World Landscape Architecture Month: Chris Keiser’s Story

In the 1990s, when you needed to learn something new or research a particular topic, you had to go to this place called the public library. For me, it was the James V. Brown Library here in Williamsport. The library was Google, but with four walls and a roof and a search engine powered by the human brain. This was a time when you had to put in some effort to seek out information.

It was also during this time that I was completing classes at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Landscape/Nursery Technology, and I made the decision that I wanted to continue my education even further and pursue a degree in Landscape Architecture. One problem: I didn’t have a clue what that meant, how to do it, and for that matter, where to go to learn. So, before I could “Ask Jeeves” I ventured off to the public library to begin my search, and not to use their computers to pull up a college’s website: the library had a room solely dedicated to colleges and universities, with catalogues stacked floor to ceiling that informed prospective students what majors they offered, how many students went there and in the end what it was going to cost their parents.

It was in that room that I combed through catalogues to search out schools offering Landscape Architecture as a major and even learn a little more about the profession. It was equally exciting and terrifying at the same time. Fast forward to 2021 and learning about the profession of Landscape Architecture and where to study can be done in no time (depending upon your internet connection). The four walls and roof of the library have since been replaced by a keyboard and monitor.

With those memories in mind, I’m a bit envious of the wealth of resources about the field and how easily they can be accessed by prospective students. However, as World Landscape Architecture Month begins, I’m also grateful that so much information is available and widely shared, like what the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has prepared to illustrate the profession for those looking for a simple explanation. The link offers some detailed information to help answer some of the early questions a young student may have. What does a Landscape Architect do? Where can I study? Is Landscape Architecture right for me? Each question has a series of graphics and text to help provide a broad explanation of each with a Landscape Architect’s creative spin.

The link provided may be simple in its approach, but it speaks volumes with just a few simple images.  Each one perfectly captures the design process of a project, from concept to construction, starting with a simple thumbnail sketch then CAD drawings to work out the details and finally the completed project. As designers, we know there’s a lot more between the lines – but that will be learned later. I just know that if this would have been my first glimpse into the profession, they would have had me at “Hello.” Hopefully, the generations of students who are pursuing Landscape Architecture, now and in the future, will have the same enthusiastic reaction.

Chris Keiser is a Registered Landscape Architect who has been with LDG since 2005. To more about LDG’s Landscape Architecture services and projects, visit our website.