The Comptetion from Other Disciplines is Fierce
Landscape Architects bring substantial value to public projects. Landscape Architects are trained to pull together information from all the disciplines and make them work in practical applications. Construction, project management, design, ecology, hydrology, horticulture, and contract specifications are fields that can cause a project to derail in diverse ways, especially if the process for creating plans is compartmentalized. Experts in these fields are prone to think they have the only worthy answers for their niche, because it takes a lot of education and experience to become good at them. However, I’ve seen civil engineers that were afraid to draw anything but geometric shapes and straight lines, ecologists out of touch with practical solutions, horticulturalists more interested in showing off their Latin than choosing appropriate plant material, and contract engineers focused on meeting the technicalities of specification requirements while knowingly sabotaging the project results by doing so. I’ve seen those same experts turn cooperative and willing to try new things when a Landscape Architect is included in project meetings.
Landscape Architects understand and can explain how all the parts fit together to complete a workable outcome, and, here’s a sweeping generalization—Landscape Architects are nicer people! They’re typically smart but not arrogant, so they automatically encourage collaboration when included in multidisciplinary missions. It appears to me, after spending many years reviewing projects involving all these experts, Landscape Architects are essential to balancing the aesthetic with the scientific and the analytic with the tangible. They also communicate well graphically, and this is important for project public involvement for complex projects. They use kinder, gentler graphics, with shadows and different line weights that read better to normal people. They might even use color rendering. They do not limit their design ideas to only black and white graphics.
As a Landscape Architect you can do all of the above, and you can be successful, but you must be great at what you do. The utmost detriment to the profession is shoddy work. It is not an option for our discipline. People in other fields are waiting to pounce on any pitiful examples as proof that licensure for Landscape Architects is not needed, and they will gladly step in to fill the void. Find opportunities to hone skills in some niche listed above and do a better job than any Civil Engineer, Architect, Scientist, Ecologist, or Designer ever could. Become an expert. Be an Olmsted, Brown, Burle Marx, Church, Kiley, Farrand, or Halprin. If you decide to be a Landscape Architect, be a great one.