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Becoming a Landscape Architect: The Art of Creating with Nature

Landscape Architect
Landscape Architect

Becoming a Landscape Architect: The Art of Creating with Nature

Renovation tradesBecoming a Landscape Architect: The Art of Creating with Nature

Streets, parks, playgrounds, wetlands, river systems even, are all the makings of landscape architects. At first glance, their expertise, coupled with their vision, is far greater than one might think.

So much so that their role extends beyond architecture. Each and every one of their creations ascribes to a geographic, economic, as well as sociological perspective. Keep reading and you’ll soon come to understand why landscape architects are the cornerstone of land use planning and development.  

From Project Concept to Reality: A Landscape Architect’s Role 

Landscape Architect

Fundamental Skills

A landscape architect is a specialist. You’ll soon come to understand why that is. To practice said profession, a land use planning and development professional must harbour numerous qualities, such as the following: 

  • Be creative and imaginative

  • Have a synthesizing mind

  • Have to ability to coordinate teams to complete projects

  • Be a manager in terms of technical and budgetary matters

  • Know how to establish plans and quotes

  • Familiarize their profession

Naturally, such skills are learned. Note that the final bit of the article is dedicated to the studies one must pursue to eventually become a landscape architect. 

Teamwork and Communication

Designing the exterior concept of a home, of an urban environment too, isn’t deemed a one-person job. It’s the complete opposite actually. During the course of a construction project, a landscape architect must work in tandem with:

  • clients;

  • an architect;

  • an interior designer; and

  • others involved. 

All the above-mentioned must be able to present a landscaping concept which falls into the house’s architectural continuity, as well as the homeowners’ desired style, which is an extension of the residence’s interior design.

However, a landscape architect’s work doesn’t end here. Let’s go ahead and present a project specific to Île-Bizard, in North-West Montréal. In said area, the authorities in charge decided to turn said land into a humanized landscape, meaning a protected area of land based on preserving the following: 

  • biodiversity

  • the landscape; and 

  • the human activity that shaped it.

A landscape architect is inscribed into this configuration in a coordination role, managing the legal framework behind the humanized landscape (led by the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte aux changements climatiques) and the Act respecting the preservation of agricultural land and agricultural activities. 

Why? Because both tools were designed to attain different outcomes. As specialists, they’re involved in the dialogue and capable of explaining these two dimensions while highlighting the purpose of human activity in maintaining biodiversity on Île-Bizard.

Challenges Facing Landscape Architects

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects have a much more vital role than one might think. In fact, the challenges they must overcome are just as extensive as they are varied.  

Adapting Projects to Weather Conditions and Land Use Development

Environmental studies have made one thing clear: Human activity can lead to or aggravate cyclical environmental phenomena. Urban development is a factor that can be easily linked to this indispensable awakening regarding weather conditions and land use development.

Our latest proof: The 2017 and 2019 floods that resulted in the evacuation of 14,000 Quebecers and one billion dollars in flood-related damages that occurred in several regions across the province. 

The culprit: The swift urban growth in the 1960s, which led entire populations to settle in flood-prone areas. This expansion is all the more significant when it comes to aggravating river floods.

Therefore, landscape architects must work with the understanding that innovation is needed to face the climate change looming in the province.   

Mastering Laws Framing Commercial and Residential Projects

As we already established, the knowledge acquired by landscape architects also extends to legal expertise.

Landscape architects must have a complete understanding of the following: 

  • Environmental Assessment Office (the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement) 

  • Environmental protection procedures

  • Landsite protection and remediation measures

  • Environmental impact assessment of a given project 

In terms of residential land use planning, such as building retaining walls or designing the surroundings of a pool with waterfalls or a water garden, a landscape architect will design a project that aligns with (but isn’t limited to) the following: 

  • Metropolitan plan

  • Land use plan

  • Subdivision regulations

  • Comprehensive development plan (PAE) 

  • Urban Planning Advisory Committees 

  • Site Planning and Architectural Integration Program (SPAIP)

  • Land use planning and development concept (Schéma d’aménagement et de développement)

  • And more

Since there are a lot more, aside from the list above, you’ll have gathered that a landscape architect is much more than a mere assembler. Legally speaking, they can ensure your project can be completed as per laws and regulations. 

Centering Mankind in Landscape Architecture

Naturally, landscape architecture doesn’t solely revolve around ecological, economic, and sociological perspectives. The truth of the matter is that mankind is at the core of the project. This aspect is channelled through communication, which is established between landscape architects and their clients. 

They must have an open flow of communication with their clients, understand what they want, and be able to present a land use planning that meets their expectations. This is all the more true considering that a landscape architecture project must allow for the following: 

  • Improve quality of life

  • Add value to the property

  • Create unforgettable memories 

The overall aesthetic of the project will, without a doubt, be influenced by the land in question, but the outcome rarely is anything but charming, user-friendly, and well-adapted. 

Being a Landscape Architect in Canada

Landscape Architect

What education do you need to become a landscape architect?

To become a landscape architect, you need a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. The goal is to acquire basic knowledge in the following fields:

  • Ecology

  • Botany 

  • Horticulture 

  • Geomatics 

  • Technical drawing

  • Technology

  • Material properties 

However, you can also complete a master’s degree in landscape architecture (MLA). Said program is offered by 15 different institutions across the country—from Concordia University to the University of British Colombia, by way of Toronto, Calgary, and Manitoba. Fun fact, the Université de Montréal (UdeM) is the only North American university to offer this master’s program in French.

This training program allows students to master landscape architecture by assessing the ecological state of a chosen landscape. It also allows valuing and managing landscaping by way of critical and conceptualized approaches required to advocate for practical solutions. This sort of training is founded on creativity.

As we already mentioned, landscape architects aren’t acting alone. They work in a multidisciplinary field, one in which they must grasp the theoretical, judicial, and practical side of things. The primary purpose of university programs is to educate potential professionals in theoretical knowledge.  

L'Association des architectes paysagistes du Québec (Association of Landscape Architects)

The Association des architectes paysagistes du Québec (AAPQ) represents no less than 502 members, carrying out projects in private or public sectors, as well as for communities and universities. The Association is charged with establishing quality standards guiding the practices of its members.

Associations are anchored in a dynamic economic environment, regularly putting together networking events within the industry and occasionally participating in public debates. 

To help its members in their research, the AAPQ provides them with the following: 

  • Paysage magazine 

  • A collaborative library 

  • Memoirs and op-eds 

  • A pressroom 

  • A supplier directory 

  • Media toolkit  

The Current State of Labour Market for Landscape Architects

It’s hard to predict the current state of the labour market for landscape architects. However, we can confidently highlight the following figures to help shed some light on the matter. Out of the 700 landscape architects registered in the province of Quebec in 2022:

  • 71% of them were AAPQ members

  • 55% were women 

  • 91% were hired in a full-time position 

  • 60% worked year-round

  • 40% worked 34 weeks on average 

Based on these figures, the labour market for landscape architects appears rather promising. Moreso given that the average member is 41 years old, therefore the profession appears to be well-balanced in terms of generational turnover.

What is the average salary of a landscape architect?

Landscape Architect

Landscape Architect
Hourly Wage at the Beginning Stages of Career (Accredited)
Private Sector
City of Montréal
Cities with a population of 40,000 to 100,000
Cities with a population of over 100,000 
Parks Canada

Exterior Environment Designers

Being a landscape architect is a major feat in the development and preservation of balanced and functional exterior spaces. These professionals align creativity, technical expertise, and environmental awareness to create exterior environments that meet the needs of communities as a whole, including its residents. Coupled with their artistic vision and their commitment to sustainability, landscape architects design landscapes that improve the quality of life, while preserving the natural beauty for future generations to come.

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Last modified 2024-04-04

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