A Quest for Life : An Autobiography

A Quest for Life : An AutobiographyAuthor(s): Ian L. McHarg, Stewart L. Udall

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0471086282

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A Quest for Life : An Autobiography (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design)

Hardcover
Publication date: April 1996

n the foreword to this thoroughly enjoyable book, Stewart Udall, President Kennedy’s secretary of the interior, describes McHarg as a person who “developed an holistic method of ecological planning that has made possible a crucial change in the way environmental decisions are made.” McHarg did this and more. His first book, Design with Nature, helped create the field of ecological planning and is still in print 30 years later. The present volume is the autobiography of a most extraordinary and productive man. Many of McHarg’s projects are well known, for example, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Battery Park in New York City; all demonstrate that development can be integrated successfully with aesthetics and environmental concern while improving quality of life. Beyond describing his award-winning projects, McHarg recounts his own growth and development, which mirrors that of the discipline he gave life to. Many of the anecdotes related in this humorous and often scathing book demonstrate why McHarg has been described as “hyperbolic” and “belligerent.” The only shortcoming: the reader is left with the sense that McHarg believes he has neither made a misstep nor misspoken in his illustrious career.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description

“Show me any civilization that believes that reality exists only because man can perceive it, that the cosmos was erected to support man on its pinnacle, that man is exclusively divine, and then I will predict the nature of his cities and its landscapes, the hot dog stands, the neon shill, the ticky-tacky houses, the sterile core, the mined and ravaged countryside. This is the image of anthropocentric man. He seeks not unity with nature but conquest, yet unity he finds, when his arrogance and ignorance are stilled and he lies dead under the greensward.” Ian L. McHarg Multiply and Subdue the Earth, 1969

“No living American has done more to usher the gentle science of ecology out of oblivion and into mainstream thought than Ian McHarg—a teacher, philosopher, designer, and activist who changed the way we view and shape our environment.” From the foreword by Stewart L. Udall

Published in cooperation with the Center for American Places, Harrisonburg, Virginia

A Quest for Life is the autobiography of a man who stands alongside Rachel Carson, Lewis Mumford, and Aldo Leopold as one of the giants of the environmental movement. In a robust and singular voice, Ian McHarg recounts the story of a life that has foreshadowed and eventually shaped environmental consciousness in the twentieth century. Along the way we meet prominent figures in the environmental movement, the design fields, and the government, from Walter Gropius to Lady Bird Johnson, all presented in rich and telling anecdotes.

Early in A Quest for Life McHarg presents us with an arresting image. Describing the view from his boyhood home on the outskirts of Glasgow, he tells us that in one direction he could see the industrial miasma of smokestacks, tenements, and treeless streets, and, in another, the glories of the Scottish countryside. “I was born and bred,” he writes, “on a fulcrum with two poles, city and countryside.” Confronted with such a stark contrast, the man who was to become “the founder of ecological planning” began at an early age to turn literally from inhumane urban development and toward the beauty and power of Nature.

Each chapter of this book illuminates key stages in McHarg’s life and in the evolution of his environmental awareness. We see him as a youth standing on a hillside beside the impressive Donald Wintersgill who, with the wave of his cane, lays out an entire village complete with lakes and forests, and thus introduces the astonished McHarg to the profession of landscape architecture.

In some of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War he witnesses the magnitude of human destructive capability. Later, when he faces a crisis of conscience over his religious training and its exhortation to gain dominion over life and subdue the earth, he begins to develop a deep spiritual appreciation for the sanctity of Nature itself. His training as a designer and planner in the Modernist Bauhaus tradition, with its neglect of the environment; his bouts with tuberculosis that showed him the link between public health and city planning; his famous “Man—The Planetary Disease” speech before powerful industrialists—all stand as emblematic of battles that are still being fought today.

A Quest for Life also chronicles the many triumphs in McHarg’s career. It offers fresh insight into the revolutionary design method behind his groundbreaking book, Design with Nature, and explores the development of geographical information systems. We learn firsthand about his work on the celebrated regional plans for Denver and the Twin Cities, as well as the Woodlands new town project. His most enduring contribution, however, may prove to be his four decades of teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. Through the generations of landscape architects, designers, and planners he taught there, his influence has spread around the world and into the future.

As the compelling, first-person story of a remarkable individual who not only manned the barricades against environmental destruction, but helped lay the foundation for the barricades themselves, A Quest for Life is must reading for landscape architects, designers, conservationists, planners, and others concerned with the preservation of our communities and the natural environment.

Customer Comments
rating=10:
The life of the founder of ecological design, a great read!

Ian McHarg is the founder of the field of environmental design, a branch of or approach to Landscape Architecture. His book “Design With Nature” opened the eyes of a generation of planners and architects to the possibilities of environmentally sane design and planning. McHarg’s autobiography makes a wonderful read for anyone who read and loved “Design With Nature”. And is is a first class read! He has never been a man who pulled his punches, and this book is full of hilarious stories of his run-ins with the establishment. I loved it!

Visions For a New American Dream: Process, Principles, and an Ordinance to Plan and Design Small Communities

Visions For a New American Dream: Process, Principles, and an Ordinance to Plan and Design Small Communities

Author(s): Anton C. Nelessen

Publisher: Planners Press

ISBN: 1884829007

ISBN-13: 978-1884829000

374 pages

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This book shows you how to combine the best design principles of the past with the technological advances of the present to achieve a more satisfying community environment. Nelessen advocates design by democracy: involving citizens and public officals in planning and designing their own communities. He describes techniques planners can use to help residents create a common vision. Nelessen has successfully used these techniques-the Visual Preference Survey and Hands-on Model Building Workshop-in seminars and workshops for more than 25 years. ?Visions for a New American Dream ? outlines a seven step planning and design process for creating three basic types of traditional small communities: hamlets, villages, and neighborhoods. Nelessen presents 10 design principles-ranging from humanism and ecological responsibility to open space design and community focus-to help planners and designers turn a community’s common vision into reality. ?Visions for a New American Dream ? is extensively illustrated with photographs, diagrams, and maps. This is must reading for all planners, designers, public officals, and citizens who want to envision and direct the future of their communities.

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century

Author(s): James Howard Kunstler

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 0684811960

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Home from Nowhere : Remaking Our Everyday World for the Twenty-First Century

Hardcover
320 pages
October 1996

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Deep down, many Americans are dissatisfied with suburbia — though they have trouble understanding what’s missing, writes James Howard Kunstler in this semi-sequel to his critically-acclaimed Geography of Nowhere. Much of this engaging book tries to fill in the holes. Modernist architecture and inhumane zoning laws have made suburbanites prisoners to a car culture that is overly friendly to ugly strip malls and actively hostile to the development of healthy, vibrant communities, says Kunstler. We must return to the idea of Main Street America, where people live, work and shop among neighbors they know and trust. Here’s how.

The New York Times Book Review, Alexander Garvin
Kunstler’s is the latest in a long line of polemics that employ colorful writing and vivid illustrations to decry the ugliness that pervades the American landscape.

From Booklist , October 15, 1996
In The Geography of Nowhere (1993), Kunstler, a novelist, ardent and perceptive citizen-observer, and masterful rhetorician, began his study of why suburbs, neglected Main Streets, and squandered cities are so bereft of beauty. Here, he continues his critique of American architecture, culture, and values and, in the process, identifies the source of the malaise people experience in and around the hideous structures that make every suburb resemble every other suburb. This degradation of the public realm is, Kunstler vehemently declares, nothing less than the degradation of the common good. Leaving aside architectural issues for the moment, Kunstler launches into a provocative discussion of the consequences of becoming consumers rather than citizens, of abandoning the community for an addiction to television, and of the corporate colonization of cities and the countryside. After both riling and delighting the reader with his ire, brilliance, and candor, Kunstler returns to the subject of buildings and chronicles the quiet growth of New Urbanism, a smart and hopeful trend toward improving American life. Donna Seaman Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved

Ethics and Urban Design: Culture, Form, and Environment

Ethics and Urban Design: Culture, Form, and Environment

Author(s): Gideon S. Golany

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Hardcover: 272 pages

ISBN: 0471122742

ISBN-13: 978-0471122746

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Ethics and Urban Design: Culture, Form, and Environment

“The city,” according to urban design scholar Gideon Golany, is “the largest and most complicated project ever produced by humankind.” In Ethics and Urban Design, he challenges design professionals to reexamine their basic assumptions about the urban environment and offers design strategies based on enduring human values.

In search of answers to the paradoxical problems of the modern city, Golany takes the reader through the sweep of human settlements from the dawn of civilization to the present. His authoritative examination of the genesis of the city is illuminated by instructive examples of early urban centers. Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, the Egyptian cities of the Nile, and the capital cities of ancient China–all are examined in the light of what made them work as major centers of human activity.

What Golany finds in the success stories of the past are cohesive sociocultural values that shaped the design of homes, neighborhoods, and cities. These ethical values helped to maintain an equilibrium within the society that permeated its natural, social, and human-made environments. In the present era, conversely, he finds a major disconnection between human values and the ethics of technology, which has resulted in confusion, imbalance, and dehumanization.

To help designers gain a perspective on possible solutions, Golany explains leading comprehensive design strategies, including the valley theory, the urban border zone concept, and the regional concept of Patrick Geddes. In the case study of contemporary Holland, he details what a small, densely populated country has been able to achieve through design planning rooted in environmental ethics.

“Future Frontiers for Urban Design,” the culminating section of this groundbreaking book, opens with Golany’s vision of the future city. He examines the issues of thermal performance and climate as they relate to urban design and offers the concept of “geospace”–the earth-enveloped habitat. Buttressing his presentation with detailed information on the mechanics of geospace, Golany describes case studies of the successful use of earth-enveloped habitats in China and Tunisia. He makes a powerful argument for the geospace city as a renewal of ancient traditions that can restore the vital equilibrium between nature and human settlements that we seem to have lost.

Ethics and Urban Design is a distinguished scholar’s analysis and prescription for the city; it offers an abundance of stimulating ideas for the architects, designers, and planners who have assumed responsibility for its future.

Ethics & Urban Design draws on historical examples and contemporary case studies from around the world to illustrate urban design strategies that can help restore equilibrium to the natural, social, and built environments of the city. In this stimulating book, urban design scholar Gideon Golany offers architects, designers, and planners both an in-depth analysis of the fundamental issues of urban design and practical options for the design of the future city.
* Examines the genesis and development of the city from the earliest presettlements to the rise of urban society
* Presents urban design strategies based on historical examples of early urban centers, including Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, Egypt, and China
* Offers case studies of environmental success stories from Europe, Asia, and Africa
* Details geospace design options–the use of underground space for diversified land use, housing, and transportation
* Fully illustrated, with over 80 photographs, drawings, and diagrams

From the Publisher

Features historical examples and contemporary case studies from around the world to illustrate an approach to urban design that balances the requirements of both cultural and natural environments. Addresses such issues as housing, transportation, urban ecology, public space and geospace design options. Contains a wealth of line drawings and photographs of Golany’s design concepts.

A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6)

A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6)

Author(s): Christopher Alexander (Contributor), Hajo Neis, Artemis Anninou, ingr King

Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr (Trade)

ISBN: 0195037537

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A New Theory of Urban Design (Center for Environmental Structure Series, Vol 6)

Hardcover, 251 pages
Publication date: November 1987

The venerable cities of the past, such as Venice or Amsterdam, convey a feeling of wholeness, an organic unity that surfaces in every detail, large and small, in restaurants, shops, public gardens, even in balconies and ornaments. But this sense of wholeness is lacking in modern urban design, with architects absorbed in problems of individual structures, and city planners preoccupied with local ordinances, it is almost impossible to achieve.

In this groundbreaking volume, the newest in a highly-acclaimed series by the Center for Environmental Structure, architect and planner Christopher Alexander presents a new theory of urban design which attempts to recapture the process by which cities develop organically. To discover the kinds of laws needed to create a growing whole in a city, Alexander proposes here a preliminary set of seven rules which embody the process at a practical level and which are consistent with the day-to-day demands of urban development.

He then puts these rules to the test, setting out with a number of his graduate students to simulate the urban redesign of a high-density part of San Francisco, initiating a project that encompassed some ninety different design problems, including warehouses, hotels, fishing piers, a music hall, and a public square. This extensive experiment is documented project by project, with detailed discussion of how each project satisfied the seven rules, accompanied by floorplans, elevations, street grids, axonometric diagrams and photographs of the scaled-down model which clearly illustrate the discussion.

A New Theory of Urban Design provides an entirely new theoretical framework for the discussion of urban problems, one that goes far to remedy the defects which cities have today.

About the Author:

Christopher Alexander, winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, is a practicing architect and contractor, Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Environmental Structure.

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Author(s): Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein

Publisher: Oxford Univ Press

ISBN: 0195019199

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Hardcover, 1171 pages

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The second of three books published by the Center for Environmental Structure to provide a “working alternative to our present ideas about architecture, building, and planning,” A Pattern Language offers a practical language for building and planning based on natural considerations. The reader is given an overview of some 250 patterns that are the units of this language, each consisting of a design problem, discussion, illustration, and solution. By understanding recurrent design problems in our environment, readers can identify extant patterns in their own design projects and use these patterns to create a language of their own. Extraordinarily thorough, coherent, and accessible, this book has become a bible for homebuilders, contractors, and developers who care about creating healthy, high-level design.

Customer Comments 11/07/97, rating=9:
A Pattern Language presents a compelling case for the influence of space, buildings, and landscape on human endeavors. We often overlook this force, accustomed as we are to accommodating spatial limitations and design flaws. But try entering any room and ignoring the cues of memory and social constraints – you will doubtless be drawn to the window in the room.

Alexander and his contributing editors present a series of patterns that operate universally on the mood and activities of people using spaces. “Light on Two Sides,” for example, is a pattern describing the impact of light entering a room from two directions. Functionally, this arrangement softens light by cancelling the harsh shadows that arise from a single light direction. Emotionally, this makes a room more pleasant to live and work in, and may of its own accord encourage certain activities.

Alexander’s huge study of over 200 patterns is at once modest and sweeping. He details patterns with care, and offers sketches and photographs to illustrate them, along with an unassuming voice. Above all, he demystifies architecture itself, calling upon any reader to assume a role in the design process. Despite this humility, the significance of Alexander’s vision is always present. In the end, he is constructing a formula for social utopiaÐan architectural prescription for living well and wisely. From integrating children and senior citizens into the daily life of a community to revealing the advantages of mixed use commercial and residential zoning, Alexander proposes ideas that can successfully animate any town’s master planning efforts.

Read this book if you’re designing house, working with an architect, looking for a new house, or contributing to your city’s planning commission. You will doubtless come away with a heightened appreciation for the influence of space on your choices and activities.

Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development

Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development

Author(s): John Tillman Lyle

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0471555827

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Landscape Architecture

Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development Winner, 1994 Merit Award for Communications, American Society of Landscape Architects

“Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development is nothing less than a user’s manual for planet Earth that integrates the principles of ecological design with practical realities better than anything I’ve read. John Lyle has written the best book now available on the theory and practice of sustainability . . . essential reading for natural resource professionals, architects, planners, educators, environmentalists, and the general public.” –David W. Orr, Professor and Chair Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin College.

“John Lyle has written a splendid book, Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development. It is perfectly topical; it is committed to the unity of art and science, design and planning, man and nature. It is itself exemplary, and it is a repository of exemplary adaptations. It has carried the environmental movement to a new threshold of ecological planning and design. It should be widely read and employed.” –Ian L. McHarg, FASLA.

“In these times of widespread urban stress and regional disruption, the cogent thoughts of John Tillman Lyle on sustainable cities are on target and highly constructive. They are must reading for planning professionals and all concerned citizens.” –John Ormsbee Simonds, FASLA.

“More designers need to broaden their horizons in the way John Lyle has put forth in this book. In general, there are far too few land planners, landscape architects, or architects who have any working procedure that approximates what sustainable design entails. This book provides important historical background and contemporary experience to help guide the way.”–Pliny Fisk III, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems.

From the despoliation of our rivers and lakes by industrial runoff to the destruction of our atmosphere by sulphur emissions and CFCs, production cycles based on a one-way flow of materials and energy have pushed us to the brink of environmental collapse. It is time for a change, and in this groundbreaking book, John Tillman Lyle offers us a blueprint for implementing that change.

This book provides civil engineers, architects, land development planners, and others with practical, realistic approaches to reversing this deadly course. Throughout, the emphasis is on proven regenerative practices for water use, land use, energy use, and building design. Most importantly, it provides ways to reestablish connections between people and nature, between art and science, and between technology and daily life.

From the Publisher

200 years of global industrialization have brought the Earth to the brink of environmental crisis. One of the most respected figures in environmental design presents methods for reversing past trends in practical and realistic ways. Describes a broad sampling of practices and technologies that are inherently self-renewing along with examples which demonstrate how they have been applied through carefully conceived design in various situations. Explores the roles of regenerative design in social, physical, and political contexts.

The Car and the City: 24 Steps to Safe Streets and Healthy Communities

The Car and the City: 24 Steps to Safe Streets and Healthy Communities

Author(s): Alan Thein During

Publisher: Northwest Environment Watch (April 1996)

ISBN: 1886093032

ISBN-13: 978-1886093034

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Most people recognize that the increasing number of automobiles is choking our cities, polluting our air, endangering our streets and isolating us from other people. This book shows how resurgent cities could make cars work again, and even solve problems ranging from oil wars to urban decay, global warming to violent crime. Alan Thein Durning reports on activities in three great cities of the Pacific Northwest: Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. He describes the origins of urban sprawl and the price we pay to support it. He then offers tangible solutions built around vibrant urban neighborhoods that replace mobility with proximity. The result is a community that’s safer, healthier and more environmentally responsible.

73 pages, 1996

Designing the City: A Guide for Advocates and Public Officials

Designing the City: A Guide for Advocates and Public Officials

Author(s): Adele Fleet Bacow

Publisher: Island Press

ISBN: 1559632917

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Paperback: 210 pages

Written in a clear and engaging style, Designing the City is a practical manual for improving the way communities are planned, designed, and built. It presents a wealth of information on design and decision-making, including advice on how citizens and activists can make their voices heard, and numerous examples of effective strategies for working with all parties involved in neighborhood and community development. It highlights proven models and strategies to help communities:

  • establish unique and productive partnerships with public works and transportation departments
  • develop resources through grant programs
  • broaden expertise, perspective, and constituency
  • create new and enduring models for effective action
  • educate participants and consumers of the design and development process

Conservation Design for Subdivisions

Conservation Design for Subdivisions

Author(s): Randall G. Arendt

ISBN: I559634898

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This practical handbook explores better ways of designing new residential developments. Site designers, developers, land-use planners and landowners will learn how to implement new ideas about land-use planning and environmental protection. Abundantly illustrated with site plans (many in color), floor plans, photographs and simple renditions of houses and landscapes, it describes a series of simple and straight-forward techniques that allow for land-conserving development.

The book proposes a step-by-step approach to conserving natural areas by rearranging density on each development parcel as it is being planned so that no more than half of the buildable land is dedicated to houselots and streets. Homes are built in a less land-consumptive manner, so the balance of property can be permanently protected. These areas are to become an interconnected network of green spaces and green corridors. Included in the book are model zoning and subdivision ordinance provisions that can help citizens and local officials implement these innovative designs. 160 pages. 1996

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