Matt Landis

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    Matt Landis

    It is tough…and on the first day, the faculty gives a speech that admits there have been several students that began there studies married…and ended their studies single. It is a bit of a scare tactic, (although there is some truth to it)…but I honestly don’t remember ever being bothered by the time committment. I was ready for the program and went into it knowing that I was going to live, eat, and sleep RISD for 2 years. It may have been easier for me since I had a previous degree in LA…but I don’t really think RISD is that much different than GSD in terms of time committment. I have several friends who went to GSD…and they have all had a similar experience. I wouldn’t determine your choice based on time…I would approach it in terms of the type of design philosophy you most relate to. This is where schools (RISD and GSD especially) tend to have a much different approach. Visit the schools you have been accepted to…talk to faculty, study the work of alumni, talk to former students…and let that guide your decision. Wherever you end up….there will be plenty of sleepless nights…and RISD is not extreme in that regard. Hope this helps and please feel free to give me a call if you have any other questions….(my phone number is on my website).

    Matt Landis

    Do you have specific questions? RISD is a great program…but it is definitely a different approach than a school like Cornell or the GSD. Not for better or worse…it just depends on what you are hoping to get out of the program.

    Matt Landis

    Nick…thanks for starting this discussion. I would like to point out where this discussion started. I believe that your interest in this was sparked by a discussion that Andrew started called “Obstacles Facing Our Profession”.

    If we are in this profession because we love it, we want to help better society, or give back to our profession….the meat of this is that most of us need to pay some bills at the end of the month. I have seen many people through this string point out a few lucky people that make a bit more than the “average” that ASLA posts on their website. This is great that some firms are starting to recognize that LA’s have mortgages and rent to pay just like any other person…but I think that as a profession, we still have a ways to go.

    To answer your question about why an MLA typically gets paid more than a BLA…I can answer based on how the ASLA salary round table views this in terms of entry levels. Even though a BLA may have a 5 year degree as opposed to someone with an undergrad in biology and a 3 year Masters in LA…the MLA will be paid more due to both their “life” experience and their past professional experience….even if it is another field. Someone that has spent 8 years working in a software engineering firm likely has some professional skills that someone coming straight out of undergrad may not have.

    I am not saying that this is the “best” way to determine how much a BLA vs an MLA should be paid…but I know from experience that this is how many firms view their candidates.

    Matt Landis

    I think what you are mentioning can definitely play into more compensation. Experience counts…without a doubt. Again, most of what I mentioned was an “average” situation. I had a friend in grad school who did Landscape Construction before getting his masters (he is on Land8Lounge)….and he was extremely surprised that after having completed a masters program…he would likely make much less than he did when working as a contractor. He ended up working for an engineering firm and making significantly more money than most of us at design firms….and I also believe that his prior experience in contruction played into this.

    I also have had some former students making quite a bit more than average coming out of school…but these were the exceptions to the rule. Sounds like you have as good of a chance as anybody to break the mold. Even with this economy…there are still plenty of jobs out there…but it has definitely become more competitive. Hold out for a good offer…and once again, don’t be afraid to make a counter-offer. The worse thing that could happen is they could say “no”….they are not going to take back their offer. Be confident with your counter…be sure to play up your experience. Good luck!

    Matt Landis

    There is more money coming right out of school at state and federal offices (such as National Parks, or a local/regional planning office). However….these jobs tend to level off at a much lower pay scale than in private practice. Private practice jobs out of school are typically lower…and as was discussed in the string of discussion “obsatcles facing our profession”….typically the more well known firms (Hargreaves/MVV/Martha Schwartz)….realize the benefit of having their name on your portfolio and do not pay near as much as some of the national firms.

    Some of the national firms such as Design Workshop, EDSA, EDAW, SWA….are part of an ASLA round table on salary. This basically means that all of the larger national firms agree to set limits on what they are paying certain levels to make the playing field a little more even between them. It is kind of like having 4 gas stations at an intersection….they are usually all around the same price per gallon. By agreeing to pay all new hires coming out of school within the same range…these companies are going to rely on their reputation as design firms to attract employees instead of just big salaried jobs.

    The other avenue that is worth exploring is working at an engineering firm. I know someone who went to work at one of the world’s largest engineering firms as an LA straight out of school….and he was making almost double what the rest of us were making at design firms.

    I guess the long and the short of it is….with the exception of a few lucky people….the “average” salary is going to apply to most. Take a look at the link below…the ASLA salary chart. Average starting salary for a BLA is 37K…..and for an MLA is 43K. If you look at the overall “average” for LA’s…the pay is around 75K…but this includes the top salaries being earned…which after 20-30 years, can be quite high.

    Unfortunately…this really isn’t a profession that is going to break the bank….we are definitely not competing head to head with wall street.

    Matt Landis

    All some very good points….and I agree that both architects and engineers do feel that they can do our jobs…which they “can”…just usually not as well.

    To expand upon Adam’s comment regarding lack of organization…something else that I feel plagues our profession is pay scale compared to engineers and other professions outside of design. Wages out of school are sometimes even hard to live on. Not to mention that some interns work for free. Often people that are higher up in firms make a great deal of money…but those with 0-5 years of experience typically don’t break the bank.

    I realize that everyone doesn’t do this job to make a lot of money. Money aside, it is a very fulfilling job most of the time. That said, there are definitely ways to make money in our profession, but it usually doesn’t involve private design firms or working for governmental agencies. Working directly with land owners or developers as an owner’s representative can prove to be fruitful in terms of compensation, but the lack of design in this capacity doesn’t always make a “designer” happy.

    With as much education that is required for our profession, it is somewhat surprising when you compare our payscales to that of business professions which often require less education and experience. Someone with a 4 year finance or management degree and 5 years experience can earn drastically more than someone with an MLA and 10 years of experience.

    Again…it isn’t all about the money, but I just feel that compensation is definitely lacking in our profession. I also don’t have an answer about what should be done….(if anything) so I don’t know if any of this is helpful. I guess one thing we could do is hel get the word out to stop doing “free” internships…and stop accepting low-paying jobs with big name firms. If the people doing the hiring can’t get people to accept low offers…they will eventually have to increase the bottom line.

    Do some research on ASLA regarding average slararies…and incorporate cost of living into offers. Someone making the “average” ASLA salary in NC will do much better than someone making the “average” salary in NYC. However…from what I have seen…pay doesn’t go up that much in the big cities. Don’t be affraid to counter your offer with some good data to back you up.

    Matt Landis

    My vote would be San Gimignano, Italy. It is an incredible 12th century town not too far from Florence. Also, if you go to Florence….the Boboli Gardens are beautiful. A must in Paris is the Parc de la Villette by Bernard Tschumi. (see link). Finally….who could resist Brussels for some incredible beer?

    Matt Landis

    This film truly puts scale into perspective…..

    Matt Landis

    Here are the default Hotkeys for AutoCad. You can also customize them under the options menu.

    A ARC
    L LINE
    M MOVE
    P PAN
    U UNDO
    V VIEW
    Z ZOOM

    These are the advanced HotKeys (introducing Ctrl, Shift, etc…)

    F1 displays help
    F2 displays text window
    F3 switches object snaps
    F4 toggles table mode
    F5 toggles isometric planes
    F6 toggles DUCS (switches coordinate display, till A2006)
    F7 toggles grid display
    F8 toggles ortho mode
    F9 toggles snap
    F10 toggles polar tracing
    F11 toggles object tracing
    F12 toggles dynamic input (2006+)

    ESC cancel changes, cancel grips
    TAB cycles osnaps
    SHIFT (on object selection) removes objects
    DEL erases objects (hold when pointing)

    Ctrl+0 toggles clean-screen mode (2004+)
    Ctrl+1 displays Properties window
    Ctrl+2 displays DesignCenter window
    Ctrl+3 displays Tool palette (2004+)
    Ctrl+4 displays Sheet Set Manager, or Content Manager (2005+, ADT2004)
    Ctrl+5 displays Info Palette, or Project Navigator (2005-2007, ADT2004)
    Ctrl+6 displays dBConnect window
    Ctrl+7 displays Markup Manager (2005)
    Ctrl+8 displays Quick Calculator (2006+)
    Ctrl+9 shows/hides Command line (2006+)

    Ctrl+A selects all thawed objects (2002)
    Ctrl+Shift+A toggles group selection (group/single)
    Ctrl+B toggles snap
    Ctrl+C copies content to Clipboard
    Ctrl+Shift+C copies with reference point
    Ctrl+D toggles coordinates display (dynamic UCS, till 2009)
    Ctrl+E switches isoplanes
    Ctrl+F toggles osnaps
    Ctrl+G toggles grid display
    Ctrl+H toggles Pickstyle (group and hatch selection)
    Ctrl+Shift+H toggles Palettes display (2009+)
    Ctrl+I toggles coordinate display (2009+)
    Ctrl+J repeats the last command (Enter)
    Ctrl+K displays the Hyperlink dialog
    Ctrl+L toggles Ortho mode
    Ctrl+N starts new drawing
    Ctrl+O opens a drawing
    Ctrl+P print a drawing
    Ctrl+Shift+P toggles Quick Properties display (2009+)
    Ctrl+Q quits AutoCAD (2004+)
    Ctrl+R switches to the next viewport
    Ctrl+S saves drawing
    Ctrl+Shift+S saves drawing as (2004+)
    Ctrl+T toggles the Tablet mode
    Ctrl+U switches polar tracing
    Ctrl+V pastes the Clipboard contents
    Ctrl+Shift+V pastes contents as block
    Ctrl+W toggles object tracing
    Ctrl+X cuts contents to the Clipboard
    Ctrl+Y redoes the undone action
    Ctrl+Z undoes the last action
    Ctrl+PgDn switches to the next layout (2004+)
    Ctrl+PgUp switches to the previous layout (2004+)

    Alt+F8 VBA macros
    Alt+F11 VBA editor

    temporary override keys (2006+):
    Shift switches ortho mode
    Shift+- switches dynamic UCS mode (2007+)
    Shift+) switches object tracing mode (2007+)
    Shift+. switches polar mode
    Shift+A switches osnaps
    Shift+E switches endpoint osnap
    Shift+C switches center osnap
    Shift+D disables osnaps and tracing
    Shift+M switches middle osnap
    Shift+Q switches object tracing osnap
    Shift+S enables osnap override
    Shift+W starts SteeringWheel (A2009+)
    Shift+X switches polar tracing

    CTRL+mouse cycles selection of overlapping objects (till 2006)
    Shift+space cycles selection of overlapping objects in 2D (2007+)
    CTRL+space cycles selection of overlapping sub-objects in 3D (2007+)
    CTRL+ALT extrudes the selected region into 3D – PRESSPULL (2007+)
    CTRL+arrow moves cursor
    Arrow up/down – command history

    CTRL+SHIFT+letter goes to the property in the Properties window
    ALT+down arrow opens a list in the Properties window
    ALT+up arrow closes a list in the Properties window

    Matt Landis

    This isn’t ALWAYS true…but for the most part…Colfax is still a little rough around the edges…and Aurora can be rough in certain areas as well.

    Matt Landis

    Sounds like Boulder may be your best bet. The bus ride is around 35-40 minutes…and the bus runs pretty often. Bould has a small town feel…but with tons of culture and things to do. A very dog-friendly town as well (i.e. dogs in bars….on patios of restaurants, etc.). Boulder also has a lot of houses for rent. The best part is….the bus is actually a better commute (in my opinion)…than the light rail. The seats on the bus are much more comfortable (you can actually sleep if you are trying to get a few extra z’s before work)….the seats on the light rail are incredbily UNcomfortable…and it is virtually impossible to sleep. I know several people who work at firms downtown and live in either Boulder or Golden.

    Matt Landis

    and….Boulder or Golden may also be a good place for someone with a dog who wants a downtown lifestyle without having to live in LoDo. There is really good bus service to Golden and Boulder…and both are very dog friendly…and close to the mountains. There are also plenty of bars/restaurants…especially in Boulder (a very cool college town)!

    Matt Landis

    Downtown is great…but definitely more expensive and more difficult to find a place with a dog. With the expansion of the light rail…there are definitely more options for a relatively quick commute to downtown. However, unless you live in walking distance of the light rail…your commute can actually be a little lengthy. Once you add a bus ride to the equation…the time starts to add up. From the end of the F line (it runs to the south)…the train ride is a 50 minute commute from Lone Tree to Downtown.

    There is an appartment community in Englewood right on the lightrail…but there isn’t too much around there in terms of culture/restaurants/parks/etc. Littleton and Lakewood are both good places to live…but more suburban and family oriented. I am not sure if your friend has a family…but if so, Littleton and Lakewood are great. If your friend is single and moving to Denver…I would actually suggest moving somewhere on the middle of the F line…near Denver University. The train ride from there is only about 15 minutes…so even if you add a bus ride to that commute, it isn’t so bad….especially if he/she will be working at one of the design firms downtown….which may require some late nights.

    The area around DU also has more houses for rent…so if there is a dog involved…there is a much better chance of finding a yard. I actually live about 20 miles south of Denver…total suburbia…but it is great for my life now with a family. If I was in my twenties and just moving to town….I would definitely try to be as close to the downtown area as possible. Again, the area around DU/Washington Park might be a good compromise for your friend.

    Hope this helps!

    Matt Landis

    Some good arguments…(I think)…but not sure if I fully understand your point, Les. It does seem a bit pessimistic, overall. I think the times are a changin’….and today’s students (and younger professionals)…are very tuned into innovative trends in design that take into account whole system approaches that I believe you are eluding to. “Do not ask a seamstress to design a monastery”….I hope this is not a jab at asking an LA to take on environmentally friendly designs?!?!

    Forgive me if I am misinterpreting your response. Not that hiring a LA is an end all solution, there still needs to be a qualified specialist with each team that can get into the gory details that you mention…such as a wildlife biologist, or stream restoration engineer….but a great deal of responsibility lies in the hands of a Landscape Architect or Planner to educate the client or design team about green initiatives.

    The health of our planet and quality of life for future generations depends on these types of specialists being a necessary component to any solid collaboration. I think that we are discussing more than the health of a wildflower meadow. Definitely employ the right person for the right job For planning exercises at both a regional or rural, and local or urban scale….this will often be a landscape architect or planner that specializes in forward thinking.

    Human nature and politics are both slowly waking up to our current reality….our dependence on fossil fuels and the corresponding effect on our climate cannot go on forever.

    Matt Landis

    We also drive pick up trucks with big trailers and mow grass. How could they forget the most important aspect of our job?!? I mean the precision trim that we can give a shrub far surpasses that of any other landscaping profession.

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