World Landscape Architecture Month ’17

By: Meghan McMahon
7 April 2017

It’s April — time to celebrate World Landscape Architecture Month 2017! Around the world, this month marks a time for celebrating the unique spaces created for us to live, work, and play; and recognizing the passionate professionals that shape these spaces.

Here at CTA Architects Engineers, I’m privileged to work with many talented people, most especially my fellow landscape architects and our SITE group. I am continually impressed by the sheer magnitude of variety and scope of our profession, and — just as exciting — the immense ability of landscape architects to positively impact the lives of people. It is that very variety and scope that sometimes makes it difficult to pin down what exactly landscape architects “do.” I’ll attempt to give a glimpse into that; and my apologies, in advance, if I get a little philosophical here…

Most of us interact with landscape architecture every day: from the simple bio-swale quietly going about its business, to our homes and the streetscapes we walk to work on, all the way up to the iconic parks, plazas, and travel corridors recognized around the world. We all exist in the same condition of change — adapting to physical, virtual, social, and political fluctuations. And in this constant upheaval, the simple but profound interactions we have with our environment gain a greater significance. After all, a tree will still provide shade no matter who is president, and that grass will still feel good on your feet; and YES, that seat is in just the right spot to hear the concert … after you tweet you are there, of course.

Landscape architects seek to shape spaces that let people be people, grant access where there previously wasn’t, highlight the built, and hide the utilitarian. Yet beyond the placement of shrubs and ground covers (both great things), landscape architects work in a state of continuous confluence. This is a confluence of other collaborative professions, from engineers to architects to builders; a confluence of environmental impacts, local jurisdictions, client desires, and budgets; but most of all a confluence of ideas. It’s unsurprising, then, that we naturally seek to balance these elements from the very beginning. Some of our greatest contributions come from the effective planning and initial analysis of sites, collaborating with our varied teams to create spaces that inspire.

We are balancers and evaluators, and our approaches are as varied as our backgrounds. Sometimes the best measure of our success is when our work is not immediately obvious, but blends to the enhancement of the whole. We actually ask ourselves is it more successful to notice this path or bed? Or what if a person stopped just to take it in, if they knew they wanted to be there but not necessarily why.

Landscape architects are stewards of the environment; we are artists, problem-solvers, educators, and policy-makers. Mostly, though, we are people, working hard in our communities, raising our children, and enjoying the trails, plazas, parks, and more that we’ve worked hard to bring to life. We are a strong force in making our communities great, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating both the places we love to be and our talented team here at CTA!

Thanks for sticking with me through the philosophy. Happy World Landscape Architecture Month 2017!

For more information about WLAM and how you can join the celebration, visit ASLA.org. Also be sure to check out the #WLAM2017 and #ThisIsLandscapeArchitecture images we will be sharing throughout the month on CTA’s Instagram account.

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