What is a Landscape Architect?

land-scape ar-chi-tect (lănd’skāp’ är’kĭ-tĕkt’) noun: A person, who artfully designs, arranges and modifies features of the landscape for aesthetic and/or practical reasons to enhance its use and enjoyment.

What is Landscape Architecture?

Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of: botany, horticulture, the fine arts, architecture, industrial design, engineering, geology and the earth sciences (environmental psychology, geography, hydrology and ecology).

Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, construction, management, sustainability and stewardship of the land. Landscape architecture is the analysis, planning, design, and management of the natural and built environment. Landscape architects enhance the quality of our lives by adding beauty—but they’re also problem solvers who analyze the environmental impact of proposed development and determine the best use of each site.

The term landscape architect was coined by Frederick Law Olmsted, an American whose best-known work is Central Park in New York City. Before that, the profession can be traced through the great European landscape designers, such as Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who planned the landscapes of many of England’s great estates in the 18th century and Andre Le Notre, designer of the great gardens of Versailles outside Paris in the 17th century. Examples of what we now know as landscape architecture can be found as early in history as the Hanging Gardens of Babylonia and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

Today, landscape architects may design parks, playgrounds, zoos, skate parks, residential developments, campuses, shopping centers, gardens, golf courses, and recreation areas, to name a few examples. They may be involved in the design and creation of a small home garden or huge national forests. What all landscape architects have in common is a deep appreciation for the environment, commitment to the highest standards of planning and design, and the reward of work that directly enhances the quality of people’s lives.

Why is it important that a Landscape Architect be registered?

The Georgia General Assembly created the Georgia State Board of Landscape Architects in 1958 for the purpose of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare by regulating those who engage in the practice of landscape architecture. The Board has the authority to adopt rules, set standards for licensure, adopt mandatory standards of professional conduct, and investigate and discipline unauthorized, negligent or incompetent practice.

In order to obtain a license to practice landscape architecture, candidates must complete a comprehensive set of educational, internship and testing requirements to ensure competency. A bachelor’s (BLA or BSLA) or master’s (MLA) degree from an accredited university program is required for entry into the profession, plus four years of working experience prior to taking a uniform exam. The Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE) is a four-day national comprehensive exam. The exam is administered and graded by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Board (CLARB).

In addition, the state of Georgia has mandatory continuing education requirements to keep landscape architects up-to-date with current standards, laws, codes and practices. Currently, 47 states require landscape architects to be licensed and registered in order to practice. In these States, no unregistered individual may perform the work of a landscape architect and no person may call themselves a landscape architect without holding a license.