Landscape Architects Hiring Jumps

Landscape Architects Hiring Jumps WASHINGTON, DC - The economic rollercoaster continues for landscape architecture firms, as firm leaders reported modest decreases in work and increases in hiring compared to the previous quarter, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly Survey for the fourth quarter 2009.

Less than half (45.5 percent) of firm leaders reported average or above billings compared to the third quarter 2009, a decrease from 51.3 percent last quarter. Levels of average or above inquiries also decreased from 55.4 percent previously to 53.7 percent. Though a modest decline, the levels of work are significantly higher than this time last year, when average or above levels of billings and inquiries were 31 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively.

While work levels showed a small decline, hiring increased modestly with 16.4 percent of firms planning to hire in the first quarter 2010, up from 11.8 percent last quarter and 12.8 percent this time last year. In addition, 22.3 percent of firms reported work directly from stimulus funds, slightly up from 20.2 percent last quarter.

"Public work continues to allow some firms to weather the financial storm, but financing remains a major stumbling block for commercial and residential projects," said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. "The industry has made significant economic gains compared to a year ago. However, today's mixed report indicates that landscape architects still face major challenges moving into 2010."

The survey also asked about client demand and design alternatives for traditional turf grass. Overall, 35.2 percent of firms reported increased demand for turf grass alternatives. The top reasons clients request alternatives include saving money on utility/maintenance costs (42.7 percent), meeting green design benchmarks like the Sustainable Sites Initiative (39.6 percent), lowered upkeep time and effort (39.3 percent), reducing environmental harm (28.8 percent) and meeting a government ordinance or code (24.8 percent). The top design alternatives were regionally appropriate vegetation (57.7 percent), incorporating water harvesting elements (41.4 percent), using native grass (37.0 percent) and incorporating hardscapes/permeable surfaces (35.5 percent).

The ASLA Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries, and hiring plans. The Q4 2009 national survey was fielded January 4 through 22, with 329 firm representatives responding.

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing 17,000 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters. The Society's mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments. Members of the Society use their "ASLA" suffix after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession.
Source: American Society of Landscape Architects

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