Design isn’t as simple as just breaking out a sketch pad or loading computer design software. Creating the spaces we use to live, work, and play requires many steps—especially for larger-scale landscape architecture projects.
Learning the Landscape
Design starts here. Landscape architects need to know what they’re getting into and what the client needs. The designers speak with the client, visit the proposed site, conduct an analysis of its history, research possible uses, and, depending upon the project type (especially if it’s a public project like a park), solicit input from the community.
Will a park include an amphitheater or an athletic field? Should the space use a green roof, water system, or solar panels? Landscape architects use initial drawings or 3-D models to propose the big ideas. If it’s a large public project, there may be more opportunity for public feedback.
Instead of simply proposing a green roof, now the drawings or computer models will include the exact look of the green roof. Many projects require a series of drawings to cover the whole project, all brought together into a final master plan for the client to approve. From there, a whole new set of construction drawings covers the minutiae of exactly what type of materials to use and where each individual plant, stone, fountain, or bench should go.
Breaking Ground and Beyond
A landscape architect’s job doesn’t end with the final plan. The designers routinely visit the site, meet with the client, and work with the construction team to ensure all goes smoothly. After completion, landscape architects evaluate the success of the project and, depending on the client, continue to oversee management of the site post-construction. Many cities and counties have their own landscape architects on staff to manage all the parks and public land.