Monday, December 10, 2012

A Landscape what...?

What exactly is a Landscape Architect and what does it have to do with a passport? 
That is a question I hope to be able to answer over the next several months as my wife and I prepare for and depart on a grand adventure into the great wide world.
A Landscape Architect as defined Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is as follows:
— landscape architecture noun
: a person who develops land for human use and enjoyment through effective placement of structures, vehicular and pedestrian ways, and plantings
Although a fairly simple definition, the career as a landscape architect is anything but. However the perception of the profession of Landscape Architecture is even simpler than the definition. This is clearly illustrated by the questions and comments I receive on a fairly regular basis. I am often asked what I do for work in the winter, in addition sometimes when I tell people what I do, I am met with the following response, "Oh a Landscape Architect, you can help me mow my lawn."
My career began with a 5 year degree in Landscape Architecture from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry culminating with a three month Off-Campus Study in Australia.  I was fortunate enough to land a job at a small Landscape Architecture firm in Miami, Florida one month after graduation.  I worked there for one year before deciding that the heat, humidity and traffic of South Florida was not my cup of tea.  I made my way to Raleigh, North Carolina to a small multi-disciplinary firm.  For anyone who may not know what this means, it is simply a firm whose expertise is not limited to one type of design.  For example this firm employed Landscape Architects, Architects, and Interior Designers.  I spent a year at this firm before deciding that I was ready to marry my sweetheart of (at that time) about three and a half years and consequently moving closer to our families.
That move would be bring me to my current position at a large (and growing larger) multi-disciplinary firm in Western New York.  This firm employs architects, engineers of all backgrounds, planners, land surveyors and landscape architects.  I have been able to work on municipal parks projects, trail projects, streetscape projects, hospitality projects and casino projects to name a few.  On any given project we are asked to do a number of things such as master-planning, construction estimation, and design from concept through construction administration to ensure projects are built to the specifications to which we have designed.  The people I work with combined the wide variety of projects has made this firm a good fit for me.
Another thing that a lot of people do not know is that 47 states have ‘practice acts’ requiring those who practice Landscape Architecture to be licensed and 3 states have ‘title acts’ allowing anyone to practice landscape architecture, regardless of their qualifications, but only those with a license may use the title “landscape architect” or advertise for “landscape architectural” services.  To obtain this license in addition to receiving a degree in Landscape Architecture and completing loads of paperwork required by the state, a rigorous multi-stage licensing exam must be passed.  On August 23rd of 2012 I found out that I passed the final part of my licensing exam and can now call myself a Registered Landscape Architect.  It was a proud moment indeed!
“Ok dude, but what does the passport have to do with any of this?”
Oh yeah, the whole world travel piece…well, I am gonna leave you with a cliffhanger and hopefully you comeback for more.  We will essentially be traveling for an extended period of time and covering a lot of ground.  Through these travels I hope to be able to share unique design insights as we move from place to place.  Our adventure starts in February of 2013 off the coast of Ecuador in the Galapagos Islands.  Stay tuned!

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