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Industry Leaders Speak

Compiled by Gregory V. Harris, LASN

Leaders in the landscape architecture industry are looking at positive economic indicators issued in the fourth quarter as a sign that the past few year's financial malaise is ending. This renewed optimism is cautious, but does exist. The economic downturn that began in 2001 and prolonged, in part, because of the events on Sept. 11, 2001, seems to be ending, and these leaders are looking at 2004 as a year that will include growth among many economic sectors.

LASN has gathered 10 leaders of national industry associations and asked each to provide our readers with their views on what 2004 will hold for landscape architects and related industries, and discuss some of the goals that they achieved in 2003. Continued growth is a key theme among these officials.

But read for yourself, as we let the industry leaders speak.

American Society of Landscape Architects

Nancy Somerville, MA, executive director

Nancy Somerville, MA, executive director

(Editor's Note: ASLA Executive Director Nancy Somerville took time to write an ASLA year in review for the October ASLA show issue of LASN. Her commentary was very insightful and, we feel, important to include in the yearbook issue of LASN. We have selected this excerpt from the original piece to showcase the ASLA's year in review. In addition to the October LASN, the entire text from Ms. Somerville can be read online at

The past year has been a period of growth and exciting change for the American Society of Landscape Architects. We've formed several alliances that have enriched our work: with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to support the Foundation's Active Living By Design initiative; with the American Architectural Foundation, to support and participate in its administration of the Mayors' Institute on City Design; and with the National Building Museum, to reach a broader audience of related design professionals. In addition, organizations including the Society for Marketing Professional Services and the Society for Design Administration have agreed to be content providers for a new ASLA firm newsletter, the Firm Finder Business Quarterly. Our growing relationships with these organizations increase the value of membership in ASLA.

Meeting the Challenges

Advocacy on the issues and concerns of the landscape architecture profession continues to be a top priority for ASLA. One of those issues, and one that landscape architects are uniquely qualified to address, is security design. Leading the Security Design Coalition, an umbrella organization of design and construction associations advocating good security design, ASLA members and their firms are in the forefront on this issue. As part of this effort, ASLA and the Security Design Coalition have developed a security design track for the September conference on homeland security organized by the Infrastructure Security Partnership, in conjunction with Associated General Contractors.

Federal advocacy efforts this year have focused on funding the Conservation Trust Fund and the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery fund, the Historic American Landscape Survey, and reauthorization of TEA-21, the surface transportation act. Federal agency liaison also continues to be a high priority. Other government affairs highlights include work on a public practice forum in conjunction with the Annual Meeting and Expo in New Orleans, discussion of new policies on security design and invasive species, co-sponsorship of the June conference of the Congress on New Urbanism, and ongoing work with the U.S. Green Building Council.

Legislation that requires licensing of landscape architects became law in North Dakota and Idaho. Other licensing activities include the update and enhancement of licensure advocacy resources, outreach and assistance to states involved with licensing initiatives, review of the CLARB (Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards) model regulations, and ongoing liaison with CLARB and the other member organizations of the Partnership for the Advancement of Licensure.

In Celebration of Landscape Architecture

Another top priority for ASLA is public awareness and ASLA has made significant strides this year to increase the visibility of the profession. Landscape Architecture Week in 2003 was a popular and rewarding undertaking and will be expanded to a month-long observance in April 2004. National ASLA events included: dedication of a tree on the U.S. Capitol grounds in memory of Ian McHarg, FASLA; a lecture on McHarg's legacy; radio public service announcements promoting the many benefits of landscape design; a national radio tour featuring author and celebrated landscape architect James van Sweden, FASLA; and letters to the heads of each landscape architecture program. Chapter events included Landscape Architecture Week proclamations by public officials, lectures, and other special events.

Looking Forward

In 2004, ASLA is looking forward to continuing growth and to building on the positive momentum and achievements of the Society's public awareness and government affairs programs.

Association of Professional Landscape Designer

Linda Engstrom, president

Linda Ergstrom, president

The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), founded only 15 years ago, has been very busy over the past few years. In 2001, our board of directors went through a planning session that included goal setting and prioritizing. Our committees then submitted activities around these goals and the budget was built from the proposed activities. Our work plan is reviewed and revised each year.

We have a highly visible website ( ) which has consistently increased our membership numbers. In fact, we currently have an international membership of over 1000. The website has also provided a powerful vehicle for member interaction, and information sharing within our global setting. We held an extremely successful conference in New York City in July of 2003 and toured a wide range of fascinating gardens in and around Manhattan, as well as a post conference with two days of garden touring out in the Hamptons. Speakers included Lyndon Miller, Marco Polo Stefano, Dean Cardasis, Patrick Chasse, Stephen Scanniello Jeff Mendoza, and Chris Bradley-Hole from England.

Next year our annual conference will move to London, with events being planned by our affiliated group, the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) We have also instituted yearly regional seminars and have developed an emerging state chapter system, with three chapters already established on the West Coast and three more in the process. Our certification program continues to offer a professional standard for designers who remain unlicensed in many states. We entered into our second year of a Design Awards event with plans for expansion, and have revamped our quarterly publication into a more useful resource journal format.

In 2004, some of our goals are to improve professional development and educational delivery to our members; to assist members in their advocacy efforts by monitoring state legislation that impacts our profession; and to continue to work on affiliations with like-minded organizations on ways to work together.

The economy this year has not been kind to designers. Many would-be clients have cut back on expensive projects. Renovations though are still a major part of design work as people seek out a garden that can provide comfort and tranquility. So although the projects for new high-end homes may be down, other projects have come to life, and gained more prominence: smaller 'pocket' gardens, water gardens, therapy gardens, sustainable gardens, to name a few. Diversity and flexibility are what make our profession so interesting and rewarding.

We are very excited about the positive direction APLD has moved and look forward to our continued growth as a valued organization for the professional and serious landscape designer.

Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards

Clarence Chaffee, executive director

Clarence Chaffee, executive director

Education, specialization, mobility, and credibility continue to be primary concerns for the profession of landscape architecture, CLARB and our member registration boards. In 2004, two separate but related scientific studies will shed some much-needed light on these issues.

First, the Landscape Architecture Body of Knowledge (LABOK) study will ask individuals involved in all aspects of the profession to identify the knowledge expected at two points in the professional development process - at graduation and again after several years of practical experience when a professional is prepared to take responsibility for their work. The study is being conducted by CLARB, ASLA, LAAB, CELA and CSLA and will make landscape architecture the first profession of its kind to formally identify the outcomes expected from professional education and internship. Results from the LABOK study should be published in early 2004.

Second, CLARB will conduct a "Task Analysis" study in the later half of 2004. This study will analyze the specific knowledge and skills necessary for landscape architects to practice without endangering the health, safety and welfare of the public. Unlike the LABOK study, the CLARB Task Analysis will focus specifically on landscape architectural licensure.

By comparing the results of the 2004 CLARB Task Analysis to previous studies conducted in 1991 and 1998, the speed and degree to which the profession is progressing toward specialization should become apparent. Changes in the geographic distribution of practitioners and where they are providing landscape architectural services will also be identified. This will help CLARB and its member registration boards understand the growth in demand for professional mobility both nationally and internationally.

When the results of the LABOK and CLARB Task Analysis studies are combined, we will have, for the first time, a complete picture of the breadth of knowledge possessed by the profession of landscape architecture and a better understanding of when this knowledge is acquired in a professional career. With this data, it is entirely possible that alternatives for satisfying education and experience requirements will be developed, making the notion of a "traditional career path" a thing of the past.

Ultimately, the hard data obtained in 2004 will help us address the challenges facing the profession of landscape architecture. These relevant, scientific studies will bolster the credibility of the profession and landscape architectural licensure and will give us the information we need to make effective decisions in the future.

American Institute of Architects

Eugene C. Hopkins, FAIA

Eugene C. Hopkins, FAIA

If I had to choose a phrase to describe the next 16 months, it would be cautious optimism. "Cautious" because the economy, the Mideast, and international terrorism could transform overnight the most rosy scenario; "optimistic" because billings for AIA firms are up, architects are increasingly savvy about marketing expanded services, and research breakthroughs promise a greater appreciation of the impact design has on public health.

This last point deserves further explanation. Although studies show the public admires the creativity of architects, these same studies reveals a gap between the public's admiration and their understanding of how design literally shapes the well-being not only of individuals, but entire communities. That gap will be bridged in the next decade. How? By emerging research programs supported by the AIA, the schools of architecture, government, and industry that are even now developing a body of predictive knowledge about how people respond to architecture.

In the September 2003 issue of Scientific American, neurobiologist and Salk Institute scientist Fred Gage, PhD, wrote about research that demonstrates an interaction between our experience of architecture and the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus. This is a new way to talk to clients and the public about the built environment. Imagine presentations to school boards that focus on how educational facilities contribute to learning, or meetings with health care professionals that demonstrate the ways in which design speeds healing. This is exciting news that promises breakthroughs not only for architects, but also the public and the goal of more livable communities.

Speaking of community, the AIA is itself a community where America's architects meet. Relationship building at all levels of the AIA, especially the local chapters, will be a high priority in 2004 and beyond. This priority includes a commitment to work toward a seamless transition of graduates into the profession:

Knowledge is likewise a priority. Architects are valued not only for their creativity, but their knowledge. However, knowledge is often treated as an asset that needs to be kept out of sight of the competition. This has to change. Healthy communities depend on a culture of sharing. The AIA's continuing education programs, investment in research, the growth of vital knowledge communities, and the development of practice tools and standards will be some of the most conspicuous ways of nourishing such a culture.

In 2004, architects will continue to look to the AIA not only for knowledge and networking, but also for a voice that effectively advances their values. Among AIA members I have spoken to, few issues generate as much passion as livable communities. But if we are to have any hope of achieving a quality built environment, architects must reach out to build strategic alliances with those who share our commitment to advocate such quality of life issues as health, energy efficiency, affordable housing, green architecture, sustainability, and a national land use policy.

National Landscape Association

Kent Gordon England, president

(division brand of ANLA)

Ken England, president

The future always brings hope and promise, but what the future brings to our industry is tremendous opportunity. Our industry is going through a transformation that has had great impact on the way we do business. Our customers are demanding much more from us: better customer service; better management tools and technical support; they demand an increased sensitivity to environmental and resource management issues; flawless communication; and quick response and product delivery time.

Companies that seek to fulfill these needs will be the leaders of the future. This optimistic outlook will be for those companies that accept the challenge to provide the absolute best products and services that they can provide. Companies built on market share and low price will eventually step aside to the technologically advanced and service oriented.

Design-build continues to grow in acceptance and favorability by clients. Traditional roles of architect and contractors being separate entities are changing. Clients are looking not only for full service and more turnkey solutions, but they also appreciate the improved communication and meshed services that this style of product delivery provides. In addition to design and construction services, companies are looking to provide other ways to compete. These include certified arborist/tree care, water auditing and irrigation management, maintenance programs and services, as well as specialized plant materials. Offices that provide "full service" to their customer base will compete better in the marketplace.

Independent maintenance companies that have been competing against the larger roll-ups will need to sell service and quality to the select group of clients that are looking for them. Companies that have been ravaging the market with low cost services will continue to struggle providing customer service and the long term detailed care needed to maintain landscape projects and trees inventories. Over time these projects will need restoration, a great aspect of future work if you specialize in commercial maintenance.

From a national regulatory standpoint the big issues will be labor, licensing, and water resource management. Workforce availability will drive annual volume for many of the companies. As we become a more technology-based society, specialized services will continue to require more and more specialized licenses and credentials. Also, a stronger focus on water and resource management as the population grows will be a natural evolution from where we are today.

The Irrigation Association

Thomas H. Kimmell, executive director

The irrigation industry in turf/landscape rebounded nicely in 2003 from a sluggish start. The initial problems came from both coasts, as a wet spring hampered the East Coast while the west responded more slowly to the recovering economy.

Conservation practices, which were once a minor element in driving the irrigation markets, are now becoming mainstream as all sections of the country grapple with water shortages. New technologies that were viewed as interesting specialty items are gaining attention from both the industry and water suppliers under pressure to cut water demand. These products are being refined and cooperatively the irrigation industry on track to introduce the test protocols necessary for wide spread acceptance. The industry has, through the IA, published Landscape Best Management Practices to further assist all users in the correct methods of managing irrigation systems. The field is becoming more technical as manufacturers, distributors, designers and contractor are called upon to provide ever more efficient use of our water resources.

The year 2004 appears to be shaping up well for the irrigation industry. The indicators are solid for a good year as housing starts remain strong and commercial spending intensifies. The only dark clouds are those where spot water shortages cause local officials to react by cutting off the water supply. The irrigation industry is alerted to this problem and has the tools in place so that those affected can successfully educate their local officials.

The good news for the irrigation industry is that what was once viewed as a luxury is now the expected.

Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Stephen F. Mona, CAE, chief executive officer

The golf industry has not been immune to the nation's economic downturn of the past three years, but the prospects of a turnaround lend hope for those who manage golf facilities.

An oversupply of golf courses plus a decline in the number of rounds played have had a negative affect on revenues in recent years. For the golf course superintendent, this means fewer resources are available to meet the rising expectations of consumers (the golfer). Fueled by televised golf events and facility comparisons, the challenge to provide high quality golf course conditions has never been greater. The good news is a brighter economic picture looms on the horizon; however the increasing expectations for premium course conditions are not likely to wane.

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is focused on providing resources to help its members achieve career success. Education, information and representation for the golf course superintendent helps to bolster this professional's role as the key to the economic vitality of the golf facility and a key to the golfer's enjoyment of the game. The programs and services available to GCSAA members and golf facilities have positioned the association as a leading golf organization. These efforts, combined with those of other golf industry members, have as the ultimate goal to increase participation in the game.

The enactment of membership standards in 2003 was among the more profound organizational changes in the 75-plus year history of the association. Referred to as the Professional Development Initiative (PDI), it is based on the knowledge, skills and abilities (otherwise known as competencies) demanded by the dynamic marketplace.

The PDI targets the skills required to meet this demand. When needed, GCSAA will be able to deliver or direct members to quality educational experiences. These experiences will lead to enhanced skill and knowledge levels that can be documented. Once documented, these credentials can be marketed to employers as tangible and consistent within the profession. As the employers' needs change, so will the superintendents' competencies. New programs will be developed to meet the educational needs created by these new competencies. Not only will facilities benefit, but so too will golfers.

The environment will continue to be a major issue for golf course managers for the foreseeable future. GCSAA has repositioned its stewardship efforts by transitioning its Foundation to the Environmental Institute for Golf. This new entity will target the association's philanthropic efforts in nurturing a collaborative effort among various individuals, companies and organizations to address environmental issues that affect the game.

Despite the recent decline in rounds played, surveys indicate interest in the game has never been higher. The challenge for GCSAA and others is to help convert that interest into participation. In recent years, numerous programs have been developed to facilitate the process. I am optimistic the fruits of those labors will be harvested in the not too distant future.

National Playground Contractors Association

Sylvia Salazar, executive director

Playground being inspected by NPCA member.

Playground contractors are unique to the playground industry in that they are individuals or small groups of individuals dispersed geographically across the nation.

Unlike park districts, manufacturers, committees for standards and guidelines, and university professionals/installers don't have the benefit of being at one location to collaborate with their peers to solve day-to-day problems and plan for the greater good of their profession.

The National Playground Contractors Association (NPCA) provides this kind of collaboration to its members and gives individual contractors and the individual companies an opportunity to be involved in the decision-making process that affects their businesses on a daily basis.

Guidelines and standards have led to a greater awareness of playground safety making a professional installation more important than ever. Installers are the final link in the completion of a playground project. We bear the responsibility of product knowledge; installation performed in a safe and timely manner, risk management for the project and our employees, as well as office management procedures including tax and license requirements and insurance for employees, job liability and vehicle.

If the end result common for all stakeholders in the play equipment industry is the creation of fun, safe play for children and, if ASTM standards, CPSC guidelines, ADA regulations are to be considered objectives common on this end, then the last party responsible for the implementation of these objectives, installers, and contractors, are vital resources to the success of the industry as a whole.

The playground industry and the public we serve have a right to expect installers and playground contractors to grow with the industry. The National Playground Contractors Association is about raising the level of awareness among installers, the industry, and the public to the importance of a professionally constructed playground.

Join our growing group of installation professionals committed to the improvement and advancement of the playground installation trade.

To contact the National Playground Contractors Association contact us @ 1-888-908-9519 or visit us at

Erosion Control Technology Council

Laurie Honnigford, executive director

The Erosion Control Technology Council's biggest initiative has been the development and implementation of a short course designed especially for the nation's Departments of Transportation. As the NPDES Phase II legislation reaches further into the construction industry, the issues surrounding erosion control become much more important to the State Departments of Transportation. This generic course is about designing, installing and inspecting rolled erosion control products. The instructor is Dr. Gerald S. Fifield, HydroDynamics. Dr. Fifield has worked in the areas of drainage, sediment and erosion control, water rights and nonpoint pollution control since 1979.

ECTC has also launched a two-hour introductory erosion control course geared toward Departments of Transportation. This course is conducted by ECTC members and is free of charge to the DOTs.

Another major accomplishment this year is the completion and implementation of the bench scale tests for rainfall and shear. Approximately four years ago ECTC began development of several bench scale test methods. ECTC has been developing bench scale tests to facilitate effective design and installation of RECPs. Erosion control testing has historically been conducted in a large-scale format. This is a time consuming and expensive proposition. The goal of the bench scale format is to allow testing to be conducted more quickly and less expensively.

ECTC entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP) in 2002. During 2003 ECTC began implementation of the NTPEP protocol. NTPEP published the first report in September 2003 and distributed it to American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) members. This report represents the first round of testing done with the bench scale methods.

Another noteworthy accomplishment was the publication of a document entitled "Standard Specification for Rolled Erosion Control Products." This publication contains topics on temporary and permanent erosion control installations, erosion control systems, vegetation establishment, and vegetation survivability on slopes and channels.

2004 Expectations

ECTC will continue conducting the DOT courses to states and provinces. ECTC is currently setting up the schedule for the winter 2004 courses and has room to add a couple more presentations.

The ECTC will also be holding a course taught by Dr. Gerald S. Fifield at the International Association of Erosion Control's annual conference. This conference is scheduled for 16 - 20 February 2004 in Philadelphia, PA.

The information generated from the NTPEP work will be used in an upcoming correlation study. ECTC, NTPEP and AASHTO are participating in a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) funded correlation study to determine if a correlation exists between large-scale testing and bench scale testing.

American Society of Irrigation Consultants

Jim Barrett, president

Jim Barrett, president ASIC

Over the past 20 years, landscape irrigation has evolved from a luxury to a necessity and for many good reasons.

During this time, every region of the United States has had to learn the harsh realities of drought conditions. As a result, the more progressive state agencies and water districts are doing as much as possible to plan for the inevitable, and doing so requires the input of irrigation professionals. Owners and operators of virtually any facility that must maintain its grounds seek solutions to preserve turf aesthetics and performance in the face of unforeseen but routine challenges that Mother Nature brings our way. And as residential water use restrictions become increasingly common, the public at large is realizing that water is not to be taken for granted.

Demand Drivers

Fueled by this growing appreciation among more water-smart end users, irrigation design has progressed from being an extension of the sales department of a manufacturer or distributor to the technical discipline that it is today. Advancements in everything from nozzles and plastics and sensors to computerized automated control systems, water treatment and subsurface drip technologies are contributing to the demand for professionally designed and managed irrigation and water management systems.

Also driving the growth of our industry and our association is the greater realization among end users of the escalating costs of water usage and the need to find alternative water resources to combat drought and shrinking supplies. Remember, there's a finite amount of water on this earth. Growing demand requires that water be used and managed as efficiently as possible. Huge inefficiencies and waste result from poorly designed and installed irrigation systems. Fact is, you will waste water without a professionally designed system. It's that simple.

Growth of Profession

The amount being spent on construction of irrigation systems produced by the professional members of ASIC exceeds more than $712 million, up more than 30 percent from five years ago. We can expect to reach the billion dollar level within a couple of years as needs rise in the many sectors served by ASIC professional members, including sports turf and golf, public works, and commercial and residential real estate development, among others. The non-profit group LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), formed to create standards for high performance buildings, has set new requirements for water efficient landscaping. This creates new opportunities for the professional irrigation consultant prepared to meet exacting standards.

Those of us who have devoted many years to this profession are especially gratified to see the growing body of industry knowledge and increasingly high standards governing our business. As customers' expectations rise, so must our capabilities. At the same time, irrigation is making its way into educational curriculums at the college level, which speaks to the profession's growing popularity, importance and sophistication. In some circles, we've been able to abolish the myth that irrigation systems waste water. If irrigation is wasting water, then it's because someone bought a bad design or doesn't know how to operate the system, or both. Independent professional irrigation consultants can prevent that from happening.

Today, the professional members of ASIC combine a broad and firm grasp of environmental and soil sciences. They are up to date with the changing regulations and requirements and offer total mastery of the irrigation equipment and technologies being produced by world-class manufacturers in our field. For example, the advancements in golf course irrigation, which is my focus, have been enormous. It's hard to believe, but just 15 years ago it was common to see four sprinklers on a green. And everything got the same amount of water (putting surface, approach and rough). New course designs and requirements and growing demands from course owners, investors and the players have resulted in the growth of sophisticated irrigation systems. They're tailored to meet the wide variety of turf and soil requirements that one encounters between the first tee and the 18th green, because the grass has to be healthy every step of the way.

Educating Influencers

Ironically, the growth and success of the industry have also created some of our most pressing challenges. In some states, there are efforts underway to prohibit irrigation consultants from practicing without a license. On one hand, we might have only ourselves to blame for this unfortunate development, because we haven't placed as much emphasis as we should have on educating legislators and regulators at every level about the very things that our customers know so well -- that irrigation is the solution not the problem. It requires a great deal of experience, skills and technical expertise to produce a quality irrigation solution that will conserve energy, water and money. We're not just talking hoses and sprinklers here, although that's the impression of people without exposure to our industry.

There's a chance we'll be penalized for this lack of understanding among key influencers who don't know what we do or the value we offer. Reaching out to these individuals - one on one if that's what it takes - and explaining who we are is a top priority for us as we head into the New Year.

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December 9, 2019, 10:36 am PDT

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