Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Planners vesus landscape architects

  1. #1
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    SERA Architects-Portland
    Posts
    565

    Planners vesus landscape architects

    A little background and a question or two. Wow- this got long, but please help me!

    I work in civil/planning firm and the planning department is made up of 3 landscape architects (department head being one of them), myself (land planner) and two extra cadd people. For 4 years I have been a glorified cadd tech and had yet to actually design ANYTHING until last month. Basically I hated my job.

    Last month a design opportunity arose when our department head said that the firm was entering into a design competition in order to aqcuire a particular job. Kind of unusual, but that's alright. We had two weeks to submit two different designs and he already had the idea for design 'A'. Design 'B' was left in the air as to who would design this 180 acre mixed use project. I took it and ran and designed a pretty damn good mix of residential, comercial, retail and even got the process started to develop a small wind farm in conjunction with the local power company.

    Well, the clients chose my design over the other firm and over my boss's design. I was pretty happy and impressed by that. In the last two weeks, I have now been to meetings (also the first time in 4 years) about two large commercial "town center" projects, one being 156 acres and the other 45 acres in size. I have also kind of taken these and run with them and developed some very preliminary sketch plans.

    Onto my question....I am hearing rumbling that the two other landscape architects are a bit taken aback by this and don't belive that I should be designing these projects even though they are very busy currently. I certainly don't want to upset anyone in the office, but am I wrong in thinking that my education and background should seperate myself from them a little when it comes to desinging "large" mixed use projects? The politics and workings of our office are very backwards and open department design charrettes are unheard of, even though I have pushed for them. I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but I have sat on my hands for 4 years and need to take any opportunity I can to promote myself. I want to obviously work with the landscape architects and let them fully develop that aspect of the project, but selfishly, I want to do the major land planning of the work. Any help on how to handle these interoffice politics?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,978
    Just what is a landscape architect doing designing neighborhoods? Land use is the realm of the planner, not some AIA wannabe. Tell these guys to go back to brick pavers and leave the conceptualizing to the professionals. Colorado is filled with too many prima donnas. If it gets too bad, give me a call. I will be hiring before very long, I hope. I don't mind raiding the competition.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by prana
    Any help on how to handle these interoffice politics?
    When faced with a somewhat similar situation -- where I was a lowly intern who had more computer savvy than anyone else there and ended up custom designing spreadsheets (etc) and also training folks in management and some folks were obviously defensive -- I made a significant effort to clearly distinguish the two skill sets (ie "I am not qualified to do your job.") and to, um, affirm them, basically. I made an effort to say stuff like "Your lack of computer skills is not indicative of a lack of intelligence. It is probably due more to your age." (she was an older woman and doesn't look it -- I was surprised to find out, so this was not an insult to tell her that, at least not the way I did it) I also worked hard to communicate that I needed to know honestly what she could and could not do in order to do my job effectively -- in order to customize things she needed to use in a way that made them user friendly for HER, given her limited knowlede of computers -- and I was in no way looking for any excuse to put her down or suggest she was incompetent.

    I really had to look for opportunities to soft-sell these ideas and chat it up in a non-confrontational manner. It won't help to go in guns blazing and accuse people of being insecure and petty. Just be aware of their feelings and try to reassure them (so to speak) while -- sigh -- keeping YOUR own feelings out of it. I know: not fair at all. But if you make this about how irritated you are with their petty insecurities and how ticked off you are at their behavior, well, the outcome could be ugly.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    SERA Architects-Portland
    Posts
    565
    Thanks for the thoughts guys! I'll let you know what happens next in this soap opera/Dilbert life I call a career.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    Just what is a landscape architect doing designing neighborhoods? Land use is the realm of the planner, not some AIA wannabe. Tell these guys to go back to brick pavers and leave the conceptualizing to the professionals.
    Many very succesful neighborhoods have been designed by landscape architects, Olmsted designed neighborhoods. Ian McHarg did land use planning studies. Landscape architects can get AICP certification. Many neighborhoods are designed by civil engineers ( not very well, IMO). Why is it that in 2005 there is still this perception that landscape architects should be relegated to the leftover parts to shrub up and cover with cutesy brick patterns. This attitude is among the banes of my existence!

    But Prana, you got a leg up on them with this experience. Take advantage of it and move on.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  6. #6

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    boilerplater is correct in saying that most landscape architects are trained to do far more than "shrub it up." If I were designing a neighhborhood, that is the first profession I would enlist. That doesn't mean, as prana is demonstrating, that some of us planners don't also have design skills, which should recieve the respect they deserve based on merit. Feuding between planners and LA's is stupid - it just leaves the door open for civil engineers to design neighborhoods.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Starting salaries for landscape architects
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 25 Feb 2008, 8:18 AM
  2. Licensure overlap with landscape architects
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 06 Jun 2007, 7:43 AM
  3. Replies: 13
    Last post: 17 Apr 2007, 3:48 AM
  4. Replies: 11
    Last post: 07 Jan 2005, 4:28 PM