Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor space using the compositional elements of vegetation, landform, water and structures such as walls, seating, lighting, steps etc. The U.S.A. is a large country with varied geographical resources presenting opportunities to landscape architects to improvise with and accommodate these resources. Even though there is minimal threat to natural habitats the growing urbanization and moving population is encouraging construction and designing of neighborhood parks or playgrounds. These are relatively small but of intensive use for education, health and recreation purposes.
The first American professional landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead Sr. was responsible for construction of the new Central Park (NY) in 1857. The project was resumed after the Civil War along with new ones in Brooklyn, N.Y.; New Britain, Connecticut; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois and across America. With the success of these ventures and the growing popularity of constructed park cemeteries, the landscape gardener was beginning to be referred to as a landscape architect. Schools and colleges across the country pitched in, offering professional degrees in landscape architecture to budding landscape architects. Landscape architecture is now recognized by the International Labor Organization and is represented by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).
The landscape architect is not a lonely figure. They have the backing of professional associations and a wide spectrum of projects ranging from roads, reservoirs, river reclamation, forests, housing development projects, industrial estates, rapid urbanization and other projects. If one is thinking of becoming a landscape architect, one needs to have a creative flair and appreciation for nature in all its forms. Along with this is needed an analytical mind to design, manage, preserve and rehabilitate cities into functional and aesthetically pleasing entities. Whether working for a firm or being self-employed, the increasing demand for designed outdoor spaces is turning landscape architecture into a challenging profession.