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American Society of Landscape Architects


October 2004 Issue

What Architects Say
We selected six and asked them landscape questions. Here are their replies.

By Frederick R. Steiner, ASLA

What Architects Say Nip Rogers/

Put two or more landscape architects together and pretty soon the topic will turn to architects, to whom landscape architects unjustly play second fiddle, some say. Architects, on the other hand, seldom talk about landscape architects. They do, however, talk a lot about engineers, often in the same way landscape architects talk about architects. (Architects grumble about planners, too, but that's another topic.)

All of which strikes me as off the mark. Landscape architecture, in my formative years, involved big projects and big ideas. Landscape architects would heal the earth, save endangered places, transform built environments. Similarly, architecture was about big visions and creating beauty and humane spaces. We were equals, more or less.

Today, when architects do mention landscape architects, they are apt to say knowledgeable, admiring, and respectful things—surprise! My former Arizona State dean, the architect John Meunier, remarked more than once that he wished he'd known about landscape architecture when he was growing up. If he had, John said, he would have pursued it. I've heard other architects express similar sentiments. When they go negative, architects are likely to say the dominant representational techniques used by many landscape architects are old-fashioned or that their form-giving design skills are thin.

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