Schreiber’s Passion Was Example of Why We Need Registered Professionals

Landscape architecture

Dave Schreiber was closely involved with the site design and planning for the Truax Campus of Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin.

Dave Schreiber

Dave Schreiber

His dedication to raising the professional status of landscape architects through licensure is one of the many strengths of Dave Schreiber that recently made him the worthy recipient of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. The story of this tireless professional – who died in 2016 while pursuing another passion, horseback riding – helps illustrate why professional licensure is so important to practitioners and clients alike.

Tim Anderson, who partnered with Dave in 1984 to form Schreiber Anderson Associates and later retired from the firm, said Dave placed a high value on raising the stature and integrity of landscape architects and setting standards for the proper execution of their craft. “He was very instrumental in getting the legislation passed for licensure,” Tim says of Dave’s efforts to establish professional landscape architect licensure in Wisconsin. That legislation passed in 1995, and Dave was among the first to be licensed that same year.

Pushing the profession forward

Ultimately Dave raised the profession to the point where landscape architects within the firm were entrusted with leading a multidiscipline team that included civil engineers and planners, says Blake Theisen, landscape architect with Ayres Associates, which acquired SAA Design Group in 2015. Dave understood that the unique training of professional landscape architects allows them to be excellent start-to-finish project managers who visualize the big picture from the beginning and see it through to the final details at the end.

Landscape architecture

For more than two decades, Dave Schreiber worked with the City of Beloit, Wisconsin, and the Beloit 2020 Development Corporation on the renaissance of Beloit’s Rock River corridor.

In a 2014 interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Dave was quoted as saying: “My goal was to put the landscape architect in control of these projects. I started approaching landscape architecture with the view that I and my employees could tackle everything outside the building, and (clients) could really just work with us to get their whole site designed.”

Dave wanted his staff to be fully licensed, Tim notes, and he did what he could to make sure the firm supported and assisted them in pursuing licensure. He also spent many hours sharing his wisdom and expertise with many of the 140-plus employees who worked with him over the years. “Mentorship was a big deal with him,” Tim says.

“David always proceeded with great passion and excitement,” says Blake, who was mentored by Dave and was among those who nominated Dave for the award. “I was sometimes reminded of the enthusiasm of a little kid when he really got talking. He spent his entire career as a landscape architect and business entrepreneur promoting landscape-architecture-led projects and contributing to responsible environmental planning and design in the Upper Midwest.”

Landscape architecture

Dave Schreiber was part of the team that transformed a brownfield into Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The professional licensure fight is not over, however. The passion that led Dave to push for licensure in Wisconsin in 1995 was lost on Arizona legislators who last year introduced a bill that sought to abolish state licensure for certain professions, including geologists and landscape architects. Arizona professionals fought the legislation, which ultimately passed, but not until amendments preserved registration requirements for landscape architects and geologists. Joining a tide of opinion questioning licensure that is not seen as critical to preserving public health and safety, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed creating commissions to look at proposed and existing occupational licenses, which could call into question Wisconsin licensure of landscape architects, interior designers, and others. The Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA is gearing up to lobby against any efforts to roll back the requirement for landscape architecture licensure, Blake says.

Why is licensure important?

So, besides passion, why is it important to have a registered professional working on your project? It makes all the difference if you want your project to be safe, long-lasting, and built to code. Here’s why:

1. Registered professionals are competent.

A license is earned through education and experience, culminating in a rigorous examination. It also requires continuing education.

2. Registered professionals know their limits.

A licensed professional is committed to practicing only within his or her specific area of training and practice.

3. Registered professionals are accountable.

The boards that license individuals have enforcement powers that can discipline an individual for not meeting minimum standards.

4. Registered professionals protect the public. 

A professional landscape architect coordinates all elements of a site to reduce crime and injuries, not just to make it look nice.

5. Registered professionals watch out for their clients.

Registered professionals are committed to minimizing risk for their clients. Hiring a registered professional from the beginning helps to prevent costly errors and oversights and makes sure a project is safe.

6. It’s the law.

States require that a design professional (engineer or architect) registered in that state sign and seal the plans for almost any project.

Ayres Associates has 143 registered or certified professionals on staff in all areas of practice, and they are supported by dozens of talented technicians. Our technical staff are encouraged to obtain registrations as soon as they are qualified to do so, including two landscape architects newly licensed this month. Dave would be proud.

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