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Los Angeles Based Landscape Architecture Firms

Apr 30 '08 29 Last Comment
sarah beth
Apr 30, 08 5:51 pm

I am looking for a Landscape Designer position at a Landscape Architecture firm in Los Angeles. I am particularly interested in work currently being produced by West 8, Ah'be and Field Operations. Does anyone have any recommendations of interesting firms in LA that may be under the radar? I am trying to explore all of my options.

 

treekiller
Apr 30, 08 9:02 pm

did you see this? then go to asla-socal and no stone will be unturned.

west 8 and field operations don't fit in the same sentence with ah'be. There is no landscape urbanism in socal - you have to head to the east bay or to manhattan for that.

There is always valley crest, WETdesign or Disney.

there are lots of great garden designers around lotus land along with lots of corporate LArch firms with offices in either irvine and downtown LA if you want to be a cog in a machine.



cowerd
May 1, 08 9:35 am

i'm not even sure that west 8 and fo belong in the same sentence.

mdler
May 1, 08 12:33 pm
treekiller
May 1, 08 1:22 pm

mdler- stop suggesting residential garden design firms to this girl, she clearly is asking for landscape architecture not frilly flowers. if you don't know the difference, then ask me to explain...

west 8 and fO are friends, collaborators, colleagues, and competitors - so yes, they belong in the same sentence even if they are on opposite shores

mdler
May 1, 08 1:33 pm

TK

I thought that these were landscape design offices...just smaller landscapes

treekiller
May 1, 08 1:48 pm

sigh- there are too many garden designers in LA who are not landscape architects (thanks to UCLA extension) who can only do residential projects. Landscape architecture engages HSW and projects with greater complexity then garden designer who are limited to choosing few pretty plants, stone pavers and spec'ing an irrigation system.

landscape architecture firms do a lot of regional planning and analysis in addition to making both public and private landscapes. designing a park/plaza is very different then creating a garden behind a house.

I get frustrated with the lack of originality in the LA profession around LA - there are no equivalents to West 8 or fO, or emergent firms that may someday get there since fritz haeg (but he isn't an RLA) moved away. IMHO only two two worth watching are RCHS and Katie Spitz. Worth checking out Treepeople, but they don't hire many folks.

citizen
May 1, 08 4:05 pm

It's interesting to hear about the landscape version (complete with condescension-dripping sigh!) of architects' disdain of interior designers.

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
May 1, 08 8:08 pm

Word, Cowerd. I actually prefer West 8 myself. Something about the north of Europe...Density and weirdness.

Citizen, while their is certainly a larger issue of specialization, education and certification involved with regards to the distinction LA like to make...I don't think it is derision so much as being often, too often understood to only be doing flower/residential gardens etc. There has been therefore in recent years a growing "pushback" and expansion of the boundaries both within the profession and in it's public articulation..

Tree, you want to weigh in on this..??

treekiller
May 1, 08 10:12 pm

nam, I rest my case.

So what happened to sarah who started this thread?

treekiller
May 1, 08 10:42 pm

My other peeve about LA in LA is the lack of any real ecological design advocation beyond treepeople. Rana Creek is up in Norcal and there is no equivalent on my radar screen in socal - don't get me started on green roof talent in LA. So every 'garden designer' ends up using exotic plants with minimal ecological function beyond photosynthesis. Oh, there are no good native plant nurseries in LA, you either need to head down to SD or up to SB.

just looking at the venice garden tour, all I see is exotic mediterranean specimens from south africa, austrailia and elsewhere with few native plants or naturalized species that help pollinators and other biota thrive. California has amazing native plants, for an intro check out the CA native plant society.

Regarding Jay Griffith's attempt below, a few california native salvia and some dense shrubbery don't really make a native california landscape - exhibit one front and center are the papyrus, the canary island palms in the back ground, or the sempervivum/succulents.



Just drive down to dockwieler beach and look up at the sublime and subtle dunes below the runways - that would be my inspiration for a garden in venice.

citizen
May 1, 08 11:17 pm

Point taken, Nam, and it wasn't a criticism. The frustration you describe is real, on the part of both architects and landscape architects when trying to distinguish themselves from their less-credentialed competitors.

That said, it's always interesting to read diatribes against professional organizations like the AIA, whose reason for existence is to distinguish architects and their work from other vocations. It may not always succeed, but it has brought some forward movement to our field over the last century and a half. (But seven hundred bucks a year? Come on...)

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
May 1, 08 11:18 pm

Tree,
Because your sick of it or did i miss-describe
Also i have recently come across a new phenomenon in Modern Desert planting(s).
Shaved Palms, for clean lines.
I think this was the
link

treekiller
May 2, 08 9:38 am

Aesthetics should be the last variable in designing a landscape. as a dynamic/living system, performance must trumps beauty. So do shaved palms perform better then hairy palms?

(you can interpret that question however you want LOL)

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
May 2, 08 9:55 am

hahahah!

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
May 2, 08 9:58 am

On first read i couldn't see how the palms would even live....Isn't park like skin.
We can't live (very easily) without our skin. I I owuld think bark is the first line of defense for a tree's immune system to. Plus i read that without bark you loose animal habitat (certain types of animal/birds use the bark as residential space).

citizen
May 2, 08 11:01 am

Okay, on my way in to downtown from the 405 this morning, I drove behind a white Honda with a license plate frame reading "Landscape Architect." How timely, I thought.

This wasn't one of you guys, was it?

treekiller
May 2, 08 12:22 pm

I don't drive the 405.

a shaved palm has all the dead fronds removed - supposedly they do leave the bark. Even though those fronds no longer photosynthesizing or evapotransperating, they shade the trunk and yes it provides important habitat and shelter for lots of animals. Removing those fronds is also very dangerous work and several folks die each year attempting to satisfy the aesthetic whims of uninformed owners.

theparsley
May 2, 08 9:22 pm

there was a very nice article in the LA Times by Emily Green a couple years back about palms and their checkered history here in LA, worth checking out if you want to know more. (incidentally, palms don't have bark, or cambium. that is one of the many ways in which they are different from regular trees. but don't believe people who solemnly tell you that "palms are a kind of grass." they are not. for some reason this became a catchphrase around the time the City was deciding that palms really weren't the best street trees after all, and trying to explain to the non-botanically-literate masses why this was so.)

treekiller seems very sure he knows what ails the landscape architecture profession in los angeles. it seems strange to demonize the ucla extension program in that respect, since its design curriculum really doesn't emphasize residential design at all, and the graduates are working in the same mix of jobs as everybody else - some sole practitioners, some on staff at the larger firms, some in the public sector, etc. - and as many of those graduates get licensed as MLAs do, in fact maybe more. the thesis instructors push the students onto a very big urban scale whether they want to go there or not!

but when we get into practice, those big ideas don't build themselves. just to take the example of green roofs. I personally know plenty of people in landscape architecture in Los Angeles (of whatever educational background) who are *dying* to build green roofs, and other sorts of ecologically functional landscapes. and in fact the architects like the green roofs too, and start happily drawing them before we are even on the team.

but let he among you who has never tried to get a client to approve the building of a green roof cast the first stone. I've been in the room for several of those discussions. we've got great and tough minded structural engineers, but yeah they get nervous. we've got clients who are at first willing to be enticed by the sexy concept drawings, but then we also have spiralling costs of construction to contend with and the dour faces all around the table at the value engineering session. (what we need is a recession just big enough to hold down the rate of construction cost escalation without actually causing all the work to dry up...)

at any rate, nobody wants to be first out on the bleeding edge with regard to green roofs. never mind that they've done a jillion of them in germany & chicago. this is los angeles, it's arid here, and a lot of us still have unanswered questions - some people in the sustainability community are quite vocal that green roofs are the WRONG solution here owing to the necessity to irrigate. it's certain we need more and better data for green roofs for our particular set of bioregional circumstances, and those data aren't forthcoming just yet.

I think the sustainable sites initiative is trying to grapple with things on a bioregonal level; a few years from now it will become LEED for landscapes; in the meantime, the (building) projects i've seen have tended to look for their LEED points elsewhere and not gone the green roof route. or even eliminated landscape from the project altogether for the sake of gaming the points, which is an unfortunate side effect of the LEED process as it currently stands.

in the meantime, there *are* a lot of public entities very interested in building green roofs on their own property. some of those projects may get out of the talking stages at some point in the foreseeable future and at least serve as proof of concept. I think some of you on these boards may have been at the Public Space LA conference last fall where one of the speakers said "we need a long march through the agencies." and, in fact, really meaningful incentives, and/or a regulatory push are what we're going to need to make much headway with larger scale landscape urbanism. germany and chicago didn't decide to go crazy with the green roofs just because all the developers suddenly decided they were cool.

to me this argues for the need for designers to engage in advocacy at all levels, with clients, with elected officials, with stakeholders, etc. - and not waste so much time on status anxiety. but what do I know.

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
May 2, 08 10:30 pm

Very interesting post, and enlightening as to the state of LA in LA.
One issue though is that green roofs, don't have to necessarily be "green" as in heavily irrigated. They can be done with drought resistant/xeriscape plantings. I have even seen some with gravel and small alpine shrubs etc.

But you are right, if the client isn't asking or being forced to by code the roof or other such features won't happen.

theparsley
May 2, 08 10:42 pm

it wouldn't occur to me to propose "heavily" irrigated green roofs in our climate. but often people from other places don't realize you have to irrigate everything here. EVERYTHING.

highly drought tolerant plantings will still need to be irrigated until establishment (sometimes we fiddle "temporary" irrigation systems for the LEED credit). and on a green roof, when what you are dealing with is a very low-moisture environment when it isn't raining and we can go a LONG time with no rain - hello climate change! - , you probably will have to supply (some) supplemental irrigation forever. yes, there are people looking into doing it with the building's greywater - look what a new can of worms we just opened there!

so it really has to be approached systematically. and make sure the benefits it's delivering outweigh the inputs it needs.

treekiller
May 3, 08 11:36 am

parsley-

with the seasonal flooding/winter deluge that socal gets, any increase in pervious surfaces will benefit the entire city. so what if the roof is brown/grey for 8 months of the year. I'm sure there are some great wildflowers and other desert ephemerals that would thrive in a desiccated growing media for a few months. even without evapotransporation, the growing media will critically shade the membrane and provide thermal mass to moderate the indoor temperature.

irrigation? who needs irrigation!

all I need is roof.

cowerd
May 3, 08 12:48 pm

theparsley

you have to irrigate to establish a green rood even in MPLS. first two years the Central Library, with most of the water provided by grey water recapture.

you should irrigate in MPLs too, but the most important thing is the water source. systemic approach.

theparsley
May 3, 08 9:37 pm

treekiller: put that disorderly seasonal brownness in an orderly frame and we might be able to sell it. how about a seed bank of those antelope valley poppies? everybody loves the poppies. have you had the opportunity to build such a system?

so what is the long term data on accumulation of salts, etc in a greywater irrigated green roof system in an arid climate? I wonder. seems like you'd have to have the capability to leach it out every so often, esp. if we have many more of those non-rainy rainy seasons...

treekiller
May 4, 08 6:25 pm

this is my dream system and maybe my future. I know the scientists who can make this happen. So I'm starting to look for a firm with the balls to propose such a thing to a client. Any suggestions?

Purging salinity buildup is a good point. Condensate has no salts- but how much humidity needs controlling in the southland except on those foggy june days?

Salt in greywater is an issue, more so in MWD served areas the LADWP if I recall the last water analysis I saw few years back. there is also several species of sacaton/salt grass that thrives in the saline sinks of the mojave and great basin, along with types of salt scrub. Just need to go for vegitation w/o a tap root which will eliminate most desert scrub. The other reference ecosystem to look at is the coastal dunes- many of those grasses do have very deep roots, but a few might not.

to order a dormant system requires geometry - points, lines, circles, grids. a roof of dormant plants still looks better then built-up roofing or ballast rocks.But who looks at roofs anyways in the vast hinterlands of the LA basin? there are more lowrise developments then highrises requiring Ken Smith theatrics ala Moma.

and parsley, welcome to archinect!

(any word on the 101 freeway park in hollywood?)

theparsley
May 7, 08 11:08 pm

don't forget the google earth effect - the fifth facade. Christopher hawthorne wrote about it a while back.

but I do tend to think the cultural message sent by seemingly "dead" plants is very very hard to overcome.

EDAW is doing or has done the feasibility study on the 101 freeway cap park. I believe they may have done some presentations but I haven't seen them myself.

treekiller
May 7, 08 11:15 pm

thanks Parsley- I have a call into them about collaborating on a proposal for a 400 ha masterplan. Maybe I'll find out in the morning...

magokkano
Jun 23, 10 4:37 pm

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jacksonlisa
Jan 9, 13 3:47 am

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