that being said, IMO, the BEST experience you can possibly get is designing at an established Landscape Architecture Firm (maybe one that has at least 12 LAs or more).  It seems that very small LA firms are really in a good position to “mentor” young entry level LAs.

    Working in an “environment” where you surround yourself with very experienced and talented Landscape Architects will be a huge benefit to you as you move forward…..learning our profession.  I’m not saying, you won’t pick up good knowledge working for a CE or an Architect…..but, they are seriously different professions than ours’.

    I designed for (2) different LA Firms to start my LA firm.  (1) year in Sarasota, Florida…then (13) years for a Dallas LA firm (that grew to 40 Landscape Architect while I was there)….plus, I logged in (2) years worth of “over-time” during those (13) calendar years.  I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be surrounded by many exp. & talented Landscape Architects…who worked with me & mentored me.  At the age of 42 and with all that experience behind me……I established my own Landscape Architecture Firm in Plano, Texas (on the Northern edge of Dallas).

    So really, the first (10) years of your LA career are very important…..as those years lay the critical ground work for your future.  Do everything you can do to ensure your LA career goes in the direction YOU wish it to go.  And…be sure, along the way, that you keep copies of projects you have designed, graphics – color renderings, sketches and photos of projects you designed…..as you need to always keep adding to your professional portfolio…….that “Professional Portfolio” is your life line to your future as an LA.

    GOOD LUCK!

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner  

    #150807

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    Hello Arran;

    Although, I can’t help you improve your autoCAD skills (I have always and still only drawn/design “by hand”.

    However, I would strongly recommend whoever you get to tutor you with autoCAD…..be sure they are VERY proficient at it.  I have personally seen graduate Landscape Architects with 5, 10 even 15 years of professional experience…..whose autoCAD skill are very weak.

    autoCAD drawings MUST be clear and easy to read……they must do a great job of “communicating” the design/s.  Line weights are important.  I’ve seen way too many autoCAD drawings with only 1 or 2 line weights….so, those drawings were very difficult to read and understand.  Most autoCAD drawings should have several “line weights”.

    Over the years, with my “hand drawn” plans (prelim. & Final Construction Drawings….I have always found that by using 5 to 7 different line weights….my drawings were easy for my clients AND the various contractors on the job sites to read and understand.  

    Just a thought.  You “might” suggest an “hourly rate” you’re willing to pay to get an “autoCAD tutor”.  You would most likely get more response to your request.  Definitely a GOOD investment in your future.  I would recommend looking at every potential autoCAD tutors’ Portfolio…..look at their autoCAD samples.

    P.S…..Don’t forget the importance of “hand drawing….sketches” too.

    GOOD LUCK!

    Bob

    #178751

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    THE-MANSION-ON-TURTLE CREEK – Dallas, Texas

    The ONLY project of the nearly (600) projects I have designed during my 40+ year design career that had ZERO budgets issues.

    Read back in June of 2017 in Travel & Leisure Magazine…..an article that listed every TOP Hotel in each of our 50 States.  For The State Of Texas…..”The Mansion On Turtle Creek” was selected as the #1 Hotel in The State Of Texas.

    #177839

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    THE-MANSION-ON-TURTLE CREEK – Dallas, Texas

    The ONLY project of the nearly (600) projects I have designed during my 40+ year design career that had ZERO budgets issues.

    Read back in June of 2017 in Travel & Leisure Magazine…..an article that listed every TOP Hotel in each of our 50 States.  For The State Of Texas…..”The Mansion On Turtle Creek” was selected as the #1 Hotel in The State Of Texas.

    #187556

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    The Reverend Robert Tilton Residence – Addison, Texas

    For this $1.5 Million Residence in Addison, Texas…..I produced a “hand-drawn” Color Preliminary Rendering for the front & rear of the home.  

    The above Preliminary Color Rendering for the Pool Amenity Area was key for this client.  It’s a fairly tight space….and it was important to understand where all of the windows and doors were located….and the “views” to the pool area from inside the home.

    A tall, round glass area at the rear of the home has a grand piano located just inside the glass….with a great view of the Pool and the Water Features in the distance.

    A Jacuzzi, pool seats, and water jets add to the appeal of this pool area.

    #177867

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    NOTE:

    Every project I design….regardless of whether it is a Residence, Commercial or Multi-Family Property……I begin with a “Preliminary Design (full color)”.  AND, I include a detailed Preliminary Cost Estimate……because, everyone has a BUDGET.

    After the Client “approves” the Preliminary Design and has reviewed the Preliminary Cost Estimate…..the Design moves to “Final Drawings”…..now days, as autoCAD drawings.

    #178752

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    NOTE:

    Every project I design….regardless of whether it is a Residence, Commercial or Multi-Family Property……I begin with a “Preliminary Design (full color)”.  AND, I include a detailed Preliminary Cost Estimate……because, everyone has a BUDGET.

    After the Client “approves” the Preliminary Design and has reviewed the Preliminary Cost Estimate…..the Design moves to “Final Drawings”…..now days, as autoCAD drawings.

    #150817

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    Continuing with this story……..Sept. 1, 2017.

    Today, the news reported that the Houston Army Corp of Engineers were going to OPEN the flood gates of a major reservoir……which, will cause already flooded neighborhoods to flood……once again. And, the water had been receding to the point where many of these homeowners were on their way back to check on damage to their homes.  VERY unhappy home owners.

    WHY……can the Civil Engineers working for the Army Corp of Engineers get the “calculations” right?  I researched the salary range for CE’s who work for the Army Corp of Engineers…….the Management positions pay $120k to over $145k annually.

    I would THINK…..that those “reservoirs” are kept low enough…..in anticipation of yet another Hurricane that could hit the Houston area during this Hurricane season…as we are only half way thru this years’ Hurricane season.  But, I realize, that water is used to provide drinking water, irrigation water, etc for area homes and businesses…so, there has to be a “balance”.

    The news stated…..100,000 Houston area homes were flooded out.  Unbelievable.

    #150818

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    Yes, Andrew……I think you and I are in total agreement with this “Drainage” problem in Houston, Texas.

    What’s really sad….is that, I think this will just continue to occur in the FUTURE.  I seriously doubt that The City Of Houston will make the necessary changes to the Drainage Master Plan and limit growth in the Houston area.  

    I also believe that the Mayor of Houston made a mistake….by not recommending that people (who have the financial means) to evacuate the City far to the North.  I think there have been 18,000 water rescues.

    I just believe that EVERY U.S. City that is vulnerable to Hurricanes really should be planning for these events.  I realize, that planning for a 500 yr. rain – flood event (like they’re calling this one) is really not very practical to plan for….but, it’s just obvious to me, that The City Of Houston just isn’t doing enough.  

    Right now, out in the Atlantic is Hurricane IRMA…..and it appears that it very well could make landfall in the U.S.  Hopefully not….we’ll see.  Then, we’ll have to see IF the area that is hit has handled their “Drainage” issues better than Houston?

    #150820

    J. Robert Wainner
    Participant

    I think we all understand that our cities and communities DO need some “regulation & zoning”…just has to happen.  

    As an LA who has designed a very “wide variety” of project types (not just residential projects), I have had to deal with DRAINAGE issues on a large scale hundreds of times….as large as 70 acre properties…and provided “Site Grading Plans” on over 500 projects.  But, I have learned that the Developers, CEs & Architects take the lead with these projects.  However, the City Leaders (politicians) SHOULD be ensuring that the overall City Drainage Master Plan takes into account, FUTURE growth. I’m not sure WHY any City allows residential or commercial developments to occur near rivers, lakes, creeks….especially, when “history” has shown that those areas have flooded in the past.

    I’m all for every community having low income housing…..but, that still doesn’t justify building those housing communities in flood plains.  Every family should believe that the home they purchase was built in a “safe” location.

    It just appears to ME, that the city leaders of Houston don’t want to turn down any “tax revenues” they’ll receive from developments…..so, this is a city that is just way to lax with creating regulations to prevent over-building that would have a “negative” impact on the existing drainage system.

    So, I really don’t believe just upgrading the “Drainage Master Plan” to meet today’s needs will work. The City (and surrounding communities) will need to legislate some zoning and measures that prevent building in low lying areas along with over-building.  

    I agree, there needs to be a “balance” of zoning and regulations in every city….but, bottom line is to keep the citizens safe.

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