Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Landscape Architecture - 'Industry'?

Simple Enough - begin your blog and fill out your information, but 'enter your Industry' - was complicated by this, particular Profession.  The 'prefab' entries were:  Architecture, Engineering, Environmental all fit the bill; however, Landscape Architecture involves work in these Industries and more, so it's not that simple...

The word 'Landscape' throws folks off - we can be perceived, locally, as 'Landscapers;' however, many of us do not Install Projects.  Instead, Landscape Architects typically Design a Project, providing for Health, Safety, and Welfare of the Public or Homeowner and meeting local Codes, Covenants, and/or Homeowner's Association requirements via designed elements (such as paving, landscape, and irrigation) within the plan, and may Observe, the Project's installation.  Keep in mind that is a very distilled listing of potential Services.  This M.O., in fact, is most similar to the Architecture Industry.  However, content-wise, we delve into Site Planning, (locating structures) accommodating a Growth Management Plan's intent and/or a Land Use Code (governing such 'elements' as where a building may be located on a site, the maximum number of parking spaces, and lighting levels) Southwest Florida this overlaps, with most commonly, a Land Use Planner or a Civil Engineer, respectively, although Architects may "Conceptualize" a site's organization - so you can begin to see the Professional overlap and misconceptions of what services a Landscape Architect may actually perform.  See the American Society of Landscape Architect's website for more information -
Of course, this is not exclusive, some formally-trained Landscape Architects may never, in fact, deal with Landscape, per se, and instead perform duties as Large-scale Planners in an urban context (Large Cities).  Our formal schooling involves:  1) Space & Scale (most commonly, we begin Studio training in school with Architecture, Interior Design, Building Construction, and Planning students to study the 'kit of parts' and spatial context [i.e., we take a defined set of pieces and create models of space, thus beginning our 'visioning' within three dimensions]), 2) Environment (how temperature, sun angle, and weather will affect a developed Site's microclimate), 3) Construction (again, we are Licensed Professional so Building Code knowledge is essential for Safety), Sociology (from the use of space by large groups of people down to 'personal,' comfortable space), and, of course, 4) Horticulture & Botany.  This was my experience at the University of Florida -

Fast forwarding to Professional Practice or 'Internship,' I have worked in Firms with many Disciplines and Firms with only Landscape Architects, affording the greatest opportunities for collaboration and problem-solving.  This last point is perhaps better-defined as, Designer.  As a Designer, we are presented a challenge, problem, or Project and seek a fiscally-responsible and practical solution; however, Landscape Designers are not Licensed and do not equate to a Registered Landscape Architect, who is versed in Design but has also completed Registration and Licensure within a State (Florida's is here - ) to Certify Project completion, compliance with Building Codes, and certify that Projects meet requirements for the Public's Health, Safety, and Welfare with respect to all applicable Codes...

So, what started as a simple field 'fill in' for this blog has 'exploded' into a quandary, and it started my thinking back to past 'reinvention' of the term 'Landscape Architect' into something else.  I have heard the terms 'Environmental Architect' (alluding to our Design from the building envelope "outward"), 'Site Architect,' and 'Environmental Designer' (an attempt to remove the term Architect / avoid the confusion caused by Profession overlap); however, exceptions to these terms, for what 'we' can and have Designed abound...complicated problem.
So my answer to the field was 'Not specified' - perhaps mortal in today's economy but honest in intent = it's 'All of the Above'!

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