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Title vs. Practice Acts and the Design-Build Practice
by Joseph Pillari
The issue of landscape architecture title versus practice acts was one of the subjects of discussion at last year’s Annual Meeting Design–Build breakout session. The ASLA Licensure Summit V was held June 2-4, 2006 in Burlington, Vermont. In recent years, the ASLA has been successful in advocating for professional licensure nationally. These efforts include supporting the upgrading from title acts to practice acts in the states of Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and West Virginia.

Currently, only two states, Vermont and Colorado, do not have a form of landscape architecture licensure. There are 40 practice acts and 8 title acts that regulate the landscape architecture profession nationally.

I am recalling this discussion of title versus practice acts to bring to the forefront how change is required to protect our interests as practicing landscape architects. The gentleman from Wisconsin who raised the topic during the meeting was concerned with whether the state’s landscape architects are properly recognized for their professional credentials relevant to public welfare and safety.

He recalled dealings with local municipalities where his knowledge of environmental design considerations was by far the most credible among the respective professionals.

What distinguishes the landscape architect from the landscape designer? This is not intended to offend or disparage, but the title landscape architect represents individuals who have fulfilled educational training and examination requirements that prepare professionals to protect the public.

As reported in LAND Online’s January 10, 2005 issue, “residential design continues to dominate the market as it did in 1997 and 1999.” Typically the residential market is the mainstay of a design–build firm. Landscape architects should be prominent as the preferred design professionals amongst the environmental design professions.

A title act will allow anyone to perform landscape architectural services as long as they are not identified as a landscape architect. A practice act prohibits unqualified individuals from calling themselves landscape architects and from practicing the profession.

A practice act for landscape architects establishes the landscape architect as an equal in the related design professions of engineering and architecture. Practice acts permit the landscape architect to take a leadership role in the design process, particularly in a collaborative effort among design professionals. In our firm, we have been fortunate enough to have taken the lead on many residential projects, including dwelling locations, orientations, finished floor elevations, and site grading for municipal review and approval. We have also taken the lead on critical retaining wall designs relating to overall site feasibility, esthetics, and economics for clients.

Whenever possible, support legislation to upgrade title acts to practice acts!

Joseph Pillari, ASLA is a partner in Pillari, LLC and can be reached at
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Jay Gehler, ASLA, Chair
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