There’s No Place Like Local Government for Landscape Architects

Posted on April 9, 2018

In honor of World Landscape Architecture Month #WLAM2018, I wanted to discuss the incredible value of positioning landscape architects as key leaders in local government. Degrees in public administration, public policy, public health, and city planning get a lot of attention when discussing the type of educational background that makes for a great local government employee.  I may be biased, but I always add landscape architecture to that list. I was lucky enough to find my path to local government through my landscape architecture degree.

Landscape architects are sprinkled throughout local governments across the country. Sometimes they carry the title landscape architect, but more often they serve in key community building roles in planning, urban design, sustainability, economic development, public works, parks and recreation, project management, and many more. 

Landscape architects have a skill set that is critical to building livable and sustainable communities. They are trained in a cross-disciplinary approach that creates the unique ability to understand the complex relationship between the natural and built environment, allows the reimagining infrastructure, and – most importantly – emphasizes creating human scale places.

Landscape architecture as a profession is not well known. Many people assume they mow yards or do residential landscape design. While some landscape architects do those things (and do them really well!), the profession is far more expansive.

To learn more about landscape architects visit ASLA’s website. 

Landscape architects work in local government through both direct employment and consulting work. In these capacities they design parks, playgrounds, stormwater systems, site plans, streetscapes, development codes, bike and pedestrian facilities, trails, downtowns, and more. Landscape architects are known for taking liabilities – like a channelized concrete creek- and transforming them into assets -like a beautifully rehabilitated wetland that stores and cleans stormwater- all while creating beautiful public space. And when they aren’t doing the superstar projects, they are probably solving a very mundane but real day to day problem in a creative way.

Landscape architects also love to bring the fun! Check out this amazing landscape architect designed playground by the team at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). The design team included landscape architects Brenda Iraola, Chris Colvin, and Rene Albacete of MNCPPC in cooperation with Sparks@Play and Landscape Structures.  This particular project is a literacy playground based on the L. Frank Baum storybook, The Wizard of Oz. I’ll let the photos and video do it justice. Photo credit to Landscape Structures.


So here’s a hat tip to the local government landscape architects today. If you are lucky enough to have amazing local government landscape architect designed projects- join in on the the #WLAM2018 campaign and use the “This is LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE” photo cards to post a photo of the project on Twitter or Instagram.

“World Landscape Architecture Month is the month long celebration of landscape architecture and designed public and private spaces. Established by the American Society of Landscape Architecture, WLAM aims to demonstrate how landscape architecture affects our daily lives. Additionally, each ASLA member will receive a wallet sized card with “This Is Landscape Architecture” on it to take pictures of it at designed spaces to share on social media. ASLA will showcase all of these efforts to create a national story about connecting students across the world collaborating ideas that promotes the landscape architecture profession.

What I’m Reading: Project Management for Design Professionals by William Ramroth
What I’m Listening Too: The Cold War Kids
What I’m Watching: The Gilmore Girls

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