THE PROFESSION OF:
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A Brief Overview of the Discipline and Profession
of Landscape Architecture:
The American Society of Landscape Architects(ASLA) offers the following
definition and application of the profession of landscape architecture:
"Landscape architecture is the profession which applies artistic
and scientific principles to the research, planning, design and management of both natural
and built environments. Practitioners of this profession apply creative and technical
skills and scientific, cultural and political knowledge in the planned arrangement of
natural and constructed elements on the land with a concern for the stewardship and
conservation of natural, constructed and human resources. The resulting environments shall
serve useful, aesthetic, safe and enjoyable purposes."
"In facing the growing urgency of environmental issues confronting
human societies, we must do more than sustain the earth; we must heal, enhance and manage
the life-sustaining processes of the planet and ensure the integrity and strength of the
global landscape which connects them."
American Society of Landscape Architects Declaration on Environment and
Development - January 1993
A Brief History:
In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., considered today the Father of
Landscape Architecture, initiated a project that would redefine the industrial city.
Historians credit the design and achievements of Central Park in New York City with having
a tremendous evolutionary impact on park design, parkways, urban open space, pedestrian,
and transportation systems. In fact, Olmsted's innovations at Central Park addressed and
influenced the core of what is good in American urbanism and our environment today.
There were others before Olmsted of course. However, Olmsted with his
intense social commitment resulting from many world travels and his strong involvement
with the pre-Red Cross organization during the Civil War focused on planning and design
(landscape architecture) as the best way to solve so many of the urban ills of the
mid-1800's. And there were others who followed him as well who applied and improved on his
innovations. The historical development of landscape architecture parallels, in many ways,
the unprecedented growth of the United States during the last half of the 19th century and
all of the 20th century. Landscape architects became the leaders in social reform and
making our cities livable. They were the ones who offered counterpoint ideas for new town
planning and the need for parks and open space in our cities and suburbs. Landscape
architects played a leadership role in writing the legislation and passage of the National
Forest Act of 1898 and the National Parks Act of 1916 establishing a world precedent for
the preservation and management of our unique natural resources.
Landscape architecture may, for the purposes of landscape preservation,
development and enhancement, include: investigation, selection, and allocation of land and
water resources for appropriate use; feasibility studies; formulation of graphic and
written criteria to govern the planning and design of land construction programs;
preparation, review, and analysis of master plans for land use and development; production
of overall site plans, landscape grading and landscape drainage plans, irrigation plans,
planting plans, and construction details; specifications; cost estimates and reports for
land development; collaboration in the design of roads, bridges, and structures with
respect to the functional and aesthetic requirements of the areas on which they are to be
placed; negotiation and arrangement for execution of land area projects; field observation
and inspection of land area construction, restoration, and maintenance.
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