Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor public areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The scope of the profession includes: urban design; site planning; stormwater management; town or urban planning; environmental restoration; parks and recreation planning; visual resource management; green infrastructure planning and provision; and private estate and residence landscape master planning and design; all at varying scales of design, planning and management. A practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.
Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of: botany, horticulture, the fine arts, architecture, industrial design, geology and the earth sciences, environmental psychology, geography, and ecology. The activities of a landscape architect can range from the creation of public parks and parkways to site planning for campuses and corporate office parks, from the design of residential estates to the design of civil infrastructure and the management of large wilderness areas or reclamation of degraded landscapes such as mines or landfills. Landscape architects work on all types of structures and external space - large or small, urban, suburban and rural, and with "hard" (built) and "soft" (planted) materials, while integrating ecological sustainability. The most valuable contribution can be made at the first stage of a project to generate ideas with technical understanding and creative flair for the design, organization, and use of spaces. The landscape architect can conceive the overall concept and prepare the master plan, from which detailed design drawings and technical specifications are prepared. They can also review proposals to authorize and supervise contracts for the construction work. Other skills include preparing design impact assessments, conducting environmental assessments and audits, and serving as an expert witness at inquiries on land use issues.
In most states, provinces, municipalities, and jurisdictions, such as Ontario, Canada and Santa Barbara, California, all designs for public space must be reviewed and approved by licensed landscape architects.
Fields of activity
The variety of the professional tasks that landscape architects collaborate on is very broad, but some examples of project types include:
- The planning, form, scale and siting of new developments
- Civil design and public infrastructure
- Sustainable development
- Stormwater management including rain gardens, green roofs, groundwater recharge, and treatment wetlands
- Campus and site design for public institutions and government facilities
- Parks, botanical gardens, arboretums, greenways, and nature preserves
- Recreation facilities; i.e.: playgrounds, golf courses, theme parks and sports facilities
- Housing areas, industrial parks and commercial developments
- Estate and residence landscape master planning and design
- Highways, transportation structures, bridges, and transit corridors
- Urban design, town and city squares, waterfronts, pedestrian schemes, and parking lots
- Large to small urban renewal planning and design
- Natural park, tourist destination, and recreating historical landscapes, and historic garden appraisal and conservation studies
- Reservoirs, dams, power stations, reclamation of extractive industry applications or major industrial projects and mitigation
- Environmental assessment and landscape assessment, planning advice and land management proposals.
- Coastal and offshore developments and mitigation
- Ecological Design any aspect of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with natural processes and sustainability
Landscape scientists have specialist skills such as soil science, hydrology, geomorphology or botany that they relate to the practical problems of landscape work. Their projects can range from site surveys to the ecological assessment of broad areas for planning or management purposes. They may also report on the impact of development or the importance of particular species in a given area.
Landscape planners are concerned with landscape planning for the location, scenic, ecological and recreational aspects of urban, rural and coastal land use. Their work is embodied in written statements of policy and strategy, and their remit includes master planning for new developments, landscape evaluations and assessments, and preparing countryside management or policy plans. Some may also apply an additional specialism such as landscape archaeology or law to the process of landscape planning.
History of landscape architecture
For the period before 1800, the history of landscape gardening (later called landscape architecture) is largely that of master planning and garden design for manor houses, palaces and royal properties, religious complexes, and centers of government. An example is the extensive work by André Le Nôtre at Vaux-le-Vicomte and for King Louis XIV of France at the Palace of Versailles. The first person to write of "making" a landscape was Joseph Addison in 1712. The term "landscape architecture" was invented by Gilbert Laing Meason in 1828 and was first used as a professional title by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1863. During the latter 19th century, the term "landscape architect" became used by professional people who designed landscapes. This use of "landscape architect" became established after Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Beatrix Jones (later Farrand) with others founded the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1899. IFLA was founded at Cambridge, England, in 1948 with Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe as its first president, representing 15 countries from Europe and North America. Later, in 1978, IFLA's Headquarters were established in Versailles.
Through the 19th century, urban planning became a more important need. The combination of the tradition of landscape gardening and emerging city planning that gave Landscape Architecture its unique focus to serve these needs. In the second half of the century, Frederick Law Olmsted completed a series of parks which continue to have a huge influence on the practices of Landscape Architecture today. Among these were Central Park in New York City, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York and Boston's Emerald Necklace park system. Jens Jensen designed sophisticated and naturalistic urban and regional parks for Chicago, Illinois, and private estates for the Ford family including Fair Lane and Gaukler Point. One of the original ten founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and the only woman, was Beatrix Farrand. She was design consultant for over a dozen universities including: Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey; Yale in New Haven, Connecticut; and the Arnold Arboretum for Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts. Her numerous private estate projects include the landmark Dumbarton Oaks in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.. Since that time, other architects —most notably Ruth Havey and Alden Hopkins—changed certain elements of the Farrand design.
Landscape architecture continues to develop as a design discipline, and to respond to the various movements in architecture and design throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Thomas Church was a mid-century landscape architect significant in the profession. His book, Gardens Are For People, and numerous campus master planning and residential design projects influenced environmental design in California, and so the country. Roberto Burle Marx in Brazil combined the International style and native Brazilian plants and culture for a new aesthetic. Innovation continues today solving challenging problems with contemporary design solutions for master planning, landscapes, and gardens.
Ian McHarg was emeritus professor of landscape architecture the founder of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department at Penn and was known for introducing environmental concerns  in landscape architecture. He was the author of such books as Design with Nature and To Heal the Earth an important influence on the modern Landscape Architecture profession and land planning in particular. With his book Design with Nature, he popularized a system of analyzing the layers of a site in order to compile a complete understanding of the qualitative attributes of a place. This system became the foundation of today's Geographic Information Systems (GIS). McHarg would give every qualitative aspect of the site a layer, such as the history, hydrology, topography, vegetation, etc. GIS software is ubiquitously used in the landscape architecture profession today to analyze materials in and on the Earth's surface and is similarly used by Urban Planners, Geographers, Forestry and Natural Resources professionals, etc.
In many countries, a professional institute, comprising members of the professional community, exists in order to protect the standing of the profession and promote its interests, and sometimes also regulate the practice of landscape architecture. The standard and strength of legal regulations governing landscape architecture practice varies from nation to nation, with some requiring licensure in order to practice; and some having little or no regulation. In North America and Europe, landscape architecture is a regulated profession.
The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) provides non statutory professional recognition for landscape architects. Once recognized by (AILA),(AILA) landscape architects use the title 'Registered Landscape Architect'. Across the eight states and territories within Australia, there is a mix of requirements for landscape architects to be 'Registered',however it is not always a statutory requirement to be registered with AILA to practice use the term "Landscape Architect".
Any regulations or requirements are state based, not national. The AILA's system of professional recognition is a national system overseen by AILA's National Office in Canberra.Non (AILA)Landscape Architects are professionals who are also paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee.
Some agencies require AILA professional recognition or registration as part of the pre-requisite for contracts. Landscape architects within Australia find that some contracts and competitions require the AILA recognition or 'registration' as the basis of demonstrating a professional status. To apply for AILA Registration, an applicant usually needs to satisfy a number of pre-requisites, including: university qualification, two years of practice and a record of Continuing Professional Practice. The application is in two stages: (1) A minimum 12 months of mentoring and assessment (2) Oral assessment/interview. Professional recognition includes a commitment to continue professional development. AILA Registered Landscape Architects are required to report annually on their Continuing Professional Development.
In Canada, landscape architecture, like law and medicine, is a self-regulating profession pursuant to provincial statute. For example Ontario's profession is governed by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects pursuant to the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects Act. Landscape architects in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta must complete the specified components of L.A.R.E (Landscape Architecture Registration Examination) as a prerequisite to full professional standing.
Provincial regulatory bodies are members of a national organization, the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects / L'Association des Architectes Paysagistes du Canada (CSLA-AAPC), and individual membership in the CSLA-AAPC is obtained through joining one of the provincial or territorial components.
AIAPP (Italian Association of Landscape Architecture) is the Italian association of professional landscape architects formed in 1950 and is a member of IFLA and IFLA Europe (formerly known as EFLA). AIAPP is in the process of contesting this new law which has given the Architects' Association the new title of Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners and Conservationists whether or not they have had any training or experience in any of these fields other than Architecture. At the same time, the existence of AIAPP has been totally ignored in spite of its international recognition. In Italy, there are several different professions involved in landscape architecture:
- Landscape designers
- Doctor landscape agronomists and Doctor landscape foresters, often called Landscape agronomists.
- Agrarian Experts and Graduated Agrarian experts.
The New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA) is the professional body for Landscape Architects in NZ www.nzila.co.nz.
In April 2013, NZILA jointly with AILA, hosted the 50th International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress in Auckland, New Zealand. The World Congress is an international conference where Landscape Architects from all around the globe attend.
Within NZ, Members of NZILA when they achieve their professional standing, can use the title Registered Landscape Architect NZILA.
NZILA provides accreditation review of education course providers and currently there are three accredited Landscape Architecture course providers in New Zealand.
Republic of Ireland
The professional body in Ireland for landscape architects is the Irish Landscape Institute (ILI) www.irishlandscapeinstitute.com. The ILI is an affiliate body to the European Federation for Landscape Architecture (EFLA) and IFLA. The ILI was formed in 1993 to merge the disciplines of landscape architecture and landscape horticulture. It continues to promote the profession by its accreditation of the degree programme in Dublin, certification of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for landscape architects, administration of professional practice examinations, advice on development of policy at national level and organisation of conferences, lectures and design awards. The ILI is a member institute of the Urban Forum, representing professional bodies involved in urban spatial disciplines of engineering, architecture, planning, quantity surveying and landscape architecture.
The profession has gained in status and numbers due to the construction boom of the past decade and raising of standards of Irish design. There is still no registration of title in Ireland and the profession is unregulated, but there is increasing awareness of the profession and of status of the ILI. Landscape architects in Ireland work in private practice, public sector bodies at local government level and in some bodies such transport and national heritage and in the academic sector. The demand for landscape architects is often associated with strategic infrastructure projects due to Ireland's recent major infrastructural investments. Landscape architects are employed in design of: green infrastructure, public realm, institutional/medical/industrial campuses and settings, parks, play facilities, transport (road/rail/cycle/port) corridors, retail complexes, residential estates (including plans for remediation of now-abandoned housing 'ghost' estates), village improvements, accessibility audits, graveyard restoration schemes, wind farms, wetland drainage systems and coastal zones. They are also significantly employed in preparation/review of statutory impact assessment reports on landscape, visual and ecological impacts of design proposals.
The UK's professional body is the Landscape Institute (LI). It is a chartered body which accredits landscape professionals and university courses. At present there are fifteen accredited programmes in the UK. Membership of the LI is available to students, academics and prond there are over 3,000 professionally qualified members.
The Institute provides services to assist members including support and promotion of the work of landscape architects; information and guidance to the public and industry about the specific expertise offered by those in the profession; and training and educational advice to students and professionals looking to build upon their experience.
In 2008, the LI launched a major recruitment drive entitled "I want to be a Landscape Architect" to encourage the study of Landscape Architecture. The campaign aims to raise the profile of landscape architecture and highlight its valuable role in building sustainable communities and fighting climate change.
In the United States, Landscape Architecture is regulated by individual state governments. For a landscape architect, obtaining licensure requires advanced education and work experience, plus passage of the national examination. Several states require passage of a state exam as well. In the U.S. licensing is overseen both at the state level, and nationally by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Landscape architecture has been identified as an above-average growth profession by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and was listed in U.S. News & World Report's list of Best Jobs to Have in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The national trade association for U.S. landscape architects is the American Society of Landscape Architects. The average salary for landscape architecture professionals in the U.S. is $71,000.
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- LABash annual student conference in North America
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- UNCESCO Documents and Publications
- The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)
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- Professor emeritus Ian McHarg
- Ian McHarg, university-pennsylvania
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- Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA)
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