Landscape Architecture as a Career A landscape architect is an individual who arranges and modifies the effects of natural scenery over a tract of land so as to produce the best aesthetic effect for the land^s use. Landscape architecture is the design profession which applies artistic, cultural, and scientific knowledge to the design, planning, and development of the land. Landscape architects accept certain responsibilities related to the health and welfare of the public and are concerned with resource conservation of the land. The practice of landscape architecture requires an appreciation and understanding of natural and social processes, a creative imagination, and a commitment to preserve or improve the environment for human use and enjoyment. Landscape architects plan the most harmonious relationships between the land and the objects on it by proper combination of open space and planting, and by wise use of land formation (Concise 151). They may work on parks, gardens, housing projects, school campuses, golf courses, or airports.
They begin a project by reviewing the needs and desires of the client. They study the site, mapping such features as the slope of the land, existing structures and the type of soil. They check local building codes and availability of utilities, make drawings which outline the work in detail, and draw up lists of materials to be used. They then invite bids from construction companies and landscape nursery companies. With the awarding of the contracts, their work may be finished, or they may stay on to supervise the work as their clients representative (151). A major branch of landscape architecture, golf course architecture, integrates the skills of a landscape architect on a larger scale.
The aim a golf course architect is to create a truly great golf course by utilizing to the fullest extent possible the potential of a promising piece of land (Golfplan 1). This potential is expressed in the sites location, slope, vegetation, water features, soil types, climate and orientation. The role a golf course architect is the realization of this potential under the constraints of design criteria that separate the truly great golf course from the ordinary (1). Landscape architecture, the science and art of modifying land areas by organizing natural, cultivated, or constructed elements according to an aesthetic plan (Encarta 1). The elements include topographical features such as hills, valleys, rivers, and ponds; and growing things such as trees, shrubbery, grass, and flowers; and constructions such as buildings, terraces, roads, bridges, fountains, and statuary. No unalterable rules exist in landscape architecture because each plot of ground offers unique problems caused by variation in contour, climate, and surrounding areas (1).
As early as the third millennium BC, the Egyptians planted gardens within the walled enclosures surrounding their homes (Encarta 2). In Mesopotamia, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In ancient Greece, sacred groves were preserved as the habitats of divinities. Greek houses included a walled court or garden usually surrounded by a colonnade. In 5th-Century BC, Athens public gardens and colonnaded walks attached to the Academy (school) and the Lyceum (gymnasium) were much frequented by philosophers and their disciples (2).
Domestic architecture in the first half of the 20th Century attempted to achieve a closer integration of the house with it^s surroundings, as seen in the works of Sven Markelius in Sweden, Alvar Aalto in Finland, and Frank Lloyd Wright in the United States (Encarta 5). The worldwide economic depression between the two world wars forced a shift from domestic settings to large-scale public works, in which landscape architects and planners worked together on entire communities, regional areas, and vast state and national projects. The proliferation of shopping malls, new suburbs, cultural centers, revitalized urban cores, and new educational facilities, has given landscape architects in the later decades of this century unparalleled opportunities to refine their art and to create new forms. They have become, in conjunction with their colleagues in architecture, engineering, planning, and public office, the shapers of both the future and the present physical environment (Encarta 5). The origin of today^s profession of landscape architecture can be traced to the early treatments of outdoor space by successive ancient cultures, from Persia and Egypt through Greece and Rome (ASLA 3).
During the Renaissance, this interest in outdoor space, which had waned during the Middle Ages, was revived with splendid results in Italy and gave rise to ornate villas, gardens, and great outdoor piazzas. The history of the profession in North America begins with Fredrick Law Olmsted, who rejected the name landscape gardener in favor of the title of landscape architect, which he felt better reflected the scope of the profession (3). The history of landscape architecture places it where is today. The career of a landscape architect requires the use of many job characteristics. Many personal qualifications and qualities are required to become a landscape architect.
Creative ability, appreciation of nature, talent in art and design, and the ability to work in detail are important. Business ability is necessary for those who intend to open their own landscape architectural firms (VGM 241). Other helpful qualities for landscape architects include such things as an enjoyment in working with their hands, good communication skills, an ability to get along well with others, and problem solving skills (Discover 4). Physically, the career of a landscape architect is not very demanding. Physical demands of a landscape architect include reaching, handling, talking, hearing, close vision, depth perception, and adjustment to darkness (Discover 5). Like any other job, landscape architecture has it^s advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of being a landscape architect are working indoors and outdoors, traveling, working on a variety of projects, and good employment opportunities.
Some disadvantages include having to keep redoing plans, working with a limited budget, working overtime to meet projected deadlines, and dealing with difficult or demanding clients (5). Landscape architects usually work for firms that provide landscape architecture services and other architectural firms (Discover 2). They may also work for federal, state, and local governments or they may also be self-employed. Landscape architects spend most of their time indoors in offices. The remainder of their time is spent outdoors at the sites.
Those who work in large firms may spend more time out of the office because of travel to sites outside the local area. Salaried employees in this field usually work a 40 hour week; self employed landscape architects often work much longer hours (VGM 240). Landscape architectural salaries vary depending on the years of experience, geographical location and type of position (Schauman 2). The Economic Research Institute reported that the average starting salary was $22,500 in 1996 for a landscape architect. The average salary was $40,500 for all workers in this field and $54,500 for those with experience (Discover 4). According to the US Department of Labor, average annual salaries for landscape architects with the federal government were $47,000 in 1994.
Workers with masters degrees start at about $27,000 (4). A landscape architect^s fringe benefits will vary depending upon whether they are employed by a firm or if they are self employed. The job market for landscape architects is large but is expecting to increase. Most landscape architects are self- employed or work for architectural, landscape architectural, or engineering firms (VGM 240). State and local government agencies employ landscape architects for forest management; water storage; public housing, city planning, and urban renewal projects; highways, parks, and recreation areas. The federal government employs them in the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior. A few are employed by landscape contractors. Landscape architects work throughout the United States, but most job opportunities exist in areas with favorable weather conditions, such as Florida, California, and Texas (240).
The outlook for the landscape architectural field is for rapid growth in this field through the year 2000, although any periods of downturn in the construction industry could cause temporary slow periods (VGM 241). There are about 19,000 practicing professional landscape architects. City and regional planning programs, interest in environmental protection, and the growth of transportation systems and recreational areas will contribute to the demand for qualified landscape architects, as will the general growth in population. Landscape architects usually advance by moving to a larger firm, by becoming associates in their firm, or by opening their own business The landscape architectural field is expected to grow by 17% through the year 2005 in response to new construction and a growing commitment to environmental planning and historical preservation (Discover 5). To become a landscape architect, a person must be completely qualified in the field. The career of a landscape architect demands extensive schooling.
Schools with architectural or landscape architectural are located all over the country. Forty- seven colleges offer bachelors degree programs in landscape architecture that are approved by the American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA-Colleges). Some colleges of interest are the University of Arizona, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, and Purdue University. Landscape architects usually require a bachelor^s or master^s degree in landscape architecture for entry into the profession (Discover 3). The bachelors degree usually takes four to five years to complete and the masters usually takes another two years.
Courses that are taken in college for the preparation of landscape architecture are anything related to advanced mathematics, botany, and horticulture (ASLA). Special expenses of the education would be things such as books and special tools. College entrance requirements for landscape architects are the same as any other major since the starting courses are basic. Practically all states require landscape architects to be licensed (Discover 3). Licensing is based on the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination, sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards. Admission to the examination usually requires a degree from an accredited school, plus one to four years of work experience. Applicants are tested on all aspects of landscape architecture (3). Landscape architecture is a very diverse and rewarding profession.
Although extensive schooling is required, the advantages of this career outweigh the disadvantages. Landscape architects are individuals who design and produce a better environment that appeals to the public. Works Cited American Society of Landscape Architects. Accredited Programs in Landscape Architecture. Washington, DC: 1996 American Society of Landscape Architects. What is Landscape Architecture? Washington, DC: 1997. Costello, Joan M.
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Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1995. Landscape Architecture. VGMs Careers Encyclopedia. Third Edition. Lincolnwood, Illinois: VGM Career Horizons. 1991. 240-241. Schauman, Sally.
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