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Breakdown of the Professional

In the early 1970's, the late David Young, then of Penn State University, had a number of his students analyze the profession of landscape architecture from a slightly different point of view. The membership of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) had just passed 2,000 for the first time and the number of accredited schools had finally reached 30 for the first time in the history of the profession. His students plotted the physical location of each member of the ASLA on a map of the United States and the location and size of landscape architectural education on a similar map. Both of these presented a very interesting picture of the profession at that important time in its history.

Now, some twenty years later, as the ASLA has passed the 10,000 member mark, it seemed appropriate to go back and expand on the work of Prof. Young and his students. Thus, a group of graduate landscape architectural students in a professional practice class at the University of Texas at Arlington updated and elaborated on that earlier research. The purpose of this research was to physically locate all of the members of the ASLA, identify their place of employment, compare the num-ber of professionals to general populations in various states.

This sample does not measure all of the landscape architects, nor all of the public agencies or private offices who employ them. This study did not break down the levels or types of government agencies which employ landscape architects in each state. Nor did this research compare the relationship between private offices and public agencies in each state or the correlation between the number of professionals in any state and their place of employment. It only represents that information which is readily available from ASLA and only those who represent that level of commitment to the profession. This is not the complete picture, but the best picture possible to obtain with the data from the ASLA Roster of Members.

This research shows that in 1993, there were 10,016 ASLA members, employed in one of 714 public agencies or in one of 4,780 private offices. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, there were more landscape architect who were members of ASLA in proportion to the general population than the national average:

Generally, there is a disproportionate distribution of landscape architects who are members of ASLA in the various states and regions, based on this research. The reasons for this are not clear, but some strange anomalies do appear. States such as Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, New York, and Michigan which have had educational programs for many years have far fewer ASLA-member landscape architects in relation to the general population than do states such as Maryland, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Vermont which have not traditionally had accredited schools or programs. By way of illustration, Michigan, with two long-time accredited programs, has landscape architects who are ASLA members in 21 government agencies, . . . yet only one landscape architect member of ASLA for each 33,922 people in the general population. This seems to indicate that there are insufficient jobs being created or existing in the state due to the economic downturn or there is an overproduction of graduates based on the demand. . . . In Louisiana, the situation is even more dramatic, where the LSU program has been accredited since the 1950's. There is one landscape architect who is a member of ASLA for each 47,620 in the state-wide population. . . . There seem to be some anomalies between the number of graduates the schools produce and either the need or the demand for professionals in each state. Obviously, not all landscape architects join ASLA so they cannot be tracked by this sort of research, but it raises interesting questions. LASN

* National Average of landscape architects who are members of ASLA is 1 in 24,925 people.

** North Dakota has no regulations governing landscape architectural practice.

*** The favorable ratio of ASLA members in public practice to population is undoubtedly due

to the number of federal government landscape architects stationed in the Nation's Capitol.

Schools Offering Landscape Architectural Programs and the Distributionof ASLA LA Membership By State

One landscape architect has suggested that a legitimate role of a professional association, both nationally and locally, is to monitor contracts which call for the use of registered landscape architects to see if they are actually being used. This is done in engineering and it has led to the use of more professionals in that field. There is also no comparison between registration in a state and the number of private offices or employees in local agencies. It seems that this was a legitimate area of research in the early 1970's and it is even more important in the 1990's and beyond. All of this gives a better picture of need, demand, impact and market penetration. It should encourage the profession to either monitor or push for the greater use of landscape architectural professionals in public agencies and for the employment of private firms where needed or mandated in legislation. -- Gary O. Robinette



Texas 225

New York 224

New Jersey223

Pennsylvania 206

Illinois 186

Massachusetts 184

Virginia 169

Georgia 154

Maryland 148

North Carolina146

Michigan 120

Washington 113

Colorado 110

Ohio 107

Connecticut 100

In 33 state, fewer than 100 ASLA LAs were in private practice.

ASLA Member LAs in

Public Practice




New York38




*The National Park Service

Center is located in Denver.

This article presents research undertaken in 1993 by Christine Colley, Todd Duguid, Elizabeth Rudy, Debra J. Schoeneweis, students in a class in Professional Landscape Architectural Practice at the University of Texas at Arlington under the direction of Associate Professor Gary O. Robinette, who authored the article.

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June 16, 2019, 10:31 pm PDT

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