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landscape architecture

1. about the landscape
Landscapes usually involve many features. In any particular modern landscape, the features may be, and are not limited to: land, topography (berms, slopes, swales, plains, mountains, etc.), soil, water, drainage, rocks, plants, animals, sunlight, shade, pavement, steps, retaining walls, fences, lights, signs, benches, trash cans, pedestrian paths, streets, parking lots, swimming pools, play equipment, picnic tables, gazebos, sculptures, and people.       

2. about landscape architects
Landscape Architects are often the professionals who plan and design a landscape.  They make illustrative plans and construction plans.  (Landscape Contractors are often the professionals who construct landscapes.  They follow the plans that Landscape Architects make.  Landscape Contractors may pave walkways, build retaining walls, plant trees, and install drainage and irrigation.  Some Landscape Contractors may also physically maintain landscapes by removing fallen leaves, trimming hedges, plowing snow, etc.)  A few landscape architecture firms are design-build firms that do both design and construction.

Landscape architects deal with both social issues (how people live, move, behave, socialize, and thrive on the land) and environmental issues (now nature lives, behaves, moves, grows, and thrives on the land). Landscape architects try to design landscapes that have people and nature live together in harmony. Landscape architects have multiple concerns and act in many ways; for instance, they act as artists, scientists, sociologists, naturalists, and culturists.

3. about landscape architecture
University of Illinois Professor, Bob Riley said, "Landscape architecture is the development of a harmonious, sustainable, and enriching fit between human systems and natural systems. Furthermore, landscape architecture is art and science, both analysis and intervention." Landscape architects are culturalists; they shape landscapes which create a culture; the culture affects both social elements and natural elements. The best designs connect people and nature together and are benefical to both people and nature. The best designs enrich and sustain both social issues and environmental issues. Social elements include people's health, economy, education, freedom, art, and values. Environmental elements include habitats, biodiversity, water quality, soil fertility, and air quality. Everything is connected to everything; thus, optimal landscape architecture addresses the connections between all social elements (health, economy, school, government, art, values, etc.), culture, and all natural elements (habitats, plants, animals, water, ground, air, etc.).

4. project examples
For the past 100+ years, landscape architects have been involved with a wide range of projects such as: private residential yards, public gardens, urban plazas, streetscapes, amusement parks, sport fields, public parks, state parks, national parks, wilderness preserves, nature trails, nature centers, botanical gardens, zoological gardens (zoos), cemeteries, historic sites, playgrounds, schoolyards, college campuses, museum sites, waterfront property, resorts and camps, multi-family housing sites, commercial sites, regional planning, conservation, edible gardens, farms, homesteads, roads and parking lots, interstate rest areas, and much more.

5. landscape architect's tasks
A landscape architect's job involves many tasks. Some of the tasks may be, and are not limited to: being creative, going outside, visiting a site, taking notes, taking measurements, drawing sketches, photography, exploring and learning about phenomena of natural and social and cultural sites, doing an inventory and analysis of a site and its region, being a tour guide and explaining phenomena of natural and social and cultural sites, going inside, sitting at a desk and drafting table, phone calls, internet use, web design, visiting clients, attending project meetings at a city hall or an architect's office or etcetera, working with fellow landscape architects and co-workers and etcetera, writing reports and project proposals, reading topographic maps and land surveys, deciding where buildings should be built on a site, designing the layout of footpaths and roads, designing site features such as benches and sculptures, freehand sketching, illustrating, rendering, graphic design, hand drafting, computer drafting, making preliminary design plans, making master plans, making illustrative plans, presenting plans to clients, making cost estimates, making construction documents (which may include a demolition and site preparation plan, a layout and materials plan, a grading and drainage plan, a planting plan, construction details, and a specifications packet), selecting landscape contractors, selecting plants at a nursery, and overseeing construction.

6. landscape architecture college classes
Each semester, college students, who major in landscape architecture, usually take a design studio class, during which students may design, draft, render, and build models of projects on drafting tables and or with computer software.  Additionally, landscape architecture students usually take one or two semesters of the following types of classes: science, geology, geography, plant biology, plant identification, grading topography and road engineering, social studies, art, graphics, communication, language, and landscape architecture history.

7. links

Z-design, a landscape architecture firm in southwest Michigan
www.z-hub.org/z-design.html

Landscape Architecture on You Tube
American Society of Landscape Architects 2007 Awards
“ASLA 2007 General Design Award Winners”
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9JncxE0OTU

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
www.asla.org

Landscape Architecture Department
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
www.landarch.uiuc.edu

Landscape Architecture Magazine
archives.asla.org/nonmembers/lam.html

8. Quote from Siftings, by Jens Jensen, USA Midwest Landscape Architect
Knowledge and understanding of the out-of-doors reveal to one’s mind motives and forms.  These motives and forms are nothing to be copied, nothing to imitate, but they serve as an inspiration to sleeping forces that eventually will bear wholesome fruit.  Art grows out of native soil and enriches life as a people attempts to express and develop this growth.  It is contem-porary to life itself and is fastened in the chain of human endeavor.  It comes from within, stimulated by environments, and influenced by the customs and habits of a people.

9. preparing to be a professional landscape architect
by Stanley White (E. B. White's older brother)

Stanley White was a landscape architecture professor at the University of Illinois. Stanley White wrote, The Teaching of Landscape Architecture, in 1953. "The Good Childhood" is from page 30, in which he wrote about what kind of childhood experiences would help make a good professional landscape architect. White thinks childhood experiences of independent freetime play are "enormously important," perhaps more important than report card grades and test scores. White thinks that the best childhood is full of creativity, fun, explorations, experiments, imagination, hand-made construction projects, freely socializing, and getting to know the local natural outdoors. At home, in the neighborhood, and in the local outdoors are places at which to get the best education and to foster responsibility, spiritual development, and practical development.

"THE GOOD CHILDHOOD: Before reviewing testing as technique we are tempted to invite at least a glance at the varied situations comprising present-day childhoods to see if they offer the best early background for a future professional life. They provide mostly experiences just as the schools provide mostly training, and the experiences must be considered enormously important. They include all the responses to a locale, the home and neighborhood influences as well as the excitement of travel, inventing and playing games, vacationing, working in organizations, getting in and out of trouble and tasting life at first hand with considerable independence of action and chance for growing in personal responsibility. The good childhood opens vast opportunities to the imaginative youth over and about what he gains under supervision, and this which is so much a matter of chance is really an indispensable part of the growth of a future professional man. It has been said that every boy should be brought up in a brook. As children we used to scale roof-tops, shoot rats in the manure pit, build boats, keep pigeons, dam streams, make our own sleds and skis, swing on birch trees, operate peep-shows, trap cats and chickens, explore swamps and tide waters, climb mountains and engage in all sorts of impossible and extravagant undertakings. Our escapades made us resourceful, courageous and knowing, and steeped us in the meanings of commonplace delights of the local scene. There should be no need to emphasize the rare values of these ingredients of education in contrast with the benefits of the formal devices of the school-room. There should be no apology for encouraging parents and educators generally to look on these free-time occupations as immensely important to spiritual and practical development in the formative years of youth."

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Three Oaks, Michigan, USA