Professionals in any industry understand that education is an important component of their work. Whether they are teaching their clients the value of what they provide, or showing their peers how they uniquely approach professional situations, a good “teacher” will go far.
When it comes to Landscape Architecture, this is no small feat. By and large, the roles of Landscape Architects are not well understood, either inside or outside the allied design and construction industry. Many design professionals struggle with this problem, finding that their own expertise is undervalued or generalized. But as a Landscape Architecture Firm, we are equipped to discuss our own perspective in hopes that it illustrates a larger comprehension of the value of hiring the right professionals for every project.
Within the allied design and construction industry, there are many broad types of expertise. There are engineers, architects, interior designers, landscape architects, and contractors, among many others. Within these broad scopes are very specific skill sets, requirements and licensing.
While it’s true that many design professionals have skills that overlap, each professional brings something uniquely valuable to the table. So even though “technically” one professional could cover a handful of project requirements, it doesn’t usually make for the best results.
Here’s why: First and foremost, it’s impossible to be an expert at everything. And that’s okay.
If we can use doctors as an analogy, you wouldn’t want an orthopedic surgeon performing heart surgery, even though they are great surgeons and have a very good understanding of the human heart. But a cardiothoracic surgeon is an expert in it, and they spend years learning and honing their skills.
The same goes for landscape architects. While we aren’t dealing with life and death, we DO take our work very seriously, and only the best of us are in it for the long-haul. In the same way that doctors have a general knowledge of medicine along with their focused expertise, design professionals have a general knowledge of how things work outside their field. But to truly become an expert, you have to focus on specific skills.
In California, landscape architects need six years of combined training and education, and they must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination and California Supplemental Examination. Once licensed, there are regulations and legal standards that require us to continue to learn and keep up with our industry. Further, the landscape architecture profession is rich with varied specializations.
For landscape architects, our specific skills are focused on analyzing human behavior within a natural (versus solely structural) environment, and creating exterior (versus interior) spaces that are harmonious. Simply put, we see things differently than expert architects, interior designers and engineers. Which is why the collaboration is so important.