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Members of the Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) were recently surveyed about their career paths into landscape architecture. Responses were varied and had many insightful comments and suggestions, which will be shared and discussed with everyone here over the next few months.  

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This week, we’ll focus on respondents’ favorite cities and regions for practicing landscape architecture. Not surprising, there was no single answer that dominated the responses, which reflected the regional diversity of those who took the survey. The largest segment of respondents hailed from the West (30 percent), with roughly 20 percent each from the East, South, and Midwest, and 6 percent of respondents practicing internationally. Responses were similarly distributed, and though the answers themselves might not have been surprising, the reasons why certain areas are popular places to work are still enlightening. They might be food for thought should you be considering a move.

There were many shared characteristics among the top choices, including:
• Variety and number of opportunities available
• Level of growth in the area
• Being part of a large, active community of fellow landscape architects
• Availability of good clients to work with—clients who appreciate the work of landscape architects
• Places where landscape architects’ work is valued
• Relative abundance of water
• Wherever home is—being able to change the place where you grew up for the better.

A good number of respondents also argued that no single city or region has any special appeal or strength over any another:
• “Location does not matter. Excited clients matter.”
• “Anywhere with a fun/challenging project.”
• “There is usually something unique about every location's mix of physical, cultural, and political environments.”
• “Every place in the world has its physical and cultural differences, and interesting people, resulting in creative design opportunities.”
• “Any area with a strong appreciation for architectural form and tradition—typically that means there is an appreciation for built form and how art can add value to living environments.”
• “Any town/city that is responsible on permitting.”
• “Anywhere with a Mediterranean climate.”

Here are a few of the most popular responses:

Pacific Northwest
• “Strong environmental planning and ethics.”
• “We have distinct seasons, but not to extremes. People are open to innovation and trying new things.”
• “Variety and freedom.”
• “The different seasons to design to, the lush forests of western Washington and Oregon, the several climate types across the state of Washington, and the people.”
• “Seattle has a dynamic community of landscape architects as well as interested laypeople.”
• “The sustainable design ethos.”
• “Lots of opportunities, great public, plant friendly, water and organic matter abundant.”

California–Bay Area

• “Large progressive market, people want to improve their public spaces, lots of opportunities.”
• “A public who is very accepting of the services of a landscape architect.”
• “The culture that embraces art and ideas.”
• “Weather, attitudes, appreciation for what we do.”
• “Vast history of progressive thinking and idealism.”

Southern California

• “Diversity of people, places, and plants.”
• “Reliable weather and year-round outdoor activity.”
• “In Los Angeles, design thinking is embraced everywhere, and design exploration and experimentation are encouraged.”
• “Mix of projects, receptive to sustainability, wide plant palette, lots of time outdoors.”
• “Almost everything grows there, so you have a fully loaded palette. People live outdoors there most of the year, so spaces are actually used (not just driven past).”

Intermountain West
• “Firm soil, good drainage, lots of water, mountain views, clean air, small cities, good weather.”
• “It offers a simple vernacular and botanical palette with the potential for infinite variation.”
• “Geographic diversity—green alpine peaks, low desert valleys.”

Midwest
• “Challenges of the seasons; grew up here so my heart is here.”
• “Down-to-earth customers and the quality of living.”
• “Change of seasons; variety of biomes, geology, and plant communities; abundant water; awareness of human connection to nature.”
• “Being able to produce good designs to improve places that have been built for the automobile.”
• “It's where I grew up. You always hear so much about the East Coast and the West Coast, but really look at the Midwest...Columbus, Indiana; Chicago; St. Louis; and the legacies of those who have worked here!”

New York City
• “Incredible projects and wonderful LA community.”
• “The possibilities—no holds barred.”
• “They are willing to try anything.”
• “Diversity and challenge of designing with a multitude of constraints.”
• “The vast harbor and river setting.”
• “Convenient access to so much. Love the urban environment.”
• “Within a 150-mile radius from the New York City metro area, there is a range of project types from city to farm; different ecosystems.”

New England
• “Huge range of seasons and landscapes from beach to mountain, dry to wet, hot to cold.”
• “The area has diverse topography, diverse vegetation communities, varied climate, many intellectual resources.”
• “Designs must capture and create year-round interest, even more so than in other places. Also, they have really nice native stone.”
• “Open-minded clients.”
• “I like the history and aesthetic of the region’s heritage that is very present in the architecture of today and continues to be in demand.”
• “The landscape is constantly changing through the seasons. Each design has multiple facets.”

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