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 clientís 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 siteís 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