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Going Green; Texas Tech landscape architecture leader upbeat on job outlook

Going Green; Texas Tech landscape architecture leader upbeat on job outlook

There’s good news for would be landscape architects; your employment prospects are better and your work is appreciated more than ever. For years academic insiders have characterized the status of the landscape architecture profession as being overshadowed in the design process; supportive, working quietly behind the scenes.

“Now we need to do a better job of letting prospective students know what we do as a profession and get more of them interested in the field,” said Alon Kvashny, chairman of Texas Tech’s Department of Landscape Architecture. “The view isn’t all negative.”

One reason for landscape architecture’s improving outlook is a renewed interest in environmental issues, especially in terms of quality of life. For instance, Kvashny said his program has had a long-term emphasis on sustainability in arid and semi-arid community planning and design, as well as with computer-aided design and landscape construction.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that employment of landscape architects is projected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020. Planning and development of new construction and redevelopment of existing buildings will drive employment growth. With land costs rising and the public’s desire for more beautiful and functional spaces, the importance of good site planning and landscape design is expected to grow.

“Today, there’s a wide range of opportunities for landscape architect graduates,” Kvashny said. “Our graduates can design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans, such as wetlands, stream corridors, mined areas and forest land.”

In addition, there’s an appreciation for historic landscapes and cultural resources that enables Tech’s graduates to eventually undertake preservation planning projects for national, regional and local historic sites and areas. “Even when we’re building something new, it is in the fabric of something old,” said Alice McLarty, landscape architect for National Mall and Memorial Parks in the nation’s capital, and a graduate of Tech’s Department of Landscape Architecture.

Texas Tech has one of only two programs in Texas that offer a landscape architecture program that is accredited for undergraduate degrees. In addition, Texas Tech and Texas Tech A&M are the only two that offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in landscape architecture.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-11, landscape architects held about 26,700 jobs as of 2008, which is the most recent year of employment information available. The government statistics show that about 51 percent of landscape architects were employed in architectural, engineering and related services, while about 21 percent were self-employed and state and local governments employed approximately 6 percent of landscape architects.

Written by Norman Martin

CONTACT: Alon Kvashny, chairperson, Department of Landscape Architecture, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2858 or

0510NM12 / PHOTOS: N Martin

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