Landscape architects design the outdoor spaces in which people live, work and play. They design and plan areas as small as private residence and gardens and as large as entire cities. Their goal is to create environments that are beautiful, functional and in harmony with ecological principles.
Landscape architects must understand the design process, plant and soil science, ecology, construction practices, engineering principles, and environmental psychology. This range of knowledge is essential to the landscape architect's task of shaping and protecting the outdoor environment to accommodate the work and recreational activities of people.
When Would I Need a Landscape Architect?
The planning of the use of property is as important as the design and function of a building. Landscape Architects are trained and have the experience to work out the problems of a site to best meet the functions as outlined by the consumer.
Anyone who has property, or wants to purchase property, that has unusual problems such as drainage, grading, wind considerations or who has oceanfront property, special gardening desires, site planning needs for swimming pool, spa, terraces, parking, walks etc. would be wise to inquire about services of a licensed and experienced landscape architect.
Who Do Landscape Architects Work For?
Landscape architects work closely with their clients to plan and shape the land and solve environmentally related problems, for small sites or several thousand acres, most often resulting in increased land value. Everyone benefits from the varied expertise of individual landscape architects, however, some who frequently use landscape architectural services include:
- Municipal governments planning improvements such as streetscape revitalization, creation of zoning regulations, traffic planning and site plan review.
- Land or property management firms planning for development of property, a change in land use, or management of a land resource.
- Parks an recreation departments in preparation of comprehensive plans, site analyses, site selection, planning and development of parks and recreation facilities.
- Conservation and preservation organizations and agencies planning for the preservation of delicate, cultural, historical or natural resources.
- Owners of private residences planning a new residence, or shaping the environment of an existing house
- Members of the business community planning and developing new business locations or expanding and refurbishing old facilities.
- The mining and extraction industry planning new facilities, or in reclamation.
- Real estate developers on all types of land development projects
- Industry in planning and design of new and expanded facilities, or assessing environmental impact and planning environmental mitigation action.
- Utility companies in planning for new facilities including assessment, impact and routing of utility lines.
- People planning for land use in or near wetlands for delineation, preservation and mitigation plans
- Community groups wishing to influence proposed development.
- Real estate professionals assessing land use potential
- Owner or managers of farms, estates, or equestrian facilities when master planning or improving the grounds or gardens.
- Architects, engineers and allied professionals needing professional land planning expertise.
Landscape architects design outdoor spaces that interpret our history and national heritage. Landscape architects design outdoor spaces that complement the form and function of adjacent buildings. They plan and design pedestrian and vehicular circulation, and plan for public and private preservation of rural lands and cultural landscapes.
The Steps involved in Design and Construction
Landscape Architectural Design and Construction Projects involve several steps. Typically, projects go through the following six phases. However, on some projects several of these steps may be combined or there may be additional ones.
STEP 1 - Programming/Deciding what to Build
The client and landscape architect discuss the requirements for the project (design intent, how many rooms, the function of the spaces, etc.), testing the fit between the clients’s needs, wants, and budget.
STEP 2 - Schematic Design/Rough Sketches
The landscape architect prepares a series of rough sketches, known as schematic design, which show the general design intent of the site. Some landscape architects and architects also prepare models or renderings to help visualize the project. The client approves these sketches before proceeding to the next phase.
STEP 3 - Design Development/Refining the Design
The landscape architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. Plans show all of the design, walks, outdoor areas, lighting, parking, drives, paving, and landscape design in correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and finishes.
STEP 4 - Preparation of Construction Documents
Once the client has approved the design, the landscape architect prepares detailed drawings and specifications, which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and build the project. These drawings and specifications become part of the building contract.
STEP 5 - Hiring the Contractor
The client selects and hires the contractor. The landscape architect or architect may be willing to make some recommendations. In many cases, clients choose from among several contractors they've asked to submit bids on the job. The landscape architect can help you prepare bidding documents as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders.
STEP 6 - Construction Administration
While a contractor will perform the actual construction, the landscape architect can assist the client in making sure that the project is built according to the plans and specifications. The landscape architect can make site visits to observe construction, review and approve the contractor's applications for payment, and generally keep the client informed of the project's progress. The contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures.