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Urban Realm launches top landscape architects hunt

May 9 2012

Urban Realm launches top landscape architects hunt
Urban Realm, in association with Woodhouse, has launched a hunt for the top landscape architects that work in the UK today, seeking to recognise those practices which have moved the earth for clients and public.

Sponsored by Woodhouse
Driven by a realisation that good architecture stretches far beyond where a building hits the ground, we’ve short listed the 26 landscape architects and urban designers who have impressed us most.

Amongst those recognised are Ian White Associates who have performed sterling work in marrying the new Forth valley Royal Hospital within the historic designed landscape of Larbert House, as well as their work to declutter the forecourt of Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

Regular users of Edinburgh’s Waverley Station have also been impressed by the transformation of the Waverley Steps, a sweat inducing slog which has been made a leisurely pleasure by way of new covered escalators installed by Jefferson Sheard Architects.

Other notable contenders include 7N Architects who teamed up with RankinFraser for the psychedelic Garscube Underpass / Phoenix Flowers project and Lisa Mackenzie who worked with 7N on the Inverness Campus masterplan.

Voting is now open and will remain so until May 25 with the winner to be announced in the June edition of Urban Realm magazine.

Vote now

The shortlist so far:
Austin: Smith Lord
Charles Jencks
City Design Cooperative
Envert Studio LLP
ERZ Limited
Graeme Massie
Gross Max
Ian White Associates
Ironside Farrar
Jefferson Sheard Architects
Land Use Consultants
Lisa Mackenzie
Mike Hyatt Landscape Architects
OPEN (Optimised Environments)
Paul Hogarth Landscape Architecture & Urban Design
Rankin Fraser
Smith Scott Mullan


#1 Posted by Brian on 9 May 2012 at 12:54 PM
They seem very easily impressed in Edinburgh !
#2 Posted by SAndals on 9 May 2012 at 17:28 PM
TGP - "top landscape architects at work in the UK today" - lol
#3 Posted by dubious on 9 May 2012 at 18:52 PM
At 26, it is hardly a short-list is it? Over a quarter of the list are architectural practices who mostly don't employ landscape architecture staff, so its a bit of stretch to say 'top landscape architects'!
#4 Posted by Elaine on 10 May 2012 at 00:00 AM
Agree with 'Dubious'. How many of these companies actually have landscape architects left in their employment? Do many of them still have the day to day expertise in-house to resource such schemes again. I can see at least 2 companies on this list who dont and one company that took over another, made their LAs redundunt or relocated them to London! Please can this be checked before acoloades are handed out.
#5 Posted by urbanrealm on 10 May 2012 at 08:56 AM
Hi Elaine - awards will be assessed on a range of criteria; principally the quality of recent work, public votes, testimonials and industry views.

It isn't about size but if it transpires that there is a lack of qualified landscape architects then it will not be possible to progress them in the competition.

Please do take a moment to vote, every opinion counts.

Accolades won't be given out lightly.
#6 Posted by dubioustoo on 10 May 2012 at 12:37 PM
@urbanrealm: so you'll be confirming that those on the short list employ landscape architects within their firm?
#7 Posted by urbanrealm on 10 May 2012 at 14:00 PM
Yes, we'll establish this during the interview process.
#8 Posted by erm...... on 10 May 2012 at 14:30 PM
would it not be better to only put companies on the shortlist that would actually be eligible to win, rather than people voting for a practice that cannot win?
What if the results show that the best landscape designer(s) are a practice that doesn't have any landscape architects??
#9 Posted by Moderation on 11 May 2012 at 14:34 PM
Is this award for a piece of Landscape Architecture or for Landscape Architects. If it is for a piece of Landscape Architecture then the likes of 7N or Graeme Massie can be on the list, if it is for Landscape Architects then these two, Charles Jencks, Dualchas, Smith Scott Mullan amongst others need to come off the list. Establishing at interview is ridiculous.
#10 Posted by urbanrealm on 11 May 2012 at 15:02 PM
The competition is seeking to find the top landscape practices, although this may in effect be a landscape architect if the practice is just one person.

Architects who offer landscaping services are included in this.

On that basis the above practices are eligible but, I stress, this list is merely an initial push to stimulate debate and elicit industry views.

If a practice has recently made its landscape architects redundant they will be disqualified. If a practice has been omitted, they can be added.

Hope that clears things up.
#11 Posted by Moderation on 11 May 2012 at 16:14 PM
Do the shortlisted practices employ CMLI (Chartered Members of the Landscape Institute)or FLI (Fellows of the Landscape Instiiute) Simple really
#12 Posted by clearasmud on 11 May 2012 at 16:25 PM
@urbanrealm what a mess: your various answers are totally contradictory. "Landscape architect" is a protected title, just as "architect" is protected. If you are indeed searching for "top landscape architects" (as your title suggests), then all those architecture practices who do not have landscape architects must be removed (even if they offer 'landscaping'). If you are "seeking to find the top landscape practices" then why are there so many purely architectural practices on the list? If the award is for landscape architecture that is something different again!

Would it not have been better to clarify all this before establishing a [long] list?!
Ewan Anderson, 7N
#13 Posted by Ewan Anderson, 7N on 15 May 2012 at 14:35 PM
For the record 7N didn't nominate themselves for this but are quite pleased, and slightly amused, to appear on the list.
We like to work on a range of public realm/landscape projects but don't call ourselves landscape architects. Nor do we currently have any qualified landscape architects in our team. We haven't made any redundant either.
We do enjoy collaborating with proper, qualified, landscape architects, such as RankinFraser on the Flowers and Lisa Mackenzie on Inverness Campus, as we find that the place between architecture and landscape is the interesting place to be in terms of placemaking.
There was a similar furore when we were nominated for the Doolan prize with a number of people outraged that the Flowers wasn't architecture.
Our work just is what it is. Happy to let others worry about how they choose to categorise it and whether that is important.
#14 Posted by Art on 1 Jun 2012 at 13:35 PM
What a prestigious award! To summarise:
A search for the "UK's top landscape architect": Need not actually include landscape architects.
Has a self-selecting shortlist and voting system.
A UK-wide 'search' few have heard of outside of Scotland.
Class journalism. You might find the Scottish practice with the most employees wins this one irrespective of whether they could ever be classed as one of the UK's top landscape architects.

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