100 Lessons Learned From Studying Landscape Architecture

#100 Drink coffee.

#99 Avoid negative people and those who hang around the watercooler.

#98 Help those who need help.

#97 Don’t waste your time with people who don’t want to work.

#96 Always be reading at least 3 books, on different subjects, which are related to landscape architecture.

#95 Plan for the “What can go wrong, will go wrong” scenario.

#94 Never leave printing to the last minute.

#93Question your lecturers.

#92 Take breaks.

#91 Travel as much as possible.

#90If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein

#89 Drink coffee.

#88 Post-design rationalisation is fantastic if you can pull it off, but never rely on it.

#87 Photoshop and AutoCAD do not make you a good designer.

#86 Always carry a notebook to write down & sketch ideas.

#85 Creativity doesn’t adhere to a 9-5 timetable.

#84 Phone home.

#83 Go to as many lectures and talks as possible.

#82 Google “Gestalt”.

#81 Make it multi-functional, make it fun.

#80 You will use the word sustainable so much, it will lose all meaning.

#79To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time”. – Leonard Bernstein

#78 Read Edward De Bono.

#77 When it comes to planting design and specification, KISS.

#76 Drink Coffee.

#75 Your computer will crash.  You will lose all your work.  Backup, backup, backup!

#74 Don’t replicate, innovate!

#73 Listen to music.

#72 Keep your workspace tidy!

#71Creative minds are rarely tidy”. – Carl Gustav Jung

#70 Engineers are the Oompa Loompas of the planning process.

#69 Planners have no souls.  Don’t be fooled.

#68 Architects are not as self obsessed as you would think.  They’re much worse.

#67 Crocus.co.uk will be your lifesaver if you know nothing about plants.

#66 Objectives don’t make sense if a SWOT doesn’t identify them.

#65A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

#64 Avoid energy drinks.

#63 Drink coffee.

#62 Students go to University to make mistakes.  Just make sure you learn from them.

#61 Be silly, but never stupid.

#60 You will at sometime, spend several nights sleeping in the studio.  They turn the heating off at ten.  Bring a blanket.

#59 Read Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs, Ian McHarg, Piet Oudolf, Nigel Dunnett and Timothy Beatley.

#58 Draw on BIG pieces of paper.

#57 Limitation inspires creativity.

#56 Ask “what the design wants to be”, not “what you want it to be”.

#55 Procrastination is a death sentence.  JUST DO SOMETHING.

#54 Horizontal rain is a common occurrence in Ireland.

#53 No one knows what a landscape architect is or does.

#52 When rolling drawing sheets, roll them with the drawing side facing outwards.  It will avoid an unnecessary  struggle on presentation days!

#51 Pantones are expensive, but never buy crayola.

#50 You cannot design a space without understanding “prospect – refuge” theory.

#49 Drink coffee.

#48 Pack rain gear for site visits.

#47 If you can’t take criticism and use it positively, you’re in the wrong career.

#46 Dream out loud.

#45 Don’t ever sketch an element literally.

#44 Good drawings are drawn hierarchically.

#43 If anyone ever suggests Begonias, say no.  In the face.  With a shovel.

#42 “Stupid”, “boring” and “pointless” first year studio exercises are the most important lessons in design you will ever learn.

#41 Cool colours recede, warm colours advance.

#40 Studio is about developing a good design process, not the “perfect” project.

#39 Learn the language of design.

#38 Learn (and understand) the design principles as well as the back of your hand.

#37 A variety of uses, to attract a variety of users.

#36 When giving a presentation, start with general information and then move on to specific details.

#35 During a presentation, make eye contact.

#34 Drink coffee.

#33 Never use “erm”, “kinda”, “its not great”, “i just” during a presentation or critique.  You might as well shoot yourself in the foot.

#32Less is more”.  – Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe

#33 Less is less is if you don’t understand Modernism.

#31 Leaving time for test printing runs will save you a great deal of stress and worry.

#30 Presentation boards should be legible from 10ft away.

#29 Give areas/elements within your design a name.  It gives them character, identity and a sense of reality.  “Cloud Gate” sounds a lot better than “The Bean”.

#28 Mind mapping works.

#27 Take up meditation.

#26 The journey to a space and its experience, is just as important as the one within the space.

#25 The most creative people are critical of their own thought process, constantly assessing their thinking methods, seeking out and testing new ways to think and be creative.

#24 Design like you give a damn.

#23 Printers break down.

#22 An idea is a specific mental structure by which we organize, understand, and give meaning to external experiences and information.

#21 Revealing and screening, denial and reward are powerfully strategies for drawing users through a space.

#20 A steeper slope will slow a person down and appreciate a framed view for longer.

#19 Design firms don’t want a standard CV.  Show off your skills and add a bit of design flair to your portfolio.

#18 Know your native species.

#17 Don’t be xenophobic in your plant choices.

#16 Perspective drawings will sell any project.

#15 If you can’t present, it won’t matter how good a designer you are, people won’t understand your ideas.

#14 It can take 6 – 9 years to become a chartered landscape architect, from university enrolment to professional exams.

#13 Hand drawing is not dead, so don’t pretend like it is.

#12 The Planting Design Handbook by Nick Robinson is a must read.

#11 Work with community groups for free.  It will pay back in time.

#10 Drink coffee.

#9 Get out and raise awareness about landscape architecture.  Talk to people on the street, post about it on Facebook, become involved with the ILI.

#8 When intimidated by a project, start with the easiest tasks first.  This will help you build momentum and confidence as you progress.

#7 Ask for advice and help when you need it.

#6 Keep up to date with all the landscape architecture, architecture & design websites for inspiration

#5 Design WITH models

#4 Making a final presentation model will always take longer than you think it will

#3 Landscape architects are design obsessed people.  It will happen to you.

#2 Don’t take anything seriously.  Have fun with it.

#1 Caffeine withdrawal is terrible.  

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10 responses to “100 Lessons Learned From Studying Landscape Architecture

  1. excellent.

    #101 -Remain open minded, remain a student of life and learning – lifelong learning is part of being a landscape architect

    #102 Drink Good coffee

  2. One’s best deign comes from working with nature – so the more we know about nature the better designer we are. It is a highest honor among humans to be able to work with nature and participate in the future design of creation as a Landscape Architect.

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  4. # 103 Don’t share this with students as lecturers will have nothing to talk about :-). Nice list Joe, especially number 42…just did a load of stupid exercises today! you might add…limit the compulsion to be overly judgmental during earlystage ideation or you’ll never create anything new.

  5. Excellent list; made me laugh out loud. I’ve been in the practice and teaching for thirty years, and I couldn’t have said it better!

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