Illuminating The Work Of Landscape Architects05-15-23 | 11

Illuminating The Work Of Landscape Architects

Publisher's Commentary April 2023
by Staff

Honorable Mention . . . We had a hard time choosing between the above custom residence (see page 50) or the more commercial project that ended up on the cover, so we thought you'd like to see what almost was

Over the past few issues - "Commercial Development,"
"Custom Residential," and "Parks" - I've written about the importance of those project types to the Landscape Architectural Profession. Well . . . Here we are with Lighting. Another strong suit of Landscape Architects. In fact, over the past two-years 58% of Landscape Architects surveyed have specified Landscape Lighting by brand name and 47% have specified Street / Area Lighting by brand name as well.

With lighting, the profession is facing a lot of competition though. In fact, for the first time in recent memory, several of the articles in this issue were designed autonomously without a Landscape Architect involved. Electrical engineers, lighting designers, landscape designers, landscape contractors, architects, and others are all competing to be the one who picks the lighting for any given project. But none of those groups have the ability to properly integrate lighting into a project like a Landscape Architect. Still, a search of the website turns up scarcely little about this developed skill. There should be a whole section on the ASLA website dedicated to lighting design . . . Period.


Safety . . . Making sure no one trips, is blinded, or gets lost due to poor lighting; Security . . . Filling in the gaps and eliminating bad-actor hiding places; and Aesthetics . . . Making sure the fixtures are complements to the project and that the area to be lit is lit in such a manner as to highlight what needs to be highlighted without the obtrusive glare from a hot spot (which affects Safety and Security) . . . These are the cornerstones of proper lighting design and the first two are part of the reason Landscape Architects are licensed in all 50 states.

There are also a considerable amount of billable hours in play with lighting. Are these dollars being forfeit due to a lack of emphasis on this important aspect of every landscape development? The truth is . . . A landscape is in the dark 50% of the time and very few projects are not accessible in times of darkness. If Landscape Architects are true project development leads, and the exterior lighting of the project is a primary element of the design, then it has to be part of the Landscape Architect's domain. If you need to bring in a lighting consultant or subcontractor, fine. But they should be under your direction. Either way, with you at the helm, your clients will be assured that the landscape you are developing will be as awesome in the night as it is in the daylight.

The ASLA needs to be at the forefront of this debate and a promoter of your skills. I understand, especially with leadership in DC, that it's easy to want to focus on social and political issues, but now is the time to focus on Landscape Architectural skill-sets that enhance your ability to protect the public's Health, Safety and Welfare. We need strong messaging from ASLA, supporting the building industry and projecting the raw benefits of Landscape Architects. Anything less will open the door for under-skilled participants to weaken the profession, take away your bread and butter, and ruin your projects . . .

God Bless . . .

George Schmok, Publisher