Today is Landscape Architecture awareness day dubbed ‘Your Environment. Designed.’ by the American Society of Landscape Architects. There are many common misconceptions in the general public about what a Landscape Architect does, many people believing they are gardeners or landscapers. I heard this many times during my education in the Landscape Architecture program. Granted, the world of Landscape Architecture has kept a pretty low profile over the years and they still have a long wayto go for awareness, many firms still have not adopted social media nor do they interact very much with the public. Hopefully this campaign is just a start.
A Landscape Architect is a licensed professional. They attend an accredited school and earn a bachelors or masters degree in Landscape Architecture. They are licensed after they complete multiple years of work experience and take a rigorous exam issued by a state board. Once they are licensed, they must earn continuing education credits to retain their license. Landscape architects work in a variety of places including design firms that may also include architects, interior designers and engineers. They may also work for cities, states, the forest service, or practice on their own.
Landscape Architects design everything including parks, campuses, residential developments, green roofs, green streets, streetscapes, rain gardens, trails, paths, wildlife road crossings, habitat restoration, community gardens, plazas, courtyards, monuments, golf courses, lighting, fountains and yes even yards. If it’s outdoors, they design it. Landscape Architects are trained to analyze a site in terms of sun, wind, views, connections, culture, history, soil, use and setting. They study and understand how people use spaces, they know how to grade a site so that rain runoff is directed away from buildings, they understand the ecology of a site and know what plants are the best choices, they study the culture of the site and its history and they have a great knowledge of materials including hardscaping, furniture, soil, plants and art. They design a site down to the last detail and produce a range of drawings including overall plans, analysis drawings, detailed specifics and illustrations. Once a project is designed, they work to monitor the construction and once the project is installed, they regularly visit the site to continue to monitor it.
Many Landscape Architects have a specialty. Some may focus on healing gardens for hospitals and care centers, some are green roof experts while others focus on restoring streams and some are experts at historic preservation. They also collaboration extensively with other professionals including planners, architects, construction firms, horticulturalists and engineers. In recent years in large projects the landscape architect has more commonly taken the lead in interdisciplinary projects.
An example of a landscape architecture design site which has been featured on The Metropolitan Field Guide is the Olympic Sculpture Park. Read the post, Art Meets Habitat:: The Olympic Sculpture Park to find out more about this design.