I’m often asked what the typical day of a landscape architect looks like at AHBE. To properly answer this question, I took some time to go around the office to take some photos that best capture some of the more typical things we do within our profession.

All photos: Jennifer Salazar

We often still like to write or draw by hand, especially – ahem – those of us of a certain age. Our drawings may be sketches of ideas, colored plan views, or simply a list of goals. I have kept some of these examples on the wall near my desk.

We’re also not afraid to sketch out ideas, crinkle them up, only to dig them up later again. Our tool box include drafting tape; it doesn’t have the strong hold of regular tape which allows for easy repositioning, representing the flexibility of idea and execution of our profession. Scales and markers are also typical tools of the landscape architect. The paper we write on is called trace paper. Some of us – again, of a certain age – first learned to call it “bum wad” because it comes in narrow rolls that looked like, well, yes, toilet paper!

A landscape architect’s familiarity with reading maps is integral to every project – from Open Space Master Plans to highly detailed construction plans. We often keep a collection of maps pinned up on at least one of our studio walls. In the instance above, we have maps showing the LA Metro system, as well as a large aerial photograph of the lower Los Angeles River that was used by our summer interns.

In addition to plants, the other palette of materials we use are referred to as hardscape: paving materials in the form of individual pavers, rock, or concrete. The stack of material samples shown above represent real product, but in small quantities. The collection sits on the edge of my desk so we are able to look at them as a team to determine the best texture and colors for the finished paving design.

As an avid reader, there is always a stack of magazines with bookmarked articles sitting on my desk. Even as I eventually get through a couple, I always end up adding to the pile – a Sisyphean reading task that never diminishes. Yet, ever the optimist, I harbor hopes to make a dent over the winter break…

A landscape architect is continually required to jump between pulling out books, inspecting maps, researching online, and comparing materials with another designer on a daily basis. And I have to say, despite the challenges faced, I am ever so grateful to be able to work in a creative field where I am surrounded by these creative tools every day I walk into AHBE. In sum, they make for a very interactive, innovative, and often fun work environment.


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