A landscape architect primarily works on outdoor projects just like a chef mainly works in kitchens and a commercial airline pilot only works in planes. A landscape architect analyses, designs and creates outdoor spaces for public and private use.
What are the Functions of Landscape Architecture?
Since ancient times, there have been three universal functions of landscape architecture. First, the government plans for prosperity by investing in landscapes that create flow, interactions, destinations and commerce. This improves community viability, creates jobs, encourages travel and enhances competitiveness. Second, landscape architecture directly impacts citizen health, quality of life and social interaction. Parks and trails enable active choices and healthy habits while decreasing illnesses. Third, inspiring and enjoyable spaces inspire civic pride and demonstrate corporate responsibility.
The New Fourth Function?
The need for protecting the planet and conserving resources has created a fourth new function. Now, environmental sustainability through the science of applied ecology is the new priority. Deforestation, desertification, climate change, ozone depletion and urban sprawl are serious threats to the health of the planet. The United Nations Environment Program states that sustainable development goals are the keys to better solutions, societies and economies. Landscape architects use natural resource management techniques to improve biodiversity and public stewardship.
Who are the Clients?
Landscape architects work for different types of clients. First, occasional private clients who have projects related to large gardens, estates or property. Second, the normal private sector players who include corporate, academic, real estate and property management clients. Their projects could include a college park, a neighborhood development plan or a succession project that reverse-transforms industrial property back into the forest. Third, governments at all levels for a variety of properties and purposes. Fourth, non-profit NGOs made up of sustainability foundations and nature conservation charities.
What is the Design Process Like?
While there are standard design protocols, not all landscape architects follow the same process. Some prefer logical steps, while others take an intuitive or pragmatic approach. Others may be required to use a problem-based technique. For example, a new commercial property has already finished the construction of roads, buildings and parking spaces. They don’t have enough wet balancing ponds to manage stormwater, but they also want green spaces with benches and a walking trail for employees. The landscape architect would need to use flexibility and negotiations to find a satisfying solution.
How Does the Process Start?
All landscape architects rely on both facts and emotions to create a comprehensive site survey. First, they research technical records, review customer expectations apply scientific concepts to gain knowledge of the site. Then, they must personally observe the site to record their variables and physical features. One purpose of the personal tour is to emotionally experience the site for an artistic connection. Landscape architects meet with their clients to understand what human behaviors they want to promote or discourage. Landscape architects provide security measures such as visual barriers, crowd flow and access control.
A Simple Site Survey?
The official landscape site survey will be done by engineers who start with the surface geology, soil bearing capacity and soil fertility level. They check the water tables, groundwater levels and hydrology variables. Then, they analyze the microclimate, which includes frost vs. sunny pockets and wind-exposed vs. sheltered areas. They will document the sun-path diagram with the site’s latitude and longitude. Vegetation covers grasses, flowers and woodlands. The engineers will document site use, history, frequency, panoramas and building materials.
Being a landscape architect is a rewarding career that always involves outdoor projects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that landscape architects need either a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. They also need a state-issued license and should complete an internship.