January 11, 2005
by Canadian Architect
The latest ASLA Business Indicators Survey reveals that landscape architecture firms are growing in size, billing rates are increasing dramatically, and the client base for the profession continues to expand, most significantly in the public sector.
ASLA commissioned the first business indicators survey in 1997 and repeated it in 1999. This latest survey is based on information gathered in 2004 from more than 1,000 private sector landscape architecture firms. Indicators include market sectors, project types, client types, billing rates, contract types, design competition participation, marketing, spending and construction cost ratios, and profit margins.
“This survey confirms what we’ve been hearing from our members: that it’s a very good time to be a landscape architect” said Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president of ASLA. “Since it takes three data points to establish a trend line, the latest survey definitively indicates that the profession is growing rapidly in terms of impact and prosperity.”
Among the findings in the survey:
* Residential work continues to dominate the landscape architecture market as it did in both 1997 and 1999. In 2004, commercial/industrial development was second and parks/recreation third, keeping pace with the two previous surveys.
* Landscape architecture firms with 50 or more employees now account for 16.5 percent of landscape architecture businesses, up from only 9 percent in 1999.
* The private sector constitutes 60 percent of the client base for all firms with 49 employees or fewer, although it is notable that in 2004 public sector work outpaced private sector work for large firms (50 or more employees).
* Since 1999, billing rates for firm principals for firms with more than five employees rose 28 percent, a dramatic increase over the 5 percent growth measured between 1997 and 1999. For firms with one to four employees, billing rates increased 14 percent from 1999 to 2004, up fromjust 5 percent between 1997 and 1999.
* Private developers continue to be the largest client group for the profession, with cities/municipalities ranking second, followed very closely by architecture firms. For small firms (four employees or fewer), private homeowners continue to make up the largest clientele.
The ASLA Business Indicators Survey is available online, which allows subscribers to customize it to meet their forecasting and planning needs. The survey is available for purchase along with the 2004 ASLA Salary Survey for $135 to ASLA Members, $270 to nonmembers, by visitingwww.asla.org. Each survey is available for single purchase for $75.00 for ASLA members, $150 for non-members.
Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects representing more than 15,000 members. Landscape architecture is a comprehensive discipline of land analysis, planning, design, management, preservation, and rehabilitation. ASLA promotes the landscape architecture profession and advances the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship. Learn more about landscape architecture online at www.asla.org.