Landscape Architecture as a Career

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Landscape Architecture as a Career

A landscape architect is an individual who arranges and modifies the
effects of natural scenery over a tract of land so as to produce the
best aesthetic effect for the land^Òs use. Landscape architecture is the
design profession which applies artistic, cultural, and scientific
knowledge to the design, planning, and development of the land.
Landscape architects accept certain responsibilities related to the
health and welfare of the public and are concerned with resource
conservation of the land.  The practice of landscape architecture
requires an appreciation and understanding of natural and social
processes, a creative imagination, and a commitment to preserve or
improve the environment for human use and enjoyment.
Landscape architects plan the most harmonious relationships between the
land and the objects on it by proper combination of open space and
planting, and by wise use of land formation (Concise 151).  They may
work on parks, gardens, housing projects, school campuses, golf courses,
or airports.  They begin a project by reviewing the needs and desires of
the client.  They study the site, mapping such features as the slope of
the land, existing structures and the type of soil.  They check local
building codes and availability of utilities, make drawings which
outline the work in detail, and draw up lists of materials to be used.
They then invite bids from construction companies and landscape nursery
companies.  With the awarding of the contracts, their work may be
finished, or they may stay on to supervise the work as their client^Òs
representative (151).
A major branch of landscape architecture, golf course architecture,
integrates the skills of a landscape architect on a larger scale.  The
aim a golf course architect is to create a truly great golf course by
utilizing to the fullest extent possible the potential of a promising
piece of land (Golfplan 1).  This potential is expressed in the site^Òs
location, slope, vegetation, water features, soil types, climate and
orientation.  The role a golf course architect is the realization of
this potential under the constraints of design criteria that separate
the truly great golf course from the ordinary (1).
Landscape architecture, the science and art of modifying land areas by
organizing natural, cultivated, or constructed elements according to an
aesthetic plan (Encarta 1).  The elements
include topographical features such as hills, valleys, rivers, and
ponds; and growing things such as
trees, shrubbery, grass, and flowers; and constructions such as
buildings, terraces, roads, bridges, fountains, and statuary.  No
unalterable rules exist in landscape architecture because each plot of
ground offers unique problems caused by variation in contour, climate,
and surrounding areas (1).
As early as the third millennium BC, the Egyptians planted gardens
within the walled enclosures surrounding their homes (Encarta 2).  In
Mesopotamia, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven
Wonders of the World.  In ancient Greece, sacred groves were preserved
as the habitats of divinities.  Greek houses included a walled court or
garden usually surrounded by a colonnade.  In 5th-Century BC, Athens
public gardens and colonnaded walks attached to the Academy (^Óschool^Ô)
and the Lyceum (^Ógymnasium^Ô) were much frequented by philosophers and
their disciples (2).
Domestic architecture in the first half of the 20th Century attempted
to achieve a closer integration of the house with it^Òs surroundings, as
seen in the works of Sven Markelius in Sweden, Alvar Aalto in Finland,
and Frank Lloyd Wright in the United States (Encarta 5).  The worldwide
economic depression between the two world wars forced a shift from
domestic settings to large-scale public works, in which landscape
architects and planners worked together on entire communities, regional
areas, and vast state and national projects.  The proliferation of
shopping malls, new suburbs, cultural centers, revitalized urban cores,
and new educational facilities, has given landscape architects in the
later decades of this century unparalleled opportunities to refine their
art and to create new forms.  They have become, in conjunction with
their colleagues in architecture, engineering, planning, and public
office, the shapers of both the future and the present physical
environment (Encarta 5).
The origin of today^Òs profession of landscape architecture can be
traced to the early treatments of outdoor space by successive ancient
cultures, from Persia and Egypt through Greece and Rome (ASLA 3).
During the Renaissance, this interest in outdoor space, which had waned
during the Middle Ages, was revived with splendid results in Italy and
gave rise to ornate villas, gardens, and great outdoor piazzas.  The
history of the profession in North America begins with Fredrick Law
Olmsted, who rejected the name ^Ólandscape gardener^Ô in favor of the
title of ^Ólandscape architect,^Ô which he felt better reflected the

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