Consistency is key for anything in the design world - cars, graphics, fashion, etc. So why should architecture and landscape architecture be any different? Successful architecture projects are those that provide a level of harmony between the building and the site, and not having them exist separately. You can always tell when the landscape was subbed out to someone who either:
- Didn’t get it, isn’t very good at their job
- Didn’t get along with the architect
- Was hired after the fact and just wanted to get it done
What we should do as designers is create an experience for the users of the space that is seamless, cohesive, and extremely intentional (yet so unintentionally perfect) at the same time. This is only accomplished when landscape architects truly understand the goals and design intent from the architect and developer. Likewise, the architects and developers should understand that a good landscape architect can bring ample knowledge and resources around things like siting the building, zoning and restrictions, environmental implications, and more.
Architects and developers should seek LAs that also understand what it is to be savvy with design; what kind of spaces can they create that help the lines, textures, and schemes from inside the building or across the facade, extend out into the landscape as features and elements that the users of the space will subconsciously take note of and enjoy? What kind of people are they personally - easy to critique, problem solve, and get along with? Or hard-headed, lack creativity, and not willing to collaborate?
What To Look For In Choosing A Design Driven Landscape Architect
When you’re seeking an LA, it must be someone who knows how to marry the work you’re doing on the building to how the site interacts with that building. Here are the items you should consider when choosing an LA to help the design process turn into a functional, aesthetically pleasing, and overall successful project.
1) Portfolio Of Work
Look into how the LA displays their background and the projects they’ve helped bring to fruition. This goes far beyond simply evaluating the notoriety of the work and the pretty pictures they show from a professional photographer. Really emphasize the way they talk about themselves and the project scope when evaluating this. What part did they play in this project? How deep did they go into the design scheme? Did they share just the end product and a rendering, or did they showcase the design process and how they came to the conclusion that this particular design is the way to go? The more you can evaluate this and read between the lines, the better.
2) Testimonials or Reviews
Pay close attention to how people talk about this firm or LA online, in reviews, on forums, and around the community. A simple search for the company name and “review” will provide more than you will ever need to know. You will quickly identify any negative (or positive) feedback others have mentioned about them regarding how easy they were to work with, what their level of understanding might have been, and more.
3) Awards and Recognitions
It seems to be more common to have awards than to not have awards these days; but what awards have they received and what body is giving out the awards? If you’re consistently seeing an LA receive awards for work in architecture related (as opposed to Landscape Architecture related) categories or groups, you’re on the right track.
Ultimately, it’s critical to have a design team assembled for your projects that see your vision, can bring meaningful insight and discussion to the table, and understand what it is to work together to achieve something great for the end user.