Category Archives: Practice

Roadblocks Remain

A survey sheds light on why midcareer women leave design firms.

By Timothy A. Schuler

Portrait of Maya Sharfi
Maya Sharfi, the founder of Build Yourself. Photo by Jessie Wyman Photography.

Rachel Wilkins was 28 years old when she got her first job in landscape architecture. Since graduate school, she had dreamed of working for a woman, but at the large Houston firm where she’d been hired—which Wilkins declined to name—all her bosses were men. Though she had “two wonderful male mentors,” she says she also regularly felt demeaned as a woman, passed over for promotions that went to male colleagues or, when the firm was called out for its lack of women in leadership, to women with less experience but more social capital. Her bosses, Wilkins says, seemed to “consider themselves the dads of the office,” a dynamic she says is omnipresent in landscape architecture—and problematic. “I don’t need a dad,” Wilkins says. “I need a boss who’s invested in my growth.”  Continue reading Roadblocks Remain

35 Perfect Gifts for Landscape Architecture Graduates

Updated and expanded for 2023 grads, with more tech, more cult books, and a few surprising must-haves for the newly minted designer.

By the LAM Editorial Advisory Committee*

Well, it’s finally happened. You (or your family member/friend/roommate/mentee/colleague) have graduated from a landscape architecture program, and you’re ready to start your career as a design professional. Landing a job is first up, but there are tips and gear that can help you feel more prepared to start on your path. Continue reading 35 Perfect Gifts for Landscape Architecture Graduates

The Rule Book

250 Things a Landscape Architect Should Know

Edited by B. Cannon Ivers; Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser, 2021; 512 pages, $34.99.

Reviewed by Gale Fulton, ASLA

A former Toronto brickworks, now a city dump, makes Jane Mah Hutton’s point to consider material afterlives.
A former Toronto brickworks, now a city dump, makes Jane Mah Hutton’s point to consider material afterlives. Courtesy City of Toronto Archives.

What does a 21st-century landscape architect need to know?
The question is daunting. At least it should be, in the field and especially for those of us in academia who are tasked with laying the foundation on which future landscape architects will continue to build throughout their careers. But determining which skills and what knowledge are essential in such an expansive discipline is elusive at best. The book
250 Things a Landscape Architect Should Know attempts an answer. Continue reading The Rule Book

Designed Transition

Cheryl Barton winds down after decades as CEO, and her office becomes part of SCAPE.

By Bradford McKee

photo of Kate Orff
Kate Orff, FASLA, the founder of SCAPE, saw a strategic expansion to the West Coast. Photo by Lena Shkoda, courtesy SCAPE.

If there were good, recent books on passing a design firm’s ownership from founders to successors (there aren’t), it sounds as if Cheryl Barton, FASLA, and Kate Orff, FASLA, would have had little use for them. In March, the San Francisco-based Office of Cheryl Barton, Barton’s firm since 1995, became the West Coast office of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, the firm Orff founded in New York in 2004. Continue reading Designed Transition

The Team on Tops

By any count, Presidio Tunnel Tops had an unusual number of women in construction and project leadership. They say there are good reasons for that.

By Anne C Godfrey

Three women sitting on the ground at the park.
The Meadows, sitting directly on top of the Highway 101 tunnels, is a place to gather and enjoy the views. Photo by Rachel Styer.

An unexpected amount of rain fell on the Presidio Tunnel Tops construction site this past October. The rain was a mixed blessing; though welcomed by parched San Francisco Bay Area residents, it had damaged parts of the job site. Kerry Huang, ASLA, a senior associate at James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), the project’s design partner and landscape architect, said that layers of soil and plants were torn out of one of the embankments, despite the recent installation of erosion control blankets. Huang is a construction manager for Tunnel Tops, one of an unusual number of women who are project managers on this high-profile project. Continue reading The Team on Tops

A Bumpy Reentry

Women landscape architects are finding the road from part-time to full-time work full of potholes.

By Jared Brey

Barbara Peterson, ASLA, is a night owl. During the 16 years she worked as a part-time landscape architect, she typically spent the hours of 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. sending emails, working on designs, and stamping plans. When her son, Eric, got a little older, she would pack a lunch and leave it in the fridge for him to take on his way to the bus in the morning. She spent much of her day carting him back and forth to sporting events and skateparks. Continue reading A Bumpy Reentry

Mind the Gaps (and Curves) with Precast Concrete

Getting the best from precast concrete requires a little flexibility. 

By John Payne, ASLA, and James Dudley

The first prototype of the precast piece is what will determine the mold form. Photo courtesy SiteWorks.

Precast concrete, which is concrete that is cast into its final form before it is installed, has long been used in architecture and engineering for myriad forms and applications. These include bridge trusses, ornamental cladding, and prestressed beams. The casting process takes place within the regulated confines of a facility, with tightly controlled concrete mixes and material ingredients resulting in greater control and consistency, making it a real attraction to both designers and builders. Continue reading Mind the Gaps (and Curves) with Precast Concrete