Creativity & Inspired Design

The Metro-Forest Project, Prawet, Bangkok, Thailand, Landscape Architects of Bangkok (LAB), 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Rungkit Charoenwat
The Metro-Forest Project, Prawet, Bangkok, Thailand, Landscape Architects of Bangkok (LAB), 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Rungkit Charoenwat

Each year, members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are surveyed on a different theme. In 2013, the focus was favorite spaces, with questions on iconic spaces, cities with the best networks of open spaces, and projects that changed the profession, among others. The 2014 survey focused on the variety career paths in landscape architecture. Members shared essential skills for success, the greatest challenges landscape architects face, what makes their work rewarding, and their advice for emerging professionals.

The results of those surveys have been highlighted here on The Field—now, we are moving on to the 2015 survey, when PPN members were asked to tell us about creativity and what makes for inspired designs in landscape architecture, a profession that blends art and science and requires both technical knowledge and artistry to create beautiful places.

We received responses from a diverse range of individuals in terms of sector, region of work, and level of experience:

  • Every PPN is represented, and Sustainable Design and Development—the largest PPN—had the most respondents.
  • The East, South, and Midwest are all equally represented, but the West had the most respondents.
  • 10% of respondents practice internationally.
  • 73% work in private practice.
  • 43% have 20+ years of experience, and 24% have 5 years or less.
  • 59% work in firms, agencies, or organizations of 25 or fewer employees.

Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND, and we are sharing that information again here on The Field. For updates on the results of the latest PPN survey, see LAND‘s PPN News section.

Below are a few highlights from the 2015 results, which will be explored in greater depth in upcoming posts.

Who inspires you?

In addition to many familiar names—Frederick Law Olmsted; Dan Kiley; Laurie Olin, FASLA; Maya Lin; and Piet Oudolf among them—responses to this question included both broad (“artists in general”) and personal (family members and colleagues) answers.

Where do you go to feel inspired?

“Outside!” may be the best way to sum up most of the responses.

Whose work (an individual landscape architect or a firm) do you most admire?

Answers that came up twice or more include Andropogon Associates; Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA; Dan Kiley; Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Darrel Morrison, FASLA; Michael Vergason, FASLA; Nelson Byrd Woltz; Peter Walker, FASLA; Reed Hilderbrand; Roberto Burle Marx; and, of course, Mother Nature.

What is your favorite portrayal of a landscape in a work of art?

Responses included books, movies, paintings, drawings, photographs, and more, ranging from impressionism to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Water Calculation and Poetic Interpretation, Monterey Cypress, CA, Arterra Landscape Architects, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Residential Design Category image: Rebecca Ford
Water Calculation and Poetic Interpretation, Monterey Cypress, CA, Arterra Landscape Architects, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Residential Design Category
image: Rebecca Ford

If you could travel back in time to a historical landscape, where and when would you go?

If there were time machines, landscape architects would be checking out the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Central Park under construction, America before Europeans arrived, Mayan cities, and “Versailles as a member of Marie Antoinette’s circle.”

How do you recharge?

Talking a walk appeared most frequently, but other responses included YouTube, reading, and travel.

What’s the next big thing in landscape architecture?

Resiliency, native planting, water conservation, monitoring landscape performance, analytics and metrics, urban agriculture, and environmental justice appeared multiple times.

What place has the most potential to be transformed by landscape architecture?

“Trick question…everywhere.”

In future features, we’ll continue to pull out unique responses, summarize trends, and highlight the most popular answers from our PPN members.

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