Landscape Architecture is an exciting profession in high demand. Landscape architects apply artistic and scientific principles to the planning, design, management, preservation, and rehabilitation of natural and built environments.
The roots of the profession can be traced to early settlement patterns by ancient cultures. In Western civilizations, notable traditions of landscape design are traced to classical gardens from the Italian Renaissance, the French baroque period, and 18th century England.
Frederick Law Olmsted first coined the term "landscape architect" to reflect the scope of the profession; it was first officially used in 1867. Olmsted's vision of the profession, exemplified by his design of New York's Central Park, was based on integration of art and design, agricultural sciences, engineering, social theory, and broader environmental concerns.
Nearly 30 percent of landscape architects are self-employed. Forty percent of the profession work for private firms. The rest are employed by multidisciplinary firms, government agencies, and universities.
A bachelor's degree in landscape architecture is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. Forty-eight states require landscape architects to be licensed. Landscape Architecture is a licensed profession like medicine, architecture, and law. Licensing is based on the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Admission to the exam requires a degree from an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) accredited program and 2 to 3 years work supervised by a registered landscape architect (state standards vary).
The 21st century promises new developments and challenges for landscape architects worldwide. Environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important and landscape architects are being called upon to provide their expertise to solve complex problems. Computer technology has opened the field to computerized design and site analysis. Landscape architecture principles and practices are also being applied to enclosed environments and pedestrian spaces.
Employment and demand for landscape architects is expected to increase faster than average for all occupations through 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. U.S. News & World Report cited Landscape Architecture as one of the top growing fields in the country in 2008 and 2009.
Careers in Landscape Architecture
The scope of Landscape Architecture is broad and varied. Some landscape architects work on a wide variety of projects while others specialize in a particular area.
Landscape Design is the historical core of the profession focusing on the design of outdoor space for residential, commercial, recreational, industrial, institutional, and public sites. Work can include: the aesthetics and functions of the space, the balance of hard and soft surfaces, selection of construction and plant materials, infrastructure such as lighting, irrigation and circulation, and preparation of detailed construction plans and documents.
Site Planning focuses on the physical design and arrangement of built and natural elements of an area. A site-planning project might involve design of the site for a single home, office park, shopping center, residential community, or subdivision. Sensitive site planning and design minimizes environmental impact and adds value, function, and beauty to the site.
Urban/Town Planning is the design and planning of urban spaces and towns. Urban planners use zoning techniques, land-use studies, and master planning to develop the layout and organization of urban sites.
Regional Planning has emerged as a significant practice area in the past 30 years with the increase in the public's environmental awareness. Landscape architects working in environmental planning address the spectrum of planning and managing land, water, natural resources, environmental impacts, reclamation, function, sustainability, and aesthetics.
Park and Recreation Planning creates and redesigns parks and recreational sites. The scope of work includes traditional recreation areas and parks, as well as state and national parks, and refuges.
Ecological Planning and Design studies the interaction of people and the natural environment. This includes the interpretation, analysis, and formulation of design policies and plans to ensure the quality of the environment.
Historic Preservation and Reclamation of parks, gardens and grounds, urban areas, and natural landscapes is becoming increasingly important to landscape architects as development continues. Work may involve conservation of a site of historic importance, site restoration to a given date or quality, and renovation of an area for ongoing or new uses.