The state of landscape architecture

May 24, 2017

Jeff Cutler is the recipient of the first ever SALA Service Award

Jeff Cutler

Jeff Cutler is the recipient of the first ever SALA Service Award for his ongoing contributions to the school. The founder and principal of space2place, Jeff supports the school by consistently participating as a guest lecturer and through studio reviews. With over 20 years of experience as a landscape architect, he’s in a great position to comment on the current state of landscape architecture.

Over the course of his career, Jeff has seen how the profession has changed in terms of the people it attracts and the solutions that it proposes: “It’s been interesting to track the evolution of the landscape architecture program over the last 15 years or so and I’m happy to see that there’s a constant trajectory towards one of the best programs in North America.”

During his involvement at SALA, Jeff has been impressed by how students address both the small details and larger issues that face landscape architects, like sustainability, social issues, and climate change. He sees this as being something that’s particularly important for young landscape architects to consider.

Moody Park PlayscapeThe Moody Park Playscape in New Westminster that Jeff and space2place designed


“Things are becoming more and more complex,” he says, “In that a lot of the easy sites have been developed. A lot of the sites that are now being developed are existing sites, which involve a lot of environmental and social complexities.”

For landscape architecture students, this means that their designs are not going to be limited to a particular site, but will be considered amongst an array of factors that affect the place—like the people living in the area, its history, and its surrounding environment.

“Landscape architecture is becoming more of a profession where we connect the dots between a lot of different components. Collaboration is becoming more and more relevant for landscape architects,” Jeff says.

Out of all this collaboration, Jeff describes landscape architecture as a “diverse profession in that there’s a lot of opportunities for people of varied interest.”

For space2place, their work is focused on public projects. Their public work started with skate parks and over time this has evolved into projects ranging from playscapes and public parks to infrastructure projects. Currently, they are working on a park along the Fraser River within the East Fraser Lands development in Vancouver. 

Garden City Play EnvironmentThe Garden City Play Environment in Richmond that Jeff and space2place designed

This seven-acre park will create a place that connects the new community with the landscape of the river. In designing this park, Jeff also confronts one of the emerging challenges facing landscape architects: “How do we design a park that deals with sea level rise? How do we build in this functionality and at the same time make it an engaging place?”

This is just one of the current issues that landscape architecture students and professionals are dealing with together. Through his ongoing collaboration with SALA, Jeff continues to inspire a new generation of landscape architects to consider these subjects.