How do you choose the right landscape architect to partner with? That’s the question that eats away at architects and developers constantly - even when the project is underway. Did I make the right decision? Is this going to put us in a bad situation down the road? Will we lose money, or worse, lose the client on this project? Will we get a visionary and differentiated landscape architectural design and idea?
Making sure you have the right people on board is a critical part of assembling a project team. Here’s our list of 3 guidelines for choosing the right landscape architect to partner with.
The first thing to do is make sure you, as a company, are well aware of your own core values. What is it about your firm that makes you tick? What is it that sets you aside from other architects? If you haven’t done so, take a moment and write down just a few words that come to mind about what you truly value as a business.
When seeking to partner with any consultant, whether it’s an L.A., a civil, etc., one of the most important things to do to set your project up for success is to make sure they align with your values. If you’re a high energy, collaboration-focused architect and you choose to work with an introverted and non-collaborative LA, are you really setting the project up for success? What happens if you value things like innovation, trend setting, and problem solving, but you’re working with a team of consultants who typically play it safe and don’t reach outside the box? Chances are, your project team won’t be aligned, and neither will your project outcome.
You also have to make sure that those you choose to work with are aligned with your approach and style. You should be prepared to ask questions around their design process - that’s a given - but also how they handle work beyond the standards of design, like CA work and punchlists. Ask to review their construction documents from previous work see if they’ll share their standards. Any insight into the process is critical.
This kind of goes without saying, but it should be stated nonetheless - Those that don’t align with what you and the client are envisioning are only going to hinder the success of the project and set you back.
When you choose to work with a landscape architect, it should be a mutual feeling of respect and excitement. LA’s should see every opportunity to engage with a new architect as a way to branch out, try something new, and show their passion for the work. Make sure in your selection process you’re evaluating things like the energy and passion for work that each LA brings to the table, and ask questions around that.
If we flip the tables a little and look at what the LA’s want in pairing up with architects, there are a lot of things to evaluate. The kind of architects we prefer to work with are the ones that value landscape, that care about the creativity, that are creative themselves, and those that want to align with a team that is equally as creative. In order for the team to work together, the passion has to be there, and the excitement level must be mutual.
How a landscape architect presents themselves tells you more about their caliber of work and what the process is going to be like than you will ever need to know if you just read between the lines.
Do they care about the way their brand is displayed? Do they showcase their best work and share case studies that highlight their skills? How does the website look? What is their social media strategy like? Do they get involved in the community? Do they focus on their team and how they solve problems? How do they dress? How do they talk about themselves?
Keep an eye out for the biggest red flag of them all: ego. It will get in the way of everything. Even the best projects and the best firms go down the drain when ego steps in the way. Be mindful of how the LA firms you’re evaluating present themselves and how well they show their skills.
A good landscape architect is going have a great branding scheme and design style, as that is super important because they're a creative group. If they don't take care of themselves, what do you think they will do for your project?
Overall, selecting and landscape architect to partner with should be a pretty fun and exciting process. There are so many out there, each offering their own unique flavor. Use the items above as the jumping off point for evaluating and embracing the journey of identifying your next LA partner. Who knows, it may lead to many successful engagements down the road!