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Archive for the ‘PRACTICE’ Category

"Work" by Alex Kwa from The Noun Project

Work by Alex Kwa from the Noun Project.

From the March issue of LAM:

For most of the past several years, there has not been much to say on the employment front for landscape architects, or for the design and construction industry in general, except that nobody was hiring. And that’s a very short story to tell. But by mid-February, there were definite signs of a steady upward trend in the hiring of landscape architects. Of course, this sort of thing must be said somewhat warily, so as not to jinx or overstate it, but designers themselves offer the proof.

In the first week of February, there were 80 jobs listed on ASLA’s JobLink site; 61 of them were placed in January (most are listings that stay up for 30 days). The last time listings ran this high was 2008; there were about 90 ads placed in both January and February of that year. And we all know what happened over the following several months as the housing market nearly brought down the entire financial system. In January of 2009, there were 14 ads placed; the January number stayed in that range through January 2013, when there were 22 ads.

The jobs listed recently have been diverse. A few public agencies are hiring, and so are design/build firms, landscape contracting companies, small design offices, and global multidisciplinary firms. The destination is no longer just China or bust; there are firms all over the country looking for new people.

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Shangri La Botanical Gardens, Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects. 2012 ASLA Award, General Design.

Shangri La Botanical Gardens, Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects. 2012 ASLA Award, General Design.

Another ASLA Professional Awards cycle is upon us! This is your yearly chance to get your best work in front of a fantastic jury and potentially broadcast to a global audience of your peers and potential clients. If your work is honored, it will be published in LAM’s annual awards issue in October. The awards will be presented at the ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Denver in November.

Some people don’t enter because they’re shy or believe their projects won’t catch the jury’s attention. But you must play to win: “My advice: Believe in your work,” says Jeffrey Carbo, FASLA, of Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects & Site Planners in Alexandria, Louisiana. Carbo’s first national ASLA award, for the Cane River Residence in 2005, came on his third try. That award “was a springboard to other projects, including the project that won an award in 2012,” which was the Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Texas.

 

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U.S. Land Port of Entry, Warroad, Minnesota. Landscape by Coen + Partners; architecture by Julie Snow Architects. Photo by Frank Ooms

U.S. Land Port of Entry, Warroad, Minnesota. Landscape by Coen + Partners; architecture by Julie Snow Architects. Photo by Frank Ooms

For landscape architects, the signs from the General Services Administration could scarcely be more encouraging. There is a push by Christian Gabriel, ASLA, the national design director for landscape architecture at GSA, to expand the pool of talent available to his office, the Public Buildings Service, and to make the selection process more competitive. But in a bureaucracy, there’s only so much Gabriel can do; if you’re interested in working  with the agency for the first time, the process can seem opaque.

Tomorrow, you can take less than an hour to learn more about it. On Thursday, February 6, at 3 p.m. Eastern time, Gabriel and his colleague Joseph Imamura, ASLA, a contracting specialist at the GSA, are holding a 45-minute webinar to help demystify where you find GSA project announcements, what kinds of project delivery the agency relies on, and how to hack your way through the procurement thicket. 

Gabriel says the agency will soon pilot a new kind of short selection process that would prequalify landscape architecture firms as a way of involving more of them in the 9,000 or so small projects the agency does each year—not all of them landscape architecture projects, but many with site needs or security requirements to fulfill. Register here to join the webinar.

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Maybe you’ve noticed things have been a bit more lively here at the  Landscape Architecture Magazine blog of late, and you’d be right. In addition to cranking up our posting to twice a week (!), we’ve been thinking a bit about what we might do to expand our audience and create more of a community of landscape-minded readers.  There are many changes afoot that will be rolled out in 2014, but we’d like your help with some low-hanging fruit, namely our blog roll.

Yes, the blog roll is a venerated tradition in the webs, but often it just becomes a mutual linkfest that highlights the same five well-known news aggregators over and over. We’d like to do something more substantial, and we’d like your help, friendly reader.

Our current blog roll (over on the right—->>) is pretty good, but some of our favorites aren’t posting so much anymore and our sense is that there are a lot more landscape-oriented blogs out there than there were a year ago when we first made the list. That’s where we’d like your help.

So tell us your favorite landscape blogs in the comments below.  We’re interested in original content, rather than aggregators, and we’re curious about anything that shapes landscape, from agriculture to climate to infrastructure to policy to design theory to design tech.  

Here are some we’ve been reading lately–

Rust Wire. Always a fave. News and urban grit from the rust belt.

BakkenBlog. North Dakota oil and gas.

Big Picture Ag. Perspectives on ag policy, food, science.

The Prairie Ecologist. Notes on prairie ecology, restoration, and management.

Small Streets Blog. Life at a plausible scale.

Gizmodo. New life under Geoff Manaugh of bldgblog, but you knew that.

Garden Rant. Various garden-related posts with a strong point of view.

99% Invisible. Blog to accompany the excellent design-oriented podcast.

What are you reading and liking? Suggest blogs in the comments or on Twitter @LandArchMag.

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Photo by Kim Sorvig

Photo by Kim Sorvig

From the June 2013 issue of LAM:

By Kim Sorvig

Five and a half years ago, I learned we might lose our home to oil drilling. Strangers could suddenly be in control of our land, scraping, drilling, fracturing bedrock, leaving the wastes—with no legal responsibility to us. What would happen to the local economy, to services everyone takes for granted, in the Wild West atmosphere of an oil or gas “play,” when boomtown populations double overnight? So began my forced education about petroleum engineering.

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The Florida Capitol Complex. Photo courtesy urbantallahassee via Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Capitol Complex. Photo courtesy urbantallahassee via Wikimedia Commons

In the past few years, Florida has become a bit of a minefield for design professionals. Landscape architects, architects, engineers, and others have been exposed to an unusual level of potential personal liability, compared to colleagues in most other states, if the firms they work for are sued. But a new law, signed by the governor, Rick Scott, in late April, will bring Florida in line with the majority and give individual designers a greater degree of protection from litigation.

The law (Section 558.0035, Florida Statutes) was a response to court decisions that expanded clients’ ability to sue design professionals for economic damages. Until it takes effect on July 1, only firms–not individual professionals–can protect themselves with limitation of liability provisions (sometimes called “LOL clauses”) in contracts.

In Moransais v. Heathman, in 1999, the Florida Supreme Court allowed a homebuyer to sue the engineers who allegedly failed to identify defects in the building, even though the engineers were not personally named in the contract between the buyer and the firm they worked for. And in Witt v. La Gorce Country Club, in 2010, a state appellate court said that a limitation of liability clause in a contract between the country club and a geology firm hired to design and build a reverse osmosis water treatment system didn’t limit damages for the firm’s owner himself in a negligence lawsuit.

The new Florida law extends limitation of liability provisions to individuals if those provisions are written in the specific way it prescribes (it even requires that part of the provision be in all capital letters and an extra-large font size). It will not apply retroactively, so contracts negotiated before July 1 could still cause liability problems for professionals.

An analysis on the website of law firm of Smith, Currie, and Hancock predicts that the new law will mostly affect owners and contractors who lose money in situations such as construction delays caused by a design professional’s negligence. It doesn’t affect lawsuits for personal injury or property damage.

The extent to which design professionals and firms can limit their liability through contracts varies from state to state. Most states allow some enforcement of limitation of liability provisions, and recent litigation has tended to favor enforcement. But in other states, laws or policies designed to prohibit the transfer of risk and liability make it hard or impossible to enforce them in court.

Even in states where the provisions are enforceable, their effectiveness depends on exactly what the state law requires and exactly what the contract says.

“What Florida teaches us is that every design professional should take a close look at the situation with his or her state law, see what protection is available, and make sure contracts include any ‘magic words’ the law or regulation requires,” Stuart Kaplow, a real estate and construction attorney, told me.

And because state laws can change fast, it’s smart for chapters of professional groups to keep a close eye on the issue. In this case, Jonathan Haigh, ASLA, the Florida Chapter ASLA’s government affairs chair, told me that the chapter worked to make sure that landscape architects were treated with parity and that there were no attempts to exclude landscape architects or otherwise restrict the scope of practice for the profession.

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LANDSCAPES OVER TIME

Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc.

Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc.

From the March 2013 issue of LAM:

By Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, with William S. Saunders

Unlike architecture, landscape architecture evolves (and almost always improves) through time. Its parks and gardens are never complete. Or rather the finished landscape of today is not the finished landscape of many years from now. Landscape architects must more deliberately include in their work predictions of how it will change. Yet few landscape professionals continue being involved in their built works beyond a year or two after opening day. What happens? The site is taken over by natural processes and unplanned human impacts or by its caretakers, who, at least partially, become its new designers, typically with little direction from the original designer. Yet if the landscape architect’s design matters on day one, it matters equally in year five and beyond.

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