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Old 04-08-2012, 11:01 AM
AGLA AGLA is online now
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 1,723

I agree with you that there are a lot of people walking out of school having only seen the world from the studio ans having been filled up with expectations and attitudes from professors who never left school. It sounds like Sepm is trying to find out how not to become one of them.

It is exactly the same for landscape architects as it is for guys starting out mowing lawns in middle school. Both know nothing until they do a lot of work and learn through experience. What they learn is determined through what experiences they go through and the people that they are experiencing these things with. Thirty years later, you find one lawn boy with a gray pony tail still mowing thirty lawns a week worried about losing his business if he takes time off for a knee replacement while another is a high end successful design/build company that competes with anybody.

It's no different with LAs. Most come out of school knowing a plant list from their sophomore plant class and how to draw 10 pages of construction details of basic things that almost any contractor can put together in his sleep (a pointless waste of paper). One may go work for a huge international firm and learn nothing more about plants the rest of his life. Another may get hired by a small landscape contractor where he'll draw plans, dig holes, participate in running the company, and be way ahead of the game in just a few years. Others will work for high end design firms and be that guy who shows up as a project manager who has no clue at first, but after years of learning through experience that changes.

Some LAs started out as contractors or laborers and went back to school later in life. No one sucked out what they knew and experienced before going to school. That is what I did.

One thing that I know is that perception of landscape architects changes depending on which one you work with. The ones that have been around the block do not send projects out to bid to just anyone. They use long established companies that they have established relationships with. They don't go looking for new guys to work with. If you are relatively new or a smaller company and you are contacted to bid on a project by a landscape architect, chances are it is not a well established landscape architect and it probably won't be a great plan. In other words, unless you have a bigger well known high end contracting company, you probably won't have any contact with the better landscape architects or their plans.

There is a lot more diversity in what landscape architects do than residential and small commercial landscape design. It is not what colleges focus on enough, in my opinion. They tend to focus more on larger scale planning, social, and sustainability issues. My opinion is that they are getting farther away from designing on the land and more involved in philosophy and activism, which is all well and nice, but it does not get you a job or help developers get what they need done to have good property for sale or lease.
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