The Role of the Landscape Architect

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Between the “Declaration of Concern” in 1966 and the “New Landscape Architecture Foundation Declaration” in 2016, lots have happened to the discipline. In the light of this transformation for the discipline, and in conjunction with the article titled “The Landscape Architects are the Urban Designers of tomorrow” describe, in 1 page, the current role of the Landscape architect and how do you see this transformation. Then in half a page summarize what do you agree or disagree in the contemporary role of the landscape architect.

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7 thoughts on “The Role of the Landscape Architect

  1. In the 1966 “Declaration of Concern” the original signatories created a vision for the field of landscape architecture and called for the expansion of educational programs, the recruitment of more people to the field, and a greater focus on research and exploration of synchronistic fields, and I believe they have mostly succeeded. The 2016 update seems to build upon the latter, reiterating how expanding the field is important to the future of humanity but there is now an awareness of how landscape creates and responds to culture. There have been some big steps conceptually in the past 100 years from landscape architecture as an art accessible to the rich to a science of melding geology, biology, and urban spaces and now to a combination of the two whereby a third property is manifest in the culture of the people who live there.
    It’s a big responsibility to be the director of this process and I think the profession of landscape architecture takes itself very seriously with good cause. It’s still hard to explain to outsiders exactly what it is that we do because it’s so nebulous and it encompasses parts but not all of other fields such as urban planning, environmental planning, architecture, etc. I was really inspired by Corner’s part in the urban design article, “it’s increasingly important to create places that are true and authentic to themselves, and not bland recreations of other parks . . . landscape architects should “embed beauty and pleasure in cities” . . . if you truly love nature, you should be living downtown.”
    Another part of the 2016 update was the urgent need to address environmental factors for the safety of our species and the continuation of our way of life in a more holistic way that works with and is “constructive” with nature. I appreciate how “woke” the field is to the importance of making a difference in the effort to change the direction of the climate and is taking responsibility for its part in the creation of a paradigm where we value humanity’s relationship with the environment.

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  2. The modern landscape architect must straddle many fields and wear many hats, but in many ways this has not changed very significantly over the past 50 years. Landscape architects have always come from many backgrounds: artists, ecologists, designers, dreamers, etc. The biggest change is the clientele. Landscape architecture used to service the wealthy and elite through elaborate designs and exotic plants. Now they must serve the public and provide designs that support social, economic and ecological issues.
    The declaration in 1966 did not specify climate change, but did indicate that environmental issues, such as water shortages and air pollution, are major issues that need to be addressed. Today’s landscape architects must also deal with the politics behind climate change and many of the other issues they are trying to address. Landscape architects have had to come more to the forefront of the field and not just design spaces, but be activists for change in the world.
    Landscape architects have a heavy burden to bear as their responsibilities are increased, but I would argue that there are growing interdisciplinary groups that are supporting these changes in responsibilities. I think one of the biggest changes over the past 50 years is that citizens are demanding these changes and are requesting to have a voice in the process. This has altered the way that landscape architects design and produce work. Collaborative working partnerships across all disciplines has become more important as the field progresses.
    I believe that it is very important that landscape architects embrace their roles as activists and not just designers. As our world becomes more complex, professional fields are recognizing the importance of holistic thinking and working. In a lot of ways landscape architects have already been successful at bridging these gaps as the profession started as a combination of so many interests. I am curious to see how in 50 years the landscape architects manifest changes and continues to address and tackle the world’s issues.

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  3. The first declaration of landscape architects in 1966 encouraged people who shared the same concern of American environment to join the small group of landscape architects. Their duties defined in the declaration not only included good plan of landscape, but also express an attitude that landscape is rooted in natural science and essential in maintaining the vital connection between man and nature. As what has been mentioned in the first sentence, the ultimate goal of landscape architects is to improve the American environment. Landscape architects are also urged to know geology, physiography, climatology and ecology.
    The new declaration in 2016 still maintains the responsibilities of landscape architects to protect environment and the connection between man and nature. Meanwhile, the mitigation of climate change, the purpose of social and ecological justice, the design of communities based on bioregional landscape are also emphasized. Meanwhile, the word design itself has also been mentioned four times in the declaration. From what I see in our studio, students carefully arrange the open space, the connection between human recreation and vegetation to achieve sustainability and better landscape. Landscape architects have heavy burden of applying interdisciplinary knowledge to the design process. Landscape architects should also be good planners to know the differences between various kinds of land use so that they could apply their design based the social and ecological context otherwise the design is just beautification of landscape.
    To truly understand the complexity and holistic nature of the earth system, there is an urgent need for landscape architects to know urban land use planning and become qualified planners. That is the meaning of the Environmental Planning program here, in Berkeley. We are here not only for more parks, corridors, healthier communities and green space in the urban area, but also for higher purpose of social and ecological justice, environmental sustainability and development of communities.

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  4. The landscape architects who wrote Declaration of Concern in 1966 and 2016 express concern for environmental problems such as water shortage and air pollution. The idea is the same using different terminologies. The terminologies evolve as the society and technology change. On the surface level, the declaration in 1996 may sound outdated without the concept of social and ecological justice and others, for example. Will we feel different or same when we read the declaration of 2016 in the year of 2066? By 2066, the society and technology will evolve even at a faster pace which will include new concepts and theories that we may not have thought back then.
    I strongly agree that the landscape architectures emphasize that there is no single solution but groups of solutions carefully related to one to another, which is known as interdisciplinary where expertise from different fields come together to solve the world problem as a group. ”Why landscape architects are the urban designers of tomorrow” by Patrick Sisson argues that landscape architects are no longer limited to designing parks but include other components such as city, urban population, and environment. Including the grand park projects that improve the complex ecosystem in the modern city became a new trend. Despite this effort, I disagree with Corner’s argument that “if you truly love nature, you should be living downtown.” People live in a city for a convenience of public transportation, entertainment options, and restaurants and shopping, and social events which none of them involves environment. People who live in a city tend to get out of the city to enjoy the nature and activities that involve the environment. In the modern days, land architects try to involve more greens by building town squares, large city parks, pleasure grounds or cultural parks, neighborhood parks, and pocket parks. These can provide some functions of greens but will never replace the nature itself.
    The role of the landscape architect is “to understand where and why of an environment, determine the changes, and interpret the landscape.” We also play a vital role in connecting between man and nature. The ongoing challenge for not only landscape architecture but in different fields is to find a way to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice.

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  5. Landscape architecture as a profession assumes a prominent role of being the bridge between man and nature. While development is inevitable, landscape architecture, on one hand, ensures that the expanse of human intervention on nature is less detrimental to nature than it is without it. On the other hand, landscape architecture also tries to establish a response to the changing needs of the environment by understanding how to respond to them. A landscape architect understands the aesthetics of design, principles of planning and the science of planting. With the growth of population in cities, it is important to note that landscape architects have a big responsibility, to sculpt the cities of the future. But instead of a pure segregation of landscape architecture from other design fields, it would be beneficial for the profession to be more interdisciplinary than it is currently.

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  6. I think the role of the landscape architect is incredibly important today that environmental planning issues are because increasingly more urgent. When comparing the 1966 and the 2016 declarations however, it seems as though many of the challenges that landscape architects face have not changed. Namely, the lack of understanding of the field by other disciplines makes it especially difficult for landscape architects to have the full impact they are trained to have. However, I do think that there much more understanding of the interdisciplinary role of landscape architects in understanding design, ecological and social aspects of the landscape.
    I also think it’s incredibly important for landscape architects to have a real understanding of equity issues. There are a few examples of landscape projects that fail to serve as an inclusive public environment. This can happen when people think that an environment is not built for them, especially if their input was not solicited in the planning process.

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  7. Landscape architects have always fulfilled many roles, ranging from designing aesthetically pleasing private gardens, inspiring public spaces, restoring damaged ecosystems, and on larger scales; designing cities, and protecting natural areas. There have always been many ideals of the landscape architecture profession. In most cases landscape architecture’s scale is focused on the site, an area of determined size that can be as small as the yard of a house, and as large as district-scale, the size of multiple city blocks. Whatever the size, landscape architecture currently can largely be divided in to two main ideologies: the aesthetic and the ecological.

    The aesthetically-focused landscape architects are interested in using landscape as a canvas for artistic expression. This is the traditional perspective of landscape architecture. The concern for design and creatively leads to artful alterations to the environment. The ecologically-focused landscape architects are interested in utilizing the practice to make improvements to the landscape that yields enhancements towards sustainability. There is also a multitude of practitioners that combine aspects of both ideologies. I believe this is the field’s greatest asset, that it is a union of science, art, and focused on the physical manipulation of the environment.

    As a supporter of both artistic-expression and the environment I respect both ideologies. I believe there is an intersection point where art and science intersects and the result is a type of beauty that not can appreciate. Personally, I see my role in the field of landscape architecture is to push the field towards larger scales of perception of the landscape, while also promoting the appreciation and utilization of scientific analysis to support decision making.

    I feel the need to focus on larger scales (ecological regions, metropolitan areas) because I see the urgency for addressing the many environmental and societal issues that exist in the world. Landscape architects have the ability to enact the physical change upon the environment to create positive effects. Through technological advancement in computer technology, landscape architects have the power to study and design large areas in a way that was impossible in the past.

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