Economic Slowdown Impacts Landscape Architects, Survey Shows

Local, State Governments Most Effective in Championing Sustainable Solutions


Washington, DC, October 6, 2008 — Less than half of landscape architecture offices responding were busier than usual last quarter, and only a quarter of firms plan to hire in the short term as the economic turmoil begins to be felt across the profession, according to the latest Business Quarterly survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Only 44 percent of the 267 responding landscape architecture offices reported average or above billable hours in third quarter 2008, (July 1 – September 30), and just under 43 percent reported average or above inquiries during the same period—12 and 7 percentage-point reductions, respectively, from the previous quarter. Additionally, just over 25 percent plan to hire in the upcoming quarter, down from 29 percent in the second quarter.

“The reduced demand for landscape architecture work comes as no surprise considering the current problems with the economy,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA. “International projects, particularly in the Middle East and Pacific Rim, are a strong and expanding source of work for many firms. Domestically, the public sector remains the most robust source of projects.”

The survey also asked about landscape architects’ perception of sustainability issues related to local, state and national government as well as in the 2008 election cycle. On a 1-10 scale, landscape architects rated local governments as most effective in championing sustainable solutions (5.54), followed by state governments (5.34) and federal (4.35). Overall, nearly half (48.3 percent) of landscape architects think sustainability issues currently play a larger role than the 2004 election while approximately three in ten (31.3 percent) think these issues are not a significant part of candidates’ agendas.

Compared to last quarter, your billable hours are:

  • Well above average – 5.6%
  • Slightly above average – 17.3%
  • Right where they usually are, average – 21.1%
  • Slightly below average – 38.3%
  • Well below average – 17.7%

Compared to last quarter, your inquiries are:

  • Well above average – 2.3%
  • Slightly above average – 14.7%
  • Right where they usually are, average – 25.7%
  • Slightly below average – 35.5%
  • Well below average – 21.9%

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, your second quarter 2008 billable hours were:

  • Higher – 17.9%
  • About the same – 23.7%
  • Lower – 58%
  • Don’t know – .4%

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, your second quarter 2008 inquiries were:

  • Higher – 12.5%
  • About the same – 27.8%
  • Lower – 59.3%
  • Don’t know – .4%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the upcoming quarter? (Check all that apply):

  • Experienced landscape architect – 6.8%
  • Entry level landscape architect – 9.4%
  • Support staff – 7.9%
  • Intern – 4.1%
  • Other – 6.4%
  • Not hiring – 74.4%

Role of sustainability issues in candidates’ platforms:

  • High on candidates’ agendas – 9.4%
  • Cited more than in the 2004 campaigns – 38.9%
  • About the same as 2004 – 14.0%
  • Cited less than 2004 – 4.2%
  • Not a significant part of the candidates’ agendas – 31.3%
  • Other – 2.3%

About the Survey

The ASLA Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries, and hiring plans. The Q3 2008 national survey was fielded September 12 to September 30, with 267 firms responding.

About ASLA

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 18,200 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters. The Society's mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments. Members of the Society use their “ASLA” suffix after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Learn more about landscape architecture online at .



Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371