Civil Engineering & Landscape Architecture: Fundamentally Similar

Published on Mon, 08/17/2020 - 15:16
Landscape Architecture

Written By: Jaime Snyder, LA, Landscape Architecture Services Manager

Civil engineering and landscape architecture are often looked at as very different beasts. But are they, really? After all, each profession is based on the same education principles: functional design, health, safety, and welfare, problem solving, and environmental stewardship. 

Perhaps the most obvious difference is how we approach the solution to a problem. But just as we all learned in kindergarten, our differences make us stronger, and if we all work together, we can solve big problems.

By necessity, an engineering design is technical, pragmatic, and linear. It is time tested and precise; strong enough to become the backbone of a project. For a landscape architect, the design process tends to be more organic with ebbs and flows and the freedom for exploration of out of the box elements.  

A chance for the professions to meet on the same path creates opportunity for kinship where one agenda is not prioritized over the other. Advocacy develops, creative conflict occurs, and respect grows. Working together can guide engineers towards more creative thinking, and it makes the landscape architect appreciate the limiting factors and calculations that drive engineering systems. These collaborating moments give the team an advantage to see a project from all angles and possibly come to the realization that the end solution may not be the easiest, but ultimately it is the best solution for the project.

When engineers and landscape architects successfully work together, end users should not notice where the design of one discipline ends and the other begins. Our success should be unseen. Users attention should be drawn to the project as a whole instead of individual design elements.  It is inevitable that engineering systems will drive what is possible in the landscape, and that the requirements of city landscaping codes will affect underground utility placement. How we each rise to conquer those restraints with creative solutions will only elevate the project and produce a uniquely tailored, site specific design.

Just as our teachers taught us, we are fundamentally all the same. At our core, Landscape Architects and Engineers are built on the same foundations. We all want what is best for our clients, we all have elements we are passionate about, and we will fight what we believe in. Ultimately, maybe it is the passionate debate and our differences that create the most successful, whole, and livable projects.


Jaime Snyder

Jaime Snyder, LA is T-O Engineer's Landscape Architecture Manager. Jaime integrates her background of science and design to produce a broad range of projects in her portfolio including, single and multifamily landscape design, public space programming, resort circulation, and construction and specification packages. For more information regarding T-O Engineers Landscape Architecture services you can contact Jaime via email: