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;~~ :~:TDy

An Evolving Body of Thought


Michael D. Murphy
~ TexasA&M University


Long Grove, Illinois
( Robert ~ White J

For information about this book, contact:

Waveland Press, Inc. ~
4180 IL Route 83, Suite 101 ~
Long Grove, IL 60047-9580 ..•..••.

(847) 634-0081 Foreword v Acknowledgments vii \ >.; Introduction 1
Landscape Architecture 2
Values 3
Commodity 7
Landscape 11
Architecture 13
Design 16
Education 19
Professions 22

Substantive Theory 25
Design Philosophy 26
Sustainable Development 28
Environment-Behavior Studies 34
Systems Theory 38

3 ProceduralTheory 49
Copyright © 2005 by Waveland Press, Inc. 'l'

Design Programming 53
ISBN 1-57766-357-8 Design Process 62
Landscape Planning 75
Landscape Suitability Analysis 79
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing 4 The Biophysical Environment 83
from the publisher.
Geophysical Conditions 84
Ecosystems 87
Printed in the United States of America Goods, Services, and Processes 99
7 6 543 2 1 Hi
iv Contents
Ecosystem Health 104
Urban Development 108
Site Analysis Factors 109
5 The HumanEnvironment 115
Cultural Diversity 117
Human Needs 118
Urban Development 124
Access and Movement 129
Site Analysis Factors 134
6 Design Form 139
Natural Form 144
Designed Form 147
Aesthetics 153
7 Design Purpose 159
Design Intent 160
Quality of Life 166
8 Design Practice 171 Although we visualize the landscape as a place, it is better under-
Design Technologies 172
Organizational Values 174 stood if we think of it as a process. The landscape is best described as a
Changing Characteristics of Professions 176 complex of biological, physical, and cultural systems engaged in a
Professional Services 184 process of perpetual becoming. Over time the landscape takes different
forms, each one expressing the state of these interacting systems at a
9 Design Collaboration 189 . particulaI: moment and stage of development. As the landscape and
Design Teams 190 society coevolve, we find that some conditions of the environment
Team Learning 192 conflict with our activities and interests. In conceptual terms, design
Authority and Collaboration 196 is. our way of intervening in the process of landscape evolution to
The Team Environment 197 eliminate conflicts and improve the human condition. Design is our
Shared Vision 199 way of managing the continuing process of change to enhance quality
Team Leadership 200 of life and create meaningful and compelling places as settings for
Team Size 201 human activity. Throughout history, modifying the landscape to
Team Participation 201 improve our lives and express our humanity has been a continuing
Team Member Responsibilities 203 occupation. Today, as we gain increasing power to change the land-
Rules of Engagement 204 scape we also increase our responsibility to do so wisely, to protect the
Interdisciplinary Process 209 landscape as a critical resource and invest the built environment with
enhanced value and meaning now and into the foreseeable future.
10 Conclusion 213 To ensure that our designs lead to durable improvements in the
Critical Thinking 214 human/landscape condition rather than temporary alterations to its
Creative Thinking 218 visual form or style, we need to consider all the salient factors of the
Summary 221 landscape, including human interactions and the new activities to be
Glossary 227 accommodated, before deciding what a transformed landscape will
References 233 become. But the environments we act to transform are not only
Index 245 v
vi Preface

dynamic but also complex. To design effectively requires a compre-

hensive approach to the identification, acquisition, and integration of
the knowledge needed to support sound design recommendations.
This enables designers to provide guidance based on a broad under-
standing of people's interrelationships with the environment. But our
lack of expertise in some areas poorly equips us to take advantage of
all the knowledge required to form a holistic understanding of people
and the landscape. Sometimes the more committed we become to a
particular kind of understanding the less able we are to accommodate
other points of view-as expressed in the apparent dichotomies
between art and science or between the so called "hard" and "soft" sci-
ences. This creates a dilemma for the designer: what knowledge
should be used to guide design change and how do we synthesize it to
create better informed designs for better formed landscapes?
While the intuitive aspects of designing-creating ideas with com-
pelling form and spatial qualities-may be an unknowable mystery of
the human mind, the rational aspects, that is, deciding what criteria
designs should meet and why, are not. This is particularly evident in
landscape designs responsive to a wide variety of requirements, such
as those that improve the comfort, convenience, and functional rela- In addition to those whose work is cited here, there are others to
tionships among people and their activities; enhance social interaction whom I owe special recognition for their individual contributions.
and aesthetic experience; and maintain the ecological integrity and First I thank my wife Doreen for her patience and support during the
vitality of the environment. This examination of theory focuses on the lengthy period of research and writing. I am deeply indebted to Chris
body of knowledge required to inform design thinking and on ways to Mulder for the time and energy we invested in developing and testing
apply that knowledge to improve the human/landscape condition and ,the design. process and interdisciplinary collaboration guidelines, and
enhance quality of life through design performance. for his dedication to refining them through application. I also am
indebted to Laurie Prossnitz for her skillful editing of the manuscript
into a readable text. I thank John Motloch for our many discussions
about the direction of the profession over the last twenty years. His
critical insights into a comprehensive body of knowledge for the disci-
pline have been a major influence on my own thinking. I thank Dieter
Holm for his encouragement to write and for his comments on early
drafts of the text. I also acknowledge the late Jot Carpenter for read-
ing an early version of the manuscript and guiding me toward pro-
ductive sources in the literature. I am particularly pleased to
acknowledge Laurence Jacobs and Elizabeth Larkin for their assistance
in preparing the illustrations. Mostly, I am indebted to the students
for whom this text is intended. It would be difficult to imagine this
book coming to fruition without the challenging inquiries of many
generations of insightful and enthusiastic students.


Man is a singular creature. He has a set of gifts which make him

unique among animals: so that, unlike them, he is not a figure in
the landscape-he is a shaper of the landscape. In body and in
mind he is the explorerof nature, the ubiquitous animal, who did
not find but made his home in everycontinent.
-Jacob Bronowski,The Ascent of Man

The rise of civilization has been traced as the intellectual evolution

of a species with the ability to understand nature, and as a result, the
capacity to control rather than to be controlled by the environment.
Humankind, through its invention of tools and knowledge, has devel-
oped the capacity to mold both its environment and its future
(Bronowski 1973:19). By accident as well as intent, human society
has become the primary agent of change in the landscape. Design of
the landscape is our way of guiding change to improve the human
condition. Theory forms the basis for determining how to design well,
to bring about successful change in the landscape.
This examination of landscape architecture theory will focus on
our efforts to change the landscape as a professional pursuit and on
the body of knowledge we require to do so successfully. But landscape
architecture theory is in an evolutionary state. What is presented here
is a brief introduction to some of the seminal writings and ideas that
have informed landscape architecture over the last fifty years. Some of
2 3
Chapter One Introduction

the writers are landscape architects, but many more are thinkers from well educated to understand the landscape and the ways people inter-
a wide variety of fields whose ideas have illuminated the search for a act with it, and well trained to apply design process and implementa-
theory of landscape architecture. This text attempts to bring the ideas tion technology. They also need a sound theoretical base to structure
of some of the most important of these writers together to present a and inform professional education and training and to guide their
broad view of a critical but still developing body of knowledge. The application in ways that are effective, useful, and valued by society.
treatment of the material is introductory. Ideas are summarized to The overarching goal of the profession is to create order and har-
describe their essential characteristics and reveal their relationships to mony in our relationships with the environment. These relationships
one another. For a more comprehensive treatment, readers are encour- are expressed by the ecological, functional, and aesthetic characteris-
aged to return to the original sources and to read the rapidly expand- tics of the places we create to facilitate human activity and to improve
ing contemporary literature for a more complete understanding. our use, experience, and understanding of the landscape. We alter
To begin this introduction to theory we need a few definitions to physical conditions and processes in response to society's dynamic
clarify some of the principle issues. These issues are discussed to intro- growth, development, and extension into the landscape. Attending the
duce you to the body of knowledge and to describe some of the major dynamics of human development is the challenge to continually
influences on its central themes. The themes described here are confined reform the landscape in ways that better accommodate people's
to the distinct knowledge areas-and their underlying values-that evolving requirements. These requirements include the provision of
inspire the changes we impose on the landscape, inform our reasons economic support, physical space for activities, improved satisfaction
for doing so, and guide us in reaching these decisions. 1Wocritical areas with and appreciation of the physical setting, enhancement and sus-
of knowledge are not addressed in this examination of theory: history tentation of environmental and human health, and expression of cul-
and technology. History of landscape architecture has been well docu- turally and environmentally specific sense of place and community. To
mented for many years and is not necessarily germane to the future achieve these multiple objectives designers need a clear understanding
form of the landscape. Neither building technology nor information of human and environmental processes and the ways in which they
technology will be covered, primarily because these are complex topics mutually interact to shape the landscape. To understand these pro-
that are covered adequately elsewhere. The first consideration here is to cesses designers also need to be aware of some of the factors that
provide a general definition of landscape architecture. influence the way we comprehend and interpret the world around us.
To better understand how we understand, we need to consider the
influence of culture and values. Our cultural values have an impor-
Landscape Architecture tant influence on the way we define the landscape and the actions we
take to change or protect it.
There are many ways to describe landscape architecture. The
description used here is intended to be inclusive of a broad range of Values
practice and research areas and provide a definition that most practi-
tioners and academicians share. Landscape architecture is the disci-
pline devoted to understanding and shaping the landscape and, as a Our values are the ideals and principles we consider important in
profession, provides site planning, design, and management advice to our lives, the ideas that give purpose and meaning to our thoughts
improve the landscape for human benefit. The purpose of landscape and actions. Although some value judgments are considered universal,
planning and design is twofold: to guide change in the character of the different people and cultures differ in the way they comprehend
landscape that will create and sustain useful, healthful, and enjoyable events and assign meaning to them. In general, the values of land-
urban, suburban, and regional environments; and to protect and scape architecture fall into three broad categories: aesthetic, ecologi-
enhance their intrinsic physical, cultural, and ecological qualities. Pro- cal, and social (Thompson 2000:7). Landscape architecture is deeply
fessional practitioners provide advice in the form of planning and committed to enhancing the quality of human experience; establish-
design services to individuals and groups actively engaged in modify- ing social equity; maintaining a supportive, conflict-free functional
ing the landscape to improve its utility and value. organization within the landscape; and sustaining environmental
Landscape architecture as a service profession is called upon to quality. The values we hold as a society significantly influence the
advise on the disposition and management of society's most valuable way we understand reality and serve as the primary filter through
resource: the landscape. To do this effectively practitioners need to be which we perceive and interpret events and phenomena. This includes
4 5
Chapter One Introduction

our understanding of professional values, which may be broadly con- wealth than as an existing condition. For many years social commen-
ceived as the values of a design subculture. tators have remarked on our attitudes about natural wealth:
To help separate reality from our perceptions of it, this investiga-
tion of design theory begins with an inquiry into our core beliefs about A Great Promise of Unlimited Progress-the promise of domina-
tion of nature, of material abundance, of the greatest happiness
the nature of the world. A number of provocative questions may be
for the greatest number, and of unimpeded personal freedom-has
asked: What are the fundamental values of our society and how do sustained the hopes and faith of the generations since the begin-
they influence our individual and collective perceptions and behavior?
ning of the industrial age. (Fromm 1976:1)
Do we, for example, believe in the principle of democracy, by which the
most correct decisions are those supported by the largest number of One of the defining characteristics of Western society, and indeed
people (as expressed by politicians)? Or, do we believe in the correctness of modern societies everywhere, is the concept of ownership. Accom-
of informed opinion as expressed by a well-educated elite (such as panying the promise of industrialism's increasing control over nature
landscape architects) as the most appropriate determinants of action? (as the repository of wealth-generating resources) has been the paral-
Are we, as we believe, a free people and if so, do we have the freedom lel notion of possessing it. As such, nature is defined as a commodity
to think or act independently of the way prominent social and political that we consume in exchange for increased wealth and an improved
leaders think and act? Do we value freedom of thought and action to standard of living. Over half a century ago Aldo Leopold, regarded as
the extent that we are tolerant of others if they do not think and act as one of the founders of the environmental movement in the United
we do? Do we grant ourselves the freedom to think thoughts others States, observed that "we face the question whether a still higher
might not understand or approve? If we value freedom, do we believe ,standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free"
that it comes with responsibilities? If so, to whom and for what are we (Leopold 1949:xvii). The question remains relevant today.
responsible? Do we value social progress? If so, what do we mean by Control of resources for survival and prosperity is a universal
social progress? Does it mean that conditions progressively improve concept. The concept of territoriality and the domination of space and
for the welfare of individuals and society at large? Or, is improvement resources is widely observed in nature and well documented for all
only appropriate for those (such as the well educated) who control forms of animal life (Ardrey 1966; Hall 1966:51), although it is not
resources? At what levels and in what areas do we intend and measure clear that territorial behavior is necessarily related to resources. Terri-
improvement? Do we measure improvement by the accumulation of torial behavior may be as important as a way of defining the individ-
wealth and goods, or by the quality of our interrelationships with one ual and organizing the group as it is a way to assure their survival
another and the environment, or the opportunities we provide for our (Ardrey 1966: 170). There seems to be a consistent link between terri-
children-the inheritors of our society? These questions may be diffi- t()riality and reproductive success. Nevertheless, the idea of owning
ctilt to answer, but they deserve examination. Some historical perspec- nature or parts of it for personal benefit and enrichment appears to
tive may be helpful as a point of departure. have developed as a natural evolution of human thought. It was a rel-
In the development of the United States, Americans advanced atively short time ago that we abandoned the concept of owning peo-
from a frontier society where survival was a daily struggle to a stage ple, and only then after a struggle. The concept of women as chattel is
where enough control was established over the environment and its no longer legally sanctioned, but women's ability to exercise indepen-
resources to assure survival on a predictable basis. We eventually dent authority over family property without the consent of their hus-
reached the stage we enjoy today, where our needs have been satisfied bands is relatively new in U.S. legal history. We are only slowly
in abundance. We are able to take from the environment enough not moving away from the concept of possessing others, not only as a
only for survival, but for the accumulation of sufficient reserves to means of controlling resources but also as an important way of defin-
increase control over our lives as well as the environment. Once sur- ing ourselves. It is apparent that some of these more contemporary
pluses were assured, the values of society began to change from those ideas regarding possession and ownership have not advanced to the
based on the satisfaction of daily needs to the accumulation of wealth. same extent in all parts of the world, or even in the United States
This shift affected all aspects of society, including political, economic, regarding our relationships with the landscape.
and technological power and prestige, to the extent that today our In contemporary society our status is established to a large extent
regulation of untapped resources, in the form of potential wealth, by what we possess-particularly the possession of things that increase
dominates our attitudes about and relationships with the landscape or display autonomy and power over others. Territory and artifacts
(Rodiek 1978). The landscape is more valued for its potential as future serve as symbolic representations of power. For over a century, owning
6 Introduction 7
Chapter One

symbols of power has been referred to as "conspicuous consumption" basis for the benefit of society collectively. We have persistent prob-
(Veblen1899). A place or an object has value and symbolic significance lems in affording the expense of good schools for example, or univer-
only if others are aware of and impressed by our possession of it. Sig- sal health care, or environmental protection, or public recreation
nificantly, these symbolic possessions tend to be highly consistent with facilities that are equally available to all members of the community.
those things possessed by other people we wish to associate ourselves Our values seem to be inclined toward the individual rather than the
with. Not all groups use the same symbols: to use vehicles as an exam- community. There is a perception that little individual status accrues
ple, one group may use Harley-Davidson motorcycles, another may from the improved quality of community life. But in reality we are
use Chevrolet Suburbans, and another Mercedes Benz. Those in one motivated to act on both individual and communal values. It is society
group are rarely impressed by the symbols of those in another. Within that provides the opportunities we require to function as individuals.
social groups, however, the advertising communications system has We must exist as an individual if we are to function as a thoughtful
been highly successful at defining for us what to prefer and purchase member of society. The survival of an open, democratic society
to achieve and denote status within the community of our choice. requires thoughtful individual participation from its members. Both
In addition to the ownership of property, another of our most these motivations need to be understood and accommodated in the
cherished values is individual liberty. We feel strongly that individual- way we organize society and the shared landscape.
ism and the protection of individual rights are among the most noble
of human endeavors and that the protection of collective social values
should be secondary to that of individuals. At times we make connec- Commodity
tions between behavior and individuality that may be difficult to
understand upon careful examination, but seem quite reasonable The fundamental structure of free enterprise, capitalistic society is
when viewed through the filter of our social values.
based on the continuing production and consumption of goods-pro-
On the one-hundredth anniversary of the Harley-Davidson
Motorcycle Company, George F. Will, editorial writer for Newsweek duction beyond the level required for a comfortable life. We are con-
magazine, reported that sales for the year accounted for $3.3 billion stantly encouraged to buy things, not because they are particularly
necessary in a utilitarian way and not because of their benefits to the
with earnings of $435 million for 261,000 motorcycles. In addition,
650,000 Americans paid $40 annual dues to be members of the Har- environment or community, but because they are new and available
ley owners group and 300,000 of them rally in Sturgis, South for sale as a means of creating wealth. Just as the Communists defined
Dakota, every August. In 2002 bikers and enthusiasts spent more themselves as workers, we happily define ourselves as consumers,
than $1 billion on Harley gear with the company label on it. Will consumers of resources as well as "products." The process of produc-
quotes Jeffrey Bluestein, the CEO of Harley-Davidson, as saying that tion and consumption must be continuous if our national economy is
motorcycling means "freedom, adventure, individual expression." To to grow and maintain the ability to support society and improve our
which Will added, '1\8 does America" (Will 2002). standard of living-which seems to mean the accumulation of goods.
Exactly how adventuresome, individualistic, or liberating it is to This is one way the value structure of corporate capitalism shapes our
purchase vehicles and accoutrements identical to those purchased by concepts of ourselves, our relationships to one another, and our rela-
hundreds of thousands of like-minded people was not explained. tionship with the environment. This is important to an investigation
What may be more clearly revealed is our underlying value for shared of design theory because it helps us understand how we as a society
experience, what Thorsten Veblen called a "propensity for emulation," value the landscape. The landscape is important primarily because it is
even if we have to purchase it. Perhaps it is because we have pur- a commodity that can be exchanged in the marketplace, and as the
chased it, or because we are able to, that we value the experience so source of raw materials from which products can be manufactured.
highly. Will noted that the average Harley purchaser earned $78,000 The influence of these perceptions may be seen in our actions.
per year and paid, on average, $15,000 for "his machine." The exclu-
Weabuse land becausewe regard it as a commoditybelongingto
sivity of the experience, as might be presumed from the purchase us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we
price, seems to increase its value and meaning because most Ameri-
cans cannot afford to participate. may beginto use it with loveand respect.(Leopold1949:xviii)
This value on the purchase of individual status may also account Many educated people understand the concept of ecological com-
for our reluctance to spend even modest amounts on an individual munity as a group of mutually interdependent organisms interacting
8 9
Chapter One Introduction

in a shared physical setting. Most people, however, do not regard That the aim of life is happiness, that is, maximum pleasure,
humans as a component of an ecological community. We tend to see defined as the satisfaction of any desire or subjective need a person
ourselves as set apart, above this level of ecological organization. We may feel; and that egotism, selfishness, and greed, as the system
reserve a special status for humans and define ourselves in rather dif- needs to generate them in order to function, lead to harmony and
ferent terms. The ecosystem is considered to be an environment we peace. (Fromm 1976:5)
control, not one we are a part of. There is room for serious debate about the incompatibility of
We do not, as a general rule, define ourselves as being at all, but as greed and peace. Or even that greed is the real motivator behind capi-
having (Fromm 1976). We do not say that we work, but that we talism, even though it may often appear so. The acquisitive nature of
"have" a job. We do not say that we are educated, but that we "have" capitalism may be better explained as a process of continual challenge
a college degree. These "possessions" have symbolic currency for the and achievement rather than greed. It may simply be that acquiring
purchase of status in the social marketplace. On the basis of education wealth is the most universally accepted means of measuring success.
and employment we are able to "have" wealth. In spite of our ability But there can be little dispute that the satisfaction of unlimited acqui-
to enjoy a lifestyle unknown to even the most wealthy only a few sition requires immediate and often reckless exploitation of resources,
generations ago, there is increasing evidence that our "way" of life is irrespective of the consequence to those "downstream" in regard to
not only unsustainable in the long term, but also fails to meet our their position in the economic order, the physical order of the land-
most fundamental human needs today. For over a quarter of a cen- scape, or as future generations.
tury many have believed, as Eric Fromm noted: Under the production and consumption paradigm, even people are
• Unrestricted satisfaction of all desires is not conducive to well- considered a "resource" for industry-rather than the other way
being, nor is it the way to happiness or even to maximum around. We do not even consider it odd that Texas A&M University,
pleasure. like most large corporations, has a Department of Human Resources.
• The dream of being independent masters of our lives ended In fact, there is a national Society of Human Resource Management
when we began awakening to the fact that we have all become with offices in Alexandria, Virginia, that provides services to those in
cogs in the bureaucratic machine, with our thoughts, feelings, the business of managing humans as a resource. Some contend that
and tastes manipulated by government and industry and the we have so commodified our relationships with the environment and
mass communications that they control. one another that even the most sanctified aspects of life derive their
• Economic progress has remained restricted to the rich nations, primary value from the marketplace. Consider the home.
and the gap between rich and poor nations has widened. Home is that place where the family, the most important institu-
• Technical progress itself has related ecological dangers and the
tion in human society, collectively and spiritually resides. The home is
dangers of nuclear war, either or both of which may put an end the sheltered setting for an array of interpersonal relationships. It is a
to all civilizations and possibly to all life. (1976:2) place that provides the basic source of nurturing for the individual
and the nuclear or extended family-the ultimate refuge from the
It is virtually impossible to hold the view that we possess land and uncertainties of the outside world. It is the place where you are loved
at the same time to conceive ourselves as part of it. It is almost and protected. As Robert Frost said, "Home is the place where, when
unthinkable that we would belong to the land rather than the other you have to go there, they have to take you in" (1915). In our society
way around. A few, in reaction, have said that they do not own the we think of the home as being in a building, a dwelling. Some people
land but that they have borrowed it from their children. The funda- think of it as the building. It is well understood that developers build
mental values we hold, the paradigmatic filter through which we and real estate agents sell "homes," not houses, and the public
view reality, denies to many in our society (although not to all) the recorder transfers deeds for the sale of "property," not land.
opportunity to achieve a sense of belonging or wholeness with the These issues raise fundamental questions: Where does the land-
environment. The intellectual structure of our relationship to the scape fit in this paradigm? Does it have value to us in any context
world is better characterized as ownership and domination than stew- other than economic? If it has value, can we enhance and protect the
ardship. We define land as a commodity belonging to individuals value of the landscape through design? Do we as designers-as
(Lahde 1982:9). Land defined as "property" has "value." Fromm shapers of the landscape-have a responsibility to the landscape, or
believed that the industrial system had failure built into its two main only to its owner and those who are to occupy it, those we call
psychological premises:
"users"? These are the questions you will either answer over the
Chapter One Introduction 11
course of your professional life, or they are questions you will let how we gain and apply knowledge to improve the quality of the land-
society answer for you. It is important to note that the answers soci-
scape of the future? We live in a society and in a time when knowledge
ety provides will be useful for the way society is currently organized has become the primary motivator and determinant of thought and
and not necessarily for any other purpose. That is to say, the defini- action. We trust knowledge and technology, sometimes even when we
tion is framed to reinforce the status quo rather than design change. should question it the most. And since knowledge is not static, the
Each society will answer these questions in a different way. Over time
process of understanding will require that we ask these questions con-
societies will change their answers as understanding and social values tinuously. Like the landscape, knowing is a process of continual
evolve. For now there is the question of how this relates to an under- change and improvement. The questions remain the same. It is only
standing of landscape architecture theory.
the answers that change. We will only know what the acceptable
Theory of landscape architecture addresses fundamental questions answers are if we continually pose the questions.
regarding the meaning and purpose of our activities to impose design
change on the landscape: What is it that we do? Why do we do it?
How do we do it? How do we determine when it has been done well? Landscape
While the questions are simple enough, the answers tend to be both
complex and elusive. These are the kind of questions that have per- Another important consideration is to define what we mean by
plexed philosophers of all societies in all ages and we are unlikely to landscape. The traditional definition of landscape is an area of the
answer them definitively here. But that does not mean we should not
earth's land surface that has been modified by human activity (Jackson
try. To become educated means that we have assumed the responsibil-
1984:5). This is from the Germanic root landschajt, as "a small collec-
ity to try to answer questions that will accompany us throughout our
life. Likewise, in the search for design theory, it may not be the desti- tion of buildings as a human concentration in a circle of pasture or cul-
tivated space surrounded by wilderness" (Motloch 2001 :3), and its
nation but the journey that is most important to understanding.
English transliteration. Some expand the definition to include natural
Because our world (physically, ecologically, culturally, aestheti- areas, such as wilderness, that do not evidence human modification.
cally, and intellectually) is in a process of perpetual becoming, the This seems appropriate since, in reality, there is virtually no place on
landscape is continually changing and evolving in response to ongoing earth that has not been influenced by human activity of some type-
natural and human processes. As a consequence, the considerations
for intervening in that process of change are likewise in a continual through direct settlement, husbandry, deforestation, or by inadvertent
actions such as acid rain, air pollution, or chemical contamination of
state of flux. In the search for understanding, meaning comes not just the earth's soil and waters (Berleant 1992:3). Consequently the tradi-
from the discovery of definitive answers to the questions but prima- tional definition is inclusive, encompassing all contiguous land areas of
rily from our individual and collective search for them. The future of
a definable character. The traditional definition is applied here since the
the design disciplines and the quality of our professional lives will be
defined by our examination of the issues and the conclusions we designed landscape is, by definition, subject to human influence even
reach. In a service profession, it is always important to understand though the physical evidence of that influence might not be obvious.
Landscape is a broad term encompassing the totality of our phys-
how our society perceives the need for the services we provide and
how it values the advice it receives. ical surroundings: environment, place, region, and geography to
name a few. The landscape is observed, visualized, and perceived dif-
If we understand the world to be in a process of perpetual change, ferently by people in different situations and from different land-
and if our questions therefore cannot be answered definitively, it is scapes, conveying a different meaning to each of them. The landscape
reasonable to ask whether it is valuable to pursue these questions at is an entity that is defined by our senses and interpreted by our intel-
all. Can we provide enduring answers to evolving questions? Almost
lect. It reflects prevailing cultural, social, and economic values and
certainly we cannot. It is not the answers but the principles that issue
expresses the character of a society as it has developed over an
from them that may be more enduring. If we seek continuing extended period of time. When understood, the landscape may be
improvement through design, our theories about why and how we
comprehended as one of the most accurate indicators of a society, its
design may need to change as rapidly as conditions if they are to values, its technology, and its aspirations. But because it is constantly
remain relevant. The main questions may be: What is the condition of
changing, the landscape requires constant attention if we are to
the landscape today? How does that compare to what we knew, or decode its fundamental meanings and gain a clear understanding of
thought we knew, about the past and what does it mean regarding who we are and where we are going as a society (Meinig 1979:1).
Chapter One Introduction 13

People have always altered the landscape to make it more respon- ful interaction and synergy among them. One of the disciplines most
sive to their needs. Today we provide guidance for those anticipating closely allied to landscape architecture is architecture.
landscape change as a specialized design profession: landscape archi-
tecture. Until very recently designs to transform the landscape as an
entity were inadvertent, in response to actions to meet people's spe- '
cific needs, such as clearing a forest for agriculture or to build a town,
flooding a valley for water supply or creating spaces for recreation. No discussion of landscape architecture theory would be complete
Contemporary design requirements are more complex. We now without reference to architecture. In the past a great deal of the the-
understand that there are indirect as well as direct needs to be ory of landscape architecture was borrowed from our older sister
addressed by design: maintaining the health and diversity of ecosys- (perhaps mother) profession. In landscape architecture the term archi-
tems; sustaining the landscape's intrinsic character, function, and tecture is used in its generic sense as the process of applying design
ment and satisfying statutorily mandated codes and develop-
standards. thinking to determine a desired future outcome. Originally, not only
the process but also the principles of architecture were applied to the
The complexity of contemporary design requirements continually design of the landscape. But architecture as a discipline or profession
increases as expanding knowledge advances our understanding of the is principally about the design of buildings. Landscape architecture on
landscape and human influences on it. Our efforts to design in ways the other hand is principally about place making and only occasion-
that respond to this complexity and satisfy growing performance ally concerned with buildings. While it is useful to understand and
requirements accentuate one of contemporary society's most difficult respect the values and theory of a closely allied discipline, it is also
problems: our inability to fully comprehend and manage increasingly important to know where to draw distinctions. Although architecture
complex technical, cultural, and biophysical systems (Senge 1990; and landscape architecture address the world through a common
Hutchins 1996). Because landscape or environmental issues exist pri- design paradigm, and both fields approach design in a similar way,
marily as a vast network of interacting features and processes, they what these two disciplines design, the knowledge bases they apply,
belong to a class of problems that resist purely scientific or technolog- and the values they hold are quite different.
ical understanding and solution (Soule and Press 1998). Our continu- There are many ways to define architecture. One of the classic def-
ing requirement to change the landscape to meet new needs and initions is from the Swiss architect known as Le Corbusier: 'J\rchitec-
respond to new opportunities creates a situation where, as Albert Ein- ture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought
stein noted, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." He together in light." This definition is both poetic and profound. Unfor-
may have overstated to make the point, but it should be clear that the tunately, this kind of definition, which is not uncommon, casts little
two are complementary and equally important. Either in the absence light on the subject. The uninitiated need a more concrete definition
for fundamental understanding. Unless we can define, in a compre-
of the other is of limited value, and as will be described below, poten-
hensible way, what architecture is, there is no reason to suppose that
tially dangerous when it comes to changing the landscape.
we know what it is or, for that matter, whether it is being taught at
Contemporary approaches to landscape design are intended to
the university. The same, of course, is true for landscape architecture.
address this complexity: to maintain balance in the environment as
Architecture is a design discipline concerned with the creation of
we alter its form and use, to provide for people's immediate needs
physical structures to shape, shelter, and facilitate specific, and usually
while simultaneously maintaining the richness and vitality of ecologi- concentrated, human activities. Landscape architecture is also concerned
cal and cultural systems. It is in response to these interrelated pro- with facilitating human activities, often different kinds at different
cesses of landscape change that the environmental design disciplines times in the same place. In addition, landscape architecture is equally
have evolved. Each discipline-architecture, engineering, landscape concerned with the celebration and conservation of the environment
architecture, planning-addresses a different kind of process and where those activities take place. Architecture is likewise concerned with
employs a different theory, knowledge base, and technology. Each dis- the celebration of building. Architecture also is concerned with express-
cipline provides answers for a different type of development problem, ing itself and its context, referential to both itself and its culture in space
such as buildings, infrastructure, or landscape. One of our most and in time. In architecture it is almost unthinkable that the structure,
important avenues of inquiry is to determine the areas of responsibil- as the tangible manifestation of human influence, is not a conspicuous
ity of these different disciplines so that we can better manage success- and distinctive physical expression. In landscape architecture, on the
Chapter One Introduction 15

other hand, it is not uncommon that the touch of the designer is so Cities constantly grow and change, breaking down old roads and
restrained and the expression of design so subtle that the place appears buildings to make way for new. Likewise, each day we as individuals
almost untouched, as if in a "natural" state. Indeed, since the seamless
change; we become older, more experienced and, we may hope, more
integration of new activities into the larger framework of the landscape happy and wise. Each day also brings us nearer to our death, to dust
is one of the landscape designer's most difficult challenges, imposition and eventual reincorporation through the recycling of elements into
of a subdued or naturalistic expression, consistent with the character of
the ecosystem via another generation of plants and animals; the pro-
the existing landscape, is a common design strategy.
cess of which, coincidently, is the basic activity of the landscape. In
The need for design change develops in response to society's effect we are becoming, at least in our elemental constituents, what
dynamic growth and expansion into the landscape and to address our
we originally were-a part of the landscape. In a physical sense we
constantly evolving patterns of activity and technology. As society come from and are becoming landscape. In a spiritual sense, however,
grows and changes we need more building and a revised landscape in we remain individual and distinctive. And for the moment, we are
which it occurs. Architectural responses tend to reveal the interplay of content to hold on to our distinctive existence. Architecture is much
contemporary technology and style as a physical design expression. more reflective of that spiritual aspect of individual distinctiveness,
Landscape architecture, on the other hand, serves to make connec-
and as such is quite different from landscape architecture, which is
tions: between buildings and human activities. The landscape, because more reflective of dynamic process and becoming.
it is more enduring, also serves as a bridge over time, from our past to Each day we are, a little more perfectly, whatever it is we are
the present and eventually into the future. The basic role of landscape capable of becoming as a person. The same may be said of the land-
architecture is to continually reform the normally slowly evolving scape. The landscape we see is a point-in-time expression of interact-
landscape to better accommodate these rapidly changing requirements ing ecological, physical, and cultural processes, a momentary
for economic support, to provide space for new activities and, as a snapshot of what exists today. And, if we conceive human society as a
cumulative result, express a culturally specific sense of place. system supported by many individuals maintaining and passing
Unlike the architect, who can begin with designs for a new build- along the spark of life, our individual lives may be understood as part
ing with each commission, the landscape architect must return to the of a continuum of human life, sustained over time by successive gen-
same material and, in a sense, the same place for each project. Each erations. If we conceive of the world as constantly becoming, rather
project is, in a broad sense, a refinement to the same common .place. than being, .our understanding of the landscape and our responsibili-
Through the conscious imposition of ideas to shape the form of the ties to intervene in the process of changing it will respond to and per-
environment and its elements, the design disciplines collectively seek haps more closely approximate the reality of our evolving world.
to arrange the features, processes, and character of the urban and Architecture, however, tends to remain in its original form, particu-
regional landscape to improve their overall utility and value and larly if it is architecture that we consider valuable as an expression of
reflect the underlying social and ecological order.
who we are, or who we would like to be.
This process of change reveals an important consideration regard- Our past concepts and theories of design have been inherited from
ing Fromm's distinction between "being" and "having" as a way to the arts and architecture, which are oriented primarily toward the cre-
define ourselves and our relationships with one another and with the ation of formal, and static, artifacts. Classic examples of Western art
environment. An intrinsic characteristic of the concept "to be" is the and design have included such enduring physical artifacts as Egyptian
aspect of "becoming" (Fromm 1976:25). If we shift our focus from pyramids, Greek temples, and Roman coliseums. We have inherited the
having to being, the next step is the concept of becoming. This is a formal design paradigm where the designer strives not just to create
critical consideration in design. Design is often described as creating but sustain form over time. But the world is not static. To understand
form, with the very clear assumption that this is a formal change; landscape design we need to begin with the concept of landscape as
that the form created is to be permanent and unchanging. This tradi- perpetual change within dynamic systems-process-and see the role
tional architectural assumption is fundamentally· inconsistent with of the designer as that of intentionally intervening in that process to
the reality of the landscape. All aspects of nature are in a state of per- effect improved systemic relationships. To achieve improvement
petual evolution. They are constantly changing in both form and sub-
through design we need to change the landscape in ways that are
stance. Ecosystems tend to become increasingly complex, trapping demonstrably beneficial. One of those benefits is to preserve the health
and passing along more energy as a result of that complexity. The and working order of the landscape, which implies an ability to con-
same is true for the landscape of urban systems.
tinue the process of change and improvement, not to arrest it.
16 17
Chapter One Introduction

If we fail to understand that landscape is process, our designs will disorder and accident. Therefore it signifies a human need and quali-
fail to integrate with reality in continuing and meaningful ways; they fies man(kind)' s thinking and doing" (1977: 75). Design is the process
will fail to become an integral part of the landscape as a process. With- of forming things or places to bring about improvement-to make
out this temporal/conceptual integration our design ideas will remain them more useful, economical, or beautiful, for example. Unfortu-
rooted in the static concepts of discrete architectural artifacts, and we' nately, there is a growing body of evidence that the quality of the
lose the opportunity to contribute to continuing change and improve- environments we collectively create, as well as those left unaltered, is
ment, to the evolution of the built landscape as a systemic process. declining rather than improving; in part because they have been con-
In architecture the product of design is not just a shelter, it is also ceived, executed, and maintained as static features embedded in the
a cultural artifact. In landscape architecture the product is not so dynamic matrix of a fluid environment. But there is another consider-
much an artifact as it is an interactive environment. In landscape ation. All too often the design disciplines address problems of the
architecture the product is a process. Although architecture and land- landscape's subsystems, not problems of the landscape as a whole
scape architecture may employ the same design process of determin- system. Our design solutions are only partial while the problems of
ing change, the changes they determine do not result in the same kind the environment present themselves as interrelated wholes.
of product. The landscape expresses itself as place. But this expression The way we change the landscape negatively impacts many of its
is not always a representation in the architectural sense, in that it natural systems simply because we do not understand what these
may be documented and recorded with the expectation that the form systems are or how they function. On a broad scale our designs are
of the place will remain static, recognizably the same, after an bringing about disorder in many aspects of the landscape. For exam-
extended period of time. There should be every expectation that a ple, our farming and forestry practices have almost eliminated many
well-designed-that is, living-landscape, in addition to its ability to species because the complexity of these environments, and their habi-
promote enhanced human activity and experience, will also retain its tat, is being lost. The relationships between what we create by design
capacity to evolve in response to changing demands from the environ- and all other interrelated aspects of the environment determine the
ment or from those who use it over time. A living landscape is a overall quality of the landscape, and by extension, the quality of our
growing and changing landscape, in part because we ourselves are lives. One of the clearest examples of these relationships may be seen
changing and constantly placing new demands on it. . regarding our ability to increase the human population (Kohnke and
Within this dynamic environmental matrix, some landscapes Franzmeier.1995:145). Through improvements in medicine and sani-
express the moment just as is the case in architecture. Architecture is a tation we have seen significant improvements in survival rates among
temporal expression of what we as a society believe and how we build the world's populations. These increased numbers of people have, in
at a given moment. Some landscapes also express society and the envi- turn, had a significant impact on the quality of the environment:
ronment in this way. But not all landscapes follow the temporal archi- In the six secondsit takes you to read this sentence,eighteenmore
tectural model. Each form of expression is equally important. In a peoplewill be added.Eachhour there are 11,000 more mouths to
society such as ours, it is important that both temporal and dynamic feed;eachyear more than 95 million.yet the world has hundreds
designs are created. The icon is important as a statement of who we of billionsfewer tons of topsoil and hundreds of trillions fewer
are and where we have come from. Design of the landscape as a gallons of groundwater with which to grow food crops than it
dynamic system is important to provide a setting, or place, in which had in 1968. (Ehrlichand Ehrlich1990:9)
the icon exists. Architecture, with its paradigm of the artifact, provides As the population increases, demands on the landscape grow. Both
one of the critical models and a basic underpinning for an important our population and our lifestyle are rising. A rising lifestyle means we
aspect of landscape architectural practice and landscape architecture have more resources at our disposal. Each day we require more from
theory. But there are also other models of design to be considered. the landscape. And although these demands are growing, the land-
scape is not. We constantly extend and change the way we use and
Design manage the environment to increase our ability to extract needed
resources. The basic challenge in designing the landscape is to syner-
gize biophysical and cultural processes to accommodate the dynamic
The artist Josef Albers said, "To design is to plan and organize, to requirements of both without critically compromising either. The way
order, to relate and to control. In short it embraces all means opposing we define design and how we apply that definition to changing the
Chapter One Introduction 19

landscape is directly related to whether our efforts result in improve-

ment or merely bring about change for its own sake. Design has been
defined in a number of ways, typically as an activity:
• access to resources • ecological sustainability
• To initiate change that will transform existing conditions into
preferred ones (Jones 1966) shelter from elements • economy of construction
functional organization • ease of maintenance
• To envision "a desirable future and invent ways to bring it
about" (Ackoff 1981 :62) comfort and convenience • comprehension and wayfinding
• To determine a safe path to a desired future condition (Weisbord • social interaction • aesthetic experience
human health and safety • sense-of-place expression
• "The conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order"
(Papanek 1984:4)
The fundamental meaning of the order imposed is the improved util-
hope will result in benefits that do not presently exist. It is interesting
ity, comprehension, satisfaction, and sustainability with the designed that among the common purposes of design we do not typically
object or place. The principal characteristics of design action are pur- include the need to ensure a capacity for future change. Even though
poseful change and improvement.
we know that change is the only constant in the environment, we
Change may be imposed on an existing condition or it may continue in our tendency toward the creation of fixed or static form of
address the process of change itself, sometimes to alter conditions in
the landscape.
the environment, sometimes to preserve them. For example, New To create conditions of comprehensive environmental improve-
York's Central Park was originally a derelict wasteland that was ment, design change needs to protect the critical characteristics of the
transformed by design into a beautiful wooded park. On the other present condition as well as to bring about improvement in as many
hand, at Yosemite National Park the original setting was so magnifi- of these categories of design intention as necessary. To do this success-
cent that the national government set about to preserve it. The image fully we need to institute systemic change in the environment
we see today is intended to be the same as that found by riders enter- whereby each of these aspects will be improved and also bear a benefi-
ing the valley on horseback in the early 1900s-the process of change cial influence on all the others (Mitroff and Linstone 1993). By invest-
has been arrested by design to preserve the desired form. ing environments with value and meaning on multiple, mutually
For some, design includes the act of shaping the product, such as reinforcing levels, designs increase their functional and perceptual sig-
in pottery where the designer shapes the vessel directly. For others, nificance for the people who occupy and use them. Consequently, it is
and this includes most work by landscape architects, the act of shap- in the broad range of categories in which improvement is sought that
ing the product is indirect. Designers determine what the new form designs may be evaluated to assess their quality (Churchman 1982).
will be and others (contractors) execute the work on the basis of Thus, designs can only bring genuine improvement when they favor-
instructions from the designer. Design, then, is the process of deter- ably influence the entire range of conditions in which improvement is
mining the future form of the object or place, directly or indirectly. needed. If significant areas of concern are ignored, no matter how well
Design is defined here as the process we employ to guide intentional we design those that have been addressed, the overall result will be
change in the environment to improve its value and fitness. deficient. The quality of a design, like a chain, is only as strong as its
Through design we act to improve the landscape in many ways, weakest link.
to transform the conditions we find lacking into those we desire.
Some of the more important of these areas of change include those
listed in box 1.1. Although these conditions describe the goals of
design, they are not the "things" we design, the physical changes we
impose to alter the social, ecological, functional, and spatial systems To prepare landscape architects for careers to address these com-
we seek to influence. What we design is different from why we design. plex issues as practitioners or disciplinary researchers, the profession
We impose change in the composition, arrangement, and form of requires that they receive a comprehensive education. Universities
things to create improved relationships among them, relationships we playa number of integrated roles in the process of professional prep-
Chapter One Introduction 21

aration. They assume three primary responsibilities: teaching, Accreditation standards also require instruction in areas related to
research, and service to the community. In landscape architecture, landscape architecture. These areas of instruction are intended to sup-
the greatest amount of time among these is allocated to teaching, plement and enrich the educational experience and ensure well-
which is primarily studio based. Studio-format education is based on rounded preparation for professional practitioners. They include:
a process of learning by doing. As Aristotle said, "For the things we. • history, art, and communication
have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them" (Nico-
machean Ethics, Book II, chap. 1). The most important factor to solv- • natural, cultural, and social systems
ing design problems, and learning from the process, is critical • landscape planning, design, and management theories and pro-
thinking. Design is essentially a process of relating all the operational cesses
factors into a comprehensive whole (Sasaki 1950:159). The develop- • plants as design materials and their applications
ment of independent, critical thinking is the primary goal of studio • construction materials and techniques
education. The secondary goal is to provide experience in addressing
certain types of problems. • professional practice methods and ethics
Essentially all design schools are based on this approach to design • public and private office practice procedures and methods
education. Students learn by trial and error how to harness their indi- • computer systems and advanced technology
vidual creative potential by working under the constant eye of the • contact with allied disciplines such as architecture and planning
design tutor whose role is to guide the development of the individual
student's skill and insight. To a large extent design education is The content of professional education is intended to provide stu-
focused not on what we design, or why, but how-on the process of dents with the necessary and comprehensive background preparatory
examining, making, and defending sound design decisions. to entering the public or private practice of landscape architecture.
For instruction to remain relevant, however, it must be continu- This preparation is intended not so much to provide education as to
ously nourished by contemporary knowledge and technology. While prepare for it. Education is a lifelong process. Regarding theory, pro-
the creative energy is individual, it is expressed in relation to the context fessional education does not provide a design theory for students to
in which it is applied. Since the context is evolving, we must continually adopt, but rather provides individual students with the tools to create
bring our understanding of the design context-the technology, the and develop their own philosophy to guide their education and orga-
landscape processes, and the human processes that take place within nize their professional activities.
them-up to date with current knowledge. This is achieved through Theories about what you should do and how you should practice,
ongoing research. The teaching faculty engage in research to create new it is hoped, will flow from the intellectual processes of learning, expe-
knowledge and integrate it into the learning experiences of students rience, and reflection. These processes will be stimulated by the chal-
through subject courses and studio exercises.In addition to the acquisi- lenge of ideas-some familiar, some unfamiliar, and a few unwelcome.
tion of knowledge, professional education is organized to provide three By confronting these ideas, it is believed that you will be better able to
kinds oflearning opportunities (Steinitz 1988:136): form your individual theory of the life of design and better able to
enrich the meaning and purpose of your professional life.
1. To build competence in changing or conserving the landscape
One of the most satisfying aspects of design practice, or any
2. Tobuild experience and confidence in doing so
endeavor, is in knowing that the quality of what we have achieved is
3. To build theory as the foundation for the first two high. Education and theory provide a basis for measuring design qual-
Accredited university programs in the United States provide the ity. The educational content of curricula investigates some of the
content mandated by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board major factors to be considered in evaluating the quality of the design
(LAAB)under the auspices of the American Society of Landscape changes we impose on the landscape. In addition, it describes consider-
Architects (ASLA).Curriculum requirements include: ations relevant to the process of developing and examining ideas and
• landscape planning, design, and management imposing change in ways that are based on sound scientific and tech-
• design implementation nological evidence; evidence to improve the likelihood that the changes
we propose will yield the benefits we intend.
• landscape architecture history
• professional practice
22 Introduction 23
Chapter One

Professions through which we view the world, and as a consequence, shape the
conclusions we reach. Our commonly shared knowledge base, values,
and experiences create a unique perspective for comprehending reality.
An examination of landscape architecture theory must include a
Although we believe that our point of view is correct and makes valu-
discussion of how its practitioners are organized into a professional able contributions to society, it is important to remember that this is
body. A profession is an organizational entity that has as its purpose not an objective view, nor is it a view that is widely shared.
the delivery of a service to society for which its members are compen- We need to be constantly vigilant if we are to maintain a sense of
sated to derive their livelihood. A profession is a social entity struc- objectivity about what we learn and what we do as designers. The
tured around a value system its members hold in common. As in any ability to limit the influence of prejudice on our perceptions is one of
social organization, the behavior of its members is monitored by the our most difficult tasks. The influence of prejudice on design can be
group and policed to maintain consistency with their commonly held highly destructive. Design may be described as a process of inventing
values. This means that, to its members, an important indicator of the new and more effective ways of doing things. Prejudging the outcome
success of design activity is judgment by the internal values and stan- of actions may result in our discounting other possible courses of
dards of the profession. The benefit of this is that the profession sets action before they have been openly investigated, with the result that
and maintains standards of performance that society may rely on. some courses of action-perhaps the most effective ones-may not be
The disadvantage is that standard performance is not exceptional. considered at all. These other possibilities are then beyond our reach
Exceptional performance must come in spite of the profession's since we will never really consider them if we prejudge their suitability
requirement for standard performance. and focus our attention elsewhere. When we judge the success of our
The profession of landscape architecture, as with other profes- designs only by our preestablished (conventional) internal standards,
sions, exhibits typical characteristics. we limit the influence of knowledge or values other than our own and
• It possesses a knowledge base as the foundation of its com- thus eliminate the possibility that our designs will satisfy broadly inclu-
monly held values and the services it provides. sive performance criteria: criteria that are used by others (who may
include clients and users) to evaluate design performance and success.
• It employs established procedures and techniques to apply its Finally, it should be noted that professional practice is licensed by
knowledge base.
state registration. Licensure of landscape architects, as for practitioners
• The knowledge and procedures (sometimes referred to as the sci- in all professions, is legally mandated by state law for one purpose: to
ence and art) it employs can be learned and are taught to initiates. protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state. Our the-
• The knowledge and procedures it employs are rendered in the ory must include consideration of this important social responsibility.
form of services to clients and users.
• The services are rendered to provide a practical and useful pur-
pose, to satisfy the needs and desires of those served.
• The services are rendered to promote the general health, safety,
and welfare of society.
• The services rendered are typically provided for a fee as the basis
of compensation.
• The standards of education and performance of the members are
established by consensus of the professional body.
• The professional behavior of members is self-regulated by the
professional body.
From this it should be evident that the character of the profession
has a profound influence on the nature of both theory and practice.
The education the professional organization requires for applicants
and the values that emanate from it provide the basic paradigm

,,(4~-r: -f'


t,···,r ,~
•... ~

Substantive Theory

Theory: The body of generalizations and principles developed in

association with the practice of a field of activity and forming its
content as an intellectual discipline. The coherent set of hypotheti-
cal, conceptual and pragmatic principles forming a general frame
of reference for a field of inquiry.
-Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary

Theory of landscape architecture is based on the premise that

quality of life for individuals and society benefits from the creation of
harmonious and mutually supportive relationships between people
and the environment. Given the speed and complexity of contempo-
rary development, it is widely believed that such relationships may
best be achieved through holistic, rather than single-purpose, inter-
vention in the continuing process of landscape evolution. Theory of
landscape architecture is becoming increasingly diversified to encom-
pass the environment as a totality, but it is a work in progress. A half
century ago Garrett Eckbo remarked:
The great problem and the great opportunity of our times is to
rebuild, on an infinitely higher plane, the unity and solidarity
between man and nature which existed and still exists in primi-
tive communal societies, and which was broken and shattered by
the great sweep of history through slavery and feudalism to cap-
italism. This we can work toward every day on every job and

Chapter Two 27

every (1950:58)
seem. project, no matter how small or inconsequential it may design (McHarg 1969). The proponents of what might be described as
landscape architecture as science have been the primary adherents
The significance of his comment is greater today than it was in to this view of the profession.
1950. During the last half century we have witnessed unparalleled, Both of these positions have been instrumental in informing the-
and mostly unanticipated, change to the landscape; much of it detri~ ory of the discipline and bringing us to the more holistic and inte-
mental to human and environmental health. If theory is to playa use- grated perspective now developing. To borrow a phrase from George
ful role in our professional lives, it must influence what we do to Bernard Shaw, the scientist looks at the world and asks "Why?" The
improve the human condition and how we do it each day and with designer looks at the world and asks "Why not?" The important ques-
each project we undertake. To guide our work toward an increasingly tion is whether we must choose between them. It should be clear that
valuable, and increasingly valued, contribution to the built environ- an understanding of why things are the way they are will not lead
ment, theory must enrich our understanding and use of the landscape automatically to a vision about how they should be in the future.
and lead to designed places that improve the quality and character of Conversely, any speculation about what the future should be that
our collective lives. To build a theory that operates on the most rou- ignores what we know about the present and our experience of the
tine level in addressing the most ordinary of problems may well be past places us at considerable risk of repeating past mistakes. The role
one of our most important goals as practitioners. That we have been of the designer, however, is to facilitate creative and innovative rela-
unable to make greater progress to address the needs revealed by the tionships by imposing alterations to the form of the environment. But
insightful minds of the past is an unfortunate but common attribute change alone is not enough. It must be change that corrects past mis-
of history. In an enlightened age, the charge to each generation as the takes and takes advantage of new opportunities.
inheritors of the profession and the environment is to pass it on to the The profession has now matured to the extent that both these
next generation in a better condition than it was received. But approaches (landscape architecture as art and landscape architecture
progress is a slow process. as science) are accommodated by a more holistic design theory. We
now understand that both positions are equally appropriate and
The visions of great minds are often motivated by insights for
which no immediate verification exists. Fortunately, we now have important to our understanding of landscape design. These positions
are now understood as mutually reinforcing, complementary rather
information that did not exist a generation ago. The question now
becomes one of how best to gain access to it and integrate this evolv- .than competitive. The theories to address these philosophical consider-
ing knowledge into design decision making. ations fall into two broad categories.
The two types of theories applicable to landscape architecture are
substantive and procedural (Ndubisi 1997:37). The substantive theo-
Design Philosophy ries promote better understanding of the landscape as the interface
between human and natural process and are descriptive and predictive.
Substantive theories originate from the natural and social sciences and
Over the past thirty years two opposing philosophical positions the humanities, and are employed to inform our understanding of the
have developed in landscape architecture, each related to the concept environment. Procedural theories address methodological issues: ide-
that quality of life is inextricably related to people's relationship with ology, process, purpose, and principles of design. These theories
their surrounding environment. One position, expressed by Eckbo, describe functional and procedural relationships concerning the appli-
describes landscape architecture as a design discipline (not a science) in cation of knowledge to resolve human use and conflict in the land-
which the appropriate role for the profession is to create new and scape. They originate from design practice and the academic
innovative ways for people to relate to the physical environment (Ger- development and technical application of knowledge in a social setting.
hard 1992:8). The proponents of a concept that may be described as Substantive theory describes the knowledge used to inform decisions,
landscape architecture as art have been the primary adherents to procedural theory describes the methods of its application to guide the
this point of view.
planning and design of landscape environments.
An alternative position describes landscape architecture as func- Regarding land planning, Ian McHarg (1981) articulated a theory
tioning principally as a profession of stewardship, identifying and of human ecological planning that he summarized as follows:
preserving for improved human utility the intrinsic qualities found in
All systems aspire to survival and success. This state can be
nature through research and ecologically sound land planning and described as syntropic-fitness-health. Its antithesis is entropic-
Chapter Two substantive Theory 29

misfitness-morbidity.Toachievethe first state requiressystems to forests. By mid-twentieth century our ability to use technology to
find the fittest environment,adapt it and themselves.Fitnessof an
environment for a system is definedas that requiring the mini- impose change on the ecosystem was developing much faster than
mum work of adaptation. Fitnessand fitting are indications of our ability to understand its implications. Some visionary ecologists
health and the processof fitting is health giving.The quest for fit- began to recognize a growing problem with regard to sustaining
ness is entitledadaptation. Of all the instrumentalitiesavailableto human development, but few others noticed this looming crisis before
man(kind)for successfuladaption, cultural adaptation in general the mid-1960s (Ordway 1955; Eisely 1957; Brown, Bonner, and Weir
and planning in particular appear to be the most directand effica- 1957; Sears 1959). In 1959 Paul Sears wrote:
cious for maintaining and enhancing human health and well-
being. (1981:12) What other peopleshave accomplishedwithout the benefitsof sci-
ence suggestswhat we might do oncewe learn to make technol-
As with living systems, it is the underlying quest for survival, fit- ogy our servant rather than our master. To that end I propose a
ness, and health (individual, social, and ecological) that motivates rea- question whose answer liesbeyond the reach of science,however
soned planning and design activity, although it is usually expressed as much sciencemay illuminate the search. If we care what the
a desire to meet some short-term (often economic) goal. It is for the future may bring forth, what do we desireit to be?Oncewe know
what kind of world we want, sciencegivesus abundant means to
ories are of defining and satisfying these goals that the procedural the-
formulated. shape it. (p. 17)
Substantive theories are developed to help us understand the inter- Today we are beginning to get a clearer understanding of what
relationships that are influenced by designs to satisfy the goals we kind of world we want and the connection between choices in the
pursue when we impose change on the landscape. To a considerable landscape. At least there is growing consensus about what we do not
extent, the substantive theories provide the basis for design goals- want from the environment: habitat destruction, ecosystem fragmen-
that designs should be sustainable or that they should promote har- tation, soil erosion, species extinction, atmospheric and aquatic pollu-
monious relationships between human activity and the environment. tion, diminished quantity and quality of food and water. Sustainable
There are exceptions to this, such as goals related to facilitating spe- development has become an internationally accepted goal. We are
cific activities (e.g., improving access or functional convenience) or slowly coming to the realization that we have a responsibility to pro-
resolving specific conflicts (e.g., reducing the risk of incompatible tect as well as the power to change the landscape.
activities such as the intersection of pedestrian and vehicular traffic). Sustainable development is defined broadly as the wise develop-
ment and conservation of the earth's resources. The most common
The design goals establish what we hope to achieve by design. Proce-
dural theories, on the other hand, address how we design; that is, the definition was formulated in 1987 by the UN World Committee on
strategies we employ for achieving the design goals. Environment and Development, which declared that sustainable
This section reviews the substantive theories of landscape archi- development meets the needs and aspirations of the present without
tecture: theories that address the understanding of landscapes and the compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
motives underlying their modification and management to improve Sustainability "means simply that in a global context any economic or
mutual fitness between natural and human systems. social development should improve, not harm, the environment"
(Newman and Kenworthy 1999:1).
Sustainability is a global concern since most problems in the envi-
Sustainable Development ronment respect no political or geographic boundaries: climate
change, soil erosion, air pollution, water pollution, and chemical con-
tamination recognize no political borders. It now seems unlikely that
Although the idea of sustainable development first emerged in the compounds such as DDT or PCB, or radioactive isotopes can be
global arena at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment
released anywhere on earth without their influence being felt every-
at Stockholm, it took more than a quarter century to become firmly where (Newman and Kenworthy 1999:1). A key concept of sustain-
entrenched in our collective thinking. The concept had been around
able development is to think globally and act locally-to consider a
since the 1950s, but usually related to carrying capacity for wildlife proposed development's global consequences as well as the local bene-
or livestock (Stoddart and Smith 1955) and timber production. It was
fits on the landscape before acting to realize it.
called long-term sustained yield by ecologists concerned with produc- Contemporary theory in landscape architecture attempts to fuse
tion from heavily managed natural systems such as grasslands and the apparently polar positions of innovative change and stewardship,
Chapter Two Substantive Theory 31

and focuses on the development of holistic design strategies to out the tropics and reduction of biodiversity by the imposition of agri-
improve the human condition and sustain environmental health and cultural monocultures throughout the temperate regions of the globe.
productivity. Stewardship without innovation would not be possible Each case reflects our failure to understand the critical role of complex
in a rapidly changing world. The world currently operates under non- ecosystems in sustaining viable agricultural production. These behav-
sustainable paradigms (Capra 1983, 1996:3; Watt 1973:142; Lyle· ior patterns are based on concepts that are not just outmoded, but
1994:20; Wynberg 1993:30). There are currently 1.7 billion people, dangerous considering the systemic vulnerabilities and long-term
one quarter of the human population, who occupy what has been implications of our actions. These concepts, expanded and driven by
described as the "consumer class"-those who have adopted diets, exploding population in concert with the ready (although temporary)
transport systems, and lifestyles of excessive consumption that lead availability of fossil fuel, have become unsustainable in the short term
directly to a degradation of the environment (Gardner and Assa- and potentially catastrophic in the long term (Lyle 1994:4).
dourian 2004). Amid this great abundance enjoyed by the consumer Sustainable development proponents maintain that "we must
class, 3 billion people-nearly two out of every five-are barely sur- begin to rethink and restructure the processes and procedures of deci-
viving on less than two dollars per day. Sustainable development, if it sion-making, including the underlying ideas and methods that shape
is to be achieved, will radically change the way we design and build in our definition of problems that predetermine approaches to dealing
the landscape. Innovation will be required to change profoundly what with them" (Jacobs and Sadler 1990:3). For human environments to
we now do if we are to become stewards of the environment. become sustainable will require both improved understanding of the
Consider, for example, that all contemporary urban transporta- ecosystem and radically changed patterns of consumption behavior
tion systems in the United States are based primarily on the private- (Papanek 1984). Contrary to widespread faith that new technology
vehicle mode, which is designed to operate on expensive fossil fuel will solve our problems, there is no evidence to support the notion
that will be exhausted in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the that there can be unlimited growth in population and economic devel-
most popular style of vehicle in the U.S. is one that greatly exceeds opment within a fixed-resource environment. And, unfortunately, if
our need for power, size, and mobility in off-road conditions, and con- technology does not provide an answer, the food production and dis-
sumes more resources to build, maintain, and operate than popular tribution systems will be unable to cope with any sudden and unex-
models in almost every other country. The American system also pected interruption.
requires enormous consumption of land and resources for the provi- Sustainable. development focuses on knowledge-based decision-
sion of basic freeway and street infrastructure (half of the land area in making processes whereby the interrelated structure and function of
U.S. cities is dedicated not to human activity but to automobile move- the environment are well understood and thus facilitate reasoned, sys-
ment and storage) because so many individual vehicles must use the temic change. The criteria for success are the perceived advantages to be
system simultaneously. If fuel supplies were significantly interrupted, derived and retained for the benefit of present and future generations.
almost all of our cities would become immediately dysfunctional due The criteria are holistic and include ecological, economic, and commu-
to the extremely low density of contemporary suburban development nity sustainability based on policy and institutional integration (Jacobs
and the consequent distances between origins and destinations that and Sadler 1990: 170). These criteria must be based on objective, quan-
make routine transportation without private cars virtually impossible tifiable evidence (Le., science), particularly systems science that deals
for the vast majority of people. Since most goods are transported by with integrated wholes and patterns of network interrelationships.
truck for at least part of their journey, food, fuel, and supplies would Ecosystem management, a central concept of sustainable develop-
also become quickly exhausted.
ment, is becoming recognized as an important tool for protecting the
Another basic and even more critical component of life is food productive capacity of the environment. Ecosystem management is
production. Like transportation, modern mechanized agriculture is based on the integration of ecological, economic, and social principles
only possible through the importation of nonrenewable fossil fuel into to manage biological and physical systems in ways that safeguard
the production system to subsidize ecosystem control and increase sustainability, biological and landscape diversity, and ecosystem pro-
energy extraction in the form of food or fiber. Over the past century, ductivity (Wood 1994:612). Ecosystem management is implemented
all societies have built behavior patterns into their relationship with to regulate internal ecosystem structure and function and, as a conse-
the landscape that derive from what have been termed "naive atti- quence, system inputs and outputs to achieve socially desirable condi-
tudes" about the nature of the earth and human relationships to it. tions (Agee and Johnson 1988:237). Unlike historical land-
Examples include the continuing destruction of rainforests through- management approaches, ecosystem management does not focus pri-
Chapter Two Substantive Theory 33
marily on the delivery of necessary resource "goods" and "services" to 2. Shift the primary focus of agriculture and industry from the
society, but rather on sustaining the ecosystemic structures and pro- production and sale of goods (light bulbs) to the provision of
cesses necessary for the delivery of goods and services (Franklin services (light) for greater integration and efficiency.
1993: 10). This is a radical departure from the position of most indi-
3. Reinvest in the environment and its natural capital as the basis
vidual or collective actions, and significantly different from that of.
of all future prosperity.
most design professionals and their clients, who tend to be project
(object) oriented rather than system (process) oriented, with the bene- At present we utilize systems of development that do not fit into
fits of their enterprise deriving from immediate singular success of the the structure and function of the landscape in ways that sustain via-
individual venture (recreation, food production, wealth creation) bility. These development systems are, in effect, the antithesis of
rather than from bringing about collective long-term benefits to the health maintenance. We have not developed ways of using the land-
quality of societal/environmental relationships. scape without using it up. We do not understand how to use materials
One of the most important aspects of sustaining a healthy envi- that can also be reused elsewhere in the system in other ways. Recy-
ronment is recognition of the interrelated systems in which life is cling is still a goal. Integration is not yet understood. We have not yet
embedded. The soils, water, and atmosphere at the surface of the earth begun to design landscapes as regenerative systems. Our concepts of
have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to their present condi- development remain as fixed as our concepts of design: we construct
tion by the interrelated activities of the biosphere. It is this web of new landfill sites on which to dispose of urban waste rather than
interrelationships that makes life both possible and sustainable. This establish urban life support systems that eliminate waste as a by-
complex of living organisms and their inorganic environment contin- product to be disposed of (Lyle 1994). If we are to begin designing sus-
ues to develop. The system is not in equilibrium (Wilson 2002). It con- tainable landscapes we must focus on optimizing functions and pro-
tinues to evolve and respond in reaction to change. When we cesses on many levels rather than maximizing for any. To maximize
introduce change in a system in disequilibrium, we cannot know for some systems, such as urban systems, invariably means minimiz-
what the results will be. When we destroy ecosystems and drive spe- ing for others, such as natural systems, many of which (such as
cies into extinction, we accelerate the process of change to a new but drainage) the urban systems rely upon. We are only beginning to rec-
completely unpredictable future. Ultimately, degradation of theeco- ognize the advantages of designing for the benefit of both existing and
system threatens our own existence.
introduced systems; conceiving design as the creation of a new and
Contemporary political, economic, and industrial paradigms integrated complex of mutually supportive natural and human sys-
almost universally fail to take into account the value of the environ- tems with the capacity to regenerate themselves over time.
ment as a critical asset. Rather, it is thought of as a repository of use- Rather than learning how to use less of our resource base with
ful resources. As a consequence, we fail to respond appropriately to advanced technology, our tendency is to employ it to extract and use
our need to protect it for the benefit of future, as well as current, more, leaving less for the systems on which we rely to support and
generations. The wealth of the environment is being systematically maintain themselves. In our quest to maximize extraction and reduce
degraded through the wasteful exploitation of resources by methods the burden of maintenance, we have introduced new "low-mainte-
that degrade the landscape through the processes of extraction. There nance" materials into the ecosystem that are toxic to people and the
are several areas of critical concern for future sustainability. Among ecosystem. We prefer to apply herbicides rather than to plow weeds or
these are the need to assure the diversity of biotic and cultural use defoliants to strip the leaves from plants prior to harvest. Unfor-
resources, increased reliance on renewable resources, and the man- tunately, these chemicals rarely stay where we put them, finding their
agement of urban/industrial/agricultural landscapes in ways that way into streams and rivers and eventually into the oceans where
achieve more than production alone. To redress the inequities they work their way back into our own food chain. And yet, we feel
between these targets and current practice, a series of interrelated
little obligation to take responsibility for these poisons in our air and
principles have been proposed as ways to increase resource productiv- water and food. We believe that maintenance is a process to be
ity andThese
2000). sustain it into the future (Hawken, Lovings, and Lovings
include: avoided, when, in reality, it is only through sustained and intimate
contact that we come to know and understand these systems in the
1. Reestablish agriculture, industry, and urbanism on ecological depth required to use and manage them sustainably.
models with closed loop systems and movement toward zero It is questionable whether societies, given the inherent power and
privilege vested in the stability of current economic and political
34 35
Chapter Two Substantive Theory

structures, are prepared to undertake a new social and economic order out because they lacked a disciplinary knowledge base (Zube
without compelling reason. The actual collapse of current systems 1973:130; Rapoport 1977:4). At the same time, research and theory
might supply such a reason, but the possibility of a future collapse were becoming increasingly necessary due to the growing complexity
has not yet compelled action. Our patterns of behavior are based as of the design milieu and demands to satisfy specific performance
much on habit as on the application of reason and knowledge to chart requirements. Thus, predictive theories, concepts, and principles based
a sustainable future course for life. But the day may come, and per- on an expanding knowledge base have been unavailable at a time
haps soon, when the question put to designers will no longer be when they have been most needed. In a knowledge- and technology-
whether we are to change, but how. If such a time comes it will be driven society, the design disciplines are being marginalized and edged
useful if landscape architecture has considered its response. out of the dialogue about the future of the environment. Having an
opinion about what the future should be is not considered as valuable
Environment-Behavior Studies as having predictable evidence about the advantages or disadvantages
of a proposed course of action.
Many schools of design are conducted today essentially as they
One of the most serious criticisms of contemporary design profes- were twenty-five or even fifty years ago, with many hours devoted to
sions (architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and plan- studio time and the students' search for their ideas. In most programs,
ning) has been their lack of a knowledge base from which to propose design takes up as much as a third of course hours and the time actu-
changes to the environment. Design professions are defined primarily ally spent in the studio may be much more (Bunch 1993). However,
as problem-solving professions. But before problems can be solved, little or no time is being directed toward acquiring knowledge or
they must be identified and understood (Zube 1987:425; Rapoport research methods to determine what or how best to design, or what
1990:97). Although engineering has quantified the structural aspects relationships provide the most desirable conditions in the environment
of building, design problems are not primarily structural in nature. (Papanek 1984). A definable body of knowledge for landscape archi-
The purpose of design is not to employ technology, but through its tecture, on which there is consensus, does not yet exist.
application to provide shelter, sustenance, and services for human Proponents of the behavioral-science-based paradigm suggest that
activities. For designers to understand the problems they intend to the built environment can be studied as a system of behavioral set-
solve, they must possess not only technological competence but also tings-without considering appearance or visual preference or making
knowledge of the physical, ecological, sociological, and psychological subjective aesthetic judgments-with social and cultural factors as the
dimensions of the people they serve and the context in which they main variables influencing the character and quality of environments
exist. Environment-behavior research has been an emerging area of (Mar.cus and Sarkissian 1986:4; Rapoport 1990:91). Under this para-
intellectual focus within the design professions for the last thirty digm the traditional considerations of materials and technology are
years, but only in the last fifteen or so has it begun to significantly only secondary, modifying or constraining influences. Generaliza-
impact design thinking and assume a prominent position in theory tions, it is thought, can be drawn if the topic is approached cross-cul-
(Zube 1986).
turally and comparatively. The design research that typically occurs-
To some extent, contemporary design theory is more focused on design guidelines, project-definition programming, and post-occu-
how to design, with emphasis on the style of the resulting form, than pancy evaluations-is considered too specific and limited to ade-
on why-the proposed impact of design change on improving quality quately form a substantive knowledge base for the disciplines, even if
of life. Rapoport argues that contemporary design decisions are based these data are systematically compiled and made available to others.
primarily on what designers "prefer" from an aesthetic perspective, Since many designers are innocent of systematic research methods
rather than on established knowledge or predictable performance out- and statistical analysis procedures, a great deal of their project-based
comes. By the 1970s it was becoming apparent that under rapidly research and conclusions are unreliable in application to general (and
changing conditions, with designers becoming physically and socially even specific) situations. Because much of this information is consid-
separated from clients and especially users, they needed information ered proprietary, little of it is found in the literature in any case.
to support design decisions that was unavailable. Research flourished The basis of an environment-behavior approach to design is the
in many disciplines (such as engineering and planning), and theory notion that there is a relationship between the environment and
was becoming respected (and respectable) because of its power to pro- behavior and that this influence can be understood to inform design.
vide insight into the future. However, the design fields were being left We generally understand how the environment acts to influence
Chapter Two substantive Theory 37

behavior. People, for example, are more excited in a carnival atmo- possible alternatives there has to be an evidentiary system for deter-
sphere or more relaxed in a quiet park. Conversely, it is also true that mining the most appropriate choices. Advocates of a knowledge-based
our behavior has an influence on the environment. If people repeat- approach see designs as hypotheses to be rigorously tested (Zube
edly follow a single path it becomes Worn to the extent that it is phys- 1983; Rapoport 1990) to produce a cumulative body of knowledge. A
ically expressed in the landscape. Environment and behavior may be strong research component is considered a minimum requirement for
seen to be interactive when, as a consequence of our discovering a any discipline (and, within universities, any education program) to
path worn into the landscape, it attracts us to adopt the same behav- develop a sound knowledge base. Systematic evaluation of the mutual
ior. There are ecological relationships between environment and interaction of people and the built environment is concerned primarily
behavior due to their mutual influences on one another. The greater with what to design and why; posing human criteria for designs
our understanding of these relationships, the greater our ability to based on an understanding of person-environment interactions. Rapo-
apply that knowledge to guide design decisions and create predictable port suggests that this type of investigation deals with three general
environmental settings.
questions (1977:1):
Environment-behavior research draws from a variety of disci-
• How do people shape the environment? Which characteris-
plines, with the topic having more to do with geography and culture
tics of people, as individuals or groups, are relevant to the shap-
than with architecture. People, activities, schemata, and relationships ing of different environments?
are all considered more important than buildings or settings as arti-
facts to provide an understanding of the living environment (Rapo- • How and to what extent does the physical environment
port 1990: 91). What is necessary, it is argued, is to be able to affect people? How important is the designed environment and
in which contexts?
understand culturally different ways of comprehending the environ-
ment and that this understanding is more important than design • What are the mechanisms that link people and environ-
methods or styles. Furthermore, the most important part of design- ments in a two-way interaction?
systematic problem identification-is often missing (or dismissed) Appleton (1975) theorized that people have an innate preference
from contemporary paradigms, and this condition constitutes an for certain protective or sheltering environmental settings. This is
institutionalized constraint to effective paradigmatic change (Der- described as a prospect and refuge relationship between an observer and
rington 1981:59; Lynch 1981; Rapoport 1990:83). In the absence of .the landscape. The basic premise of the prospect-refuge theory is
systematic, comprehensive problem discovery and identification, that people evolved as an "edge" species in a savannah environment
designers often miss (or avoid) the most difficult and challenging- over many thousands of generations (Wilson 2002). The forest edge
that is, real-problems by substituting their own self-posed problems condition within the open grassland-woodland environment of the
as defined by the internal values of their profession; that is, trivial and savannah provided a sheltered prospect from which people could view
easily solved ones. An even greater hindrance to the development of the open landscape in search of food and shelter. The edge condition
the design disciplines is the apparent disinterest among designers in also provided the benefit of a protective refuge that concealed the
finding and reducing areas of uncertainty through the development of viewer from predators or enemies. The theory postulates that since
knowledge, as other fields do constantly (Rapoport 1990:97). This people favored and occupied this type of landscape during a lengthy
may result because designers often consider the problems to be obvi- period of evolutionary development, this preference has been encoded
ous, as viewed through the filter of their prevailing internal value sys- in our subconscious as a precognitive response to an environment
tem. When we believe that we know what the design problems are, that provides a prospect and refuge setting. The theory suggests that
we are unlikely to spend energy verifying that knowledge. to satisfy one of our most basic human needs, designed environments
Some design-research advocates conceive design as a process of need to provide a recognizable and beneficial relationship (a prospect
proposing alternatives and choosing from among possible courses of and refuge condition) if they are to be preferred on a fundamental
action to achieve certain predicted effects based on explicit objectives, subconscious level. An interesting aspect of the prospect-refuge theory
sometimes called the "choice model" of design (Rapoport 1977: 15). To is that the image presented by many landscape paintings seems to
achieve this, it is imperative that the design disciplines create and provide a broad panoramic, or prospect, view of the landscape from
operate on the basis of a knowledge base-objective understanding of an obvious or implied refuge position.
environmental reality-if their design services are to provide The prospect-refuge theory can be easily tested in the environment
improved performance in the landscape. To determine the best among to demonstrate its apparent influence on behavioral choices. People,
38 39
Chapter Two Substantive Theory
for example, are more often observed choosing to sit on benches under collective purpose to measure time. The parts of a natural system are
the shelter of trees at the edge of a space than on benches out in the much more complex since each part contributes to its individual well-
open at the middle of a space, conspicuously located in the full view of being as well as to function in concert with all others to influence the
others. People tend to want to view others more than they want to be overall well-being of the system as a whole. Thus, the mechanical view
viewed in this kind of setting, although there are, of course, excep"": of nature had a grossly simplistic and misleading influence on our
tions. Theory provides useful guidance to designers in considering the understanding of nature. In particular, it suggested that by understand-
use of public space, but the design decisions must still be made on the ing the parts we could come to understand the whole. Systems thinking
basis of value judgments. When designers evaluate available choices to has developed in response to this deficiency. The systems approach
address a wide range of problems and opportunities, the theory may affects all aspects of landscape architecture, including learning.
explain, but it does not determine design choices. Design choices are An important characteristic of natural systems is their ability to
always made to reach the most equitable and harmonious balance learn, to acquire "information" that informs their development and
among a range of competing interests. evolution over time. DNA, for example, may be described as the infor-
mation an organism uses to build itself. DNA is often referred to as the
Systems Theory blueprint of an organism, telling each cell how to become a particular
part of the system, such as bone or muscle in animals, or leaf or stem
in plants. It might also be useful to think of DNA as compared to the
One of the greatest challenges of contemporary life is to under- policy and procedures manual of a complex organization. It not only
stand and manage the interface between complex cultural and envi- tells the organization how to form itself but also how to act, or more
ronmental systems (Senge 1990:14). Systems theory provides a correctly to interact, with other elements of the system. In either case
means of comprehending reality on a holistic basis and has become the DNA is the repository of vital information. As organisms evolve
our most important means of understanding complex conditions. Sys- and become more complex they acquire increasing amounts of infor-
tems thinking provides a structure for unifying the broad theoretical mation, stored in the DNA, to guide the creation of each subsequent
positions that have been brought together to form the profession of generation in a predictable way. The same is true for the organism and
landscape architecture as we now know it.
its social group. As human society became more advanced and com-
Systems are defined as "wholes" consisting of entities and rela- plex, people had to have increasing amounts of information to manage
tionships that function through the interrelatedness of their parts. their survival. Continual learning is required for survival in a chang-
Systems exhibit existential properties independent of these parts (Mot- ing world. Hutchins (1996) describes learning as the process by which
loch 2001: 1). Systems relationships are characterized as follows: a system alters its structure to adapt to its environment and increase
• The behavior of each element of the system has an effect on the its capacity to survive. This is what happens to us as we learn. The
behavior of the whole. more we learn, the more fit we become to survive in our environment.
• The behavior of the system elements and their effect on the We also increase our capacity to become what we are capable of
whole are interdependent. becoming as an individual. One of the reasons we are not the same
person today that we were at age ten is that we have learned a lot
• The elements of the system are so interconnected that indepen-
dent subgroups of them cannot be formed (Ackoff 1981). since then and changed because of it. Learning is a creative process.
There are seven principles of systemic learning (Hutchins 1996:137):
Insights from all branches of science during the last half of the
twentieth century have precipitated a shift in worldview from the 1. Learning is driven by a search to explain the discrepancy
mechanistic view of Descartes and Newton to the holistic view of Smuts between past knowledge and present or anticipated expe-
and Bertalanffy (Capra 1996:43). Newton used the metaphor of a clock rience. This is done to better predict the future and improve the
probability of survival.
to describe the intricate interrelationships among the different parts of
nature. While it is true that the parts of a clock are activated by one 2. Learning is the active reconstruction of past knowledge
another, they do not have the capacity to change one another and and skills to integrate new information or behavior at a
evolve together over time, and the action is directed in only one way- higher level of complexity. Memory occurs at an objective
from spring to wheel to hands, not the reverse. Also, the individual physiological level in the nervous system; thus, learners
parts of the clock do not exist for their own purposes, but only for their actively construct meaning.
Chapter Two Substantive Theory 41

3. Learning is socially mediated and contextual. Learning has 3. What must be known to design well must be learned:
an "ecological context." When what is learned is influenced by because the world is changing rapidly, we must learn continu-
the knowledge accepted by others, their beliefs, and their effect ously to be able to inform change in ways that result in the
on the learning processes, it is socially contextual. improvement required for design success.
4. Learning requires feedback and comparison against an ' The principle of holism contends that as a result of synergistic
internalized standard or an accepted external standard. interactions, the whole of a system is greater than and different from
Learning does not occur without feedback to measure under- the sum of its parts (Smuts 1926). Holistic thinking emphasizes the
standing or performance in relation to the standard. Delayed organic and functional relationships between the parts and the whole,
feedback or feedback unaccepted as a legitimate standard of an integrated system of mutually interdependent relationships that
evaluation does not serve to advance learning. facilitates the emergence of new (systemic) properties. Contemporary
5. Learning requires integration and automaticity, which are ideas about systems discount the notion that we can understand the
dependent on motivation and persistence. Significant repetition whole by examining the individual parts: by examining the parts indi-
is necessary to integrate new information or skills to the vidually we fail to comprehend the essential relationships between
extent that their application becomes an automatic response. them (Wheatley 1992). In design it is always the relationships rather
Unless new learning is fully integrated, old learned forms than the parts that are most important. The world is filled with exam-
reconstruct themselves when the process is destabilized by ples of landscapes, tools, machines, buildings, and towns that are well
stress or new information. designed, in comparison to others that are not. The examples in both
categories may contain precisely the same type and number of parts.
6. Learning is both a single-looped and double-looped process
Having all the right parts does not equate to having a good design.
(cognitive and metacognitive). It is thinking directed toward
They must be placed in harmonious relationships with one another.
learning new things as well as thinking directed at the process An understanding of systems relationships is integral to design, as
of learning-thinking, and thinking about thinking. expressed in John Motloch's view:
7. Learning is both product and process. Product and process
For landscape management, planning, and design to effectively
are the same thing, only seen from different vantage points.
integrate diverse systems, landscape designers must be systems
Learners cannot achieve the product (knowledge) without the thinkers (thinking integratively and with cognizance of systems
process (learning) taking place. They cannot meaningfully dynamics). They must be committed to landscape management,
engage the process without a product resulting. planning, and design that optimize the health and productivity of
These principles resonate strongly with the process of design. A diyerse physical, ecological, and human systems. Landscape
useful way to understand design is to conceive it as an application- designers must aspire to manage, plan, and design people-envi-
oriented learning process. If we begin with the concept that we must ronment relationships and human interventions that promote
know what is desired in the future and what conditions exist that landscapes of high relevance and deep meaning that are sustain-
able (address today's needs while sustaining the ability to address
require design change, it should be apparent that we need to learn
the needs of the future) and regenerative (function to regenerate
these things in order to be able to design effectively. From a systems system capacity). (2001 :1)
approach, design problems are best understood as a set of interdepen-
dent problems that are definable only by their specific interactions In many ways, designers have always been systemic thinkers,
(Ackoff 1981). Learning is necessary in our search for what is, as well organizing a broad array of interrelated parts to produce a unified
as for what should be. Based on the proposition that design requires design whole. The primary difference between Motloch's description
learning, there are three principles of design process when approached and the way designers have always worked is mainly a matter of
from a systems learning perspective: what is to be included, the extent to which systems thinking has been
expanded to apply to an increased range of considerations. In the past,
1. Design is a learning process: change must be informed by designers tended to focus their attention on the specific place or object
reliable knowledge if it is to bring about predictable improve- being designed. We now realize that in designing the landscape, this
ment within a complex system.
objective view is inadequate for understanding the relationships we
2. Learning is a design process: it structures purposeful change in influence. The systems being influenced far exceed the limits of the
what we know and how we understand and relate to the world. property being designed or developed.
Chapter Two 43
Substantive Theory
For designs to holistically address the total complex of interactive
that integrate knowledge of the processes by which nature and society
relationships in the landscape requires a systems approach. Open sys-
tems, such as the landscape, which are subject to influences from out- organize themselves. It also provides insight into the processes of
learning and decision making that lead to design results.
side the system (and in turn, exert influences beyond the system),
exhibit a number of common characteristics. These include (1) inter- There are two primary reasons why systems theory is important
dependence in the relationships among subsystems and the ovenill to landscape architecture. One is that the environment is highly com-
system, or suprasystems; (2) hierarchy among subsystems and the plex and complex conditions require a systems approach to under-
suprasystem which have specific patterns of influence within and stand them. The other reason is that the environment is dynamic. This
leads to continual change and, as a consequence, makes continual
between system levels; and (3) tradition, in that systems are subject to
the irreversibility of time and the increasing entrenchment and rein- learning a central feature of successful design process. The advantage
forcement of complex interrelationships. of a systems approach becomes obvious when we understand that, like
Any system has its own hierarchy of subsystems and at the same the landscape, design problem solving is an unending process. Because
time exists as a subsystem in the hierarchy of a greater or suprasys- problems and solutions are in constant flux, they do not stay solved.
tern. Each level of complexity has the explanation for its mechanisms And, even when problems remain relatively stable, their solutions
in the levels below, and its significance in the levels above. In an Afri- become obsolete, sometimes before construction is complete (Ackoff
1981). Landscape improvement is an ongoing process of complex sys-
can savannah ecosystem, for example, the lions exist as a predatory tems management. Landscape design is a specific step in the process.
subsystem because of the available energy organized by the subsystem
An important result of systems thinking has been the shift from a
of grazing animals who convert the energy captured by photosynthe-
sis in the subsystem of the grassland. Each level in the food chain purely quantitative view of the individual parts of nature to a more
exists because of the one below. Antelope colonize the region after the qualitative understanding of nature as a whole: a shift from the singu-
lar focus on substance to a more balanced assessment of both the form
grassland becomes well enough established to provide a predictable
food source. Lions assume a predatory role in the food chain after the and the substance of interrelated phenomena. We are still in the process
antelope become well enough established to provide their food source. of shifting our view from the concept of the machine to ecosystems, and
Once established as a subsystem in the ecosystem, the lions serve to unfortunately this view is not yet fully understood in the corporate,
keep the numbers of antelope in check and prevent weak individuals political, or academic communities (Leopold 1949:243; Capra 1996:4).
The decision-making world seems to be trapped in a crisis of perception.
from transmitting their characteristics into the gene pool. Each level,
or subsystem, in the food chain is interdependent with the others. If we perceive things as being separate and unrelated, we will continue
to address them as such. This is what we observe when we see that
The history of the ecosystem describes system change over time
that enables the hierarchical subsystems to become established and streets,are designed as one system, utilities as another, and buildings as
another in the formation of cities. None of these closely related urban
their interrelationships entrenched. Reduction of the grassland
features are designed to perform as a single system, the city. The result
through the introduction of farming, for example, would bring about
a reduction in the antelope population that, in turn, would cause a is dysfunctional or poorly functioning urban environments.
reduction in the number of lions due to the loss of available food One of the most important aspects of a systems view is its reposi-
source for each level. Alternatively, if the number of lions was reduced tioning of attention from objects to relationships-a shift from objec-
tive to contextual thinking. Unfortunately, the world is slow to
through hunting, the antelope population could expand, increasing
pressure on the grassland that would bring about its reduction change its fundamental intellectual framework. Perhaps too many
through overgrazing. The essential properties of a system derive from people have too much at stake in the old paradigm for it to be changed
the interactions among its hierarchically interrelated subsystems, the quickly. There is compelling reason to believe that the looming crisis
of the environment calls for change that is both profound and imme-
interaction of the parts acting as a whole, not the parts acting or
diate. But, unless our perceptual abilities allow it, we are unable to
existing separately. When the elements are taken apart the system
loses its essential properties and ceases to exist. comprehend reality in a new and more integrated way. One of the
Systems theory has become our most important means of com- clearest examples of the view that nature can be comprehended by
investigating individual parts is the university, whose institutional
prehending reality on a holistic basis. It provides structure for unify-
structure is based on different disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology,
ing the broad theoretical positions held by the many disciplines
economics) existing in relative isolation from one another. The parts
dedicated to understanding natural and built environments in ways
work well to focus on research into different areas of knowledge but
Chapter Two 45

there are no clear systems for integrating the knowledge each of them Equilibrium structures are usually fine-tuned for change in the
creates into a comprehensive, or comprehensible, whole.
,hort term and tend to be homeostatic: functioning to sustain them-
Quantum physics revealed that, at the subatomic level, objective selves over time. Dissipative structures operate in a condition of dis-
reality does not exist, only the probability of reality as expressed ~uilibrium and are characterized by high internal and external conflict
through the presumed interrelationships among particles. This shift in and intense stress over short time periods. Dissipative structures func-
attention from objects to relationships, from a focus on the discrete ,.Don to create new and more relevant interrelationships, and evolve
components of nature to the contextual structure in which they exist fnew and more appropriate equilibrium structures-in the long term.
and the forces that motivate them, enabled the science of ecology to Their instability makes them somewhat unpredictable in the short
develop. Attention to the structure and function of environments as term. But conditions of great turmoil and instability, while stressful,
complementary realities, rather than the mere quantification of indi- afford great opportunities for fundamental design change due to the
vidual objects within them, is providing the design disciplines with an . rapidly changing nature of the current situation.
opportunity to better understand the environments we act to influ- An example of these opposing structures may been seen in the
ence. This improved understanding enables us to view environments apparently stable paradigm within the design education system (with
as settings of dynamic and meaningful relationships rather than static its continuing value on the art rather than the science of design) exist-
voids awaiting improvement from the hand of the gifted and creative ing in parallel with the rapidly changing design practice environment.
designer. To design in a way that takes all the subsystems (biological, The latter must respond to unstable and rapidly deteriorating built
geological, social, political, etc.) into account requires that we learn a environments and to clients' changing value systems. And there is
great deal about the system and its subsystems. another consideration. In spite of continuing technological advances
Systems theory holds the promise of providing the unifying theo- and the abundance of resources available to them, American architects,
retical field to integrate knowledge of the way nature, and society as a engineers, planners, and landscape architects have been unable to cre-
part of it, organizes itself. Systems thinking is particularly important ate reliably safe, healthy, enjoyable, and beautiful urban environ-
to design because it is largely based on pattern recognition and orga- ments. This results, in part, because designers in each discipline take
nization, a fundamental principle of design thinking. "The idea of a responsibility for their own area of expertise-and that area alone.
pattern of organization-a configuration of relationships characteris- They do so with apparent faith that by designing the parts, the whole
tic of a particular system-became the explicit focus of systems think- will also be designed. In reality, this is true. Because the subsystems
ing in cybernetics and has been the crucial concept ever since" (Capra are interdependent, the whole system is being designed. Unfortunately,
1996:80). The evolving nature of pattern organization is becoming it is being designed inadvertently or by default. The values that guide
increasingly important to landscape planning and design. In changing the design decisions about the parts do not relate to the outcomes of
the landscape it is not only important to organize different elements the whole. As a consequence we are, by neglect, designing the whole
in an appropriate pattern of relationships, but also to integrate that system badly. The same design thinking being applied to the parts
pattern into the larger patterns of the landscape in ways that are har- needs also to be applied to the whole, and in a holistic or systemic way.
monious and mutually supporting. To meet rapidly evolving performance standards, the contempo-
Systems, whose essential properties exist and function through rary development environment (requiring science-based prediction of
the interrelatedness of their parts, may be described according to their design outcomes) is being required to move beyond the traditional
relative stability (Motloch 2001:2; Capra 1996:27). Equilibrium design approaches and adopt new ways of interpreting the process of
structures are highly integrated, interactive, self-perpetuating, and landscape reformation. Land planners and designers of the future will
stable. Dissipative structures are highly spontaneous, dynamic, and have to find ways of reconciling and creatively integrating these
inherently unstable.
diverse value systems if the profession is to remain relevant and via-
Stable systems exhibit structures that have evolved slowly over ble. As we hold to our values of the past, other disciplines, such as
time to increase the interrelatedness of their parts and have few inter- civil engineering and planning, are stepping up to the opportunity by
nal or external conflicts. Unstable systems, undergoing transforma- offering new services to meet the changing requirements of contem-
tion, promote the spontaneous generation of new structures and porary land design and development. They bring to this challenge
maximize the rate and extent of change within them. Fundamental their own technology, but often without the values of the whole; that
change in equilibrium systems is extremely difficult because of their is, without the integrated and collaborative synergy of multiple
internal stability and resistance to outside influences.
knowledge bases, technologies, and values.
Chapter Two 47
stantive Theo_ry _
Over the last quarter century there has been steady progress . . g the parts on a shop floor. Similarly, to fully understand the
toward organizing landscape architecture in conformance with a sys- ucation process it needs to be comprehended in the context of the
tems approach to the process of learning. Professional design perfor-
mance and the related process of educational preparation are based on ,sociopolitical and biophysical processes in which it takes place, and
three interrelated suppositions regarding the relationships betwfen With regard to the requirements of contemporary professional practice.
education and practice: ~( A systems approach to design intervention in the continuing
evelopment of the landscape includes understanding, arranging, and
1. The behavior of each element of the system (either design prac- !.rnanaging the integrated features, processes, and spatial patterns of
tice or its educational preparation) has an effect on the behavior !'lhecommunity and its host environment (the urban landscape and its
of the whole (the profession).
.regional hinterland) to improve the quality of their interdependent
2. The behavior of the system elements and their effect on the relationships. The quality of design ideas, and in particular the envi-
whole are interdependent (in other words, education is depen- . ronments that issue from them, must be measured by the extent to
dent on the design profession and the design profession is which the whole system integrates with and responds to the demands
dependent on its educational preparation).
being placed on it. These demands include our immediate needs, the
3. The elements of the practice/education system are so intercon- biophysical requirements of the environment, and our continuing
nected that they cannot be formed into independent sub- requirement to effect useful change in the landscape in the future. The
groups (Ackoff 1981); that is, they exist as integrated importance of design ideas cannot be overstated. An idea is to design
profession) asofa landscape
components whole. architecture (the discipline and the what light is to vision. Ideas are the enabling vehicle that conveys and
makes tangible the meaning of design change.
An underlying presumption of these suppositions is that the stu- For design ideas to keep pace with rapidly developing knowledge
dent is a member of the profession with the status of landscape archi- and events, the discipline has acquired new knowledge, and profes-
tect-in-training. There is no distinction between student and sional practice has incorporated new technologies, methods, and ser-
practitioner; that is, there is no physical or intellectual distinction vices. An important role for current practitioners and academicians
between the person a student is now and the person she or he will be will be to guide the future development of the profession in ways that
upon becoming a practitioner at some future date. The student is an will preserve the best of the discipline's traditional values while simul-
integral part of the system of landscape architecture, currently oper- taneously shaping new holistic ones that encompass our evolving
ating in the educational subsystem. The future of landscape architec- social and environmental concerns. To meet needs on a systemic basis
ture is reliant on the quality of education students now receive to requires that we consider the interrelated concerns for quality of life
prepare them as both trained entry-level practitioners and as life-long and quality of the environment from an evidence-based perspective.
learners who will very shortly assume leadership of the profession. These interrelated aspects, for which design consideration must be
As stated earlier, the essential properties of a system derive from made, include:
the interaction of its parts acting as a whole, not the parts acting sep- • cultural and social considerations
arately (Capra 1996:29). The requirements of professional practice
influence education as much as the characteristics of education influ- • economics and production
ence the nature of practice. If a system is taken apart it loses its essen- • environmental processes
tial properties. When you disassemble a car and lay the parts out on • physical and functional relationships
the shop floor you no longer have a "car" (as a whole system). You • sensory and perceptual considerations
only have the parts. When the parts are integrated and interactive, a
The systems criteria for achieving holistic integration of these
system results: a condition exists in which the whole is capable of
considerations through design are characterized by:
its parts.that are greater than is possible from the sum of the actions of
• the multidimensionality of relevant knowledge areas and per-
For the parts of a system to be fully understood, they must be formance criteria
comprehended in their systemic or holistic context. You cannot, for • the interdependence between criteria originating from different
example, understand the feeling of power from speed of movement or sources
the sense of freedom you experience from owning or driving a car by • the dialectic between problems and their proposed solutions
Chapter Two

Sophisticated design methods are needed to effectively integrate

design thinking into the decision-making processes for land develop-
ment. Of perhaps equal concern is the question of whether our contri-
butions are being made in the most effective decision-making arenas.
Do designers, for example, interface at the most appropriate levels of
political and economic decision making to exert the influence we wish
to achieve? This question, while important, is not discussed here. The
considerations to be reviewed here address what is known about the
process of delivering design services as it is now employed and how
this process may be managed to improve the quality of design results.
Design process, or design technology as it is also called, is one of the
primary indicators of successful design practice (Coxe et al. 1987: 8).
The procedural theories of design that address methodology, ideol-
ogy, purpose, and the principles of knowledge application are outlined
in the following chapter. Procedural Theory

Some people consider it noble to have some method, others con-

sider it equally noble to have no method. To have no method is
bad. To adhere strictly to method is worse still. It is necessary at
first to observe a strict rule, then to penetrate intelligently into all
the transformations. The possession of method liberates us from
the necessity of possessing method.
-Lao Tzu

The procedure of design decision making, design process, is an

area of theory encompassing a number of broad considerations. This
area of theory is based on the notion that how we apply knowledge is
as important to successful landscape change as the knowledge we
apply to inform design thinking. An evidence-based design process is
intended to connect knowledge to design action. By this approach the
problem is framed in relation to design intentions and context, and
decisions are based on an understanding of the critical issues. Because
decisions are directly related to knowledge, this approach is seen as an
effective means of integrating and resolving all the relevant concerns
(Archer 1965). In very broad terms, there are three basic questions to
be addressed through design:
1. What do we have? What conditions now exist that are insuffi-
cient to meet our needs or satisfy our goals and aspirations?

50 51
Chapter Three Procedural Theory
2. What do we need? What conditions or relationships must exist guage, it also means that our thinking is informed by relevant knowl-
for us to meet those needs or achieve our goals and aspirations? edge about the conditions we seek to influence. When broken into
3. How do we get it? What physical arrangement will provide definitive actions, the design process may be described as four stages
the conditions and relationships we desire and how might th9t (Broadbent 1973):
be achieved?
1. Recognize and describe the problem
Procedural theory is intended to address these questions in an 2. Describe the conditions to be met in resolving the problem
integrated way. Design process is defined as the sequence of events 3. Formulate a solution that satisfies these conditions
that extends from the time when a condition requiring design inter-
4. Implement the solution
vention is detected, through the deliberation of factors influencing the
decision, to the final determination of a course of action to change the Design thinking and design training come to us through a long
environment (Broadbent 1973:10). Early work by Hideo Sasaki to tradition originating in the fine and applied arts. Each design discipline
outline the design process suggested that three types of thinking were has its own definition of purpose and function. Architecture, for exam-
involved (1950:159): ple, is oriented toward the provision of shelter, landscape architecture
toward the provision of place, and engineering toward the application
1. Research: investigation to understand the context and factors
to be considered of technology to solve human problems. The mainstream approach to
architecture, and by extension to landscape architecture, has been
2. Analysis: determining the ideal relationships among the factors described as the "grand tradition" of design, in contrast to "vernacu-
and context
lar" design that is not produced by professional designers (Rapoport
3. Synthesis: integrating the complex of relationships into a spa- 1977:5). The results of grand-tradition design are often self-con-
tial organization sciously formed landscape or urban elements, including built monu-
ments and landscape features that tend to be overt, often self-
Christopher Jones modified and elaborated the three stages of
referential, and communicate "... the uniqueness of man. They repre-
what he described as a systematic design method (Jones and Thornley
1963). It was intended to have two benefits: reduce the likelihood of sent the 'high art' that is generally taught in schools of design. It is
based upon an anthropocentric (human as center) and anthropomor-
design error, redesign, and delay, while at the same time make possible
phic (human as form-giver) mindset" (Motloch 2001:293). Grand-tra-
more imaginative and advanced designs. The three stages include:
dition design is focused on expressing the idiosyncratic concepts of the
1. Analysis: listing the design requirements as a set of logically individual designer in an elitist manner, with form originating prima-
related performance specifications rily from the designer's attitudes about aesthetics rather than from an
2. Synthesis: finding possible solutions to each performance understanding of ecosystems, culture, or place. These "professional"
requirement and developing complete designs from these with forms typically offer little opportunity for self-expression or influence
the least amount of compromise from users of the built environment, nor do they tend to express the
3. Evaluation: evaluating how well alternative designs meet the uniqueness of the biophysical environments in which they occur.
performance requirements prior to final design selection (Jones The recent history of design methods has evolved from this tradi-
1984:10). tional approach to design as a highly individualized, intuitive process
where designers are primarily concerned with self-expression, toward
The typical phases of design process are traditionally described as methods that apply rational goals and objective knowledge as a basis
inception, immersion, inspiration, and implementation (Jones 1992), for decision making. In the mid-twentieth century thoughtful design-
suggesting that design ideas come from a deep understanding of con- ers began to develop a rationale for design that went beyond individ-
text and desires. Design requires knowledge to guide future change, ual preference or intuition. Four generations of design process have
but creativity, particularly in analysis to determine meaningful rela- been identified (Cross 1984:2; Strauss 1990:19).
tionships and synthesis to create forms that facilitate them, remains First-generation methods (dating from the 1960s) developed in
critical to design success. Even when design was thought to be based reaction to preconceived, intuitive designs formulated to express the
primarily on creative inspiration, rather than evidence-based predict- designer's ideas-such as a building form based on the shape of a crab
ability, deep immersion in the problem was considered necessary to shell, for example. These early design processes, oriented toward the
enable designers to "create" effective ideas. In contemporary lan- identification and resolution of functional (and sometimes environ-
52 53
Chapter Three Procedural Theory

mental) problems were linear, systematic, and "expert-driven" prob- addressed create a condition of urgency for responsible, knowledge-
lem-solving approaches. These methods were based primarily on based planning and decision making. However, this is not as easy to
quantification and design programs generated by the designer (Mot- accomplish as to recommend. The successful application of knowledge
loch 1991:257). has many problems associated with it (Capra 1983). Having knowl-
Second-generation processes (dating from the 1970s) based deci- edge about the environment or critical design issues is not enough.
sions on an expanded range of expertise, as represented by partici- More importantly, we must know how to effectively apply knowledge
pants in the design process. These processes assumed that dialogue in a design situation. Among the most significant of the difficulties in
between designers and users would promote greater understanding of applying knowledge include:
needs and conflicts (Caudill 1971; Zube 1974; Alexander et al. 1977), • The great diversity of knowledge areas to be integrated through
The process included participation by clients and users and was based design
on the perceived importance of common perceptions and values as a • The absence of an institutionalized framework for information
means of providing coherent application of knowledge (Broadbent and
Ward 1969:41; Cross 1984:305). Reiteration of the design search • The lack of understanding about what is known and what is
began to deviate from a linear pattern of thinking. unknown
Third-generation processes (dating from the 1980s) regarded pro- • The inability to predict what knowledge is most urgently required
fessional designers as experts in decision making but not in determin- • Profoundly different approaches to the creation of knowledge
ing how people should live-that is, designers were thought to be • A lack of understanding about the values encoded in the infor-
knowledgeable about how to design but not what to design. Form pro- mation produced
posals came from the design expert, but they were based on the
knowledge and values of others. Users or clients determined whether • A lack of understanding about how to apply knowledge through
to accept or reject the proposals (Marshall 1981:77). Decisions rested physical planning and design
with clients, not designers. The process became cyclically reiterative as The first two stages of design process-to recognize and describe
a means of incorporating feedback through multiple cycles. Under design problems and to describe the conditions to be met in resolving
this paradigm the designer was seen as a facilitator of form decisions them-are the stages dedicated to learning about the design context
(Gilbert 1987:221). and the problems to be resolved. We must first learn what is required
Fourth-generation design methods now emerging are sometimes before we can be reasonably certain that our design proposals will sat-
referred to as innovation-intervention processes (Van Gigch 1984). isfy clients' or users' requirements, or integrate harmoniously into
These processes seek to network people, manage dialogue, identify the environment.
and resolve conflicts in value systems, integrate expertise, and remove There are two conventional processes for building the knowledge
roadblocks that inhibit change (Strauss 1990:31; Motloch 1991:257). required for effective decision making. One of these, decision model-
They serve to create sociopolitical environments within which healthy ing, is for application to general landscape-planning situations. The
and responsive design decisions can emerge. Motloch contends that other, design programming, is for application to specific landscape or
these processes can facilitate the concentration of common, culturally site design projects.
instituted meanings to the environment and promote social evolution
and emancipation from institutionalized constraints. Fourth-genera-
tion methods (based on decision-making systems that are open and
Design Programming
cyclical) often employ decision frameworks and design goals and
objectives to pursue and document progress toward their satisfaction. American philosopher John Dewey said that "a problem well
Design guidelines and performance criteria are operationalized to stated is half solved." If design problems are well defined, the likeli-
implement the objectives through planning and design decisions. hood of their satisfactory resolution is greatly enhanced. Alterna-
Fourth-generation methods are knowledge based and often integrate tively, if the problem is unclear, or if the client and designer hold
the expertise of a wide range of participants and technical consultants differing views of the critical issues, the likelihood of satisfactory reso-
to assure the comprehensive resolution of complex problems. lution is quite low. For a design to predictably meet an elevated stan-
The rapid pace of contemporary change and our growing aware- dard of performance requires that the project intentions and design
ness of the complexity of the environmental conditions to be criteria describing that standard are clearly and mutually understood.
54 55
Chapter Three Procedural Theory
For example, if we intend for designs to integrate well with the exist- The program is intended to insure that adequate, reliable, accurate,
ing ecological setting, we must identify the conditions of that setting and relevant information is available to support design decisions
and determine how design changes relate to them. (Douglas 1995:26). William Pena, one of the pioneers of the proce-
Design programming is the process of learning to support a defin- dure, describes programming as a pre-design activity distinct from
itive statement of the problem to be solved by design. It is based on'the design. He delineates programming as problem seeking, and design as
notion that defining project parameters and design performance problem solving (Pena and Focke 1969).
requirements is an activity distinct from solving them. In reality, while Another less obvious but equally important purpose of program-
the products of programming and design-design problems and design ming is to provide clients with an adequate understanding of the
solutions-are distinctive, the process for achieving them need not seg- issues to be addressed by design. This enables them to make informed
regate these two interrelated considerations. Programming was devel- decisions about whether to accept or reject the design advice being
oped to provide the information required to facilitate effective design offered. The key to improving design quality through research is to
decisions. In response to the growing complexity of design practice and make specific connections between knowledge and form. Only when
the perceived deficiencies in design information, the architectural pro- we (both designer and client) are able to relate what we know about
fession instituted this "operating procedure for systematizing the design the problem to form and process decisions are we able to improve the
process" (Sanoff 1977). The proponents of programming recognized quality of design results.
that an important aspect of any design is the effective definition of the The third critical purpose of programming is to establish system-
problem; that is, establishing the critical issues to be resolved. The pur- atic communication between designers and clients that focuses on an
pose of the design program is to objectively determine and categori- objective assessment of design purpose and context before discussions
cally state the design problem (Alexander 1984; Lawson 1994:135). of design results are considered. It is necessary to clarify basic design
Design programming provides critical information needed to intentions prior to the discussion of design proposals. Unless the client
resolve problems of an unfamiliar nature, projects of great complex- and designer are in agreement on the intentions and requirements of a
ity, or work being performed on behalf of large client bodies (Pena, design project, it is unlikely that they will be able to work well together
Caudill, and Focke 1977:82). It offers a way to translate information to develop and agree on a proposed solution. It is imperative that the
from one form (verbal and quantitative) into another (physical and knowledge-building aspect of design process is employed to clarify
spatial) to bring the client's goals closer to reality (Palmer 1981:16). complex issues and reduce conflict among the parties. If the parties fail
Over the last thirty years there has been a growing body of literature to reach a mutual understanding prior to the development and discus-
in the United States on the topic of architectural programming as a sion of design proposals, it may be impossible to reconcile differences
method for controlling the quality of design products and assessing after opposing positions have been taken in defense of them.
the success of design solutions.
Programming as a process includes information collection, analy-
Early work by Alexander (1964) focused on the identification and
sis, organization, communication, and evaluation (Palmer 1981) and
analysis of environments that people found successful. The identifica-
results in the final comprehensive statement of the design problem to
tion of successful design relationships provided information that could
be integrated into the formation of new environments. Under a later be solved. Pena (1987) describes problem seeking as a five-step proce-
dure that includes:
approach (Alexander et al. 1977) he attacked the design problem by
breaking it down into manageable categories or subproblems. Different 1. Establishing the design goals
design collaborators (representing different areas of knowledge) estab- 2. Gathering the relevant facts
lished a number of requirements for successful design resolution. These 3. Developing concepts to address the design issues
requirements could be synthesized into the formulation of design ele- 4. Determining the design needs
ments. The correct solution to a subproblem yielded a design element.
These elements could then be combined into patterns, and the patterns 5. Stating the problem in a comprehensive way
combined and recombined into a pattern language to define "goodness Each of these steps provides a specific type of information or ele-
of fit" for the design of a complex system-a building or landscape. ment of the program. Under Pena's approach, the elements of pro-
The obvious purpose of programming is to provide an overview of gramming are evaluated relative to their influence on design
design requirements that integrate human, physical, and external ele- considerations. Pena described the program elements as being respon-
ments relevant to the feature or facility being designed (Palmer 1981). sive to a set of universal design considerations or factors to be evalu-
56 57
Chapter Three edural Theory

ated. The four fundamental design considerations are form, function, ere has been acceptance, but not enthusiastic support among
economy, and time (see box 3.1). ,6igners for the programming paradigm. The procedure, while gen-
These four design considerations provide the basis for information 'ally accepted, is not rigorously applied in the United States (Der-
analysis. Analysis is the key to making knowledge an effective force in ington 1981:59) nor effectively taught in the United Kingdom
design. Only when we understand the design implications of the Symes, Eley, and Seidel 1997). Routine, systematic application of an
knowledge gained will we able to use that knowledge to improve 'dence-based design approach is still a thing of the future.
design results.
Design programming represents a systematic departure from the
'aditional design approach (i.e., intuitive and personalized decision
aking within the framework of prevailing values, past experience,
d contemporary style) that is unwelcome among some practitioner
d academic adherents to the view that "good" design springs from
The physical spatial form and pattern arrangement to be e creative genius of the gifted mind. Because of the enduring appeal
of grand-tradition design as an operative paradigm, it is not surpris-
Function g that some design schools devote little time to the systematic appli-
The functional relationships to be facilitated by design form
Economy .ation of programming principles in either design practice or
Taking the greatest advantage of the resources available
Time ~ducation. It is not uncommon to hear design instructors comment on
The temporal influence of decision making, implementation, design proposals they "like" or "dislike" in design reviews. And
and future use
although design research constitutes an important component of
most design education, rigorous methods of data acquisition, analy-
sis, and application are often absent. More importantly, the analysis
Preiser (1978) considers that the overarching purpose of program- and translation of research conclusions into comprehensible and
ming is to facilitate social change by promoting effective communica- defensible design performance criteria do not receive attention com-
tion between the users, owners, and managers of designed places. To mensurate with either their importance or their potential to advance
achieve this he suggests that programming must incorporate human- design form exploration.
istic information. Among the types of information he recommends are Proponents of rigorous programming procedure are primarily
person/person and person/environment relationships, psychological those who hold that design is neither art nor science, but a decision-
needs, spatial behavior, and aesthetic considerations. His procedure making process. In this view, design is conceived as a systematic pro-
employs seven steps: cess through which both science and art are embraced to bring about
creative change to the environment. Acceptance of design as a system-
• Document the client's organizational goals and objectives
and the impinging codes and regulations. atic, knowledge-based decision-making process remains relatively
uncommon (with the exception of technical knowledge) as an educa-
• 1ranslate the goals and objectives into functions that the tional paradigm in many baccalaureate and masters degree programs
organization must carry out.
in the United States. A review of the curricula of twenty-four accred-
• Break down the functions into activities to be accommo- ited undergraduate landscape architecture programs revealed only
dated spatially. four with specific courses in design research and of those, only two
• Formulate performance requirements and environmental identified the subject matter as programming (Murphy 1998:71).
criteria for each activity setting. Programming, when undertaken as a central aspect of design pro-
• Devise adjacency requirements and establish priorities and cess, includes a number of relatively discrete research, analysis, and
trade-offs. synthesis activities. The integrated tasks of a holistic programming
and design process are outlined in box 3.2 on p. 58.
• Designate appropriate spatial requirements with their esti-
The purpose of these integrated tasks is to organize design inquiry
mated areas to provide an assessment of overall facility size. in a way that leads directly to usable information; that is, information
• Develop options or different types of solutions to the program. that has a direct effect on design decisions. One of the first require-
In spite of an extensive body of literature by both practitioners ments in programming is to formulate a comprehensive definition of
(Pella and Palmer) and academicians (Alexander, Preiser, and Sanoff), the critical design issues. This serves to organize and direct project
Chapter Three 59

2. Requirements of users: establish and determine the needs of

primary user groups as well as those acting in support of them,
• State the general design problem to be resolved
such as maintenance or security.
3. Requirements of the activities to be provided: each activity
• Define the specific project issues and requirements to be met
to be provided or retained has preferred or limiting relation-
• Conduct project research of the issues and analyze critical relationships ships to be established with one another.
• Document the research conclusions as design performance requirements 4. Constraints under which the project will be implemented:
• Propose alternative design concepts to address the issues all projects operate under constraints such as the values of the
• Evaluate the design concepts for feedback inputs client, economic constraints, legal requirements, or time limits
that will influence the nature of a final design solution.
• Restate the design problem and critical issues on the basis of feedback
inputs To further their understanding of the critical issues, designers may
perform several different kinds of investigations. These include:
• Repeat the process until a thorough understanding of the problem has
been achieved. 1. Survey of similar facilities: conduct parallel studies of similar
situations to determine the strengths and weaknesses of cur-
rent development practices.
2. On-site investigations: investigate site conditions, activities,
I research in productive areas and leads, through analysis, to a defini- or processes to determine their potential influence on design
tive statement of design instructions and performance requirements. decisions.
A broad understanding of the critical issues enables the designer to 3. Review of current literature: determine the state of the art
establish a frame of reference from which to assess the information
from published research as a point of departure for establishing
gained by research relative to possible design relationships. design performance standards.
The next step is to establish a conceptual design approach, which
identifies the specific information to be collected and establishes the 4. Inquiry-by-design: conduct preliminary design studies to
significance of the issues in relation to one another. The result of this establish the specific relationships to be encountered by the pro-
process of knowledge building, design integration, and feedback posed development.
assessment is a set of comprehensive design criteria (design perfor- These information-gathering techniques will lead to the creation
mance requirements) to guide the formulation and evaluation of of a comprehensive database to inform and evaluate design propos-
design proposals. This approach gives designers increased assurance als. But before information can be used to guide design decisions, the
that their designs will satisfy established client and user requirements raw data must be translated into a usable format. This begins with
and fit appropriately into the framework of the environment. The data analysis.
through dataoncollection.
which the performance criteria are based is acquired
Data Analysis
Data Gathering It is necessary to know how information is to be used before it is
possible to assess its importance to design. In most situations the only
The quality of a particular design is more often a reflection of the way we have to establish the relevance of information is through its
type of questions we ask than the answers we provide. Asking the relationship to the intended design conditions within the context of
right questions is one of the most important factors to design success, the proposed development site. For example, if the requirement is to
and thus one of the most critical aspects of the design process. Unless provide sports fields on a site with seasonally saturated soils, the type
we know our destination, the likelihood of arriving is low. of hydrologic information to be gathered and the requirements for its
To guide the acquisition of needed information, we must first analysis will be directed toward designs to lower and control ground-
identify the critical issues. Four areas of investigations may be con- water levels. Alternatively, if the design requirement is to create a
ducted to define the critical design issues:
year-round wetland and wildlife habitat, the analysis of the same
1. Existing site conditions: investigate the natural and cultural information would be directed toward methods to maintain soil mois-
features and processes currently taking place on the site. ture on a year-round basis. The data may be collected and analyzed
Chapter Three 61

but, without a direct relationship to intended use, fail to provide improved upon? What constitutes improvement in the environment
improved understanding of the situation.
to be changed? Design goals define the desired results of the changes
The purpose of analyzing research data is to determine how to be imposed, such as convenience, profits, or safety. The goals need
knowledge may be applied to design decisions: determining the most to be as comprehensive as possible if the basic project intentions are to
appropriate (or inappropriate) locations on the site for the proposed be addressed holistically. Alternatively, if the goals are to define the
activities, and the most appropriate (or inappropriate) relationships to parameters of the project realistically, they should be limited to the
be established among them. Once these broad conclusions have been capacity of the decision-making process. Examples of design goals
reached, attention may be shifted to the development of more refined might include protecting development from flood damage, or using
information analysis, such as the detailed consideration of technical site resources effectively.
performance and spatial or dimensional relationships.
Project objectives. Design objectives are the means we employ
Translating Conclusions into Design Instructions to satisfy the project goals. Unlike goals, which are general statements
of project intent, the objectives are concrete steps specifically related to
The pivotal function of programming is to acquire and translate design form. To establish the objectives, it is useful to have physical
information into useful knowledge; that is, into design performance relationships in mind. This requires the consideration of the general
instructions. These instructions must be neither vague nor overly form relationships to be employed to satisfy the goals, but not neces-
restrictive. They must be clear enough to guide design decisions with- sarily in the context of an overall design concept-the various objec-
out dictating specific choices. Designers require three general things tives may be unrelated to one another, at least in the beginning, before
from the program: they are integrated by a final design.
• Clear guidance about preferred relationships and intended To satisfy a goal of protecting development from flood damage,
design performance the design objectives might, for example, include maintaining existing
streams in a natural condition as a flood-management strategy.
• conform
Clear understanding of the conditions to which the design must
Locating golf-course fairways in a floodplain to utilize land that is
occasionally inundated might be an objective to satisfy a goal to use
• Flexibility to give designers the freedom to create the best possi- the site resources effectively.
ble overall relationships
Design performance criteria. Performance criteria refer to the
If there is too much uninterpreted information, designers will be
unable to connect the knowledge to design decisions. If there are too desired qualitative standards of physical design relationships. The per-
formance criteria, which cover all aspects of design, address a variety
many restrictions or preconditions, designers will lose flexibility and
of areas in which the quality of design performance may be measured
be unable to maneuver within the context of existing conditions to
(Garvin 1988). These include:
establish desired patterns of relationships and formulate appropriate
design solutions. • Functional and spatial requirements of the activities to be provided
Once the data have been analyzed and conclusions have been • Reliability of the design functioning as intended
reached, the program information is documented to clarify the design • Degree to which the design functions conform to established
guidance, often as a hierarchically ranked array of design require- standards
ments. These requirements include the project goals, project objec- • Durability or useful life expectancy of the built design
tives, and performance criteria.
• Serviceability or ease of maintenance
Project goals. The goals state the intended results: why design • Fitness of the built design to the environment in which it is located
change is being considered. If the goals cannot be clearly defined and
written, it is highly unlikely that the designer/client team collectively • Aesthetic qualities of the design in relation to its environmental
knows with any certainty what they are. Unstated goals cannot be
shared, cannot become the basis for general agreement, and are • Perceived quality as determined by the client or users
unlikely to be achieved (Pena 1987). Area requirements for the desired features of a design are typically
If the design intent is to improve on conditions that presently among the first criteria to be established. These would include such
exist, the first questions to be asked are: What are the conditions to be things as the area required for a parking lot or a sports field. Location
Chapter Three 63
requirements, functional relationships, and technical or construction
Under the best of circumstances we should consider that, as designers,
mance also are among the more obvious of the design perf()r-
criteria. _ we are active collaborators with clients, builders, lenders, and munici-
Design quality can only be reasonably evaluated in relation to the pal reviewing authorities. Each of these players has different priori-
performance requirements· it is intended to meet. Criteria establish the ties, holds different values, and pursues different goals. Integrating
relationships to be satisfied by a designed condition. However, if the these participants into a successful decision-making and implementa-
performance requirements are inadequate to address all the critical tion process can be particularly challenging. But there is another fun-
issues, the design may, by definition, be considered successful but at damental characteristic of the process that makes success in design so
the same time fail to address the full spectrum of human needs or difficult to achieve.
ensure the appropriate use or protection of the environment. Pro- Designers and their collaborators apply current information to
gramming is the designer's way of providing designs that are both predict future conditions. Each of these collaborators provides critical
successful and effective improvements to the environment. (although sometimes conflicting) information on which to base design
decisions. On the basis of this broad array of information we attempt
One of the most important considerations to successful program- to predict the future success of design proposals. Unfortunately, suc-
ming is that the information on which it is based is both complete and cess will only occur if the underlying assumptions are correct (Jones
factual. Unfortunately, we can never foresee future information needs 1992). Predicting the future is an inherently risky proposition. It is
well enough to determine precisely what information will be needed this unreliability of the process that makes successful design resolu-
to support designs prior to their formulation. For this reason, the tion so challenging. As Jones explains:
development of preliminary design concepts is useful as one of our The final outcome of designing has to be assumed before the
most reliable means of revealing deficiencies in program information. means of achieving it can be explored: the designers have to work
From the evaluation of preliminary design proposals, the absence of backwards in time from an assumed effect upon the world to the
needed information is revealed. Once these deficiencies have been iden- beginning of a chain of events that will bring the effect about. If,
tified they may be used to guide additional information acquisition as is likely, the act of tracing out the intermediate steps exposes
until all necessary information has been collected. For this reason, unforeseen difficulties or suggests better objectives, the pattern of
programming is not just a preliminary or pre-design activity. Rather, the original problem may change so drastically that the designers
it is better to understand process.
it as an ongoing requirement throughout the are thrown back to square one. (1992:10)
design decision-making
Six-Step Design Process
Design Process Under typical practice conditions, the delivery of site-design ser-
vices is guided by a sequence of six general steps. The six-step process is
organized so that each step prepares for the next, leading designers
Design process has two primary aims. One is to assure that all the through a logical progression of tasks. The sequential order of the steps
appropriate questions are posed and the relevant issues are considered suggests the underlying logic of their relationships to one another.
in the decision-making procedure. The other is to facilitate the develop- Step 1: State the design problem. Begin the process with an
ment of solutions that respond to these issues appropriately and take
initial charge or appointment from the client to the designer. This is
advantage of all the available opportunities to ensure design success.
normally expressed as a formal statement of the design commission
The secondary aims of design process include the management recognizing that a condition requiring design change exists.
and integration of the different stages of design thinking, including
the interactions and deliberations of all parties. This helps assure the Step 2: Define the problem. Engage the discovery stage of the
effective and efficient application of knowledge, time, and resources. process by identifying and assessing critical issues, developing design
On complex land development projects, these aims are difficult to concepts, and uncovering information necessary to the successful exe-
management and
accomplish, meeting them requires systematic organization and
procedures. cution of the design. A detailed description of the issues to be resolved
is recorded in a program of instructions to the designer.
Delivering successful designs is demanding due to the complexity Step 3: Search for solutions. Envision possible courses of design
of the information required and the number of participants involved.
action available and evaluate each possibility in terms of its suitability
Chapter Three 65
to the requirements of users and the site, and its acceptability to the conduct a controlled experiment, the stages of which combine to pro-
client. Select and develop the best alternative.
vide a systematic record of both design intent and design result. From a
Step 4: Document the 'design decision. Prepare a record of the perspective of knowledge building, as opposed to problem solving,
selected design idea to provide a detailed account of the relationships implementation is necessary to provide the objective data from which
to be established. Documentation takes a form suitable to guide future design results may be determined. But it is the design program and the
implementation of the design in an accurate, complete, and techni- post-occupancy evaluation, not the built design form, that provide the
cally appropriate way. knowledge base to evaluate the quality of the learning process and the
information employed to effect changes in the environment.
Step 5: Implement the design. Execute the design idea. This is Designers, however, do not have to build their ideas to evaluate
normally carried out by independent building and earthwork contrac- them. The process of learning by testing ideas against reality may be
tors with the designer administering the construction contract on behalf achieved intellectually as well as physically-at least partially. By
of the client to ensure faithful execution of concepts and specifications. introducing new knowledge into the decision-making process and
Step 6: Evaluate the design result. Critically analyze the com- testing it against design intent and environmental context, we model
pleted project under use conditions to determine the extent to which it the process of learning by experience. This offers many of the advan-
meets client and user expectations and requirements and fits appro- tages of new insight without the need for implementation. And with-
priately into the conditions of the environment. This is also an oppor- out the burden of time and cost associated with it.
tunity to evaluate the design delivery and implementation process. The most rational method we have for understanding systemic
Results of the post -occupancy evaluation form the basis for improved relationships is to hypothetically model and evaluate them. The design
design quality and service delivery in the future. process is not only a way of proposing future conditions, it is also a
way of investigating them. Design investigation is an opportunity to
The six-step process leads the designer through a series of critical- speculate about an integrated set of conditions for the purpose of exam-
thinking and decision-making stages. It begins with a broad vision ining their potential relationships. Design exploration is our primary
that improvement is needed, but where relatively little is known means of holistically testing possible future conditions and evaluating
about the details of the design problem or the opportunities to be their potential to solve conflicting or unmet design relationships.
addressed. From there it progresses to the development of sufficient Establishing and evaluating design form is our principle means of
understanding to support the formulation of reasonable possibilities. examining an integrated complex of systemic relationships. We postu-
With this understanding the designer proceeds to the final determina- late a possible future condition in order to work backwards and evalu-
tion of landscape form. Based on the selected course of design action, ate whether we have established the desired relationships. The critical
the environment is reformed and ultimately evaluated to determine if step in design analysis-holistic analysis as opposed to analysis of
the desired results have been achieved. individual parts-is in developing and testing design concepts. We
The design process is organized to provide continuity throughout have no other means of "seeing" all the potential relationships we
the life of a project. The continuous nature of design is reinforced over need to evaluate to determine if the design form is a good one, relative
time by the post-occupancy evaluation (POE), which serves as a to existing conditions and to other possible alternatives. Multiple
bridge between projects by systematically linking the knowledge and alternative concepts provide further opportunities to evaluate and
experience gained on one project to those that follow, providing a understand design form relationships.
mechanism for continually improving design knowledge and design
performance with each successive commission (Preiser, Rabinowitz, Learning through Feedback
and White 1988). This final step brings the process full circle, return- A design process that models a proposed future reality and its
ing designers to the first step on the next project with the advantage context in a comprehensive way incorporates two important features
of knowing (rather than believing) how well (or how poorly) their into decision making: it broadens the knowledge on which decisions
previous design ideas succeeded.
may be based and simultaneously creates a steeper learning curve,
Ervin Zube (1983) has described design as a hypothesis to be tested. increasing the value we derive from improved knowledge. It is not the
Although we may be reluctant to describe them to our clients as such, increase in knowledge itself that is important in design, but our
all designs are experiments. The design process makes it possible to improved understanding and ability to model design ideas with
Chapter Three Procedural Theory 67

greater predictability. The evaluation of proposals during the design originally set out to correct. Designers benefit from a process that
investigation and elaboration stage simply mimics the POEstep, based facilitates the growth and evolution of comprehensive solutions for
not on actual conditions but on our perception of them.
complex environments. The process requires that we continually eval-
Efforts to estimate a design proposal's capacity to satisfy the con- uate the proposal to find these newly created problem areas and then
ditions imposed by the program also improve our understanding of to provide clues for addressing them. Ideally, we need a continuous
the complex interrelationships we propose to change. As our under-
cycle of design and evaluation to enable solutions to evolve and
standing of these relationships evolves we are able to reexamine design develop (Zeisel1981; Kaplan and Kaplan 1982; Weisman 1983).
ideas in light of new knowledge and insight. With improved insight
we attempt to improve the predictability of design concepts and their Phases of Design Evolution
potential to bring about improvement in the landscape. This brings us
to the question: How is the process applied to produce this result? To describe design process as an integrated learning and decision-
The six steps of design are listed as a sequence of stages. But the making procedure, it is helpful to generalize the steps. During the
linear sequence is only an outline of steps, not a description of the ideation stages of the process, the six steps are reduced to four. Two
process as an operational system. In reality the process is rarely are omitted since we need to neither document nor implement in the
applied linearly, with one step being concluded and then moving on to formative, envisioning stages of the process. And, while a post-occu-
the next until the entire sequence is completed. It is most successfully pancy evaluation is not possible at this stage, evaluation of the pro-
applied as a reiterative or cyclical process, with the steps being posed concepts in a model form is ongoing. This modified four-step
repeated as we attempt to improve the quality of the design results. framework provides the abbreviated context for the conceptualiza-
Improving design concepts based on evaluation, referred to as recy- tion stages of the design process. These four steps form the basis of a
cling with feedback (Halprin 1969), has the benefit of continually continuous, cyclical process of learning, postulating, evaluating, and
incorporating new information and fresh insight before reaching a ultimately, deciding about the design conditions we hope to improve.
final decision. The feedback-response mechanism is active in the for- To describe the interactive relationships among the design process
mation and evolution of complex systems and it works equally well in components, or subsystems, it is useful to direct attention to what
the development of designs for them.
might be more properly referred to as phases of interaction. The phases
All complex systems evolve into harmonious relationships. This is of design process represent stages of activity as they proceed in a
particularly so of dynamic systems such as landscapes. In nature we cyclical, or systems, approach to defining the project issues and for-
find that the relationships of site contour, soil, water, plants, and their mulating appropriate design responses. The four cyclical phases are
associated animal communities are finely tuned with one another. illustrated in comparison to the six-step process as follows:
Because these relationships are well understood, biologists often rely
on one aspect of the environment to provide clues about others. Phase 1 Problem Statement Step 1 State the design problem
Understanding plants can provide very accurate indications about not Phase 2 Problem Definition Step 2 Define the project
only which animals might use them for food or live in association Phase 3 Concept Development Step 3 Search for solutions
to them,
exist but also
for them what soils, climate, and water relationships have
to survive. Step 4 Document the results
Step 5 Implement the solution
When we try to create such harmonious relationships by design Phase 4 Concept Evaluation Step 6 Evaluate the design
we find that they are usually too complex to be fully understood or
established at first attempt. But through reiterative investigation and These phases of interaction are used as an operational framework
refinement, designers are able to create complex, fully functioning for describing design process as an integrated learning and decision-
systems with all the problem areas addressed. Just as harmonious making procedure. The procedure is based on essentially equal por-
relationships in natural environments need an opportunity to mature tions of discovery, conceptualization, and evaluation. The discovery,
and evolve, so do the designs we develop to create them. It is the or learning, component is the research part of the process, undertaken
designer's role to establish these relationships and refine them until all to assure that designs are well supported by relevant data. Conceptu-
the bugs have been worked out. For each set of relationships we estab- alization includes the creation of possible future conditions based on
lish, we create new relationships that conflict. These new or unin- application of the information. Evaluation is the critical analysis of
tended relationships need to be adjusted just as certainly as those we concepts to assure the appropriate application of knowledge.
68 69
Chapter Three -------------------
ocedural Theory

The term phase is used to convey a zone of influence in the process them by investigating all of the issues integrally as they relate to the
rather than a discrete activity with precise limits. The phases have .total context of the problem situation.
products, but, because the product of each phase is integral to all Because design problems do not arrange themselves to conform to
other products, it is only tentative; until the product of each phase has our project or time requirements, the process also needs to provide an
been verified by the products of the other phases of the process, we opportunity for the phases to occur in any sequence. Any prearranged
cannot be certain that any of the products are correct or in harmony sequence of events, even cyclical, suggests that the creative resolution
with one another. Only when each phase of the process reaches a state 'of complex and poorly understood problems is predictable and likely
of equilibrium with all other phases, and each product appears to be to emerge from some predetermined pattern of working. Yetwe know
equally appropriate relative to all the other products, can any of them that a design formula that assures success is highly unlikely, and it is
be considered individually complete or systemically correct. the unpredictable and the unknown that designs are formulated to
The four phases represent a hypothetical sequence of thinking resolve. The pattern of work needs to be flexible enough for any phase
activities we engage to develop our understanding of the problem and to come first, or to come last, if it is to provide optimum opportunity
to formulate the most appropriate design response to it. The phases for innovation and learning under uncertain and dynamic conditions.
are repeated in a cyclical pattern of reiterative statements of problem Improved system performance based on continual learning and
definition, design speculation, and evaluation for feedback to improve the incorporation of feedback is a fundamental characteristic of eco-
our understanding and to provide the basis for a repetition of the logical and cultural systems. Complex, self-organizing systems main-
four-phase cycle. tain harmony and fitness with their environments by gaining
The design concept-both problem and solution-evolves holisti- information continuously through feedback loops (Capra 1996;
cally in the same way that nature evolves. Nature evolves as a series Hutchins 1996). This is well illustrated by the example of steering a
of integrated wholes rather than as an accumulation of sequentially ship. As frequent compass readings reveal departures from a set
ordered parts. Each cycle in the design process represents an evolu- course, brought about by wind or current, the helmsman makes cor-
tionary stage of development for the concept: a whole that, in the rections to bring the ship back on course. As natural systems detect
early stages, has not yet fully evolved. An advantage of this approach departures between their performance and the desired relationship
is that both the process and product of design lend themselves to with the environment, information is fed back to stimulate changes to
greater flexibility and to the possibility of more systematic under- improve or correct the relationship. The reiterative design process pro-
standing and knowledge-based decision-making. This is so, in part, vides the opportunity for creative speculation (setting a course), criti-
because there is not only the possibility, but the expectation, that each cal evaluation (checking the compass to determine if we are on
phase has the potential for change and improvement-the potential to course), and the means to determine the conditions that cause any
evolve-as the circumstances, created by new knowledge and design deviations between an environment's intended performance and its
insight, indicate that change is appropriate. estimated or assessed performance (wind pushing the ship off course).
Because the phases are executed reiteratively, the relationships Awareness of a deviation between intended and estimated (that is,
between them closely approximate the interactive way designers designed) performance and the identification of its cause provides the
think and the way the environment works as it changes and evolves basis for feedback. Most importantly, it improves our understanding
over time. Repeated cycles to produce multiple design options pro- of the critical relationships to be established: the design questions. The
vide numerous vantage points from which to evaluate the problem. design questions are improved incrementally as the multiple perspec-
The cycles of evaluation approximate the influence of the forces in tives created by successive design cycles are engaged to evaluate pro-
the environment.
posed changes to the system.
Establishing a system of feedback loops based on whole (but not Since improving relationships with the environment is the func-
fully developed) design ideas provides the potential for increasing our tion of both natural change and imposed design change, the evolution
understanding of the whole system (problem and solution). As we of design understanding may be based on the same feedback process
improve our understanding of the parts (the problem issues) in their as that employed by highly evolved organic systems-processes devel-
relationship to one another, we improve our understanding of the oped over millions of years of trial and error-to improve their fitness
whole. Because designs for the landscape are complex, this approach and success in the environment.
creates multiple opportunities to discover critical design relationships In nature, feedback loops are perpetually operational. If we are to
and to formulate design responses that take optimum advantage of model design on highly successful universal change processes, feed-
Chapter Three 71
back needs to be continuous throughout the design process. The feed- standing of the problem as well as the possible solution. Based on the
back must also be immediate to be of greatest benefit (Hutchins designer's improved understanding, a revised and elaborated state-
1996). Delayed feedback is less likely to reveal a direct connection ment of the problem can emerge, leading the process back into Phase 1
between cause and effect, and thus, less likely to indicate appropriate (Problem Statement), or more precisely, problem restatement. Because
ways to improve the unsatisfactory relationship. the statement of the problem has changed, so may the definition of
The cyclical relationships among the phases are illustrated in fig- the critical issues. In a second cycle through Phase 2 (Problem Defini-
ure 3.1. Each phase is linked in an unending pattern with design tion), the designer redefines the critical issues arising from the revised
activity moving from phase to phase; the arrows indicate a clockwise statement of the problem.
learning progression between the phases.
Because the process is reiterative, there is no anticipation of con-
Based on this pattern of relationships, successive cycles of activity clusion with the completion of each cycle. Each cycle returns to the
are shown in figure 3.2, passing repeatedly through the four phases, same phase at which it began, but not to the same level of under-
as suggested by Richard Moore (1980, pers. comm.). Project time standing. Advances along the spiral path measure not only the pas-
begins at the center of the diagram and radiates out in all directions. sage of time (and in practice, money), but also increased knowledge of
The point of beginning is the moment work begins on the project. the project issues, opportunities, and design possibilities. The process
Programming activity begins at that point and moves along the spiral
path, each cycle of the feedback loop marking increments along the
time lines. Taking the process repeatedly through the four phases cre- Time
ates multiple opportunities to build knowledge through evolutionary
growth of project understanding.
At least two things may be learned from the evaluation phase.
Evaluation of proposals provides feedback to improve our under-
State Define
CD the Problem <D
State Define
o Requirements

the Problem
Requirements Time Time

Evaluate Develop
Evaluate Alternative Alternative
Alternative Alternative (1) Concepts Concepts <D
Concepts Concepts

(1) <D

Figure 3.1
Figure 3.2
Cyclical programming and design process
Multiple iterations of the cyclical process
Chapter Three Procedural Theory 73

reveals the critical relationships between the program and the design sonable, to begin with the last phase in the cycle. In this case the
concept, and between the design concept and the existing conditions in
the environment. designer might evaluate an existing facility similar to the one to be
designed, the existing facility serving as an alternative concept to
It is not the intention of the process, at least initially, that the pur- guide the formulation of a general statement of the design problem,
pose of formulating and evaluating multiple concepts is to determine leading to Phase 1. From there, the designer might move through
the appropriateness of alternative design schemes, although this is, of Phase 2 and Phase 3, formulating another design alternative based on
course, our ultimate aim. But for initial purposes, while we employ what was learned in the phases already completed. This second design
the program to evaluate design alternatives, we also employ the concept, however, would be specific to the project site, another alter-
design alternatives to evaluate the program. The process enables the native to be evaluated in a second visit to Phase 4.
designer (perhaps in collaboration with the client or users) to evaluate A reiterative process reduces the likelihood that decisions will
each new cycle of proposals to gain insights by which to revise and exclude important factors simply because they have not been immedi-
improve the program. The initial purpose of the reiterative design ately recognized. It also limits the possibility that decisions will fail to
process is to assure an accurate and complete program on which take advantage of significant opportunities that cannot be anticipated.
design decisions will ultimately be based.
Many design opportunities are not revealed until the project has been
By engaging the process as a means of learning as well as deciding thoroughly researched and tested by design. In either case the cyclical
about design, the designer is alert to all possibilities. It is possible that design approach provides a mechanism for deferring commitment until
the problem statement or understanding of the critical issues may a great deal has been learned about the problems and the potential solu-
remain unchanged throughout the cyclical design process. But by tions to be considered. Louis Pasteur said that "... chance favors the
anticipating that they may change, the designer reduces the likelihood prepared mind." The reiterative process provides designers with many
that important learning opportunities will be missed. By shifting our chances to prepare their minds for the discovery of good design ideas.
focus and preparing our mind to see and learn from new insights, we The integrated design and programming process is knowledge
translate a decision-making process into a learning process, but with- building as well as knowledge based. It provides a systematic means
out forfeiting its decision-making potential. of evaluating the research data and the problem issues integrally
If, on the other hand, we employ the process only to solve design rather than individually. Integrating the evaluation of all the design
problems, our attention is focused on an end product and the alterna- issues is one of the most difficult and complex problems facing the
tive possibilities that present themselves-particularly those that designer. Design concepts provide our only means of seeing the prob-
apply to improving our understanding of the design problem-may lem as a whole rather than the issues individually. Reiterative design
be missed in the rush to completion. Because we tend to find what we feedback is an effective strategy for integrating the analysis and pro-
seek, if we seek conclusion that alone will be the discovery. At the moting the discovery of the most appropriate direction for design
beginning of a project, however, completing the design is not as change. Each cycle through the four phases produces new conceptual
urgent as getting the design problem defined correctly. There is little design alternatives and each design alternative, in turn, provides an
satisfaction or value in quickly finishing an inadequate or inappropri- opportunity for new feedback from evaluations and the potential for
ate design.
improved understanding.
Because the pattern is cyclical, there is no requirement that Because both the definition of the problem and its design solution
research must occur prior to design, or vice versa, since after the first are continually open to reinterpretation, new revelations may origi-
cycle, all phases become part of a continuum of interactive problem nate in any of the phases and influence all the others directly and more
restatement / problem redefinition / concept development / concept or less simultaneously. Ideally we engage the process until the feedback
evaluation, and so on. There is no particular benefit, nor is there any responses become redundant and no new information can be gained.
requirement, to begin the process with any particular phase. The Once it is believed that the most appropriate and complete statement of
important consideration in design is to begin immediately, wherever the problem has been identified, the programming phase of the process
we find it most convenient to "prime the pump" and get the process ends and attention shifts directly to design decision making.
moving. It is more important to get the process moving than to wait Another bonus of a cyclical process is that design ideas always
for the "right" moment or "enough" information. tend to evolve and improve with progressive investigation. As a result,
While it is reasonable to begin the cyclical process with Phase 1 they oftentimes acquire a life of their own and sometimes drift away
and proceed through phases 2, 3, 4, it is also possible, and just as rea- from their original purpose. Cycling back to revisit the problem state-
Chapter Three edural Theory 75

ment on a regular basis not only strengthens the designer's under- >no Although the process may appear to be lengthened by reiteration
standing of what the real problems are, but also assures that the the design search, it may in effect be more efficient when we con-
solutions proposed remain faithful to the original, as well as the .er that, based on the evidence available, the design is increasingly
revised and improved, description of design intent. sed on addressing all of the right questions.
If we carry the process through a sufficient number of iterations, l Rather than a linear approach to "zero-defect" design through
the process will provide maximum potential for holistic understand_ .austive predesign research, an integrated programming and design
ing, ideation, evaluation and, ultimately, decision making. But this is ess undertakes a "fast-fail" reiterative approach that permits
true only if the process moves along rapidly. Speed is essential to ediate design speculation and evaluation. Multiple design itera-
make this type of process operational within a limited time frame, and ·.onsenable designers to quickly identify deficiencies in understanding
in design, time is always limited. But speed in moving through the d facilitate rapid feedback to guide information gathering. This
cycles should not be interpreted as haste in concluding the process. 'proach builds on Henry Ford's premise that failure is "the opportu-
Speed is only useful if the project is moving in the right direction. 'ty to begin again more intelligently." Designers are repeatedly seeing
It is also important to bear in mind that increased understanding :hingsin hindsight, with the improved understanding that comes with
resulting from the evaluation of alternative concepts can be as great- !it. Time and effort are not reduced in the interest of efficiency,but nei-
perhaps even greater-from the consideration of weak or poorly devel- [ther are they necessarily increased to accomplish the required knowl-
oped concepts as from those that may appear to have serious merit. edge-building tasks. Effort is simply shifted from a primary emphasis
Any opportunity for learning is an opportunity to build comprehen- on traditional front -end investigative procedures to more formal, but
sive understanding of the issues. For this reason it is not only unneces- less traditional, inquiry through design, where knowledge building is
sary, but undesirable, to defer critical evaluation of proposals until incorporated throughout the process. As the design problem evolves
after they have been thoroughly worked out as potentially Successful and new information becomes needed, as is inevitable when we face a
solutions. The sooner ideas are brought under scrutiny for evaluation, complex situation, we have the ability to gather and incorporate new
the sooner we will have the opportunity to learn from the feedback. information as a normal aspect of the process.
It is through an integrated programming and design process that Design inquiry does not replace traditional research. What it does
designers are able to attack the large, overly broad question or initial is amplify and structure research to improve the chance that the
statement of the problem as it was received from the client. A com- results will be applied effectively. Each new piece of information is
mission to "design an urban park" is essentially meaningless in for- gained in response to a specific area of inquiry. That is, the design
mulating an effective design solution. Without elaboration regarding need, or the way information is to be used, is created in advance of the
where, when, for whom, in what context, and at what cost, the information being obtained. When information is gathered in direct
design question cannot be realistically answered. The designer's initial response to a known question, the role it is to play in the process
task is to break the general problem statement into many smaller, becomes clear. The more effective the application of available knowl-
simpler, answerable design questions representing all of its critical edge, the more likely it is to lead to genuine improvement in the envi-
aspects. But as we know, dealing with the parts is not the same as ronment. When improvement applies to a range of systemically
dealing with the system as a whole. So, through repeated investiga- interrelated issues, we increase the likelihood that the issues addressed
tion of design possibilities, the designer has many opportunities to will bring about sustainable changes to the environment. That is, the
create and refine a holistic statement of the design problem. The result design changes will satisfy our goals of both enhancing quality of life
of the final stage of the process is the systemic reintegration of the for users and improving the health and viability of the environment.
many smaller design questions into a single, comprehensive statement
of the design problem and, ultimately, its holistic resolution.
The process identifies and segregates the parts of the system to Landscape Planning
discover what they are, then, through design, puts them back
together to discover their integrated meaning. The process applies sys- Actions to improve the landscape at temporal and spatial scales
tems learning to manage systems change in the environment. The greater than those typically undertaken by site design are referred to
cyclical process is a programming and design method of integrating as landscape planning. When the process includes considerations for
the analysis rather than segregating the research tasks from design the management of human and landscape ecosystems it may be
resolution: analysis of the issues is accomplished by design integra- referred to as applied human ecology planning or applied landscape
Chapter Three 'OceduralTheory 77

ecology planning (Ndubisi 2002:146). But whatever the title, land- lto change the landscape for optimum results (Friedmann 1973). The
scape planning is directed primarily toward the allocation of resources basic purpose of landscape planning is to accommodate human needs
(Marsh 1983:8). Since landscape planning to optimize development 'Whileprotecting significant natural and cultural resources. As a conse-
necessarily includes ecological consideration of human and landscape 'quence, the process is predicated on an understanding of both the nat-
systems--optimization assumes that all factors are considered (Fabos ural and cultural systems of the landscape, and an assessment of
1979)-the terms are, in reality, synonymous. Sustainable landscape :outcomes from alternative development scenarios, a process sometimes
development recognizes that true economic gains account for environ- referred to as decision modeling. The process includes efforts to:
mental and global consequences (Ahern 1989:2).
• Understand the landscape in terms of patterns, processes, and
The geographic extent and the time intervals covered by landscape interactions
planning are too great to be addressed by explicit designs for immedi-
• Understand the interactions between development and natural
ate implementation. Landscape planning does not address spatial
organization or experience at a human scale but at the scale of the processes
landscape, although human valUes and perceptions are often consid- • Analyze areas of human/landscape interaction and interdepen-
ered. Landscape planning functions to guide the integration of human dency
activities into the landscape in ways that separate incompatibilities, • Synthesize assessment outcomes to mediate development/land-
reconcile diverse uses, and relate activities to the landscape to create scape conflicts
appropriate settings for life (Laurie 1986:106). Landscape planning is • Evaluate potential courses of action and their probable effects
undertaken to identify and capitalize on the known relationships
between the human activities to be provided and the intrinsic Oppor- • Formulate measures to implement preferred options
tunities and constraints of the environment. Because landscape plan- • Monitor the effects of implementation (Ndubisi 2002:139)
ning operates at a greater scale than design, it also retains greater Many models of forecasting rely on traditional technological
flexibility between decisions and ultimate development. As time pro- tools: cost-benefit analysis, demand forecasting, project program-
ceeds between planning and implementation, new information may ming, and budgeting systems. These linear, extrapolative methods,
be gained or conditions (such as markets or technology) so changed however, have demonstrated limited value in situations that have
that precise site designs are not practicable. Even long-range plans are multiple variables-situations in which the social, political, economic,
usually changed in the time between landscape planning and imple- and ecological aspects of the environment are both interacting and
mentation. Although the overall logic of the plan may be retained, changing continuously. Developing, and largely experimental, meth-
specific activities may be substituted or alternative provisions for ods for predicting how multiple, shifting variables may interact with
addressing environmental systems may be employed. each other over time include systems and input-output analyses,
Landscape planning is undertaken to formulate and answer a environmental impact assessments, Delphi techniques, and cross-
series of questions about the landscape and the reciprocal human rela-
tionships to be considered. The questions include: impact analyses. Unfortunately, each order of magnitude of improve-
ment in technology and management also requires greater orders of
• How does the spatial arrangement (structure) of landscapeele- magnitude and sophistication of the modeling techniques we use and
ments and ecologicalobjectsinfluencethe flow of energy,mate- greater coordination and control of the processes of decision making
rials, and species(processes)acrosslarge land mosaics? and change (Henderson 1996:229).
• In turn, how doeslandscapefunctioninfluencestructure? Research is conducted to provide information to reduce uncertainty
• How are these spatial arrangements revealed? for decision makers. However, in many cases the result is that the infor-
• What levelsof spatial resolution and temporal scaleare appro- mation provided through broader research methods, such as environ-
priate to understandinglandscapestructure and processes? mental impact assessments, only increases uncertainty by making
decision makers more aware of what they do not know or understand
• How does the understanding of landscapestructure, processes,
and change inform the resolution of spatial problems arising the implications of. The Cartesian approach does not seem to recognize
from human-nature dialectic?(Ndubisi2002: 149) that the development of knowledge requires an imaginative hypothesis
as well as careful validation by logical quantitative methods (Henderson
Landscape planning provides a comprehensive framework for 1996:230). A more balanced approach requires both rational and intui-
future designs that links technical and scientific knowledge to actions tive thinking to achieve comprehensive understanding-what De Bono
78 79
Chapter Three

(1999) calls critical and creative thinking. Critical thinking is held to

high standards of knowledge and prior validation, creative thinking~is
free to go in any direction without being constrained by what is already
known. The rational and intuitive aspects of knowing are not, as many
believe, in opposition but in reality are complementary. When used
together each balances the weakness of the other and provides a more
complete picture of reality and its likely impact in the future.
There are many approaches to the landscape planning process.
Most of these are directed toward the implementation of a predeter-
mined development outcome: planning a residential subdivision, for
example. In these cases the answer is largely determined prior to
framing the questions. A more open approach to landscape change
might begin with the end product as more of a question than a prede-
termined answer. A comprehensive framework for organizing holistic
landscape change is proposed by Carl Steinitz (1994). He suggests that
such a procedure should include the positing of six types of questions,
each representing an independent level of inquiry related to a theory-
driven modeling type. Each level of inquiry requires the management
of information, and geographic information systems may be used,
but each type of model requires a different application.
The six-level modeling approach is employed to identify the con-
text and scope of the project before carrying it forward to its conclu-
sion. The six questions (and their appropriate modeling types) are:
1. How should the state of the landscape be described? In con-
text, boundaries, space, and time? What is the structure of the
(Representation model)
2. How does the landscape operate? What are the functional
and structural relationships among its elements? What is the
function of the landscape?
(Process model)
3. Is the current landscape functioning well? Is it organized to
facilitate human and environmental processes and prevent con-
flicts among them?
(Evaluation model)
4. How might the landscape be altered? By what actions,
where, and when?
(Change model)
5. What predictable differences might the changes cause? Will
the differences improve the function, character, or health of the
landscape? Landscape Suitability Analysis
(Impact model)
6. Should the landscape be changed? How is a comparative Analysis of the landscape, or suitability analysis, is a process of
evaluation of the impacts of different alternatives to be made? determining the fitness of a specific landscape condition to support a
Chapter Three Procedural Theory 81

well-defined activity or land use (Steiner 1991). Suitability analysis of

the landscape-as prominently advanced by McHarg (1969:103) and to Its Compatibility with Existing Site Factors
others-has over the last thirty years become accepted as one of the
most comprehensible and defensible approaches to landscape plan-
ning. Its basic purpose is to determine the appropriateness of a given r Suitability
~ Assessment for ,.Each Activity According
Composite Site Suitability
Assessment for Each Activity
landscape for a particular use. The basic premise of suitability analysis Relative to Overall Conditions
is that each aspect of the landscape has intrinsic characteristics that
are in some degree either suitable or unsuitable for the activities being
planned, and that these relationships can be revealed through detailed
evaluation and assessment (Marsh 1998:196). Suitability evaluation
Activity I
supports a preferential decision to provide for certain types of activi- Tennis
ties (such as recreation, housing, or industry) within a particular Courts
landscape condition (such as floodplains, wetlands, steep slopes, or
upland ridges). Such suitability is determined through systematic,
multi-factor analysis of the different conditions of the landscape. Ide-
ally, the result is a site arrangement that takes advantage of the land-
scape's intrinsic attributes while avoiding unsuitable or unsupportable
locations for activities where obvious site conflicts or incompatibilities
may be expected. The intention of the process is to determine the opti-
mum site location for activities while minimizing negative impacts on
the environment (see figure 3.3).
The factors to be considered in suitability assessment include the
human, biotic, and abiotic aspects of the landscape. Human factors Activity 2
include community needs, economics, community organization, Parking
demographics, land use, and history. Biotic factors include wildlife Lot

(mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish) and vegetation (habitats, commu-

nities, and plant types). Abiotic factors include soils, hydrology, topog-
raphy, geology, and climate. The independent analysis of these factors
is carried out to determine the extent to which each factor is favorable
or unfavorable for the location of the activities being considered and
leads to a suitability assessment for each activity. Each landscape fac-
tor (for example soils or hydrology) is individually assessed to deter-
mine the level of compatibility with the proposed land-use activity
(such as highway location). Soils with poor bearing capacity might be
incompatible with major road or bridge construction and judged
unsuitable for their location. Well-drained upland ridges with soils Activity 3
having good bearing capacity supportive of road development might
be judged suitable, and would be mapped to reflect their suitability.
An overall plan is developed to optimize the design condition in
relation to a host of site features. There also are a series of cultural
features that are typically considered in a suitability analysis. These
include such considerations as land use, zoning, circulation, utilities,
and community service facilities. The site being analyzed is mapped
with a different suitability assessment layer for each factor consid- Figure 3.3
ered. For example, there might be suitability assessments for land- Landscape suitability analysis
Chapter Three

scape layers such as topography, soils, geology, vegetation, and so on.

Each layer is mapped to indicate those portions of the site that are
suitable, unsuitable, or neutral for each particular activity being con-
templated. The maps do not reveal the site conditions themselves,
such as topography, but the extent of suitability for development as
revealed by an assessment of that particular site factor. The suitability
assessments may be expressed, for example, as high, moderate, or low
suitability. Ultimately, all of the site-factor suitability maps may be
synthesized into a composite map to provide an overall picture of the
site as a whole for the different land uses being considered.
The suitability analysis process provides a systematic method of
assessing a wide range of site conditions and land uses. In its composite
form the suitability map provides a cumulative, overall assessment of
site locations that possess the most supportive, as well as the most
problematic, array of site conditions in regard to each particular type
of land use. From this comprehensive assessment, overall site organiza-
The Biophysical
tion decisions may be made on the basis of spatially specific evidence.
Although it is cumulative rather than holistic, the suitability anal-
ysis approach to making land-use planning and design organization
decisions has demonstrated its value. The process helps designers
examine, set parameters, and solve the problems associated with
locating human activities in the landscape in ways that use the
resources of the landscape to optimum advantage (Ndubisi 1997:24). Most of the problems we face as a nation, and most of the goals to
Landscape suitability analysis has one significant weakness. It does which we aspire are closely linked in one way or another with our
not establish the most appropriate relationships among the activities to use of the environment.
be developed, which isjust as important as determining the most appro- -National Academy of Sciences
priate location for each activity. The knowledge gained by this process
reveals only the relationships between the land-use activities being The thin mosaic, the tissue of the planet, is in upheaval. An urgent
planned and their landscape setting, not the relationships of land uses need exists for new tools and new language to understand how to
among one another.
live without losing nature. The solutions will be at the landscape
scale-working with the larger pattern, understanding how it
works, and designing in harmony with the structure of the natu-
ral system that sustains us all.
-Grant Jones, in Landscape Ecology Principles in
Landscape Architecture and Land-use Planning

Environment factors are among the most significant influences in

shaping the character of the built environment and, therefore, future
directions in professional practice. A basic understanding of the envi-
ronment is prerequisite to effective professional education as well as
to meaningful professional practice. And yet, this fundamental under-
standing does not exist at a significant level. Although landscape
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment 85

architects consider themselves stewards of the landscape, their knowl- example, exists as a gas in the atmosphere as free oxygen (02), as liq-
edge of the structure and function of the environment is often superfi- uid water in combination with hydrogen (H20), or as a solid in glu-
cial on an ecological or geological basis. It is difficult to imagine a cose (C6H1206). If it becomes permanently bound up as a solid, as
more compromised position for a designer proposing to bring about when it combines with silicon to form quartz (Si02), it is no longer
predictably beneficial change in a system that she or he does not available to the ecosystem.
understand on a fundamental level.
Because many of the geophysical processes that carry out these
But landscape architects are not the only ones who make changes chemical transformations operate at vast scales and geologic time
in the landscape without a thorough knowledge of potential environ- intervals, they are slow to reveal themselves. Floods, volcanic erup-
mental implications. It is almost universally true that those exerting tions, and earthquakes, for example, are among the most common
the greatest influence on the environment are also those who under- events in nature, but they occur infrequently-at least they seem
stand it the least. Prominent among these are politicians who enact infrequent when measured on a human time line. It is only when we
development ordinances and tax codes; industrialists and miners who are in their path that we notice their destructive influence. Even then,
extract resources on a large scale; bankers and mortgage lenders who if we should be in their path and bear the force of their effect, it is often
determine what development projects to support; entrepreneurs who because we failed to take notice of their likelihood and did not under-
initiate, locate, and implement development projects; and, ultimately, stand the implications of our actions when we placed human activities
consumers who support consumption and development patterns in the landscape. We also suffer their effects because we precipitate and
through purchase decisions.
magnify their destructive force by the nature of our human activities.
For landscape architects to be a part of the solution rather than We observe this, for example, in cities that are flooded because develop-
part of the problem, they must have a basic understanding of how the ment has increased runoff by increasing the amount of impervious
landscape ecosystem functions. This is not to suggest that designers surfaces-streets, roofs, parking lots, and sidewalks.
need to become ecologists or geologists. They do, however, require a Likethe ecosystem, the geophysical setting is best understood as a
fundamental grasp of the workings of the ecosystem, and with this dynamic system, changing constantly in response to the forces acting
basic understanding can position themselves to pose appropriate ques- on it. The geology we observe is a record of past processes. The earth's
tions to those who understand the landscape in depth. By using the landform is primarily material that was originally formed by volcan-
expertise of others, designers can employ greater knowledge than they ism that thrust it to the surface, where it cooled and hardened into
possess. A review of the basic considerations of geology and ecology is igneous rock such as basalt (Byrne 1974:82). This rock was then sub-
a useful starting point for understanding how the landscape works ject to physical and chemical weathering that eroded the mass of rock
and the ways we influence it when change is initiated. into small particles that were transported by gravity, wind, water, or
ice to new locations. This fragmented rock, combined with organic
Geophysical Conditions material, became the surface soil that serves as the growing medium
for plants. Sometimes the mineral fragments were washed down and
reorganized into new forms, stratified into sedimentary rock such as
The geologic base of the landscape, the substrate on which the sandstone that developed from the compression and cementing of
biotic components of the ecosystem rely, is a system in constant deposits at the bottom of seas. These sedimentary rocks were eventu-
upheaval. The physical environment provides both the setting and the ally lifted up to form new land, now comprising about three-fourths
source of critical elements required to support terrestrial life. The of the surface of the landscape. Over time, some sedimentary rock will
chemical elements organisms use to build themselves and operate undergo another change in form or chemical composition to create
their metabolic processes exist in a fixed supply and must be continu- metamorphic rock, such as slate, which is formed when pressure is
ously reused to become available to each new generation of organ- applied to shale. This metamorphosis generally occurs as the result of
isms. The physical environment continuously recycles these critical increases in pressure or temperature, such as occurs when sedimen-
elements through the different phases of matter, thus making them tary rock is overlain by deep deposits (Byrne 1974:94).
perpetually available. By continuously combining with other elements The geologic processes of uplift, erosion, deposition, and transfor-
and constantly changing in form, the elements move through solid, mation are normally thought of as long-term processes, taking place
liquid, and gaseous states, and in so doing, create opportunities for over hundreds of millions of years. But they also take place on much
their capture and incorporation into the biotic system. Oxygen, for more rapid cycles, seasonally and annually, and influence the nature
Chapter Four 'he Biophysical Environment 87

of the landscape in short-term intervals as well. It is commonly said • Geology: the bedrock underlying the surface and the relation-
that topsoil is formed at a rate of an inch per century, but that same ships it bears to soils, ground moisture, and potential move-
amount may be eroded away in a matter of weeks when left unpro- ment dynamics
tected and subjected to the effects of water or wind. Of course, the • Relief: the slope, complexity, and orientation, or aspect, of the
actual time required for soil formation varies with the conditions of land contour and its influence on rainwater runoff, airflow
the site. Some soils form rapidly, such as those in active floodplains, characteristics, and soils development
and others very slowly, such as those in semiarid prairies (Kohnke and
Franzmeier 1995:66). It has been estimated that as much as one-third • Soils: the mineral constituents of the soil, their depth, position,
of the topsoil in the Midwest-the breadbasket of the nation-has moisture relationships, and organic content, and the extent of
been lost in the 150 years it has been under cultivation (Ehrlich and their change through soil development or erosion
Ehrlich 1991). Understanding the landscape and predicting change • Hydrology: the pattern of water movement over the landscape
requires that we give attention to both long-term and short-term geo- and through the geologic substrate, and the patterns of seasonal
logic processes. The long-term processes establish the base conditions change, from drought to flood condition for example
we have to work with and the short-term processes describe the con- Each of these physical systems may be described as an isolated
ditions we influence and must take into account as we act to change aspect of the landscape, but full understanding comes from determin-
the face of the landscape.
ing their interrelationships. We also require an understanding of their
The landscape we experience is essentially a record of the move- potential to support or conflict with human activities, particularly the
ment of water across the face of the earth. The form of mountains and potential hazards these aspects, or their combination, pose-hurri-
hills reveals the path of streams carving into the landscape and carry- canes, floods, subsidence, earthquakes, or other violent action that
ing eroded material to lower valleys where it is deposited as floodplains can threaten human life and property.
and deltas. Local streams express these processes in both the contour of
the landscape and the nature of the soils that are found in different
positions on the landscape, such as deep floodplain soils in low-lying Ecosystems
areas, thin coarse-textured deposits on slopes, and well-developed soils
of moderate depth on level ridges. Corresponding to these general Understanding the landscape also requires an understanding of
topographic and soil patterns are the patterns of vegetation and wild- the biological systems. This is gained from an examination of three
life. Low-lying flood zones tend to have the greatest diversity of species basic issues: the underlying function and structure of the environment
and scale of vegetation due to the extended periods of available mois-
and their interactions to produce change over time. This examination,
ture and the better developed soil structure and fertility created by the or ecology, is the study of the relationships between organisms and
constant nourishment from flood deposition and increased organic their environment. The biological organizing structure of the land-
accumulations. As streams move across the more level areas of the
scape is described as an ecological system: an integrated whole made
landscape, such as floodplains, they tend to cut into the outer bank of
up of plants and animals interacting with the physical environment,
curves and deposit materials on the inner banks, slowly but constantly engaged in the interactive processes of energy transformation and
shifting the location of channels as they move laterally in response to material cycling.
these cutting and depositing actions. These general landscape patterns The force motivating the landscape ecosystem is the energy of the
are comprehensible and inform the careful observer of both past events sun that, once captured by plants, supports creation of the organic
and potential future conditions. It is only on the basis of predictable components of the system that transfer energy through the multiple
future conditions that we can reliably organize human activities in the
landscape to enhance benefits and avoid problems. layers of their interrelated energy structure or food chain. The ecosys-
tem is an energy-processing system whose organic and inorganic
To comprehend the geophysical aspects of the landscape we need components have coevolved over a relatively long period of time and
to understand the different landscape systems operating in a particu- typically exhibit a state of dynamic equilibrium. The capture, transfer,
lar area. These physical systems include:
and ultimate degradation of energy as it passes through the ecosys-
• Climate: this includes the seasonal dynamics of range and tem motivates material organization and cycling processes that inte-
extremes of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind grate biotic and abiotic components into a highly interdependent
environmental system (Forman and Gordon 1986; Smith 1986).
Chapter Four- he Biophysical Environment 89

Understanding the ecosystem is based on the three basic characteris_ The process of succession expresses itself as a series of transitory
tics of the landscape: lcommunities; the early or pioneer communities being replaced by pro-
• Structure: the spatial relationshipsamong the distinctiveeco- gressively more developed ones over time. These sequential ecosys-
systems or "elements"present-more specifically,the distribu- tems with their increasingly complex pattern of plant and animal
tion of energy, materials, and speciesin relation to the sizes, communities are called seres. Each sere provides not only for itself by
shapes,number,kinds, and configurationsof the ecosystems accumulating energy and organic matter, but for its eventual destruc-
• Function: the interactions among the spatial elements;that is, tion and replacement by creating an improved environment suitable
the flows of energy, materials, and speciesamong the compo- for the survival of higher order plants and animals that invade the
nent ecosystems . system. For example, as plant litter accumulates from the decomposi-
• Change: the alteration in the structure and function of the eco- tion of simple plants, the structural and nutrient characteristics of the
logicalmosaicover time (Formanand Gordon1986:11) soil improve, providing a habitat suitable for more complex or longer-
lived plant and animal species. As ecosystems evolve toward greater
Continuous change or disturbances of the ecosystem, and its complexity they eventually reach a condition beyond which succes-
recovery or reorganization in response, are not anomalies. Change in sion cannot continue due to limitations of the site: soil fertility, avail-
the landscape is a normal condition. As a consequence, the establish- able moisture, temperature, radiant energy, periodic flooding, the
ment of new patterns of organisms and interrelationships is a central presence of fire, or other factors. The climax condition will exhibit the
characteristic of the system. The devastating floods, fires, or earth- maximum extent of species diversity, biochemical diversity, stratifica-
quakes we experience from time to time are normally viewed as tion and pattern diversity, or spatial heterogeneity possible in that
unusual, unexpected events. We consider these natural disasters landscape. Once established, the climax condition remains until it is
unusual because the periodicity of their occurrence is greater than our disturbed by some action, such as climate change due to natural con-
normal period of observation. Our life span is too short to experience ditions, or alteration by human influence, such as agriculture.
many of these events, thus we assume they do not happen under Although ecosystems are complex organizations of organisms
"normal" conditions. But, in fact, these changes are among the most acquiring energy and materials from the environment and organizing
normal events in the landscape and we need to design in ways that it into patterns that support their life cycles, they are activated and
anticipate them. Human design intervention for landscape modifica- characterized by two basic processes:
tion, just like the influence of fires or floods, may also be seen as a
natural aspect of the landscape. 1. A one-way flow of energy from the sun-this energy is cap-
tured by plants and moves via the food chain through the other
Progressive change toward the development of ecosystem com-
organisms of the system until it has been locally exhausted.
plexity is often referred to as ecological succession, the process of
transition from a relatively simple array of organisms and species 2. A continual recycling of necessary elements-these elements
structure toward a climax, or ultimate, condition of species complex- exist in a fixed supply and are perpetually used and reused by
ity and energy capture, use, and storage. Succession is defined in successive generations of plants and animals.
terms of three parameters: In addition to energy that drives the system, ecosystems consist of
1. It is an orderlyprocessof communitydevelopmentthat involves three basic components: producer organisms, consumer organisms,
changesin speciesstructure and communityprocesswith time; and inorganic elements. Producers are the energy-capturing element
it is reasonablydirectionaland, therefore,predictable. of the system-plants that transform radiant energy into chemical
2. It results from modificationof the physicalenvironmentby the energy through the process of photosynthesis. Consumers are animals
community; that is, successionis community controlledeven that-through the consumption of the energy captured by produc-
though the physical environment determines the pattern, the ers-utilize, organize, and distribute nutrients and the energy stored
rate of change,and often sets limits as to how far development by producers throughout the system. Inorganic elements of the eco-
can go. system include oxygen, carbon, hydrogen (as free oxygen, carbon
3. It culminatesin a stabilizedecosystemin which maximum bio- dioxide, water, etc.), and nutrient elements (nitrogen, phosphorous,
mass (or high information content) and symbiotic function potassium, iron, etc.) that are derived from the physical environment.
between organisms are maintained per unit of energy flow Photosynthesis is the chemical reaction that enables producer
(Odum 1971:251).
organisms to trap and store energy through the transformation of car-
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment 91

bon dioxide and water, in the presence of light (radiant energy), into sphere) to the soil, where it becomes available to plants for use in
stored carbohydrates and oxygen (simply expressed as: 6C02 + 12H20 forming essential compounds such as amino acids and chlorophyll.
~ C6H1206 + O2). Plants, thus, manufacture their own food. Photo- There are two basic ways for nitrogen to enter the ecosystem, by
synthesis performs three life-sustaining functions. First, it traps energy lightning and bacterial fixation. Atmospheric nitrogen can only be
from the sun and makes it available to the ecosystem in the form of liv- used directly by a few bacterial organisms called nitrogen fixers.
ing organisms with their stored food supply. Second, it removes carbon After fixation, nitrogen in the form of ammonia, NH3, becomes avail-
dioxide, a toxic gas, from the atmosphere and regulates its presence. able to higher plants and is passed into the food chain. Nitrogen is
Third, it liberates free oxygen as a by-product of the process to create returned to the atmosphere by way of bacterial decomposition called
and maintain the (relatively) oxygen-rich atmosphere we require. denitrification. However, like carbon, nitrogen is resident in the bio-
Consumers are organisms organized as a hierarchy (food chain) of sphere for a significant time period, estimated at about 600 years.
herbivores (speciesthat consume plants as their energy source), carni- During the phosphorous cycle, phosphorous enters the ecosys-
vores (species that consume other animals as their energy source), and tem by the slow weathering of rock from its geologic pool, where it
decomposers (microorganisms that consume the dead tissue and -exists in relatively small amounts, primarily in marine sedimentary
wastes of all organisms). Herbivores consume the energy stored in deposits. Although soils may contain relatively large quantities of
plants and make it available to the next level of the hierarchy, the car- phosphorous, it is normally in a chemical form that is not available to
nivores. Carnivores consume herbivores and make use of their stored plants. Phosphorous is essential in biological energy transfer mecha-
energy as food source. Decomposers reduce the residue excreta and nisms, the structure of living systems, and for genetics (it is essential
dead organism tissue and break them down to release the basic nutri- for DNA molecules). Much of the ecosystem's phosphorous is washed
ent elements required to support subsequent generations of organisms. into streams and eventually finds its way into seabed deposits. Because
Organisms are organized as an ascending hierarchy of trophic marine sedimentary deposits must be uplifted to form new land before
(energy) levels, with energy passing from one to another in a chain of it becomes available to the ecosystem, the cycle extends for hundreds
energy transfer, or food chain. Producers form the base of the food of thousands of years. Phosphorus weathered from sedimentary rock
chain. Consumers form the remaining tiers to permit the transfer of has made at least one passage through the global phosphorous cycle.
energy through herbivores, carnivores, and ultimately, decomposers. In addition to cycling nutrients, the ecosystem also is engaged in
The outputs of each subsystem or trophic level of the ecosystem are cycling other chemical compounds. Significant among these is water,
the inputs into another, forming a continuous cycle of energy transfer a threshold requisite for life that is cycled by way of its interfaces
and nutrient element cycling through the system. Because the transfer between solid, liquid, and gaseous states. The hydrologic cycle is a
of energy from one tier in the food chain to another has energy loss sun-driven cycle of water moving through the biosphere through the
inefficiencies, each ascending trophic level is reduced until the system mechanisms of evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipita-
exhausts its stored energy supply. tion, and runoff. Although water is abundant on earth (over 71 per-
The continual cycling of the elements required for the production cent of the earth is covered by water), the availability of fresh water is
and maintenance of organisms is one of the most important ways of limited by the actions of the hydrologic cycle. The vast majority of the
describing the processes of ecosystems. The cycles of a few elements earth's water is seawater: over 97 percent of the water in the bio-
are prominent due to the critical nature of their physiological func- sphere is in oceans. Polar caps, glaciers, and permafrost contain 2 per-
tions in plants and animals (Molles 1999:363). cent of the earth's water. Less than 1 percent of the earth's water is
The carbon cycle transfers carbon, essential to organic molecules, contained in rivers, lakes, and actively exchanged groundwater
from its atmospheric reservoir (where it exists in compounds such as (MoUes 1999:49). The gravitational movement of water from land-
carbon dioxide, CO2, and methane, CH4) to plants by way of the bio- mass to ocean is counteracted by heat-driven evaporation that trans-
logical process of photosynthesis. Carbon is returned to its atmo- ports fresh water into the atmosphere where it accumulates in clouds.
spheric pool by the reciprocal biological process of respiration. The clouds are moved by heat -driven air currents that transport the
Because carbon is sequestered in soil and rock for relatively long peri- cloud formations back over land where their moisture precipitates as
ods (thousands of years for carbon in sedimentary rock), the process rain or snow to become available once again to terrestrial ecosystems.
has both short-term and long-term cycles. One of the most obvious effects of water moving through the ecosys-
The nitrogen cycle transfers molecular nitrogen, N2, from its tem is its influence on the contour of the landscape. The form of the
atmospheric pool (where it comprises about 78 percent of our atmo- landscape is the result of sculpturing from the movement of water.
Chapter Four !,TheBiophysical Environment 93
Human Impacts on Ecosystems is mounting evidence that there are limits on the amount of stress
Aristotle's observation that "nature does nothing uselessly" (Poli- that can be placed on the ecosystems' productive capacity while
tics book 1, ch. 2) describes the elegance of the ecosystem with its vast retaining their viability as our life support system (Ecological Society
of America 1995:5-14).
array of interdependent interactions. Unfortunately we cannot say
the same for contemporary designs for the landscape. Unlike ecosys-
tems where the outputs of one level of the system are the inputs for Landscape Ecology
another, the outputs of human systems are almost invariably useless Landscape ecologists and landscape architects, responding to the
additions to the environment, and to a very large extent they are growing evidence of unwise land-use and management practices, have
harmful to the operations of ecosystems. We do not design to promote begun to develop systematic methods of understanding landscapes.
synergies between elements of the built landscape or to improve the The recent emergence of landscape ecology as a discipline seems to
health of the ecosystem, but for the benefit of a particular (and usu- reflect an awareness of the practical value of a whole-landscape per-
ally single) subsystem within it, such as forests that produce timber spective for managing natural systems (Forman and Gordon 1986;
or cropland to produce food. Consequently, the inadvertent influences Wood 1994). To the landscape ecologist, the landscape is a heteroge-
of design and development on other interrelated subsystems of the 1 neous area made up of several ecosystems forming a mosaic of visually
landscape or the ecosystem as a whole are often impairments rather 'distinctive landscape elements or patches. For example, a mountain
than improvements. To better understand the unintended impact landscape might include forests, meadows, streams, and rock outcrops.
human activity has had on the quality of the environment, it is useful An urban landscape might include residential districts, industrial dis-
to review the history of the ways people have reshaped the landscape tricts, parks, and sewage treatment facilities. Analysis of these patches
and the long-term effects these changes have had, and continue to provides an understanding of how the landscape is structured and how
have, on the health and well-being of people and the environment. the elements functionally interrelate. On the basis of improved under-
During the last century human populations increased over fivefold standing of the landscape's structure and function, we hope to
(Nadakavukaren 2000). Along with this growth came increasing improve the ways we use the landscape to protect ecosystems and, in
demands for space, resources, and amenities from the environment. particular, protect their biodiversity as a key ingredient to their contin-
During that same time the earth lost nearly one-fifth of the topsoil ued health and vitality. Understanding the mosaic of the landscape
from its cropland and nearly one-fourth of its tropical rain forests, requires detailed investigation and management of a number of key
while thousands of plant and animal species became extinct. Atmo- relationships (Dramstad, Olson, and Forman 1996:19; Ahern 1989:3):
spheric carbon dioxide (C02) has increased by 13 percent, setting the • Matrix: the most extensive landscape element or character with
stage for hotter summers. The protective ozone (03) layer has been a primary role in determining landscape function
depleted worldwide (with the greatest reduction in Antarctica where
• Patches: the nonlinear elements of the landscape that differ
ultraviolet radiation is estimated to have increased as much as 130 per-
cent), increasing our exposure to harmful radiation (Brown et al. from the surrounding matrix and provide habitat opportunities
when they are large enough to possess significant interior areas
1989:3; Fergusson and Wardle 1998:8; UNEP 1998:1). With few excep-
tions, the exploitation of the earth's ecosystems is resulting in their • Corridors: the linear elements of the landscape that differ from
modification and deterioration at a pace faster than any other time the matrix and often function to connect patches and extend
during nearly four billion years of history. These exceptions include habitat opportunities where separation exists
periods of global catastrophe such as that characterized by the Creta- • Edges: the outer boundaries of patches or corridors where con-
ceous-Tertiary boundary, at which time the dinosaurs disappeared. ditions differ from both the interior and the matrix
Furthermore, many structural changes have occurred, such as Habitat increasingly appears as scattered patches due to landscape
extreme ecosystem fragmentation and systemic disruption of the change and fragmentation. The altered landscape is no longer a con-
landscape, along with certain kinds of pollutants, such as chlorinated tinuous matrix, but remains as isolated remnants disrupted by agri-
hydrocarbons (DOT,2-40) and PCBsthat have no precedent in earth's culture, urbanization, transportation networks, and so on. The
evolutionary history. Because these new compounds have no evolu- patches are roughly analogous to islands of habitat left isolated
tionary history, there are no built-in ecosystemic mechanisms for within development. The character of the boundary creates an edge
their reintegration through normal chemical cycling processes. There effect that influences the flow of nutrients, water, energy, or species
Chapter Four -
~TheBiophysical Environment 95

along or across it. As patches become fragmented, the corridors that

provide connections between them become critical to the sustainabil_
ity and health of the ecosystem. Solar Radiation
\ '

Ecosystems are expressed as a mosaic of plant and animal com-

munities sharing space and resources. Each community can be "
described by its physical boundary. But unlike nonliving features,
these spatially defined communities have boundaries that are both
porous and dynamic, across which energy and matter are freely Winter Sun: Northern Hemisphere Summer Sun: Northern Hemisphere
exchanged. The boundaries in ecosystems are more reflective of iden-
tity than exclusion. Overlap and interspersion leading to constant
change and evolution are common in ecosystems, which can make
them difficult to fully comprehend. Understanding the overall struc- Seasonal Sun Earth Relationships
ture and function of the landscape as a mosaic of patches, edges, and
connections is an important concept for describing ecosystems and, as
a consequence, informing future design interventions.
In addition to a broad understanding of ecosystems for general
planning considerations, there are a number of specific site factors
that are important to design. One of particular concern is climate and
how designs may be organized to take advantage of favorable condi- ./
tions or, alternatively, to ameliorate adverse influences.

The Influence of Climate

The earth's climate varies due to a number of factors: radiation, ,/"'"
humidity, wind patterns, elevation, longitude, and many others. One ,/"'"
of the most influential climatic factors is seasonal change. This pat- ~~,/"'"
tern of warming and cooling cycles results from uneven heating of the (f -\'
earth throughout the year (Molles 1999:16). Radiant energy (which
we may assume to be from parallel solar rays as they strike the
earth's surface) is most concentrated and delivers the greatest heat ,/"'" ./
,/"'" ./
energy when the sun is directly overhead (Marsh 1998:289). How- ./
,/"'",/"'",/"'" \ .-1
ever, because the angle of the sun varies throughout the year, the sun Surface with 90°

CO ./

is directly overhead at midday only part of the year. This is explained Angle of Incidence
./ Receives 50% More
by a peculiarity in the earth's angle of rotation in relation to the sun. ./
Energy than Surface
The earth orbits the sun with its axis of rotation at an angle that with 40° Angle of
deviates 23.5° from the vertical. This causes the latitude at which the Incidence for
sun is overhead to change with the season. This also causes the North- Solar Radiation
ern and Southern hemispheres to have reciprocal seasons; when it is Solar Incidence Variation
winter in the Northern Hemisphere it is summer in the Southern
Hemisphere. Because the tilted angle of rotation is constant through-
out the year as the earth orbits the sun, we experience a relatively per- Figure 4.1
pendicular midday sun angle (when the sun is at its zenith) during the Variation in radiation intensity on the earth's surface
summer and a substantially reduced, acute sun angle during the win- (after Byrne 1974:28,29)
ter. The exception to this occurs at the equator, where the sun angle is
relatively stable year round. (Seefigure 4.1.)
Chapter Four iThe Biophysical Environment 97
Throughout the year the sun angle changes daily as it makes a that make full use of the sun's radiation in winter when it is desired
complete cycle from its lowest midday point at the winter solstke .and to provide shelter from radiation in the summer when it is
(December 21) to its highest midday point at the summer solstice unwanted (White 1960:7; Olgyay 1973:88). The applicability of this
(June 21). The midpoints of the year between the solstice sun angles information is illustrated in the orientation of a house using sun
occur at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the two days of the year angles to determine the arrangement of building form and the place-
when the sun rises at due east and sets at due west. On these days the ment of sheltering roofs, shielding walls, and window openings to
midday sun angle is at the midpoint between its highest (mid-sum- optimum solar energy advantages. Designing a building to invite sun
mer) and its lowest (mid-winter) points. As the sun cycles from spring penetration during the winter to provide warmth and to block sun
to summer to autumn to winter, the sun angle changes slightly each entry during the summer to maintain a comfortable interior tempera-
day. The sun angles for a site can be calculated for the solstice and the ture illustrates the application of knowledge of the environment to
equinox days with simple formulas (Degelman 1998, pers. comm.). improve design performance (White 1976:4). Careful planning and
The formulas are applied to calculate local sun angles in the examples design allows us to achieve significant climate amelioration without
shown below.
the additional cost of mechanical systems. In particular, we can reduce
Midday sun angle for the summer solstice, June 21: the consumption of energy it takes to operate these supplementary
90 (degrees) - Latitude (of site) + 23.5 (degrees declination) = systems, and the consequent addition of pollution to the air that
noon sun angle results from them. (Seefigure 4.2 on pp. 98-99.)
(for College Station, Texas: 90 - 30 + 23.5 = 83.50) To apply knowledge of ecosystems to design requires not only that
we understand the basic structure of the environment in which we are
Midday sun angle for the winter solstice, December 21:
90 - Latitude - 23.5 = noon sun angle working but also that we have a set of basic principles to guide appli-
(for CollegeStation, Texas: 90 - 30 - 23.5 = 36.50) cation of this knowledge. There are six principles of ecology that serve
as broad guidelines for managing and changing the landscape.
Midday sun angle for the equinoxes, March/September 21:
90 - Latitude = noon sun angle • Networks: At all scalesof nature, we find living systems nest-
(for College Station, Texas: 90 - 30 = 60°) ing within other living systems-networks within networks.
Their boundaries are not boundaries of separation but bound-
Applying the formulas for the midday sun angles at College Sta- aries of identity. All living systems communicate with one
tion, Texas, located at 30° North Latitude, the maximum sun angle at another and share resourcesacrosstheir boundaries.
the summer solstice is 83.5°, the maximum sun angle at the equinoxes • Cycles:Alllivingorganismsmust feedon continualflowsof mat-
is 60°, and the maximum sun angle at the winter solstice is 36.50. ter and energyfrom their environmentto stay alive,and all living
This variation in sun angle from one season to the next is the pri- organisms continually produce waste. However,an ecosystem
mary cause of the temperature differences between summer and win- generatesno net waste, one species'waste beinganother species'
ter. The significance of sun angles relates to the extent to which they food.Thus,matter cyclescontinuallythrough the web of life.
influence radiation impact on the earth's climate. The amount of • Energy: Solar energy, transformed into chemical energy by
energy received by a surface with radiation striking at an angle of photosynthesisof greenplants, drivesthe ecologicalcycles.
incidence of 90° is approximately twice that received by a surface with • Partnership: The exchangesof energy and resourcesin an eco-
radiation striking at 30°. The differences in these sun angles, and their system are sustainedby pervasivecooperation.Lifedid not take
effect on energy absorption, result in the earth receiving uneven heat- over the planet by combatbut by cooperation,partnership, and
ing from the sun at different seasons. Furthermore, the number of networking.
hours during which the earth receives radiation during the seasons • Diversity: Ecosystemsachievestability and resiliencethrough
the richnessand complexityof their ecologicalwebs.Thegreater
varies, with greater exposure during the extended day length of sum-
their biodiversity,the more resilientthey will be.
mer and reduced exposure during the reduced day length of winter.
Knowing the seasonal pattern of sun angles and day length gives • Dynamic balance: An ecosystemis a flexible,ever-fluctuating
network. Its flexibilityis a consequenceof multiple feedback
the designer a level of predictability about where sun and shade may loops that keep the system in a state of dynamic balance. No
be expected throughout the year. With this information they are able singlevariableis maximized;all variablesfluctuate around their
to organize the site and arrange the activities and features in ways optimal values. (Capra2002:231)
e Biophysical Environment 99

, ,~
Summer Solstice

", "- ~U .••.. "Horizon
Noon Sun Angle

I \ ""
"" /
","/ 'D
/ \

\ ,.............
", 0 " ,,' .•.'" I
at Equinox 'West , C=:J,,' C=:JC=:J~
" ./ c=1..
East at Equinox
-:-:,,, •••••••••
\ ",." "",-"'" I



Sunset , ~ I Sunrise
Sunset O~::'"
/,"" Winter
...•.•...•.. - -_/ / Section View
", --
Pian View
Solstice , '...... .••.. ~
-- N-;C;;" ",
././ 7 Solstice

Figure 4.2 (continued)

/0-- When changes to the built landscape are based on a premise that
designs should support the continued function and vitality of these

/cr Noon basic ecosystemic functions, we will begin to create human settings
that are well integrated into the ongoing processes of the environ-
Solstice ment. More importantly, when they are well integrated these environ-
ments may be expected to lead to healthy and sustainable human

".'" "', \
""',~" "
~ -- ~
' b '\
communities. Until designs for urban systems begin to integrate with
the environment to maintain vital ecosystem networks and material
recycling, consume energy and matter creatively, and sustain biologi-
cal diversity we should not expect them to result in the kind of

I " "~
\ \ 365·
. h~'i.So",h
I "
healthy, flexible, optimizing systems we require.

I\ No", ~
U____. <:::><:::>~ \'\"i:;:..
0/ 0\
\ Goods, Services, and Processes
, " "\ ~~." ",I / /I
..•. , -- --
\ "
\ --
"', / ."
Contemporary development is taking place without appropriate
provision for maintaining the ecological infrastructure of the land-
scape. We need this ecosystemic infrastructure to provide long-term
Horizony----- ~ ~ West support for both society and the natural systems on which it depends.
Oblique View
Landscape development of the future, if it is to be sustainable, will
need to be based on a more thorough understanding of the interrelat-
Figure 4.2 edness of environmental processes and the influence development has
on them. Human society is wholly reliant on ecosystems to carry out
Influence of sun angles on building orientation a diverse array of processes that provide the fundamental conditions
(after Marsh 1998:299 and Olgyay 2000:803)
to support life on earth.
Chapter Four
-;l'he Biophysical Environment 101

One way of describing the benefits of global ecosystemic processes 'etation (Grainger 1990:7). Most desertification is thought to be
is to list the "goods" and "services" they provide. Ecosystem pro..; ,directly attributable to the interaction between climactic fluctuations
cesses are defined as the fundamental maintenance activities required and human development and exploitation of the landscape (Food and
to keep the system in good health and working order. Ecosystem Agriculture Organization 1983:6; Dregne 1992:vii; Nadakavukaren
goods are things with market value that are extracted from the envi- 2000). Soil degradation in deserts is caused by destructive agricultural
ronment and exchanged for money. Ecosystem services are the pro- practices (Grainger 1990: 7). The annual worldwide loss of topsoil is
cesses that have value but are rarely exchanged for monetary benefit. :estimated at 24 billion tons (Brown et al. 1989:3). Eroded soils are
The basic ecosystemic detached from the landscape, introduced into stormwater runoff, and
port life are outlined inprocesses,
box 4.1. goods, and services required to sup-
washed into streams. From there the soils are transported to the sea,
The overall record of human development in recognizing and pro- ,thus becoming permanently lost to society-at least within the geo-
tecting these basic life-support processes, goods, and services is not logically foreseeable future (remember that soil forms under good
encouraging. For example, 20 percent of the earth's land surface is conditions at a rate of an inch per century). The landscape is being
arid or hyperarid desert (Biswas and Biswas 1980:vii; Grainger exploited in ways that are inconsistent with our clear need to support
1990:6). The area of deserts is thought to be expanding and has been a rapidly growing human population or even the landscape's capacity
systematically reported in the u.s. (Sears 1935) and Africa (Aubreville ''for sustained utilization.
1949) for well over half a century. The primary threat, however, is North America was changed profoundly after European coloniza-
not the expansion of deserts but the degradation of their soil and veg- tion in the 1600s. Nowhere has the extent and pace of forest clearing
and settlement been greater. Between 1800 and 1900, some 500,000
square miles of virgin forest were destroyed. And although forests
have returned in many of the less arable regions, the soils, ecosystem
complexity, and species composition are greatly reduced from the
Ecosystem Processes Hydrologic dynamics and storage original condition. More than 50,000 square miles of wetlands have
Biological production been destroyed, with agriculture accounting for 75 percent of the
Biogeochemical cycling and storage losses (Marsh 1991 :338). Many of the original species have become
Decomposition of waste extinct due to active destruction or from the unintended result of dis-
Maintenance of biological diversity ease and pest invasion of the weakened ecosystems or loss of habitat.
Ecosystem Goods Food and water 'fragically, much of the agricultural land created by the clearing of
Medicinal plants forests has also been lost during the intervening period due to poor
Construction and manufacture materials agricultural practices, often in conflict with the goals of commerce.
Fuel for domestic and industrial heat Speciesdestruction has been accelerated due to a lethal combination of
five main factors: increased demands of a growing human population,
Wild genes for domestic animals and plants
Tourism and recreation over harvesting, habitat destruction, pollution, and the invasion of
habitat by exotic species (Wilson 2002). All these are the result of
Ecosystem Services Maintaining hydrologic cycles human actions in the landscape.
Regulating climate
A fundamental role of society, typically through the agency of
Cleansing air and water
collective government, is to provide for mutual security through the
Maintaining the gaseous composition of the
recognition and protection of critical life-support resources. How-
ever, there has been a long-standing perception that the rapid exploi-
Forming, maintaining, and developing soils tation of presumably renewable resources has an immediate
Pollinating crops and other important plants economic value sufficient to outweigh any risk of damage to ecosys-
Storing and cycling essential nutrients
tems. Furthermore, any damage that occurs is considered insufficient
Absorbing and detoxifying pollutants
to diminish the ability of future generations to produce continuously
Providing beauty, inspiration, and knowledge needed goods and services. It appears increasingly unlikely that this
(Adapted from Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1991; Lubchenko et al. 1991; Richardson 199-4;Daly 1997). perception will be borne out in the future (Ecological Society of
America 1995:2).
102 Chapter Four 103
The Biophysical Environment

The widespread perception that ecosystem damage due to exploi- events fitted into a schedule. We think that the future is immediate
tation is inconsequential prevails for several reasons. First, there is lit,,- and that it should be anticipated. For us, the future is near. One conse-
tle comprehensive scientific information regarding the complexity and quence of this notion is that we do not consider it productive to spend
functional dynamics of most ecosystems. In fact, they are more com- too much time thinking about (we might say dwelling on) the past.
plex than we are currently able to understand. This results in part Results must be obtained now, or at least in the immediate future. To
because the prevailing reductionist scientific view of reality does not Americans, time is short. Deadlines are serious and there are penalties
reveal systematic change to complex systems since it is based on ana- for being late, for not keeping our commitments to "time." We think it
lytical rather than contextual thinking (Capra 1996:29). In other is natural to quantify time and specify how long it will take to do
words, we cannot prove long-term harm in advance of the facts, everything. We also connect things in a chain of time: "when I was in
which will only be available in the future after the harm has been college," "before I was married," "after I left the service." One conse-
inflicted, perhaps permanently. Second, the openness and intercon- quence is that it is difficult for us to connect things in our minds when
nectedness of ecosystems on temporal and spatial scales greatly exceed they are separated by too much time. "This," Hall concludes, "makes
the understanding and jurisdiction of most political or management it almost impossible for us as a nation to engage in long-range plan-
authorities. In the absence of specific information to the contrary, ning." Planning for the environment is not just a long-term effort. It
people tend to believe what appears to be in their immediate best is, if we are to engage it, a permanent artifact of our life.
interest. Actions are based largely on our perception of immediate One other factor may reduce our ability to plan effectively for the
rather than long-term interests. This is not, as it might appear, an future. The growing influence of market forces affects all aspects of
irrational pattern of thinking. contemporary life, and with the globalization of the economy the
For most of human history, survival depended on the immediate effect is being felt worldwide. Because it is virtually impossible to pre-
satisfaction of our needs for food, water, shelter, and defense. As a dict the state of the economy for as long as a year in advance, deci-
consequence, humankind has developed ingrained patterns of think- sions become focused on immediate rather than long-term
ing based on short-term rather than long-term considerations. In par- considerations. Corporate decisions are oriented toward productivity
ticular, our evolutionary history has not included a requirement to within the quarter (three months), driving the time interval on which
pattern our behavior in relation to its influence on protecting the nat- broad decisions are based even lower. All these factors combine to
ural environment. During most of human history the natural envi- make long-term planning as difficult as it is important.
ronment, wilderness, has been seen as a threat to human existence. A Human society has no history of needing to provide for the con-
great deal of our collective history is the story of human migration in tinuing viability of the landscape. In our collective thinking, the land-
search of better environments, places with greater opportunities for scape, like time, simply exists and we expect that it always will.
resource exploitation. Our understanding of human society and its Furthermore, there is a continuing prevalence to see things as they
relation to the landscape has been conditioned by a history of the have been seen in the past, in spite of obvious (and often unwelcome)
influence of the landscape on people, not people on the landscape. changes in the landscape and the speculation by many about the
Inuit society, for example, or Arab societies can be largely explained unhappy effects they may have on future generations. Even though
by the nature of the relationships they have with the landscapes they there is ample evidence that the environment on which we depend is
inhabit. In the past it has not been thought necessary to consider the deteriorating, we are slow to give it the kind of planning and design
long-term influence of our actions on the environment. Rather, we attention required to redress its diminishing condition. Understanding
have conditioned ourselves to be concerned primarily with the influ- reality seems to be less a matter of our "believing it when we see it"
ence of the landscape on people. than of being able to "see it only when we believe it" (Barker
For Americans there may be another reason we are unable to 1985 :256). Without conclusive, concrete evidence that our paradigm is
engage in effective long-term planning for the environment. Anthro- faulty, faith in our understanding, based on past perceptions, contin-
pologist Edward Hall has described our unique concept of time that ues unabated. Our rapidly emerging requirements to care for the envi-
may account for our inability to think about a distant future ronment, and to do so over the long-term, have been with us for too
(1966:134). We begin with an assumption that there is order in the short a time to become established in our collective psyche. As a conse-
universe and that our role is to discover that order and create intellec- quence, even though it is becoming increasingly apparent that our
tual models that reflect it to inform decisions. Time is one of these survival as a society (and as a species) depends on it, we cannot easily
models. We never question the idea that time should be planned and or quickly change to a new way of understanding nature or behaving
104 105
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment

appropriately regarding our relationship with it. To do so will require One of the most significant current trends is the relationship
radical and creative change in how we think as well as how we behave. between population increase and environmental degradation (Harrison
But, as Leo Tolstoy said: "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but 1992). In the fifteen years between 1973 and 1988, growth in develop-
no one thinks of changing himself." Perhaps the first thing we as ing countries (which represent 80 percent of the world's population)
designers must change is not the landscape, but ourselves. was responsible for 79 percent of deforestation, 46 percent of arable
land expansion, and 59 percent of the increase in livestock. These fac-
Ecosystem Health tors are closely linked to loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, accel-
erated soil erosion, diminished watershed protection, and increased
methane and other global warming emissions (Wynberg 1993:17).
In 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Whether changes in climate are an inevitable natural process or the
Development (UNCED) determined that over the previous twenty result of ill-advised land development, or a combination of the two, is
years the health of the environment on a global scale had deteriorated not fully known. What is known is that the future success of human
at an unprecedented rate (Wynberg 1993:xiii-xxi). This is thought to society will be closely tied to our ability to live harmoniously with
have resulted primarily from a failure of governments to integrate those changing conditions and their impact on the environment.
actions regarding development and the environment with economic In addition to the pressure for water resources brought about by
policy and decision making. Changes in the environment are taking population increase and urbanization, climate change is another, and
place more rapidly than our human institutions are able to recognize potentially more significant, environmental dimension to the water
and, as a consequence, they supersede society's ability to formulate crisis. In 1988 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
appropriate responses. and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) established
Five years after UNCED,in 1997, the UN held a follow-up "Earth the UNEPIWMO Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Summit Plus 5" Conference in New York. In summary, the conference to examine how climate might change in the future. The panel con-
findings were that forest loss continues at a global rate of 30 million cluded that if atmospheric gas emissions continue to rise according to
acres (55,000 square miles) annually through cutting and burning. present trends, global mean temperatures might be expected to
Carbon emissions into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuel con- increase by about 0.3 degrees Celsius each decade over the next cen-
tinue to rise, now at 6.2 billion tons annually. And although birth rates tury. If this happened it would produce temperatures higher than at
are declining, the median age is lowering, thus population will con- any time during the last 150,000 years, and would likely be accompa-
tinue to rise with a leveling off expected to begin around 2050 at about nied by other changes such as altered rainfall patterns, intensified
9 billion, depending upon future fertility rates (U.S. Census Bureau drought, increased sea levels, flooding, disease epidemics, and changes
2004:11). The high estimate is that the world population may reach 11 in agriculture (Krause, Bach, and Kooney 1995: 73). Changes of this
billion by 2050 and the lower estimate is 7.2 billion. In either case, the magnitude would have profound demographic, social, economic, and
demand for resources during that time will increase significantly. political implications on a global scale.
Demand for fresh water continues to grow in all parts of the Irrespective of the possibility of climate change, it is important
world; consumption more than tripled between 1950 and 2000 (Pos- that management of the landscape becomes more responsive to pre-
tel 1993:22). Although vast reserves of fresh water lie beneath the vailing conditions. Providing favorable microclimatic conditions
earth's surface, much of it is too deep to economically recover within the urban environment in general, while simultaneously pre-
(National Geographic 1993:24) and the fresh water in rivers, lakes, cluding the unnecessary expenditure of energy for climate control,
and wetlands accounts for less than 1 percent of the earth's water needs to become a design priority of the future. Beginning in the early
(McAllister, Hamilton, and Harvey 1997:210). While the availability 1960s the combination of technology and (presumably) cheap fuelled
of fresh water is fixed, the population demanding access to it is not. to the creation of urban environments increasingly reliant on auto-
Currently, 20 percent of the world's population lacks direct access to a mobiles and mechanical air conditioning, with little attention given to
safe water supply (Dodds 2000:292) and 40 percent of those people the amelioration of the living environment in general. In Texas, for
live in water-stressed river basins. It is projected that by 2025 half of example, it has become common over the last forty years to live dur-
the world's population will occupy regions with water stress, 70 per- ing the summer months through a series of closely linked conditioned
cent of which will be under severe stress (United Nations Development air environments-home, car, office, car, shop, car, home-with little
Programme 2001:103-110). time being spent outdoors. As excess heat has been pumped out of our
106 107
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment

cars, houses, shops, factories, and offices, it has been pumped into the alent in much of the agriculturally productive western U.S.), increases
ambient environment of the city. Our ability to avoid these increas-' the vulnerability that a herbivore will become a pest to one of the few
ingly stressful environments has not led to increased attention to their remaining species (Watt 1973: 146). The same conditions of risk to
careful design to make them more comfortable or enjoyable. Compre- ecosystems through artificially induced simplicity prevail for urban
hensive assessment of alternative climate control systems in concert land as well, although the area of coverage and impact is much
with site orientation and utilization factors are important to both smaller and thus represents less potential for risk to the environment
building and site design (Holm 1983:27) if effective and sustainable as a whole, even though the loss of significant urban species structure
use is to be made of the existing resource base of the landscape. (such as the loss of elms throughout cities in the central U.S.) can be a
Diminished ecosystem stability has become an area of critical con- deeply felt loss. However, the profound influence of urban areas on
cern. A diverse and complex species structure operates to provide eco- their surrounding hinterland adds increasing pressure for ecosystem
systems with stability and viability over time. The importance of simplification over large areas of the environment as a rapidly grow-
complexity with its vast array of interconnections is one of the most ing population must be employed, housed, and fed.
vital lessons of the last century of research and ecosystem-manage- The intense demands created by increasing population for both
ment experience (Peterson 1993:2152). Biological diversity and its urbanization and primary food and fiber production are being satis-
interrelated structural complexity are critical to processes such as pri- fied through the loss of long-term system stability in the landscape.
mary production and nutrient cycling. The history of human design The present systems of landscape utilization are resulting in the per-
and management of the landscape, however, is one of continued eco- manent loss of habitat for many indigenous animal and plant species,
system simplification and compartmentalization. with an associated loss in the ecosystem's ability to regulate necessary
Complexity and diversity impart resilience and resistance to eco- processes and resist adverse change when faced with altered condi-
system disturbance and provide the genetic material needed to adapt tions (which are normal conditions in the landscape), such as climatic
to long-term change. Once disturbance has occurred, the more com- change or plant-disease epidemic.
plex systems demonstrate significantly greater recovery potential (Til- If we are to employ planning and design to break the cycle of eco-
man and Downing 1994). Biotic complexity has important influences system deterioration, we will need to better understand the conditions
on the hydrologic cycle through condensation, interception, and we are changing and approach the landscape in ways that protect and
evapotranspiration, and on geomorphic processes such as erosion. maintain the basic workings of the system itself rather than to focus
Utilitarian extractive processes such as agriculture and forestry only on what we want from it. Designs for the land need to reverse
explicitly reduce the complexity and diversity of ecosystems to current trends toward ecosystem simplification and fragmentation
increase the productivity of selected species (such as cattle, corn, or and the resultant interference with the production of ecosystem
pine) in the lower trophic levels. This is normally accomplished by the goods, services, and processes. Only when the protection of the envi-
displacement of complex indigenous species by a few exotics and ronment becomes a standard goal of design and development activity
through the transfer of significant energy inputs from other sources will we begin to address this problem on the scale that it exists. We
into the production system. In mechanized agriculture this is accom- have not adopted this level of concern as a professional responsibility
plished by the subsidy of petroleum energy, thereby exhausting non- yet, but we are beginning to understand that it is necessary to do so.
renewable resources in order to extract renewable ones (Lyle 1994:20) Now we must begin to learn how to do so.
with the result being (perhaps short-term) increases to the environ- We can begin by understanding that each act to change the land-
ment's human carrying capacity-increases beyond the level that can scape has consequences to the system as a whole. If we acknowledge
be sustained by local resources. that one of the most common attributes of ecological health is the con-
The issue of diminished ecosystem stability is particularly relevant nectivity of natural systems (Dramstad et al. 1996 :41) and its effect
with regard to the influences of species-specific pathogens that may on their sustained viability, we may begin to design in ways that
pose high levels of risk to monocultures (mono-specific agricultural assure the continuation of these connections. Designs need to be based
practices such as timber-producing regions or wheat-producing not so much on concerns for regional or global degradation, but on
regions). Thus, these simplified systems are less stable and less sus- the local effects of introducing new activities into the landscape.
tainable than more complex natural ecosystems (Ecological Society of Designs for the landscape need to assure that development is organized
America 1995:8). Furthermore, biotic community simplification in to minimize disruption of the natural systems as much as the natural
marginal habitats, such as deserts or semi-arid areas (conditions prev- systems need to be manipulated to avoid disruption of development.
108 109
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment
Urban Development design, build, and manage the landscape environment. Our decision
making does not reflect a basic awareness of the way the landscape
works, or that we are wholly reliant on these systems for survival.
As a consequence of growing population, urbanization through-
This must change if knowledge is to make its way into decision mak-
out the world is taking place at an accelerating rate. During the last
ing in time to prevent the permanent loss of the landscape's potential
half of the twentieth century the world population doubled, growing
from 3 billion in 1960 to 6 billion in 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau to support society at the level we desire. But supporting society
2004:11). Most of this increase has taken place in urban areas. In the requires more than the protection of critical resources.
To assure that design changes are integrated harmoniously into
early years of the twentieth century less than a quarter of the popula-
the landscape it is necessary to understand the conditions into which
tion was urban. By the end of the century that proportion had risen
to 55 percent. By the year 2020 it is estimated that between 70-80 the design must fit. There are a number of landscape factors that are
percent of the population will live in urban areas. The implications for typically investigated prior to the development of designs for land-
scape change.
the design disciplines are profound. The pattern of urban development
in the United States has been particularly important not only to the
character of the urban environment but also to the character of our Site Analysis Factors
evolving cultural experience. During the next twenty years, the pat-
tern of the living environment for almost half of the urban population
will be established. Whether that pattern is one that promotes the In assessing landscapes to determine how harmonious design rela-
physical and emotional health of those who live in those communities tionships may be established, a number of site conditions are rou-
will depend, to a significant extent, on how well designers are able to tinely evaluated to determine their potential influences on future
inform themselves about the needs of people and respond appropri- design conditions. One of our first tasks is to inquire about the state of
ately through design. the landscape and to determine what things should or should not be
During the decades after the 1950s, the landscape was increas- changed to provide some assurance of improvement. The most com-
ingly transformed by urbanization through the development of mon naturally occurring site factors and the types of considerations
sprawling, fragmented cities with uncontrolled, low-density housing to be evaluated include the following.
areas distant from work, schools, shopping, and community facilities.
To achieve this type of development, valuable agricultural land and Topography
natural areas were appropriated with little consideration for the Typical base data include a relief map of the site at a convenient
effects on environmental quality. Unfortunately, the very low-den- scale, with surface features and contour intervals appropriate to the
sity, suburban character of most contemporary developments is max- detail required for planning or decision making. Site analysis from the
imizing the negative impact on the landscape, much of which is contour information may include:
irreplaceable, highly productive agricultural land.
• Determination and mapping of steep, moderate, or gently slop-
The worldwide effects of urban development have been signifi-
cant. In the view of Odum (1993), contemporary cities function as ing areas of the site
parasites that, unlike their successful counterparts in nature, have not • Determination of the percentages of the site in each slope category
evolved mutually beneficial relationships with their life-support host • Determination and mapping of watersheds and drainage patterns
organism (the landscape) that prevent its destruction and thereby • Determination of compatibility of slope or landform relative to
themselves. Modern cities act to draw resources from their environs intended uses
but lack the mechanisms to return waste products to the landscape • Determination of difficulty anticipated in using the site for the
for recycling. While exhausting their landscape base through an activities intended
increasing demand for resources, cities are simultaneously destroying
the quality of their air, water, and soil by a mounting accumulation of • Potential influence of site topography in satisfying handicapped
wastes, hastening urban degeneration-particularly in nonindustrial user accessibility
countries (Lyle 1994:5). Of greatest concern is that these conditions • Visibility and visual exposure resulting from site relief
are systemic results of the way we currently comprehend, plan, • Wind and solar exposure resulting from site slope and aspect
110 111
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment

• Extent of land-form modifications, such as cut or fill, and their • Soil drainage capacity for percolation through soil horizons
projected costs in developing the site • Determination of areas with permanently saturated soils
• Potential difficulty in site drainage relative to poor drainage • Erosion potential of soils in drainage paths or on moderate to
from level areas or soil erosion in steep areas steep slopes
• Potential hazards from steep, precipitous, or unstable topo- • Appropriateness of different soil conditions for the location of
graphic conditions intended uses
Geology • Corrosion potential for below-grade structures and utilities
• Determination of the extent to which soils must be modified to
Typicalbase data include a map of surface geology, with indications support intended uses
of formation, depth to bedrock, and strata inclinations. Where map- • Determination of potential hazards such as erosion or soil slippage
ping is the result of test borings, descriptions of the underlying strata
will normally be provided. Areas of earth fill or deposition conditions
would also be identified where applicable with a general description of
the nature of the deposited material. Site analysis may include: Typical base data include descriptions of surface and subsurface
• Structural support and stability of underlying geologic formations conditions. Surface conditions may be interpreted from topographic
• Bearing capacity of subsurface strata and influences on struc- and soils data. The extent of surface flooding is obtained from soil
tural design maps, historical records, or engineering calculations. Subsurface con-
ditions are normally taken from well records or borings or are
• Determination of ease or difficulty of excavating material near inferred from geologic data. Site analysis may include:
the surface
• Existing drainage patterns and impoundment areas as illus-
• Determination of cut-slope stability for material near the surface
trated by site topography
• Determination of water-bearing strata near the surface
• Extent and frequency of surface inundation in floodplains and
• Stability of material relative to subsidence or fault movement floodways
• Presence of permanent or seasonal wetlands
• Potential for settling or contamination from areas created by fill • Erosion or deposition patterns along drainage channels
• Anticipated peak flows of stormwater drainage and their contri-
• VISUalimplications of exposedgeologicmaterial or rock formations
bution to flooding hazard
• Identification of potential geologic hazards
• Depths, duration, and fluctuation of seasonal water table
Soils • Seasonal fluctuations in stream channel flow

Typical base data include a map of soil types for the site, with • Existing and potential quality of surface and subsurface water
accompanying cross-section profiles and descriptions indicating sur- • Aquifer locations and zones of surface recharge potential
face and subsurface conditions to a depth of four to six feet. Site anal- • Potential for aquifer pollution from existing or intended site or
ysis may include: near-site uses
• Soils expansion potential relative to the location of structures • Potential for surface water pollution from existing or intended
• Suitability as structural support for the location of buildings or site or near-site uses
• Surface retention potential for permanent water features or
• Suitability as construction material such as earth fill, building temporary detention as a flood control measure
aggregate, or road base • Location, water quality, and capacity of on-site stream flow or
• Soil fertility and the potential to support plant growth wells
• Soil moisture relationships relative to supporting plant growth • Appropriateness of intended activities to the site water regimen
112 113
Chapter Four The Biophysical Environment
• Extent to which drainage patterns must be modified to accom- • Appropriateness and compatibility of existing vegetation for
modate intended uses intended activities
• Identification of potential hazards such as flooding or subsidence • Susceptibility of vegetation to damage from development or
Climate anticipated site uses
• Relative stability and anticipated longevity of existing species
Typical base data include regional or local macroclimatic averages and plant communities
for precipitation, temperature, humidity, wind velocity and direction, • Seasonal effects of vegetation on humidity, insolation, tempera-
and seasonal extremes. The number of sun days, frost-free days, and ture, and ventilation
dates of the first and last frost may be useful in some cases. Microcli-
• Influence of existing vegetation on site stability or erosion control
matic information may include solar angles, site aspect, wind screen-
ing and funneling effects, fog, cold air drainage, and heat traps. Site • Seasonal influence of vegetation on site image and aesthetic
analysis may include: experience
• Microclimatic variations within the site • Seasonal maintenance to be expected from retaining existing
• Microclimatic comfort variables and seasonal variations vegetation
• Desirable and undesirable locations or orientations for antici- • Determination of threatened or endangered species on or near
pated use activities the site
• Visual, spatial, and microclimatic amelioration opportunities
• Climatic influences of site vegetation, water bodies, and topog- afforded by existing vegetation
• Influence of wind patterns on off-site activities or on emissions • Visual, spatial, and microclimatic amelioration required by the
affecting proposed site uses retention of existing vegetation
• Identification of potential hazards such as fires or disease epidemic
• Influence of wind patterns on proposed site activities as they
affect off-site land uses
• Influences of sun angles on slope aspect conditions of the site
• Character and season of precipitation and its influence on site Typical base data include descriptions of existing species and their
design related habitat requirements and any published listing of locally
threatened or endangered wildlife species. Site analysis may include:
• Seasonal influences on intended use activities
• Desirability of existing species relative to the activities intended
• Identification of potential hazards such as ice or fog on roads on the site
Vegetation • Appropriateness of retaining wildlife species with anticipated
site uses
Typical base data include aerial photographs and maps of site veg- • Implications of retaining or encouraging the continuation of
etation indicating location, species, crown spread, and soil elevation at
existing wildlife populations
the base of significant groupings or individual specimens; any pub-
lished listing of locally prohibited, preferred, or threatened and endan- • Habitat requirements of existing populations regarding water,
food, and cover vegetation
gered plant species. On infrequent occasions plant community maps
with descriptions of dominant and typical species composition may be • Seasonal and daily corridor requirements for wildlife movement
required. Detailed ecological surveys may include indications of com- through the site
munity succession or regression due to past land-use impacts on or • Identification of habitat zones of threatened or endangered species
near the site. Site analysis may include:
• Determination of threatened or endangered species residing on
• Amenity value of existing site vegetation or near the site either permanently or seasonally
• Use and design performance opportunities afforded by existing • Identification of potential hazards such as disease or pest infes-
vegetation tation
Chapter Four

All these site factors may be important to design decision making.

However, since each design setting and its requirements are unique,
the exact mix of salient considerations changes from project to
project. Design analysis is conducted first to establish the factors to be
considered, and second to determine their likely influence in support
of or conflict with the proposed development. It is on the basis of
these determinations that many site organizational decisions are
made. But knowledge of site features is not the only important con-
sideration in design. The processes of the site also must be understood
before we can expect to integrate a new set of activities, or systems,
into the landscape without inadvertently disrupting these processes.
In addition to consideration of the landscape's natural features
and systems there are equally important social and psychological con-
siderations that, when understood, may be used to inform landscape
design. The next chapter introduces these human factors of design. The HuO\an

Our lookingenters as one of the determinants in the reality event

that we see. We know that our concepts, our notions or basic
assumptions, actively direct our precepts. Our mind directs our
sensory apparatus every bit as much as our sensory apparatus
informs the mind.
-Joseph ChiltonPearce,Crack in the Cosmic Egg

The basic purpose of design is to improve people's ability to use

the landscape to meet their needs and aspirations, to modify the form
of the landscape in ways that facilitate human experience, interaction,
and activity. Designs to facilitate human activity include actions to
organize space in support of improved function, safety, and conve-
nience; to reveal the intended pattern of organization and provide cues
to appropriate behavior; to better express who we are as cultural and
social groups; and to improve the quality of our experience with one
another and the physical setting. The value judgements we apply in
establishing priorities among these multiple and often competing
interests need to correspond to their influence in improving and sus-
taining the quality of our lives, enhancing social interaction and vital-
ity, and maintaining the viability of the environment.
116 Chapter Five The Human Environment 117

We seek more from life than mere survival. We also want our lives consequence of the continuing increase in population in the third
to be comfortable, pleasurable, and meaningful. We place many ~. world is the global increase in cultural diversity in both the third
demands on the environment, some of which are deeply personal, some world and the developed countries.
broadly social, and some fundamental to all people and all societies. The
most pressing reason for planning and designing the landscape is to
assure the satisfaction of our basic needs: to provide food, water, shelter,
Cultural Diversity
and community. Each year, each day, this becomes more difficult to
achieve. The world population is increasing at a rate of 74 million peo- Population diversity poses a number of constraints in the provi-
ple per year (U.S. Census Bureau 2004:14). Increasing population with sion of effective land planning and design. Through evolving para-
all its implications is one of the most difficult problems to be faced digms, people form understandings of the world, identify problems,
over the next half century. People are living longer, while increases and organize socially (Beckand Cowan 1991). Different social groups
due to births continue to add to the numbers (Lappe and Shurman reach different understandings regarding the nature of the world and
1995:104). The rate of population increase is staggering. as a consequence hold culturally distinct perceptions and concepts of
From the beginning of human history until the time of Christ, reality. They also differ in their socio-spatial organization. In public
approximately 60,000 years, the world population grew to a size of spaces people cannot predictably control their interactions with others
about 200 to 300 million people. Over the following 1,600 years the and are generally expected to follow the rules of the resident culture.
population doubled to around 500 million by the year 1650. The pop- However, in many urban settings there are multiple resident cultures
ulation doubled again over the next 200 years to 1 billion by 1850, that must coexist in the same public spaces. The rules of behavior
and doubled again in 80 years to 2 billion by 1930. It doubled once within a common culture that facilitate the interaction of strangers in
again in 45 years to 4 billion by 1975 (Nadakavukaren 2000). Over public space are no longer available when different people from differ-
the last fifty years the global population has more than doubled ent cultures share the same setting. They no longer share and under-
(growing from 2.5 to 6 billion) with the likelihood of reaching 8 bil- stand a common set of cultural rules to inform their interactions and
lion by the year 2030 (U.S. Census Bureau 2004:11). confirm their place-specific behavior.
Contemporary design opportunities, as well as responsibilities, Each culture takes its values for granted and people assume that
due to population growth are enormous. Half of the urban environ- others share their perceptions and spatial behavior. Shared values,
ment will be designed and built during the professional careers of however, are difficult to achieve in a complex multicultural setting.
those now entering practice. Doubling the size of our cities over the Exuberant public behavior from one group may be offensive or intru-
next forty years means that land development decisions will be made sive (or perhaps threatening) to those in another group with more
at an accelerating pace. As a consequence, one of our most pressing restrained habits of public behavior. People share two kinds of cultural
problems will be to integrate knowledge-based design thinking into space. One of these is referred to as proxemic space (Hall 1966;
the development process in time to make a significant impact. 1971 :247), which is shared with those who hold similar cultural par-
The rapid growth in third-world urban areas has been expressed adigms and in which culturally specific behavior is allowed to take
in both increases in conventional development and an explosion of place. The other type is described as distemic space (Greenbie
informal settlements around cities, typically existing without basic 1981: 108; 1982: 113), which is that shared by those who hold cultur-
social and technical infrastructure. In developed nations as well as ally diverse values, perceptions, or behavioral norms.
undeveloped nations, population growth inevitably puts greater pres- Proxemic spaces are occupied by homogeneous groups with
sure on the ecosystem to provide the increasing amount of goods and highly consistent spatial behavior. Examples of proxemic spaces
services required for its support. Continuation of prevailing low-den- include sports clubs, fraternity houses, and places of worship for reli-
sity development patterns will only make that more difficult. gious congregations. Both the social interactions and the physical
Another issue associated with population growth is population environment can be extremely complex because the social rules are
migration. As resources become scarce in one area, people move to largely taken for granted due to the users' high degree of familiarity
new regions in search of greater opportunities. Inevitably these with them. Proxemic spaces are usually high in associational mean-
migrations affect the distribution of populations as people move from ing, and policing of behavior is accomplished by heavy social pressure.
the countryside to cities. Often the move is from the countryside in As a consequence there are few interpersonal conflicts and little need
the third world to a city in an industrialized nation. An important for behavioral cues to prompt appropriate interactions.
118 Chapter Five The Human Environment 119

Distemic spaces are those shared by people who are culturally 2. Safety needs include physical safety, security, stability, and the
diverse and who hold different values, codes of conduct, myths, sym- psychological protection from fear and chaos.
bols, and cognitive attitudes. Examples of distemic settings include 3. Socialization needs include people's drive to be accepted by
festivals such as the Mardi Gras in New Orleans or the departure their community or social group through expressions of
lounges of international airports. Behavior by one group may be belonging and receiving approval from interpersonal interac-
expected to infringe on that of another. To avoid this, overt behavior is
tions with peers.
controlled by the imposition of explicit behavioral rules, cues, ordi-
nances, and external policing. 4. Esteem needs include people's drive to achieve self-esteem and to
The members of varied cultural groups see the world in pro- gain the esteem of others to attain status within their community.
foundly different ways. Their different concepts of reality influence 5. Self-actualization describes the desire for self-fulfillment;
the ways in which they interact with one another and the environ- becoming all that one is capable of being in life. It is unclear,
ment. Our awareness of social and physical environments is funda- however, whether all people are motivated to satisfy this ulti-
mentally shaped by the familiar home culture and it is primarily when mate level of human need.
people have the security that a proxemic spatial identity provides that In addition to meeting their conative needs, people also act in
they have the confidence to interact within the uncertainties of com- response to intellectual motivations or cognitive factors. These are
plex human interaction (Greenbie 1982: 113). For designers, this cul- defined as requirements that are satisfied through perception, intel-
tural diversity poses a challenge in the design of public space to create lect, and learning as adjustment tools to be used in satisfying the con-
a setting that is equally available to all members of the public. In other ative needs (Stokels and Altman 1987). For example, as we observe
words, they must strive to create a proxemic spatial setting rather and interpret the urban landscape, we learn when and where to cross
than a distemic setting for users from diverse age groups, cultural streets safely or what neighborhoods to walk in after dark. We adjust
backgrounds, or socioeconomic conditions. our behavior on the basis of what we learn about the environment.
Optimizing the capacity to address cognitive needs improves the abil-
Human Needs ity to satisfy conative needs. Cognitive factors that motivate human
behavior include:
1. The need to know and understand, which motivates our
On a fundamental level, people interact with one another and the
continuing desire to learn.
environment to satisfy their basic needs. Human behavior is broadly
thought to be governed by actions to satisfy a series of basic drives 2. Aesthetic needs, which motivate our drive to experience the
(Maslow 1970). These are defined as a hierarchically arrayed sequence world and derive pleasure from that experience.
of basic motives or conative factors. People strive to meet their needs The former encompasses the ability to acquire knowledge and gain
in a series of categories, satisfying their most basic biological or phys- insight about the world. As people seek to satisfy this need they place
iological needs first, then, as each successive category becomes rela- two demands on the physical environment: first, the environment
tively satisfied, attention is shifted to address those in the next tier in must make perceptual and associational sense, and second, it should
the hierarchy, one that is relatively less important to immediate sur- offer interest and engagement, the potential for continued exploration,
vival. The pattern of these tiers is described as a pyramid of human learning, and attraction. Acting together, the processes of exploration
needs with the opportunity to expend energy to satisfy each tier being and understanding address the need to gain new environmental infor-
based on the relative satisfaction of the one immediately below it. As mation and to structure that information to resolve uncertainty.
action shifts from basic survival (the lowest tier) to more advanced Aesthetic needs include the individual's need to express or experi-
and complex psychological and sociological requirements, people ence deep satisfaction with the conditions of life (e.g., the experience of
engage in the activities that most clearly distinguish us as human, beauty) and to create them where they are found lacking. Aesthetic
individual, and cultural. The needs hierarchy outlined by Maslow has values are thought to be culturally as well as individually specific, and
five tiers. From the most basic to the most individual they are: aesthetically satisfying experiences that are shared within a common
1. Physiological needs include hunger, thirst, sleep, shelter, and human context may not be observed across cultural lines.
procreation. These represent the most basic category of human Several key psychological and physiological factors are thought to
requirements. influence people's ability to satisfy their conative and cognitive needs
120 Chapter Five The Human Environment 121

(Stokels and Altman 1987). These factors represent relationships that sory control are most likely to disturb or distract. Environments that
can be addressed as a measure of the quality of our interaction with ~. contribute to extended periods of overload can lead to stress. Settings
the environment and should be understood as critical considerations that give people choices in regulating sensory information provide
in the design of settings for human activity. them with the opportunity to manage stress from the environment.
Arousal refers to a person's general level of psychological or phys- In many parts of the world, and even in the United States today, it
iological alertness and relates to the extent to which one is mentally is becoming increasingly difficult for many to satisfy their most basic
engaged in an activity, place, or experience. An effectively designed set- physiological needs. As people move into unfamiliar urban environ-
ting provides people with the opportunity to regulate stimulation lev- ments seeking greater opportunities, their ability to satisfy their
els in response to the variable optimum arousal levels they seek. One socialization and esteem needs becomes increasingly problematic,
measure of satisfaction with the experience of a setting is the extent to while for a growing majority, self-actualization is not even a distant
which a person becomes mentally aroused as a result of environmental hope. Transforming the urban landscape of the future into a healthy,
stimulation relative to the level being sought. Different people engaging physically and socially sustaining behavioral setting will require an
in different activities may require different levels of stimulation from enormous expenditure of energy and commitment, and an equally
the same environment. Park visitors, for example, may engage in active significant level of understanding and creative insight.
recreation to increase their arousal levels while others seeking relax-
ation may seek to reduce arousal. Performance in learning or working Behavioral Dimensions of Space
environments is considered best at moderate levels of arousal, with
In addition to behavior to satisfy their basic needs, people also
productivity falling when arousal levels become too high or too low.
have spatial dimensions to their interactions within the environment.
Optimum arousal levels tend to be higher for simple or routine activi-
These represent demands we place on the environment and in some
ties than for new ones or for activities in unfamiliar or unsafe settings.
Stress refers to the psychological and physiological response to cases may be physically amplified by design. lWo broad concepts
threat, demand, or challenge and includes arousal and active attempts describe these spatial factors. One is highly personal and individual:
personal space (Sommer 1959; Hall 1968); and the other describes a
to cope. Stress can occur in response to many factors in the environ-
ment, especially adverse conditions that are unpredictable or uncon- more group-oriented process: territory (Ardrey 1966; Sommer 1969).
trollable and where there is a realistic likelihood of injury or loss Personal space and territoriality represent important types of interde-
associated with our inability to interpret environmental cues correctly pendency between people and the environment.
and respond appropriately. Stress may also occur in environments Personal space is the portable "bubble" of space surrounding
that fail to assure safety, or to satisfy routine needs, such as providing each person, into which others may not trespass. It is an interpersonal
information to support appropriate behavioral choices. Stress can distance regulator that functions to determine how closely we interact
adversely affect people's experience or task performance and can with others. Personal space may expand or contract depending on the
appear after the stress-producing factor has been removed. Excessive circumstances in which we find ourselves. Personal space is always
or harmful stress is increasingly common in contemporary urban with us, although it may be quite small during intimate interaction
environments. Satisfaction with an environment is enhanced if it pro- with loved ones or quite large in formal or threatening situations.
vides opportunities to meet our needs without excessive stress or if it Territory is a spatially defined area, typically with visible bound-
facilitates stress-reducing activities. aries, that is owned and controlled by one or more individuals. Terri-
Distraction and overload refer to the temporary loss of focus that tory functions to determine who may enter and interact and prompts
results from excessive sensory stimulation stemming from too many specific behaviors based on perceived rights of ownership. Territory is
demands for attention or from distractions in the environment. Exces- relatively stationary and bound to place.
sive distraction can cause overload by demanding more of a person's Different types of territories have been identified within which
mental capacity than can be spared to perform an activity effectively. people are prompted by their understanding of the environment to
Overload also can be caused when information is received too rapidly, make different choices and behave differently. Three types of territories
in excessivevolume, or when accompanied by noise, demanding activ- have been defined (Lyman and Scott 1967: 108; Sommer 1969 :43):
ity, or uncomfortable temperatures. Sudden, novel events (such as • Public territory: places such as parks and city streets that
unfamiliar noises), compelling conditions (such as glare), or meaning- provide people freedom of access, but not necessarily freedom
ful events (such as conversations) over which a person has little sen- of action
122 Chapter Five The Human Environment 123

• Home territory: public spaces taken over by groups or individ- 1991:14). In private space people are able to avoid unwanted interac-
uals (such as college bars or children's makeshift clubhouses on tion through psychological means (withdrawal), rules (manners),
vacant lots) where regular users or patrons have a sense of behavioral clues (gestures), spatial separation or physical devices
familiarity and exert social control (walls, curtains) to selectively control contact or filter the flow of
• Interaction territory: areas with clearly marked boundaries :information between themselves and others, and by structuring activi-
and rules of access where social gatherings can occur, such as ties in time to avoid coincidental interaction (Rapoport 1977:290). The
dance halls extent of our personal space, the distance at which we feel comfortable
People may be expected to respond differently in regard to each of with others, is culturally determined. That is, people in Latin America
these distinctive territorial types and they will pattern their behavior are comfortable in much closer physical proximity to others that those
in North America. Consequently, the design of places for interaction
specifically to the nature of each one. The more intimate and personal
the space, the greater the individual's freedom of action and the should make allowance for different people with different concepts of
greater their control of it. The more the territory is deemed public or personal space.
under the control of others, the more restricted the individual's free-
dom of action. Some territories may only be understood by those in a
Designing for Diversity
position of assumed ownership, such as gang turf, while other territo- People from different cultures interact spatially and act to satisfy
ries are clearly demarcated, such as a gated community with its name their conative and cognitive needs in culturally distinct ways. Further-
on the wall. When territories are poorly understood, their owners more, people in different circumstances have different standards and
may design ways to reveal their limits, such as gang graffiti on build- expectations, and thus place different demands on the environment. In
ing walls. Territory may be an important way for people to meet their designing for people who are culturally, socially, or economically uni-
conative needs, such as gaining esteem by having a residence with a form, it may be reasonably easy for designers to establish settings
prestigious address or attending a highly respected university. that can be comprehended, used, and appreciated in relatively predict-
The need to maintain personal space may be evolutionarily able and satisfying ways. This may be particularly true when design-
encoded into our neurological processes (Burkeman 1999). There is ers share the same age, socioeconomic status, and educational level as
evidence that living creatures have displayed a significant sensitivity those for whom they design. In designing for culturally diverse users,
to spatial limits for millions of years. This territorial response has however, some of whom may be acting to address survival level needs
evolved in humans to the extent that minor invasions of space can while others are addressing needs on a higher social or aesthetic level,
become an emotional issue. This may also result from complex terri- it is difficult for designers to either understand such complex behav-
torial conditions that overlap. Road rage resulting from personal ioral needs or to provide appropriate settings for them.
slights is an example of this kind of territorial response-the road Cultural distinctiveness, while often problematic in a political or
may be public space but the driver is also in the private space of a per- social sense, is valuable and healthy for both the group and its indi-
sonal vehicle. Territories can be encroached upon in at least three ways vidual members. The development of culturally distinct groups (called
(Sommer 1969:44): clustering) helps cultures survive by providing the appropriate setting
• Invasion: the physical presence of intruders within the bound- for group behavior with clues that can be mutually understood. Clus-
aries of the space tering provides settings with appropriate organization of meaning
and communication through the sharing of symbols and unwritten
• Violation: when there is unwarranted use of the space by out-
siders rules, and provides congruent activity systems to structure group
member's interactions (Rapoport 1977:256). The environment may
• Contamination: when the space has been rendered impure by be designed as both the place and the instrument of communication
the presence of outsiders with respect to its definition and usage to inform and facilitate appropriate behavior within culturally dis-
People's understanding of territory affects their daily choices about tinct settings.
where to go and how to behave. Different settings prompt different Cultural differences in the United States are emphasized by pro-
behavioral responses: actions at a nightclub are expected to be quite found differences in age, race, religion, ethnicity, income, and educa-
different from those in a library. In public space people read cues and tion. Different racial, cultural, or socioeconomic groups within the
pattern their behavior according to cultural spatial norms (Motloch population reflect these background differences and create additional
124 Chapter Five The Human Environment 125

barriers to understanding among culturally distinct populations. The As environments become more visibly articulated to reveal the
uneven distribution of education and wealth among culturally diver- "nature of human activity as a force shaping the urban landscape, they
gent populations has created profound differences between the values more clearly express themselves. The more clearly the landscape
and lifestyles of a growing majority of the population in many inner reveals itself the more easily people are able to form cognitive maps
cities and those of the providers of professional planning and design and improve their access and use of it. Kevin Lynch (1960) suggested
services. These service providers usually live elsewhere, typically in five categories of features of the urban setting that facilitate cognitive
remote suburbs. mapping. The features he found people using to describe and analyze
For many years designers were led to believe that by virtue of cognitive maps, as well as some recent additions, include:
their superior education and refined aesthetic taste, their role was to • Paths: shared Jravel corridors through the environment, such
uplift the awareness and sensibilities of the users of their designs, as highways, rail lines, streets, pedestrian paths, and rivers
thereby contributing to the elevation of society. We are beginning to
learn that while aesthetic preferences may differ, they are not neces- • Districts: large areas of the cognitive map that have common
sarily better or worse, simply different, based on different values. The characteristics, such as campuses, industrial areas, residential
elitist view of designers as being society's arbiter of "good taste" is neighborhoods, or entertainment districts
being discredited as we learn, and learn to appreciate, more about the • Edges: features that form the boundaries of or enclose areas
value of diversity within society. that, while linear, are not typically used as paths, such as walls
Of the basic human needs, aesthetic experience is certainly one of or shorelines
the most important to be addressed by design and the one most uni- • Nodes: major points where activity is concentrated or focused,
versally acknowledged among designers of all stripes as their point of typically associated with the intersection of major paths or
common ground. However, it is difficult to argue that because it is the places where they terminate, such as a central market or street
value most commonly shared by designers that it has greater priority intersection
than any of the others, or that designers agree on aesthetic prefer- • Landmarks: distinctive features of the environment, usually
ences. Addressing the full range of human needs for a community, not visible from a distance, that people use as reference points, such
the least of which include survival, health, and individual fulfillment, as a lake or monument
is a minimum requirement to improving the human condition. Pro-
viding shared landscapes that are deeply satisfying and respected • Portals: an entryway by which a sense of arrival or departure
across the cultural lines within an increasingly pluralistic society will to the urban environment or district may be expressed, such as
be necessary if these landscapes are to be sustainable in the future. a formal gateway to a residential area (Brooks 2004)
This is a task few designers have been prepared for in the past, but one • Ecological corridors: a natural system cutting through the
for which all must be prepared in the future. urban environment that remains more or less intact, such as a
river, topographic ridge, or hill (Dee 2001)
In addition to traditional elements of urban structure, features
Urban Development such as ecological corridors provide distinctive form and identity to
the built environment. Under ideal circumstances these ecological cor-
Urban environments are formed to facilitate social and economic ridors are retained as beneficial additions to the urban environment,
interaction, and promote the health and welfare of individuals and adding richness and diversity beyond the contributions of typical
society. People choose to live in urban settings for the social and eco- urban systems. More commonly, these natural systems have been
nomic opportunities they provide. For people to use the urban envi- degraded to the point of basic utility, sometimes operating more as
ronment successfully, they need to be able to understand it and ~ove open, often concrete lined, storm sewers than functioning riverine
through it freely. To do this people form cognitive maps of the envi- systems or ecological corridors.
ronment that serve to guide their decisions about what the environ- Urban environments that facilitate people's ability to cognitively
ment holds in terms of places and opportunities, and to aid navigation lllap and actively use them increase their potential for improving
through it to gain access to these places. Cognitive mapping is facili- quality of life. The extent to which environments reveal themselves
tated when the urban environment is organized to convey the kinds of and facilitate people's ability to comprehend them is referred to as
information people seek to gain better understanding of the setting. design legibility. As contemporary suburban development becomes
126 Chapter Five The Human Environment 127

more undifferentiated and homogenous it tends to become less legible, • Encourage use by different user subgroups without conflicting
and as a consequence less satisfying. In these settings the characteris- with one another
tics that facilitate decoding and understanding tend to be absent or • Be comfortable, particularly at peak use times, regarding sun,
obscured, making comprehension, cognitive mapping, and wayfind- shade, wind, and so on
ing difficult. These settings, rather than improving quality of life, cre- • Incorporate opportunities for engagement or manipulation
ate obstacles to achieving it. (lawns for play, sand in playgrounds, interactive sculpture or
The low densities found in many suburban settings also have had fountains in plazas)
the effect of separating people from one another. The loss of opportuni-
• Provide options for individuals or groups to become attached to
ties for human contact makes the satisfaction of people's basic human
the place and care for it through involvement in design, con-
needs considerably more difficult to achieve, primarily because low
struction, or maintenance; by use for special events; or by tem-
density has the effect of diminishing social interaction and the cohe-
porarily claiming personal spaces within the setting
siveness of communities. By definition, communities are made up of
the total range of populations residing and interacting in a setting. It is • Be easily and economically maintained within the limits of
only through community interaction that people are able to take expectation for a particular type of setting
actions for mutual safety and facilitate behavior to promote socializa- • Where appropriate, offer relief from urban stress and enhance
tion and esteem. In the United States people are becoming not only the health and emotional well-being of its users
widely dispersed, but also highly stratified by age, income, and educa- • Support the philosophical program of the managers of the place
tion characteristics, making awareness and appreciation of values other (education, child care, hospital therapy)
than their own difficult to comprehend. This also may have an adverse • Be beautiful and engaging from the outside and the inside
influence on people's ability to form strong, supportive communities.
• Balance attention to artistic expression and behavioral setting;
Society is the organization of people in definable groups-by
undue attention to either at the expense of the other may result
shared history, language, culture, religion, and place of origin. One of
in an inappropriate and unhealthy (unsuccessful) place
the important ways of providing for people in groups (particularly
dense groups in cities) is through the development of public, urban Performance criteria for housing development, formulated from
open space. There is a great deal of open space (space not occupied by research by Marcus and Sarkissian (1986), addressed the need to bal-
building) in our cities, but little of it has been designed in ways that ance community and privacy interests, safety, territoriality, and psy-
meet our needs for social interaction (Whyte 1980). Much of it is sim- chological health with guidelines to promote inclusiveness and foster
a sense of community, by providing community services and recre-
ply space left over after building rather than space consciously
ation, and by providing opportunities for enhanced social interaction
designed as a behavioral setting. Public places must be purposefully
within the residential environment. For example, they suggest that
designed to facilitate social interaction if they are to meet the needs of
design goals for low- and medium-density housing areas should
individuals and groups. Clare Cooper Marcus and Carolyn Francis include opportunities for community building as well as health and
have developed a set of design criteria based on many years of safety considerations. Marcus and Sarkissian propose the following
research in San Francisco and Berkeley, California (1998:9). They con- design guidelines to promote community building.
clude that public open space should:
• Promote homogeneity within residential areas to develop a feel-
• Be located where it is easily accessible to and can be seen by ing of community and belonging
potential users
• Cluster dwellings for families with similar life-cycle stages, such
• Be accessible to all, particularly children and disabled people as families with small children or retirees
• Clearly communicate that it is available for use, and is meant to • Provide opportunities (such as shared community pathways) to
be used
facilitate casual social interaction near the dwellings
• Provide a feeling of security and safety to would-be users • Meet community interaction needs by providing features such
• Be furnished to support the most likely and desirable activities as common open space or day-care facilities
• Be organized to meet the needs of the user group most likely to • Locate all community facilities along a common pedestrian path
use it that can be used for recreation as well as access
128 Chapter Five The Human Environment 129

• Avoid conditions that force interactions where residents have no . tion of stress. Stress has become a common aspect of contemporary
choice, such as sharing driveways or common paths to individ- urban life. In reaction, people have long acted on a felt need to escape
ual front entryways the city and repair to the countryside for the therapeutic benefits of
In addition, they suggest the following guidelines to provide a nature. We are now beginning to learn that our feelings were accu-
safe, secure, and healthy residential environment: rate, that contact with nature is indeed restorative and healthful
(Ulrich et al. 1991) and environments that provide routine exposure
• Enhance community identity and security by restricting access to natural elements such as lawns and trees can be stress relieving and
to the area
healthful (Ulrich 1984). This has significant implications to the way
• Provide for safety and security through visibility and control of we design and build our urban environments in the future.
entryways It is also important to add that there is a universal desire for
• Promote security and safety by community surveillance from autonomy, to exercise freedom of choice in our lives. Designers in par-
dwellings ticular seem to express this desire for autonomy in their work. If there
• Provide common open space recreation for children in the resi- are any universal human preferences beyond the desire for love and
dential area belonging, the desire for freedom must certainly be one of them. If
• Ensure access and convenience for children and the less mobile people are to be genuinely free to make individual choices, they must
or disabled find opportunities in the environment to act on these choices. Provid-
ing options for users may be one of the most important characteris-
• Assure that children are provided with play areas safe from cars tics of successful urban spaces. And perhaps one of the most difficult
• Provide for the privacy needs of residents near as well as in the to provide.
• Provide opportunities for residents to express a sense of territo- Access and Movement
riality through such means as the flexibility to personalize front
lawns and entryways
These examples of broad performance criteria may appear to be The environment is useful only if we can gain access to it. Naviga-
common sense, particularly in view of our understanding of people's tion of the environment is achieved by wayfinding, or finding one's
fundamental human needs. In some cases, such as safety, these design way. Wayfinding requires that we correctly decode the setting to
performance criteria are required by law. But they have not always make appropriate choices of movement. Wayfinding is a cognitive
been well understood. These criteria were developed only after many process that requires the ability and the information to map a setting,
years of systematic research and, for the most part, resulted from an ability to create a plan of action, and a decision-making capacity to
observations of both successful and unsuccessful settings. In large translate plans into behavioral choices. Providing for orientation and
part, the problem with poorly designed places may be revealed in the wayfinding in the urban landscape is becoming increasingly impor-
researchers' final suggestion for urban public space: that the design tant as environments become more complex and as people travel for
approach should be balanced. That is, the design should satisfy the work or leisure to new settings that may present potential risks
values of the users as well as the designers. Perhaps designers in the (Passini 1984; Golledge 1999).
past have placed undue emphasis on the artistic and aesthetic aspects Provision for access within the urban environment provides one of
of design. For example, Marcus and Sarkissian (1986) encourage the the clearest examples of systems design. Other examples, such as water
provision of some degree of architectural complexity. However, they and sewer systems, are similarly well organized but are largely hidden
caution that too much control over fa~ade variety is not perceived by underground and less visible, and thus less well understood by most of
residents, and thus does not improve the design when measured by us. Street systems in the urban environment are carefully designed to
improvements to residents' quality of life. But until we provide evi- conform to the patterns of use and volume hierarchy established over
dence that other criteria are equally (or more) beneficial, designers many years of systematic observation. The systems are designed in
will likely remain committed to what they already know (or think ways that are thought to best serve the need for movement and access
they know) about what constitutes good design. throughout cities. Cities all over the world have circulation systems
Designers' intuition, however, is not necessarily wrong. One of the organized into a hierarchical pattern of freeways, expressways, arteri-
most important aspects of a healthy living environment is the reduc- als, collectors, and local streets (Landphair and Klatt 1988:85).
130 Chapter Five The Human Environment 131

Before we developed the systematic patterns of highways and often with specific design attention to improve their comfort and con-
streets, the road was a regional connector providing communication venience for social interaction. But modern cities reflect little of this
from city to town or countryside. The road imposed a means of con- historic behavioral pattern.
trol that has been understood since the time of the Roman Empire. The The road has long been one of the most significant orgamzmg
Appian Way remains one of the significant symbols of the Roman devicesof the landscape. J. B. Jackson has described the road as moving
Empire, with some portions of it retaining Roman-era paving today. through a series of distinct characterizations (Snow 1967:13). Origi-
The road facilitated the movement of goods and services as well as the nally, the road was defined personally and behaviorally rather than
armies necessary to exercise central authority over a vast empire. In spatially. It was not a place but the decision an individual routinely
the New World the El Camino Real, called the Old San Antonio Road made in navigating the landscape. By repeated use the road became
today where it connected Texas with Mexico City, enabled the Spanish physically established along the most favorable path for a particular
and later the Mexican government to control Texas for three hundred route. It was little more than the human equivalent of an ant trail or
years. The road has long been recognized as a major element of deer trail, but it had progressed from a behavioral to a spatial entity.
human use and domination of the landscape. It is one of the most vis- And it changed the landscape in a visible way: it was a design, unlike
ible of the cultural features of the landscape-revealing both human the king's highway, which was a legal rather than a spatial entity, since
activity and, by traveling over it, visual access to the landscape. it often had no physical expression. The royal road conveyed rights of
In The View from the Road (1964), Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch, passage and protection, but often lacked spatial definition. Early Texas
and John Myer described the influence of the road on our perceptions travelers had difficulty finding the El Camino Real, the Spanish name
of the environment. They pointed out, for example, that the orienta- for the king's highway, even though they enjoyed the legal protection
tion of the road concentrates attention and directs our perception of the king in using it. This was a protection unknown to many of the
toward certain aspects of the environment and away from others. Our indigenous people living in the vicinity, who often resented trespassers
understanding of the urban or rural environment is determined in their territory-a resentment that was at times strongly expressed.
largely by what we are able to see from the road. If there is little to Today we know the road as an area, a strip of space reserved for a
interfere with our observation, we may be able to easily comprehend particular activity. Formerly a strip of land attached to and extending
the surrounding landscape. If there is interference-from the need to the spatial organization of a town or city, the road was often named
cope with high traffic volumes or speed on the road, or from undiffer- for the city it connected, such as the San Antonio Road leading to the
entiated tall buildings or forests along the margin-we may gain little city of that name. The new, or modern, road has changed in character
understanding of the environments we pass through. But in either again. The new road, which is a relatively modern invention, operates
case, this is the only point of view we have of the landscape. People to facilitate movement, but does not attach to a place or connect
arriving at a strange city by way of car will have a completely differ- places directly. The modern highway is designated by a number rather
ent understanding or image of the city from those who arrive by than by attachment to place. It connects continuous space and multi-
train. The different paths reveal strikingly different urban realities. ple destinations are accessible by it. Like the original road, this is also
The road is one of the most visible expressions of human activity a behavioral road since it facilitates a singular type of behavior. The
in the landscape. The pattern of movement is revealed as a line or path new road does not have a personal spatial characterization. The scale
on the ground. One of the most "significant aspects of the road was of space connected by the modern road is that of the landscape, or
how it affected the landscape; how it started out as a wavering line greater. Common examples of the new road are U.S. Highways, often
between fields and houses and hills and then took over more and more freeways, connecting the space of states and the nation. Significantly,
land, influenced and changed a wider and wider environment, until this new road is a direct expression of a change in human behavior.
the map of the United States seemed nothing but a web of roads and Because we have the freedom of movement afforded by private cars,
railroads and highways" (Jackson 1980: 122). Another important we move through the landscape more freely and that movement, that
aspect of the road is its function as a place of interaction within towhs behavior, driven by recreation almost as much as necessity, has left its
and cities. Before people began to share streets so heavily with vehi- impression on the landscape. Todd Snow, in observing the changing
cles, the road was the primary place of meeting and interaction. In nature of the road, commented:
many older cities, in Europe for example, the street serves as a contin- The NewRoad,then, has little more in commonwith the old road
uous urban space for socialization, commerce, and recreation. Places than a name. Genetically,functionally,and morphologicallyit is
that attract a great many people have been widened to form plazas, different.Its impact on the landscapealso is different.Directly,the
Chapter Five The Human Environment 133

form of the new road is such as to require considerable reworking being over four times that of intercity buses (U.S. Department of
of the landscape. Where the old road had "followed" or "scarred"
Energy 2002). In terms of energy per person, travel by both passenger
the land, the new road changes it. Valleys are raised, mountains
.train and bus may be as much as twenty times more efficient than
are lowered, forests are rooted out, streams bridged, properties
divided. Also, the very pervasiveness of the New Road, the fact
travel by private car (Holm 1983:101).
that it starts from every community in the country, makes it a Growing dependence on private automobiles and wheeled trans-
dominant feature in the landscape. (1967: 14) port creates an increasing demand for the importation of petroleum
that is not only expensive but limited in supply. The importation of
Today we understand very well that the freeway is also the pre- fuel requires the export of capital and other critical resources that are
cipitating event to the urban (more properly suburban) development badly needed for basic support or as exchange on the global market
of the landscape. The hinterland of all American cities may be mapped for more vital or sustainable goods. In addition to the extremely high
as an extension of development following the major circulation routes cost of building streets and highways, providing required parking
radiating out from cities. The form of the urban environment, that once cars have been driven into urban centers creates the need to com-
once could be mapped as a compact circle of development, is now an mit enormous resources for temporary storage. For example, parking
open web with tentacles extending out from urban centers in length- accounts for nearly 40 percent of construction costs in Los Angeles
ening lines of movement connecting residential areas with the city (Shoup 1997:3), while it now covers up to 40 percent of the land area
center. The original American suburbs occurred as the result of rail of many towns and cities (Miller 1988:1).
lines that gave urban dwellers the ability to escape the heat and con- Our contemporary cities' land-use pattern and urban form are
gestion of the city, not just for the weekends or the summer, but on a fundamentally shaped by priorities in transportation (Newman and
daily basis. The possibility of rapid rail connection between outlying Kenworthy 1999). The freeway-dominated transportation system
suburbs and the central city began a pattern of development that has promotes low-density land utilization that is antithetical to the com-
lasted for a century and shows no sign of changing, even though the pact development patterns generally preferred by planning profes-
necessity for daily contact with the central city, around which the sionals for several reasons (Kannenberg 1994):
suburbs are developed, is no longer a reality. So, the road that began
1. High densities in a compact urban form are necessary for effi-
as an expression of human behavioral patterns is reciprocally chang-
ing human behavioral patterns. cient public transportation systems such as buses, trams, and
Transportation represents one of modern society's most signifi-
cant design advances, and at the same time one of its most difficult 2. Higher economic thresholds are created where population and
problems. The highly efficient urban thoroughfare systems, in addi- movement patterns are concentrated to stimulate economic
tion to handling high volumes of urban traffic, also consume vast activity.
areas of landscape through the promotion of inefficient development 3. Infrastructure and social services can be delivered more effi-
patterns. As these freeway systems devour large amounts of land, ciently and economically.
they tend to fragment and subdivide the urban and suburban envi-
4. The nearer agriculture production areas are to the urban cen-
ronment in ways that interfere with the development of established
ters they serve, the more economically produce can be trans-
social patterns. Highways are employed to connect remote housing ported to the end users.
areas to central cities, requiring that people expend large amounts of
time and money in commuting so they will be able to more economi- 5. In addition, the nearer production areas are to consumption
cally occupy large amounts of land for housing (Wynberg 1993: 31). centers, the more easily waste materials may potentially be
The construction of urban freeways with their capital-intensive infra- organized and returned to the landscape for recycling.
structure requirements has been given priority over other forms of If we consider cities as organisms and compare their circulatory
transportation, particularly in the United States. While highways ror systems to those in living organisms that convey water and nutrients
passenger cars and trucks have been expanding dramatically, highly to cells and remove wastes, we may expect that vehicular circulation
efficient rail travel has decreased, primarily due to the preferences of systems will remain one of the most influential systems in urban
users. People prefer private modes to shared modes of travel. But there landscape design. At present, however, the broader and more serious
is a price to be paid. Estimates of efficiency vary, but the energy con- considerations of integrating circulation into the fabric of the living
sumption per passenger mile for private automobiles is estimated as environment have only begun to affect the thinking of transportation
134 135
Chapter Five The·Human Environment

planners and designers. If we are to promote more holistic consider- • Patterns of social organization and activity on or near the devel-
ation of circulation as only one of many systems to be integrated into opment site
a sustainable urban pattern, rather than a primary (and very well • Location of hazardous or undesirable emissions or materials
funded) single-purpose system, we must become better informed production, storage, or transport near the site
about how to more fully engage in transportation system design.
It is sometimes difficult to understand that the urban circulation
Statutory Requirements
systems that so dominate urban environments are actually intended
as supporting infrastructure for the land uses and human activities Typical base data include identification of municipal, county, or
they so commonly influence adversely through neighborhood dis- state laws with all local, regional, state, and national regulations,
persal, community fragmentation, air pollution, traffic congestion, codes, and ordinances governing the development of the property. Site
and noise. Design emphasis for the urban environment has shifted analysis may include:
from the purpose of movement to support activities to movement as • Building and fire code restrictions on the property
the purpose, with the predictable consequences of misplaced design • Permissibility of the anticipated use activities for the site
priorities. To redress the misplaced priorities will require a more bal-
• Identification of pertinent review and approval agencies
anced approach than we have recently seen. At present our participa-
tion in decision making regarding this primary determinant of urban • Building setback requirements from each property line
form is quite limited. If we remain silent we waive our right to influ- • Building height limitations or air rights restrictions
ence this critical design consideration. • Permissible building area or land coverage restrictions for the site
• Total and off-street parking requirements for the intended devel-
Site Analysis Factors opment
• Site access limitations from public streets or thoroughfares
There are a number of cultural or human-use factors of the site • Stormwater runoff control measures required
that are typically evaluated to provide essential information about • Flood-control restrictions or floodway development requirements
how activities need to be arranged in a future landscape condition. • Historical, cultural, or environmental restrictions to development
These human-use factors address wide-ranging conditions that have • Required provision for special populations
bearing on the site's suitability.

Land Use Easements and Rights-of-Way

Typical base data include vicinity and site-specific maps of existing
Typical base data include a boundary survey map of the site indi- and proposed rights-of-way and easements, with descriptions of all
cating all existing improvements and activities, or use, conditions. restrictions attached or applied to the property. Site analysis may
Also employed are land-use and land-zoning maps for the local vicin- include:
ity, local zoning ordinances, and deed restrictions indicating existing
• Existing and proposed right-of-way widths along adjacent streets
and permitted uses in the general vicinity of the property. Finally, a
general inventory of major institutional, recreational, and commercial • Existing access or utility easements crossing or adjacent to the
activities near the site, all mapped at a suitable scale, reveal a broad property
picture of the land-use condition. Site analysis may include: • Potential for extension or expansion of new easements near or
• Relationship with other critical community facilities within the, through the property
vicinity of the site • Limitations to development posed by existing easements or
• Compatibility between adjacent land-use activities and those rights-of-way
anticipated for the site • Restrictions attached to the deed of sale
• General character and state of maintenance of site and near-site • Compatibility between anticipated activities and permitted ease-
conditions ment and right-of-way uses
136 Chapter Five The Human Environment 137

Economic and Social Conditions • Potential conflicts or hazards to be accommodated by the site
lYPical data include demographic descriptions of adjacent popula- design
tions and maps of local property ownership indicating property val- • Requirements for developer participation to expand the existing
ues and property tax levels where available. Site analysis may include: circulation system in order to meet new demand
• Social character and stability of the local neighborhood
• Economic character and stability of the local environment
• Potential for synergism between the local neighborhood and the Typical base data include vicinity and site-specific utility maps
intended activities showing locations, sizes, and available capacities of system compo-
nents. These would normally include water, sanitary sewer, stormwa-
• Potential for political resistance to intended use activities on the site ter, gas, electricity, telephone, and cable service with line heights for
• Compatibility between current ownership patterns and antici- overhead services, depths for underground lines, and flow-line eleva-
pated site uses tions of gravity-flow systems. Site analysis may include:
• Potential for change in existing land use on adjacent properties • Adequacy of existing infrastructure to support anticipated site
• Potential for acquiring additional property adjacent to the devel- development
opment site • Available capacity and expansion potential of existing infra-
• Site history and identification of significant cultural features, structure
events, or personalities associated with the site or local vicinity • Compatibility of proposed development with system compo-
nents and locations
Circulation and Traffic
• Required locations for connection to gravity-flow systems
Typical base data include regional and local circulation and traffic • Relationships of connection points to site topography and site
system maps with indications of volume flow and peak periods of use opportunities
activity. These would describe existing conditions as well as proposals • Potential for rerouting systems should conflicts arise
for future development or redevelopment of the circulation systems.
Plans should include widths of rights-of-way for principal collectors • Proximity to and requirements for fire hydrants
and arterials, and the location of public transport stations and transit • Potential cost of system expansion to meet anticipated require-
lines near or adjacent to the site. Site analysis may include: ments
• Adequacy of the circulation system to serve the anticipated site • Potential cost of underground placement for overhead services
development • Visual impact of above-ground facilities and overhead service lines
• Compatibility of the proposed development with area circula-
tion patterns Community Services
• Potential for future expansion of the circulation system and its lYpical base data include the identification of social services avail-
effect on the site able to the development site, their quality, proximity, cost to users,
• The influence of general circulation on access to and movement and the influence of service locations on site design. Some services
patterns through the site may be located on vicinity maps to illustrate physical relationships to
future users. Site analysis may include:
• Accommodation required of the site design for general circula-
tion in the vicinity • Availability and nature of security or police protection
• Influence of local traffic patterns on vehicular and pedestrian • Distance to firefighting equipment or stations
circulation on the site • Availability of ambulance and emergency medical assistance
• Restrictions for points of access to connect site circulation with • Proximity to public or private schools
external systems • Proximity to public library
• Emergency and service vehicle access requirements • Proximity to public parks and recreation facilities and programs
138 Chapter Five

• Proximity to public or private transportation lines and stations

• Availability and requirements for refuse collection vehicles
• Availability and requirements for snow removal vehicles

Historic or Cultural Conditions

lYPical base data include the identification of historically or cul-
turally relevant settings, mapped to identify their location, extent,
and the nature of their significance. Site analysis may include the
location of:
• Historic landmarks or buildings on or near the site
• Settings of historic events such as battles, treaty signings, or
• Culturally important settings for contemporary events such as
festivals or rituals
Design Fortn
• Culturally significant settings such as holy sites or burial areas
• Archeological or paleontological sites

Visual Quality Design is poetry-from the Greek 7tOU;tv, to create-insofar as it

associates forms into new meanings.
Typical base data include the identification of prominent on- and
off-site visual features, maps of masked and visible areas to and from -Paul Jacques Grillo, Form, Function & Design

the site, and descriptions of the visual character of the site and general
vicinity. Site analysis may include:
Consideration of form has been the primary focus of design for
• Prominent features and landmarks to be incorporated into the
site design many centuries. The search for perfect harmony in form reached a
zenith when the ancient Greeks invented geometry and applied its
• Prominent features or views to be screened by the design proportional relationships to architecture (Murphy and Kovach
• Prominent desirable views within, onto, and from the site 1972). The golden section relationship of 1:0.618 (figures 6.1 and
• Prominent undesirable views within, onto, and from the site 6.3) has long been considered an ideal.
• Visual sequence conditions or potential adjacent to or within Expressed in the equation form: A:B = B:(A+B). This is the for-
the site mula of the celebrated golden section, a uniquely reciprocal rela-
tionship between two unequal parts of a whole, in which the
• Building massing and land form conditions on the site and adja-
cent properties small part stands in the same proportion to the large part as the
large part stands to the whole. (Doczi 1981 :2)
• Identification of the visual character to be enhanced or retained
by the design It has often been shown that the golden section proportions are
common among the patterns of nature-in daisy spirals, for example,
or the spiral of a seashell (figure 6.2). Designers have traditionally
demonstrated their preferences for this relationship in the formation
of buildings, their windows and doors, paper money, credit cards, and
so on (Doczi 1981:3). The common 5-inch by 8-inch index card illus-
trates the golden rectangle proportions. But the application of propor-
Chapter Six Design Form 141
tional harmonies, while easily adapted to paper products and A
architectural structures, is not so easily applied to the form of the
landscape. Even architecture no longer follows these established
"rules" of geometric proportional relationships.
Design thinking has evolved considerably over the last quarter
century. Through the first three-quarters of the twentieth century the
design disciplines increasingly followed the admonition that "form

! .5 J


Construction of Golden Rectangle

Logarithmic Spiral and Golden Triangles

Logarithmic Spiral

"', ",,'
,,,//,/" "'" ,,,
,,/' ",
",/' " ,'I,'
Additive Squares

Spiral Pattern in the Sunflower

Figure 6.1
Golden Section Relationships: Construction of the Golden Section, Figure 6.2
Logarithmic Spiral, and Additive Squares
Spirals in Nature
(after Huntley 1970:61, 67, 10 I)
(after Huntley 1970:165,171)
142 Design Form 143
Chapter Six

A + B+A = 15 = 2.236
A + B = 1.618
A = 0.618 .. B= 1 I A = 0.618


Pentagon Showing Pythagorean Triangles and Golden Section Proportions

Pentagram Showing Pythagorean Triangles and Golden Section Proportions

Figure 6.3 (continued)

ever follows function" (Sullivan 1896). Before the 1970s it was gener-
ally thought that the functional aspects of the environment could be
improved by controlling the aesthetic (principally visual) characteris-
tics of design. By around 1970 many designers began a shift to the
notion that the aesthetic aspects of the environment could be
improved by the integration of functional and ecological relationships.
Classical Construction of the Golden Section Ian McHarg's response to Sullivan's admonition that form follows
function was: "form follows nothing-it is integral with all processes"
(1969:173). McHarg introduced a radically new way of looking at the
Figure 6.3 environment and our design responsibilities to it with the publication
Golden Section Relationships: Pentagon, Pentagram, and of Design with Nature in 1969.
Classical Constructions Today in the early years of the twenty-first century, landscape
(after Doczi 1981: I, 3, 6, 9) architects have begun to adopt a more holistic view, considering that
144 Chapter Six Design Form 145

technical, functional, ecological, economic, and aesthetic issues repre- expression of an ecosystem's structure and function at a particular
sent multiple forces that influence design form and, as a consequence, ~. moment. "Form is the visible manifestation of underlying organiza-
multiple dimensions of design meaning. These issues represent differ- tion" (Lyle 1991 :39). Examining the life forms found in nature helps
ent ways of examining the possibilities for forming the landscape; dif- us to understand the relationships between form and context.
ferent value sets, each of which may be integrated by design into a There is great diversity of life forms in nature. Each species is
comprehensive systemic whole. Each of these values is driven by our unique in its form. It is through this individuality of form that we rec-
knowledge of it. As our knowledge increases, the meaning of form ognize and classify organisms-we know that it is a horse because it
expands and improves. In particular, we are beginning to depart from has the characteristics of a horse. This uniqueness is due to the differ-
the notion that good design decisions can be made primarily on the ent environments organisms inhabit and the precise relationships they
basis of what the end product looks like. have established with the array of conditions in which they live. Each
The traditional design approach placed great emphasis on physical species is formed through the process of evolution to create the most
form. Almost all of our modeling techniques in design were intended favorable relationship between the organism and its environment
to suggest what a future condition would look like rather than how it (Weiner 1995). Over time, organisms evolve in response to changing
might influence human behavior or evoke an emotional response environmental conditions. "Life must change constantly to survive"
from users (as opposed to approval from designers). Form became a (Hall 1966:87). The form of the organism that survives is the one that
preoccupation that focused the emphasis of design not on shaping the facilitates better access to energy and resources and better adapts to the
quality of our relationships to one another or the environment, but changing conditions in which it lives. For example, finches on the Gal-
on shaping the visual quality of the form intended to establish those apagos Islands survived climate change and the loss of their small-seed
relationships. When viewed from this perspective, design quality was food source by evolving larger and stronger beaks that enabled them to
judged largely by the direct functional and aesthetic characteristics of make use of the larger and harder seeds that remained after the
the built form, not by the performance characteristics of human and drought (Weiner 1995). Such changes improve organisms' fitness for
ecological relationships. survival within the complex array of conditions in the environment.
But it is not the purpose of design to create new form. Rather, Organisms seem to be continually "redesigned" by the evolution-
innovations in form are introduced for the purpose of creating new ary process to improve their fitness for survival in a dynamic environ-
and improved relationships in the environment. Design form is the ment. But this is not strictly true. Design has prior intent. Evolution
physical manifestation of the resolution of desired relationships. The does not. That is, evolution proceeds according to opportunities for
more appropriate the relationships relative to intended purpose and change rather than along a preordained path to a specific conclusion.
context, the more successful, or better, the design form. The meaning There is no final form in nature. Because geological and ecological
of design form therefore lies in its expression of desired relationships. processes are continuous, the form of the landscape continues to
There are many levels of meaning in design: the organization of activ- unfold. These changes precipitate change in life forms. As long as life
ities, ecological relevance, expression of function, integrity in the use is transferred from one generation to the next through sexual propa-
and expression of materials, reference to historical context, cultural gation, and the genetic opportunity for evolutionary process contin-
appropriateness, symbolism, and many more. One of the key aspects ues, the potential for change in the form of organisms exists. Sexual
of form is its relationship to context. reproduction is nature's way of providing the opportunity for inno-
vations in form.
Natural Form Undue emphasis on form as the product of design misses the
point. Form is not the purpose but the medium of design. Form in the
environment is important for recognizing and classifying species (and
The forms of nature are particularly useful in an examination of for human experience and appreciation), but its more critical role is
design since all natural form is purposeful. Our ears, for example; pro- establishing relationships between organisms and their environment
trude as shells to scoop up sound, our eyes are binocular and forward (regarding the designed environment, this includes people and place).
oriented to better perceive objects and their precise spatial relationship Evolution equips some organisms to move through the air, others to
to us. To the extent that we can understand it, natural forms are very move through the water, while still others move over the surface of
precise responses to the challenge of integrating organisms and their the land, or just below it. Each organism is uniquely formed to facili-
environment. The form of the natural landscape is the physical tate a nearly perfect point-in-time relationship with that part of the
146 Chapter Six 147
Design Form
environment (the ecological niche) it inhabits and on which it depends the architectural process, applying systematic design change to the
for survival.
landscape, seems particularly appropriate as a means of instituting
Similarly, creating physical form through design is the most tan- the change we desire. While there are some forms in the landscape
gible manifestation of change in the environment, but the meaning or that we do not want to lose, to view all designed changes as perma-
purpose of form is in the resultant relationships it creates. And, it nent conditions not only presents an obstacle to their continued elabo-
must be remembered, the creation of form is only one of the ration, it alters our conception of what the landscape is-that is, an
designer's primary responsibilities. Determining the factors that most artifact rather than a process.
appropriately influence form is another. Form and context are insepa- There is a great deal of attention devoted to preserving the form of
rably linked. Because the environment is always changing, the poten- culturally significant architecture and landscapes; in fact there are
tial for continued modification of life forms in nature-and· in research centers dedicated to this activity in many architecture schools.
designed environments-is always present. The new or changed form At the Texas A&M University College of Architecture it is called the
reveals that change has taken place, and because the organism sur- Historic Resources Imaging Laboratory. When a building or place con-
vives, verifies that it is a successful change. That is, the altered rela- sidered architecturally or culturally important cannot be preserved, it
tionship is an improvement, at least for the moment, as long as the is carefully measured and documented to provide a record of exactly
conditions to which it responds prevail. what its original form was. Very often the form of buildings reveals
As the environment changes, and its relationships to the organisms the materials and methods that were used to construct them, so the
that inhabit it shift (sometimes favorably, sometimes unfavorably), it form has meaning on multiple levels. But it is usually the recognizable
stimulates responses within these organisms. For example, when con- image, and the emotional and cultural responses it provokes, to which
ditions become unfavorable, organisms either change their form we attach the greatest significance, not the deeper understanding
(physically or behaviorally) to establish more beneficial relationships, about who the builders were, where they lived, or what technology
they leave the environment in search of more favorable conditions they possessed. Applying this visual-emotional approach as our pri-
elsewhere, or they die out and become extinct. These same processes mary means of understanding form is incompatible with our require-
apply to shaping the landscape. Changes in climatic, geomorphic, or ments to shape and improve the landscape, at least to the extent that
biotic conditions are expressed in the form of the natural landscape. we want to create a landscape that will continue to evolve and serve
Climate change toward drought creates deserts. Flooding erodes val- our changing needs. The landscape is a dynamic, not static, form.
leys, and the deposition of the eroded material creates floodplains or Landscape form should not only be functional, physically attrac-
deltas. Plant succession transforms disturbed grasslands and savan- tive, and amenable to change, but should also promote change. In
nahs into forests. Forests accumulate organic litter that contributes to other words, the landscape should facilitate the continued elaboration
the creation of enriched soils capable of supporting an expanded species of new and more appropriate conditions and relationships. One of the
structure. As the natural landscape responds to the dynamic influences most important considerations in design is to create connections that
of physical and biological processes, it not only better adapts but also improve our ability to perceive complex relationships and facilitate
better reflects and accommodates these influences-the form of the deeper understanding of the meaning of form. Each beautiful thing
landscape is integral with and reflective of the processes that create it. we find in nature-whether an organism, a snowflake, or a land-
If intentional design changes are to be as successful as the natural scape-is only a physical manifestation of itself, an expression of
changes we observe in the environment, we need ways to reliably what it is (McHarg 1969:163). The more we understand them the
measure their success. Success should be measured by the extent to more we are able to appreciate their beauty. If designed forms were
which newly designed landscapes acquire the ability not just to meet shaped to improve our understanding of the complex relationships we
new needs, but to sustain themselves and become better integrated address, they would do much to advance not only beauty in the land-
with their environmental context over time. This means that the land- scape but also more appreciative and informed use of it.
scape form we create must be able to meet current needs and to,facili-
tate future change (or at least accommodate change with minimum
disruption), as conditions demand in the future. For this reason the Designed Form
architectural model of form as a static condition or artifact (such as
the forms we see in a Mayan pyramid or Greek temple) has only lim- Form is the designer's way of bringing everything together; to
ited application in landscape design. This causes some confusion since integrate what we know and what we want to change about the envi-
148 Design Form 149
Chapter Six"

ronment. The search to create meaningful form begins with the iden- inferior quality is that too much value has been placed on limiting the
tification of critical design issues. The critical issues, or design factors, ~.initial cost of their construction, or perhaps too little value has been
that influence form may be thought of as design forces. The form of placed on the quality of the user's aesthetic experience. In contrast to
design directly expresses the forces acting to produce it. The forces a balanced influence of forces, altered priorities shape design form to
that bear on design may reflect the values and priorities of the reflect an exaggeration or diminution of the value we place on partic-
designer, the client, the user, the community, or the environment ular issues (figure 6.5).
itself. Preferably, all these interests are systemically integrated to pro- Physical form provides designers with a "shorthand" method of
duce a balanced set of influences acting in concert to determine the determining the success of designs. But evaluating physical form
form of design. When these forces are balanced the form may be
thought of as holistic (figure 6.4).
When influences are expressed with greater or lesser emphasis,
their relative force in shaping design decisions may be read from the >.c
resultant form. A common criticism of designs considered to be of E .2
c u
o 2
w '"


Figure 6.4 Figure 6.5

Balanced or equal forces shaping design form Unbalanced or unequal forces shaping design form
150 151
Chapter Six Design Form
directly on the basis of aesthetic response is not the only means, and It would be a great cultural tragedy if we were to lose places such as
often not the best means, of determining design quality. Evaluation of ~.Versailles, where architects first began to extend the broad sweep of
the relationships that the form creates between people and the envi- design change on whole landscapes. But not all places need to be pre-
ronment-through comprehensive systematic evaluation-is the most served as landmarks in the progress of design thinking. We need to
reliable test of design form.
begin to design the overall matrix of the built landscape in ways that
It is well understood that the landscape is an artifact that accommodate and facilitate rather than obstruct continuing change.
expresses us as a culture (Meinig 1979; Jackson 1984). But, it is much We have not yet matured as a design discipline to the extent that we
more than just an artifact. The landscape is also an environment that are capable of guiding this type of dynamic development of the
sustains us, makes our activities convenient or difficult, affects our human landscape. We do not yet have answers to these questions
comfort, influences our sense of well-being, and provides personal or because they have not yet been seriously posed.
group identity and satisfaction. These effects are critical to the success To some extent the designer serves to shape the landscape in the
of design. same way that the process of evolution shapes living organisms or
The search for appropriate design form must address at least three ecological succession shapes the biophysical landscape. Designers are
basic issues. Interestingly, these are the same issues to be addressed at least significant participants, if not leaders, in the process. But
when our goal is to understand the landscape. In very broad terms, unlike evolution, which has no guiding or underlying purpose, or pre-
these are the fundamental characteristics of design form: dictable result, design is a process of directed change; change intended
1. Structure: What are the physical relationships to be established to result in a preferred outcome, activity, or pattern of development.
in the landscape and how do they relate to the context of the Because design has purpose, our role is to give direction to a process of
environment? change from which physical form is to result. As a consequence, we
2. Function: How are the activities we design for, and their rela- need to give at least as much attention to the process we employ as to
tionship with the context of the environment, intended to sat- the forms we create. The process shapes the outcome. And, in
isfy our needs and desires? response, the form of the setting shapes human process. Winston
Churchill once said, "We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape
3. Change: How might the changed form be integrated into the us." It is as important to be able to understand the results of form as
existing landscape and accommodate further modification in to create it. The most important measure of form is its ability to pro-
the future?
mote the kind of human-environment relationships we seek. Both
For the designed and built environment to meet our continually form and process are equally important because each one determines
changing needs, it becomes necessary to transcend the traditional the character and the quality of the other.
approach to designing the landscape as a static condition. This is not An important aspect of the process we employ to change the land-
to imply that culturally or ecologically significant landscapes should scape is its potential to bring about improved understanding of the
not be preserved. Places such as the Washington Mall and Yosemite factors that determine appropriate design relationships. Because
Valley are important expressions of who we are as a society and how design is a contemplative as well as a learning process, engaging in
our national values have been shaped by the landscape. But in gen- form investigations can lead to greater understanding of the land-
eral, the landscape is a living and changing environment, a dynamic scape and its potential for change and improvement. If we are to suc-
place accommodating a dynamic society. The ongoing modification of cessfully alter the outward expression of various interacting landscape
the landscape is an essential response to continually evolving condi- systems, we must understand their substance. This understanding
tions and human needs.
requires both a knowledge base and a delivery process that is equal to
The imposition of "architecturally" or "artistically" refined form the complexity and the importance of the task.
(i.e., fixed, unchanging form) on the landscape is inconsistent with Improved design quality is the goal of a knowledge-based design
our understanding of the landscape as an evolving expression. of inter- process. To achieve excellencerequires a departure from the traditional
acting cultural and biophysical processes. It is also inconsistent with theoretical focus on the aesthetics of form. Designers need to shift
how we use the landscape to derive optimum advantage over time their primary attention from design products to design processes, to
through continuing modification and improvement. While it is impor- move from a view of reality that focuses on the form of the objects
tant that some features of the landscape are retained in their essential making up a system to an understanding of the relationships among
form, this should not be the case for the overall form of the landscape. these objects. In reality we must consider both, but to get to that posi-
152 153
Chapter Six Design Form

tion requires a substantial transformation of our design paradigm. Aesthetics

This shift in attention may lead to a particularly useful discovery:
that form and substance-product and process-are not different
aspects of reality but the same thing, only seen from different points One of the most compelling aspects of form is its aesthetic appeal:
of view. The landscape form or "product" is simply a point -in-time the extent to which we are sensually attracted to the beauty and emo-
expression of an ongoing process of environmental change. The land- tional impact of form. A central concern in design is to make a thing
scape is process. Therefore, both form and process must be considered beautiful so that it will be enjoyed and appreciated for the sensory
before either is likely to be understood or improved by design. experience of it. The search for and appreciation of beauty is so
The design form ideas we create may be compared to the variable ingrained in our thinking that it occupies a central position in our
organic forms found in nature that develop in response to the diverse judgments and decision-making about design (Huntley 1970:16).
forces of the environment. In design, just as in nature, many potential Aesthetic response to the landscape is broadly described as prefer-
new forms are proposed. In nature all organisms occasionally produce ence and pleasurable feelings that result from an encounter with the
atypical offspring, or mutant progeny, most of which do not survive. environment (Ulrich 1986:30). The aesthetic appeal of the landscape
But every so often a new form appears to fit the environment a little has been described as profound, even spiritual, for thousands of years.
more perfectly and becomes the progenitor of its line due to its success The Chinese philosopher Tsung Ping (375-443 AD) commented on the
in the environment-usually because the environment itself has importance of beauty and its relation to the Tao or "way" of appreci-
changed (Bohm 1982; Birch 1990). ating the landscape:
Similarly, most novel or experimental design forms do not survive The virtuous man follows the Way by spiritual insight: the wise
the harsh realities of the environment. Just as the unsuccessful exper- man takes the same approach. But the lovers of the landscape are
imental progeny fails in the environment, the unsuccessful design led into the Way by a sense of form. The virtuous man also takes
innovation cannot withstand the harsh realities of knowledge-based pleasure in this. Then, are not the pleasures of the virtuous and
evaluation. Only the ideas with high survival value flourish. As in the wise similar to those of the lovers of the landscape?
nature, anyone of a number of factors may be limiting to the sur- Human society's enduring and universal quest for beauty as a
vival of the novel form. In nature, feedback from the environment
matter of profound importance has led to the development and pur-
acts directly; in design, the influence of limiting factors is expressed suit of the field of aesthetics. Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy
indirectly, through our knowledge of their potential implications. Sur- that deals with beauty or the beautiful; what might be called the sci-
vival value in design depends on acceptance of an idea from the per- ence of beauty or art. Webster's dictionary provides a common defini-
spective of the expertise we bring to bear through the design process, tion of aesthetics as the science of sensuous knowledge, whose goal is
and ultimately from individual users and society at large. The require-
beauty and whose subject matter is the description and explanation of
ment for broad evidence-based support for design proposals, rather
art, artistic phenomena, and aesthetic experience. Aesthetics includes
than reliance on individual preference, diminishes the possibility of
strong or persuasive personalities exerting undue influence on the the psychology, sociology, ethnology, and history of the arts and their
essentially related aspects. This traditional definition presumes that
acceptance of idiosyncratic and perhaps inappropriate, although aes-
thetically satisfying, design forms. there is congruence between art and beauty, a presumption that may
not be borne out by a good deal of contemporary artistic expression,
The form of the built environment, even successful form, is only
some of which rejects traditional concepts of beauty as the basis for
temporary. The more comprehensive and appropriate the changes
meaningful aesthetic experience.
imposed, the more satisfying and enduring the design of the landscape.
Conversely, the more limited the range of issues addressed and the Aesthetic experience may be generally described as an emotional
more narrowly we target our design efforts on segments of the evalua- response based on an awareness, selection, and understanding of the
order by which natural forces, or human creativity, have produced
tion spectrum (whether economic, aesthetic, or other), the less designs
will satisfy and endure. Survival, or design success, depends heavily on the places or objects (or people) we admire for their beauty (Berleant
landscape form that is both comprehensive and appropriate-issues 1992:164). Beauty is a quality that, when perceived, brings about
that an evidence-based design approach is best suited to address. pleasure to the senses and charms the intellect (Huntley 1970:12). The
perception of beauty is generally, but not necessarily, limited to visual
and aural perception, the images we see or the sounds we hear.
154 Chapter Six 155

Access to beauty may be intellectually or culturally preconditioned. • Unity: This describes the extent to which the richness and variety
What is deemed to be beautiful may be restricted to those conditioned of complex phenomena or relationships are integrated into a
by prior knowledge to appreciate a certain form of experience as beauti- coherent and satisfying pattern of unified relationships
ful. Beauty has both sensual and intellectual aspects, even though it (Bronowski 1965:27). Variety and unity occupy opposite posi-
must be sensorially perceived to be experienced. The significance of the tions along a continuum of consideration. A very simple condition
experience we describe as aesthetically satisfying also suggests that may be highly unified but lack diversity. Highly diverse conditions
compellingly beautiful things are rare rather than ordinary occurrences. may lack overall, unified coherence. Neither variety nor unity
It is important that we are able to discriminate between the qual- provides high aesthetic quality in the absence of the other.
ity of beauty and the beautiful object. Everyone seems to be aware of • Harmony: A harmonious condition prevails when the complex
the proverb, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This means that parts of the whole are perceived as being unified in an appar-
what is beautiful is dependent on who is doing the looking or listening. ently logical, mutually reinforcing, and comprehensible way.
Another interpretation might be that we know it when we see it. But Harmony exists when there is a unity of the parts to the whole
what is it that we know? What conditions or characteristics do we that is perceived as highly appropriate and satisfying as a total
identify when we experience a beautiful thing? For the designer, the experience, including harmony with setting.
question is not so much What is beautiful? but rather What is beauty?
• Clarity: Clarity describes the extent to which the experience is
If aesthetics is a science, there must be a body of knowledge about
what constitutes beauty. Claude Monet, who spent much of his life in easily grasped by the observer (Ulrich 1986:35). Unless the per-
son engaged is able to understand the form, structure, and com-
communicating the beauty of the French landscape, commented on
beauty as being contextual: plexity of the experience, it is unlikely that the encounter will
stimulate a pleasurable aesthetic response.
For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its • Intensity: This describes the extent to which one is attracted to
appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmo-
perceptually engage in an experience and be sensually aroused
sphere brings it to life-the light and the air which vary continu-
ally. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives
by it. Unless the phenomenon or experience is sensually compel-
subjects their true value. ling, the aesthetic value is low. The more deeply felt the experi-
ence, the greater its aesthetic quality. Compelling attraction
The experience of beauty is determined by the qualities a beautiful may require an intellectual or cultural awareness of the rela-
thing possesses as well as their relationships to one another and their tionships it expresses.
context. These qualities may be described as the criteria by which we • Security: When people perceive that the encounter does not
measure beauty. Aesthetic criteria are applied to evaluate the overall
present a threat, they feel secure (Ulrich 1986:32). An aesthetic
sensual quality of phenomena or experience. In evaluating beauty or response may be predicated on a perception of security that
aesthetic quality, there are a few broad categories of consideration, the allows the person to engage in the experience without being pre-
things we expect to find in an aesthetically satisfying experience. occupied by a concern for personal safety.
These include:
Beauty is commonly described as unity in variety (Bronowski
• Novelty: A novel experience is unusual or exceptional and 1965). Michael Laurie explains beauty as the simultaneous experience
achieves a level of perceptual significance that exceeds the expec- of novelty and regularity; relying on two complementary neurophys-
tations of ordinary experience. The perception of beauty gives kal principles (1979:165). One is the response to novelty, change, and
an unexpected and compelling sense of delight to the beholder stimulation; the other a response to repetition or pattern.
(Maddi and Fiske 1961).
Broadly defined, beauty is a condition that motivates compelling
• Variety: The more complex a phenomenon or experience, the sensual attraction in response to a perceived harmony of relationships
richer and more engaging it tends to be. The less varied and between the parts and the whole. A thing or experience considered
more simple a phenomenon or experience, the less its' potential beautiful will express this characteristic with increasing intensity as it
to sensually engage or psychologically arouse. However, com- increases in novelty, complexity, and unity. If beauty as a concept is
plexity should not be perceived as sensually chaotic; variety and defined as encompassing all aspects of reality, it becomes an effective
diversity must be well integrated into a congruent totality instrument for measuring design quality. However, if beauty is sim-
(Bronowski 1965:27). plistically defined as a concept addressing only the superficial aspects
156 157
Chapter Six

of perception, a commonly applied definition (consider the "beauty" erence should be given to the aesthetic values and judgments of the
of the well-groomed young men and women we see adorning popular '-clients or users of the designed environment, rather than to the values
magazines), it has very little value in informing us about the intrinsic of the designer. Designers are educated to become members of an aes-
qualities of the things (or people) depicted. We are able to see what thetic elite who may have concepts of beauty that are not widely
they look like, or appear to look like, but not necessarily what they shared. Attempts to impose our more "refined" aesthetic values on
are like. This might be particularly true of people depicted on the cov- others is not only likely to be resisted, and perhaps resented, but in
ers of magazines who lead self-indulgent or socially irrelevant lives. many cases will be neither perceived nor appreciated by those outside
To have anything more than superficial meaning, aesthetic judg- what we consider our particular elite group.
ments need to relate to the totality of relationships about the condi- Research to evaluate aesthetic response to architecture suggests a
tion or experience to which they apply. In its most inclusive form, few key ways that people respond to their environment (Gifford et al.
beauty may be described as perception of the goodness or rightness of 2000:163). People generally seem to express greater preference for
something. In application to design, Victor Papanek said that "the buildings that are moderate in their complexity (Wohlwill 1974) and
'rightness' of any design solution will depend on the meaning with those that are more orderly or coherent (Herzog 1992). Aesthetic
which we invest the arrangement" (1984:6). In the holistic sense of appraisals of architecture also depend on the degree to which build-
the term, beauty, or the rightness of form, relates to utility as well as ings appear compatible with their immediate context (Groat 1994;
perceptual or sensual delight. In the Platonic sense of the term, beauty Gifford et al. 2000:164). There are indications that laypeople prefer
is the single, ideal form of a thing, a form to which we aspire, but buildings that are examples of prototypes (Whitfield 1983), while
rarely achieve. But this is not the way we typically use the term architects display a preference for buildings that represent departures
today. To us, beauty is perceptual rather than moral. from prototypes (Purcell and Nasar 1992), indicating that the two
Aestheticjudgments, while generally considered responsive to uni- groups hold distinctly different aesthetic values.
versal standards or categories, are also thought to vary specifically In art, the expression of the individual creator of an artifact or
along cultural or group lines. Those conditioned only by Western composition is paramount. In design, we are asked to design other
forms of musical harmony and tonal range may be unable to derive people's settings, to be constructed with other people's money, to be
comparable aesthetic satisfaction from hearing the music of Asia or used by other people and maintained by other people's effort. If the
Africa. As we learn to view reality through a particular cultural or goal of design is to improve the quality of life for the users of our
group paradigm, we place ourselves in discrete categories of people designs, it would be highly presumptuous for us to ignore the values
who exercise similar aesthetic judgments about the quality of beauty of those who may spend their lives with these places and impose upon
or aesthetic experience. If we are educated about the values of other them our own narrow concepts of beauty. It is fundamentally impor-
cultural groups we may be able to appreciate their concepts of beauty. tant to understand that one concept of beauty is not necessarily better
If we are unaware of their culturally conditioned perceptions or val- than another; it is only different. If the beautiful experience is
ues, we may be unable to understand or share their concepts of intended to enhance people's lives, then it is only the experience to
beauty or the beautiful. which they have access by way of insight or education that can pro-
Aestheticism is the doctrine that the principles of beauty are fun- vide the aesthetic satisfaction we intend.
damental and that all other principles (goodness, justice, truth) derive There is another consideration in applying aesthetic criteria as the
from them. The application of this doctrine to design is problematic primary means of evaluating the form of the landscape. Making an
since, in regard to landscape in particular, it seems to give priority to a artifact beautiful may be more easily achieved than making an envi-
single value system rather than integrating many value systems holis- ronment beautiful. But neither is particularly easy, as the general
tically. Under this doctrine all values other than perceptual beauty are quality of our physical environment attests. Even in those cases where
derivative or of secondary priority. The problem with this is easily exceptional effort has been expended to make the landscape beautiful,
understood if we consider that radioactivity in the soil may not be per- there are difficulties. It is questionable, for example, whether a golf
ceptible on a sensory level, but we would soon feel the effects of its course located in the desert of the Southwest Unites States, that has
presence nonetheless. Some aspects of complex systemic relationships the form of a meadow from New England, is really beautiful. This is
do not lend themselves to sensory perception and evaluation. particularly problematic when we consider that a great deal of water,
In design, as opposed to art, our work is almost always for the a valuable and limited landscape resource, must be sacrificed to create
benefit of others. Thus, it is important that in regard to beauty, pref- and sustain the desired image, even though that image would be
Chapter Six

widely considered "beautiful" if it were in New England. Context is

always relevant with regard to visual perception. Often, these "oasis"
golf course designs stand out in sharp contrast with the existing land-
scape. Images that do not contribute to overall harmony tend to

diminish one another-the golf course is seen as incongruent with the
desert and vice versa. Although they may be seen as beautiful to the
golfer or the developer, they may seem otherwise to those with a more
holistic view. Sometimes the values of the user create a conflict that
presents a dilemma of values for the designer.
Another difficulty with making environments beautiful is our lack
of overall control of the full range of relationships we hope to estab-
lish. The landscape we perceive is usually more extensive than the por-
tion of it that we design. The landscape we see is usually owned by
many different people who tend to have highly differentiated values
and notions about what the landscape should be, how it should be Design Purpose
used, and how it should be maintained. Only rarely do all these people
share common ideals about appropriateness of use and beauty. Most
commonly, such ideals of beauty are never even considered. There is
also the consideration that the landscape is formed by processes, such
as geology or climate or economics, over which we exercise very little Designs are good only inasmuch as they do good.
control. Designers rarely have significant influence over most aspects
of the landscapes we perceive. This does not make the concern for -Norman T. Newton, Approach to Design
beauty any less important but it certainly makes the creation of beau-
tiful environments an ongoing challenge for the designer.
However we try to achieve it, we know intuitively that the aes- Once we have informed ourselves sufficiently about people and the
thetic characteristics of the landscape are an important aspect of peo- environment, and applied this knowledge through design, we need to
ple's experience and satisfaction with the environment. We believe be able to determine when the design has achieved a sufficient level of
that the aesthetically satisfying experience has a profound influence excellence that we may conclude the thinking aspects of the process
on people and their sense of well-being. Beauty might seem trivial in and proceed to action. We need some acceptable standards by which
comparison to other values, such as power and money, but the uni- designs are to be evaluated. Our definition of what constitutes "good
versal quest for beauty assures us that it is important and worth- design" changes as society and the environment evolve toward
while, even though it may be difficult to provide evidence of what it is increasing complexity and integration. Consequently, our concepts of
and why we seek it. But, we are well aware that those with the great- aesthetics, form, function, and environmental fit also evolve toward
est access to power and money often expend much of it in the acquisi- greater complexity and process definition. Because our methods for
tion of beauty. The houses, furniture, gardens, clothes, jewelry, cars, producing and evaluating changes in the environment are increasingly
and art collections with which they surround their lives are often responsive to the growing knowledge of the expanding relationships
among the most beautiful to be found. we seek to improve, it is important that our standards for design suc-
Nevertheless a few critical questions remain. Are beautiful land- cess expand as well. By understanding design as an integrative and
scapes good landscapes? Or, is it the other way around, that good interactive process of systems learning and change rather than an
landscapes are beautiful? Is our goal to make beautiful landscapes or exercise in the individual creation of unique, proprietary artifacts, we
good ones, or both? How do we determine what makes a good land- transform the traditional definition of design as a professional activity.
scape from the aesthetic point of view of those for whom we design? We can no longer rely solely on how we feel about designs-how we
respond to the way they look-as reliable indicators of design quality.
160 161
Chapter Seven Design Purpose
If we refocus the purpose, processes, and requirements of design Design Goals
toward achieving demonstrable outcomes in multiple areas, landscape
architecture becomes an invaluable service to society. Rather than cre- Adequacy of accommodation. Are the activities to be provided
ating designs to improve only the perceptual and functional charac- adequate to meet the known or anticipated needs of the users? Do the
teristics of the landscape, we may begin to integrate the complete activities address the full range of requirements identified? Can the
spectrum of process considerations for near-term and long-term bene- activities be supported by the available infrastructure? Can the site as
fits. If we are successful with this transition, we may begin to operate a physical setting or ecological system adequately support the
under concepts that approximate the highly successful processes of intended uses?
change we find in nature rather than our relatively limited individual- Appropriateness. Is provision being made for all appropriate
ized and discipline-bound concepts-that is, form based on contempo- needs of the user groups? Are the activities and features of the design,
rary style. By requiring broad performance-based demonstration that and the manner in which they are arranged, clearly appropriate to the
the conditions we create are, in fact, improvements over existing con- context of the natural environment? Are the activities appropriate to
ditions, both in terms of human needs and in maintaining the health the prevailing conditions of society and the times? Does the design
and vitality of environments, we will not only be able to design "with reflect the values of the owner, the users, and the local community? Is
nature" as McHarg suggested, but we also will begin to design "like the design visually appropriate to the context of the physical setting?
nature." From an evidence-based, systems approach to design, com-
Functional utility. Are the activities, their supporting infrastruc-
prehensive knowledge of existing conditions is employed to shape
ture, and circulation support systems organized for optimum func-
ideas in the same way that the conditions this knowledge represents
shape organisms and natural landscapes. When we are successful we tional utility? Does the site provide a supportive and appropriate setting
for the functional relationships required by the activities? Are the activ-
may achieve Norman Newton's definition of designs "being" good
ities and design features arranged to enhance their functional relation-
when they "do" good. This brings us to the question: How should
ships, both individually and to meet the requirements of the others?
designs be evaluated to determine if the new form will "do good"?
Comprehensiveness. Does the design address the complete range
of issues to be resolved within the limits of the decision-making pro-
Design Intent cess? Does the design comprehensively address or reflect an awareness
of the broad range of users and their requirements, the site and its
Design purpose-that is, the reasons we change the landscape- opportunities and limitations, the activities to be provided, and the
can be organized into a number of broad categories. These general culturally specific character of the place?
categories of design intent, based in part on Kevin Lynch's (1966) Accessibility. Is there adequate access to activities for all poten-
performance characteristics for urban form, provide a comprehensive tial users and user groups? Does the general circulation pattern avoid
outline for evaluating the quality of design performance. These eval- conflicts among the activities and with other elements of the circula-
uative questions cover an extensive range of design requirements tion system? Is the circulation system well integrated into the envi-
from a number of different perspectives and direct our attention to ronmental setting? Is there appropriate visual access for users and
appropriate design answers. Each design project is unique and will other members of the community?
have a different range of appropriate intentions based on user or cli-
ent requirements, the context of the environment, and the informa- Compatibility. Are the activities to be provided, their supporting
tion available about them. infrastructure, and access systems arranged for optimum compatibil-
A list of typical design intentions, or goals, provides some insight ity with one another? Are they well integrated into the ecological and
into the complexity of changing the landscape and the critical issues cultural conditions of the site on which they are located? Do the activ-
to be considered. If design form is found to achieve these goals-to ities reinforce or support those features and processes existing on or
create these beneficial relationships-we may consider that it is a near the site?
"good" or "successful" design. The design goals may be posed as ques- Health and welfare. Will the individual's experience of the place
tions to determine whether the design arrange!llent satisfies all the promote a sense of psychological well-being, physical health, and
appropriate requirements. improved quality of life? Does the design limit stressful conditions for
162 Chapter Seven Design Purpose

users, to an extent that is likely to promote their well-being? Is there way through the environment and make appropriate choices of move-
provision for the health of the social and ecological systems? Does the ~ ment toward desired destinations?
design address the users' needs for both privacy as well as belonging Diversity. Does the design provide a socially or culturally com-
and interrelatedness with others?
plex setting in which diverse categories of people can interact and find
Safety. Does the design create an environment that ensures an common purpose? Does the design facilitate harmonious relationships
adequate level of protection to those who use or come into contact between socially and culturally diverse groups? Does it promote envi-
with the activities or features provided? Does it convey a sense of pre- ronmental complexity and species diversity to maintain ecosystem
dictable safety to the users and the local community? Are activities health and viability?
l~cated to avoid or reduce the potential for risk from known develop- Community. Does the design represent a socially responsible
ment-induced or natural hazards such as flood, fire, or earthquake? alteration of the landscape and contribute to an enhanced state of
Security. Does the design provide a defensible setting? Are com- social interaction, individual participation, and community interaction
munity and private spaces defensible against unwanted intrusion by among those for whom it is intended? Does the design facilitate desir-
those who pose a threat to individual safety or social integrity? Does it able social engagement among users to strengthen their shared sense of
convey a sense of psychological security to the users and the local community and provide opportunities for informal social interaction?
community? Are critical resources and infrastructure arranged for Privacy. Does the setting provide the opportunity for with-
protection against hostile, criminal, or terrorist acts? drawal and privacy for personal reflection and intimacy? Are such
Comfort. Does the design preserve desirable environmental con- opportunities provided in a way that enables those making the choice
ditions and ameliorate adversities to provide adequate comfort for the to withdraw to do so at their discretion without inviting sanction
users? Does the level of comfort provided facilitate all the desired uses from others?
or activities? Does the design address comfort during all seasons, peri- Beauty. Does the design enhance users' appreciation of the phys-
ods of use, and critical times of day? ical setting and the elements within it? Does the design meet users'
Convenience. Does the design make life easier for those who use needs for interrelatedness with place and heighten their aesthetic expe-
it to engage in their daily or routine activities without undue conflict or rience of it? Does it have a compelling physical attractiveness based
effort? Are there provisions for convenience on many levels of activity; upon a harmonious arrangement of its elements? Can the beauty of
moving to or away from the place, engaging in the activities for which the place be comprehended through a variety of senses and is it related
the place is intended, moving from place to place within the design set- to the values and cultural perspectives of the users? Does the place
ting, or for engaging in casual social interaction along the way? express the changing dynamics of diurnal and seasonal cycles?
Choice. Does the design offer users the opportunity to exercise pleasure. Does the design provide the opportunity for experi-
individual discretion regarding preference in the level of engagement, ences that are highly desirable and actively pursued for the pleasur-
the extent of contact with others, or activities desired?Are choices avail- able benefits they offer to users? Are there opportunities for
able continuously or do they vary depending on the timing of decisions? intellectual and spiritual as well as sensory pleasure on multiple lev-
els? Are pleasurable attributes available to the full range of likely
Legibility. Does the design clearly express itself and its relation- users or community members?
ships to adjacent settings? Does it clearly reveal the provisions being
made to facilitate desired activities, or those made to discourage Sense of place. Does the design promote a culturally specific
undesired activities? Are critical destinations or features clearly com- sense of place and community? Does it incorporate and express
municated to those seeking that information? Does it clearly express regionally specific characteristics and features of the natural environ-
the purpose of form and honestly express the use of materials from ment? Is it particularly appropriate to the specific character of the
which it is constructed? local community as it has developed over time?
Wayfinding. Does the design facilitate comprehension of the set- Productivity. Does the design facilitate productive activity on
ting and orientation to place to promote wayfinding? Are there suffi- multiple levels? Does the setting promote productive relationships to
cient points of reference or landmarks to enable users to find their address the users' working, social, or leisure requirements? Does it
164 165
Chapter Seven Design Purpose

promote the production and maintenance of complex biomass? Does it visual resources within the perceptual reach of users employed to
stimulate improved productivity throughout the local environment, ~ good advantage?
beyond the limits of the property being directly considered?
Recyclability. Can the materials used to construct the design be
Profitability. Does the design promote the possibility of profit- disassembled and reconstituted into new forms with minimal inputs
able or rewarding result for the user, developer, or investor? Does it of energy? Is the design constructed of materials that have been previ-
benefit the local community? Is the likelihood of advantage to mem- ously used in another context? Does the design encourage recycling
bers of the local community sufficient that they are likely to support and reuse of critical natural resources such as stormwater with mini-
the project's implementation and benefit from its presence? mum interference, loss, or contamination?
Economy. Does the design promote economic viability? Does it Synergy. Does the design promote a creative interaction among
promote economies regarding the level of investment required for the site's processes and activities that results in a whole greater than
development and maintenance? Are design forms, materials, and pro- the sum of its parts? Does the design promote the simultaneous inte-
cesses realistically related to the resource base of the local environ- gration of the users of the site in creative and productive ways? Does
ment? Can the design be realistically achieved within the limits of it bring the social, economic, and ecological aspects of the environ-
available resources? ment together to encourage long-term viability?
Efficiency. Does the design provide maximum benefit in develop- Sustainability. Does the design promote self-reliance and reduce
ment and operation for minimum expenditure of resources to attain a dependence on limited resources such as capital, fossil fuel, or ground-
given level of achievement or standard of performance? Do the mate- water? Does the design reflect local values to the extent that society is
rials selected have limited embodied energy requirements? Does the likely to support its long-term existence? Can the site, within the lim-
design limit the expenditure of energy and resources required for its of available resources or environmental conditions, sustain the
implementation and to sustain its operation? design as an integral element of the ecological system? Can required
activity sustain itself as a cultural setting with infrastructure and cir-
Adaptability. Is there a realistic opportunity for the design to culation systems providing physical support and access? Does the
respond to growth or to adapt over time to accommodate changed cir-
design support or reinforce the activities of the surrounding commu-
cumstances? Can it support use under a variety of conditions, seasons,
nity and the ecosystem? Can the design support future as well as
or times? Can the design idea be sustained over the anticipated period
present users? Is it regenerative?
of its life span and under the altered circumstances that are likely dur-
ing that time? Is the design a highly specific "tight fit" arrangement While it would be unrealistic to expect any design to satisfy all the
with only a limited range of functions, or a more general "loose fit"
design that can be easily adapted to multiple generalized functions? design goals listed above, it is equally unrealistic to ignore a number
of these important issues and still expect to bring about beneficial
Resource conservancy. Does the design protect and conserve the landscape change.
site's cultural, physical, ecological, and visual resources? Are the site
resources employed in a way that sustains and enhances their value Pursuit of Excellence
for future as well as present generations? Does the design incorporate Comprehensive improvement in the landscape requires the inte-
resource elements of the past into the fabric of the present and extend
grated resolution of a full range of salient issues: people's needs to be
them into the future in ways that retain their value, utility, and via- met, issues of the environment addressed, problems to be resolved,
bility? Does it confirm our cultural and ecological heritage? Are there
and opportunities to be taken advantage of. It is reasonable to expect
provisions for limiting the expenditure of energy resources necessary that design change in the landscape will solve more problems than it
for successful construction, operation, and maintenance?
creates. And, in addition to simply solving problems, designs may rea-
Resource utility. Does the design make effective use of the sonably be expected to create new opportunities and improved condi-
resources available? Are the site's cultural, physical, ecological, and tions, as well as to protect the prevailing qualities and intrinsic values
visual resources used in concert with financial resources to take opti- of the existing landscape. But meeting the minimum expectations for
mum advantage of the site and its context? Are resources used in design is not enough. Excellence is the only goal worthy of pursuit.
ways that reasonably assure their long-term sustained yield? Are Providing designs of excellent quality must ultimately mean that the
166 167
Chapter Seven Design Purpose

changes we impose on the landscape result in an improved quality of beneficial relationships among adjacent activities. This helps preclude
life for present and future generations, regardless of whether this was ~conflicts and stress that negatively impact people's daily lives.
the client's primary motive in initiating the project.
Access. Use of the environment is predicated on access to it.
Perhaps we should have a commitment of principle for landscape Access to and use of the landscape is provided to improve people's
architects similar to the oath taken by the young men of Athens dur-
contact with the environment while at the same time protecting it
ing the Golden Age between 500 and 400 Be. It said in part, ''In every from abuse and deterioration from overuse.
way we will strive to pass the city on to our children greater and bet-
ter than it was when our parents passed it on to us." Health and welfare. The patterns of activities and design details
promote society's general welfare by assuring relationships and con-
ditions that protect people's safety and security, and enhance human
Quality of Life health and well-being.
Social interaction. The landscape is arranged to facilitate social
To be taken seriously, design proposals must demonstrate that
interaction among homogeneous social groups and afford choices to
they promote functionally, socially, and ecologically relevant land- users that preclude forced contact with others through the develop-
scape change to meet the immediate and long-term requirements of
ment of public spaces appropriate to the users' shared activities and
clients, users, and members of the general public. Competence in social values.
delivering this kind of service is considered the central thrust of rele-
vant professional practice and university preparation and research. Accommodate diversity. The landscape is arranged to enhance
Although the design goals outlined earlier are intended to be com- opportunities for harmonious interactions among heterogeneous
prehensive, dealing with the full spectrum of requirements in land- social groups through the development of public spaces appropriate to
scape design, there are two categories of goals that must be given people's diverse economic and social backgrounds as well as their
special attention. These goals address quality of life and the interre- community interaction desires.
lated aspects of quality of environment.
Community involvement. The landscape setting is based on
The primary purpose in design change is to improve quality of life community participation and community values to enhance people's
for the people who are to use the resultant environments. No matter
how important other considerations, unless these issues are ability to actively participate in controlling and shaping their shared
living environment.
addressed, the others are unlikely to be appreciated-or perhaps
undertaken. To focus on the issues that directly enhance quality of Community sense of place. The landscape setting expresses a
life, some of the design goals can be translated into a list of universal culturally specific sense of place that is symbolic of, and responsive to,
design requirements. These represent the performance criteria that all the unique characteristics of local cultural conditions and traditions.
design changes should satisfy to improve the human condition.
Equity. The landscape setting is efficient and economical as well
Although these are not the only important issues to be resolved by as compelling as an appropriate setting to foster human interaction,
design, they are those most clearly understood to apply in nearly all social equity, and cultural evolution.
circumstances to all people. Designs of landscape settings that contrib-
ute significantly to enhanced quality of life satisfy the following per- Historic precedent. The landscape incorporates and protects his-
formance requirements. torically and culturally significant features of the local and regional
environment into the setting to preserve cultural identity, maintain a
Quality-of-Life Design Criteria narrative record of cultural heritage, and enrich people's knowledge
and experience of place.
Human needs. The landscape setting is organized to satisfy the
full range of basic physiological needs for the user populations. Toi- Aesthetic experience. The landscape incorporates sufficient nov-
lets, for example, are always needed even though many landscape set- elty and complexity into a unified and harmonious setting to stimulate
tings fail to provide for this universal requirement. a compelling sensual response and enrich users' aesthetic experience.
Function. The arrangement is a functionally appropriate organi- Legibility. The landscape provides sufficient order and clarity to
zation of the built landscape that creates convenient and mutually satisfy people's cognitive need for environments that make associa-
168 169
Chapter Seven Design Purpose

tional sense by revealing the nature and character of the setting and ing public health problems in the United States today is obesity
how it is to be used. The setting reveals itself as a repository of critical among children. The magnitude of the problem is revealed by the esti-
resources, processes, and features; facilitates users' comprehension of mate that the cost of health care due to obesity amounted to $93 bil-
the physical environment; and provides understandable cues to lion in 2002 (Finklestein et al. 2003). This is partly, but only partly,
appropriate and effective behavior. related to diet. It is also due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle; a
quarter of Americans are estimated to get no exercise at all. Quality of
In addition to the direct quality-of-life criteria, there is another life is directly related to style of life. If we are inactive we become
category of design requirements that indirectly affects the quality of obese unless we eat less, which, as a nation, we do not; or eat better
human life. These are the criteria that establish the general quality of (that is to have a more healthy diet with regard to salt, fat, starch,
our living environment and represent the basic performance require- refined sugars, and chemical additives), which we do not.
ments for almost all landscape settings. One of the reasons for our sedentary lifestyle has to do with the
design of our living environment. Most of us live in remote, low-den-
Quality-of-Environment Design Criteria sity, single-land-use residential suburbs. When we grew up we
Environmental fit. The landscape is arranged to reduce conflicts learned to drive (or be driven) to the places we wanted to go and lived
between human activities and natural site processes. The landscape in environments arranged to facilitate this kind of movement. We
setting employs existing ecological and geomorphic processes to meet have not designed our contemporary urban environments to facilitate
human use and management functions such as site drainage, climate walking or biking as an integral part of life. In fact, we have designed
amelioration, or plant maintenance requirements. them to discourage it and in so doing deny for many the opportunity
to keep themselves in good physical condition as a normal part of
Environmental health. The landscape is organized to maintain everyday life. For most Americans, the daily commute to work or
and enhance the health, diversity, and stability of existing ecosystems. school or shopping is measured in miles or minutes, not blocks.
The setting protects critically important environmental processes For Americans, life without a personal automobile is almost
through their integration into the built landscape (and vice versa) to impossible, and for most, unthinkable. Except for those who live in
ensure their continuing vitality and provide benefits such as clean air, the centers of our largest and oldest cities, to walk the distances we
clean water, and healthful living conditions. have built into the contemporary urban environment would require
Resource conservation. The landscape is organized to maintain most of our waking hours. If we lived in Los Angeles or Houston with
the availability of renewable environmental resources and promote their extensive low-density pattern of development, it might take all
their management to ensure the ongoing provision of food, fiber, shel- of our waking hours just for the one-way trip to our place of work,
ter, and fuel. leaving no time to work, play, study, or shop. Even when we drive we
spend a very high percentage of our day commuting.
Environmental sense of place. The landscape expresses an Private automobile commuting also requires us to spend a com-
environmentally specific sense of place that is responsive to, and inte- mensurately high percentage of our income to support the construc-
gral with, the unique characteristics of local ecological and geomor- tion and maintenance of streets and highways and to purchase and
phic conditions.
provide the fuel for cars. These expenditures leave little income to sup-
Integration. The changed conditions integrate into the existing port more efficient forms of transportation and cleanup of the air pol-
context of the landscape in ways that take advantage of existing luted by fuel exhaust or the water polluted by the hydrocarbon runoff
opportunities without undue disruption of ongoing natural processes. from streets. These conditions are conducive to neither healthy people
nor a healthy environment. Better design could address many of these
Flexibility. The changed condition retains sufficient flexibility to highly integrated problems simultaneously. Without knowing it, we
accommodate future change and evolution without undue disruption have designed our cities to create unhealthy citizens living in an
of ongoing human activities and natural processes. unhealthy environment that is expensive to maintain. The organiza-
Lifestyle and Health tion of the contemporary urban landscape is difficult to define as
"good design."
Quality of life depends on many aspects of everyday activity. In The form of our contemporary living environment has not been
particular it is concerned with human health. One of the most alarm- the result of an integrated consideration of the myriad factors that
Chapter Seven
intersect in the systems of the landscape. In fact, it is difficult to fault
these urban designs at all since they are really the almost-accidental
result of a wide array of highly segregated, single-purpose decisions
for different subsystems, such as land use, utilities, or transportation,
rather than a holistic approach to the design of the city as a whole
entity. Perhaps in the future, landscape architects will become more
holistic and collaborative in their work and begin to leave the urban
landscape in a better condition than they have inherited. Designs of
the future are almost certain to be evaluated on the basis of what
might be possible through greater integration and collaboration.

Design Practice

Professional designers and those lay persons who seek to influence

the quality of the built environment through their professional
and advocacy skills had best be aware of today's trends.
-Robert H. McNulty, Partners for Livable Places

Design firms are administered for effectiveness in achieving the

organizational goals set out by their owners and managers. Different
design firms are organized to achieve different personal and profes-
sional goals and are driven by different values. The major differences
between professional service firms are found in two main areas of
organization: how the work is done, and the philosophy of the firm's
leaders about how to organize and operate the firm. These are referred
to as design technologies and organizational values, respectively.
Investigations to determine the most effective patterns of organiza-
tion and management strategies have revealed that there is no best
way to do these things. It depends on who the people are, what they
want to accomplish, and what their opportunities are. But a few key
characteristics seem to emerge (Coxe et al. 1987:7):
1. Firms with the longest record of successful achievement tend to
deliver their services in a generally uniform way. Their
approach to performing work and operating the firm is clear
and these practices have been followed consistently for a rela-
tively long period of time.
172 173
Chapter Eight Design Practice
2. Firms that do best tend to adopt one particular approach to Firms organized with a strong service orientation usually employ
their style of leadership-ownership organization and remain a project operating structure based on studios or teams that are
faithful to it over many generations.
guided by hands-on project leaders. A principle-in-charge or depart-
3. The area where differences are most pronounced between firms ment head with responsibility for all aspects of a project makes deci-
is in the determination of how work is to be performed. This is sions. Project staffing relies on professionals who are trained and
also the area of greatest consistency within individual firms. retained to keep needed experience within the firm. Since this type of
firm sells reliable service, their "product" is experience. The best mar-
ket areas for strong service delivery firms are institutions, public
Design Technologies agencies, and major corporations that require dependability and reli-
ability of service. These firms tend to charge on an hourly basis for an
Different firms are organized to deliver different types of design open-ended period of time, whatever is required to complete the
technologies, depending on the kind of work they perform and the project. Their profit strategy is based on having a reputation for being
type of projects they provide services for. There are three main ways good enough to charge a premium for their work.
to categorize design technology: strong delivery, strong service, and
strong ideas (Coxe et al. 1987: 11). Strong Idea
These design firms are organized to provide the expertise and inno-
Strong Delivery vation required to resolve a particular kind of project, although each
These firms are organized to deliver higWy efficient service for client may present a different type of challenge. This kind of firm tends
similar types of projects, such as for housing developments or for to rely on the leadership and style of its leader/guru, and can be highly
park and recreation facilities. The clients of these firms generally flexible in response to the demands of unique project requirements.
require more of a product than a service. This type of firm tends to Firms organized with a strong idea orientation employ a project
repeat both the process and the product of its best prior solutions, operating structure based on flexible teams built around the require-
project after project, with a high level of reliability regarding the pro- ments of each unique project. Decision making rests with the single
fessional quality of the work, cost of development, implementation, authority of the firm owner/leader or guru. Because these firms sell
and technical excellence. innovation and one-of-a-kind results, staffing is based on attracting
Firms organized with a strong delivery orientation tend to have a the best and brightest professionals in the field. Their best markets are
project operating structure based on specialized teams or departments those with unique problems and the ability to pay the premium for
that work like an assembly line, each of which is responsible for a par- highest quality. Payment is typically a lump sum based on value.
ticular area of project requirement. Decision making is standardized
for each project specialty. Project staffing is usually handled by para- These categories of service technology, while descriptive of a few
professionals who are trained in a particular area of performance. The pure or representative firms, represent, to some degree, the types of
firms "sell" an expert product and typically find their best market (on services provided by all firms for all projects. Each design firm tends
all but the most complex projects) among certain kinds of government to form its own area of focus or unique combination of these technol-
agencies and corporations. Strong delivery firms tend to charge a ogies depending on the values represented in the organization's man-
lump sum or fixed fee for each project based on a bid price. Their profit agement structure. Individual firms that focus their operation on only
strategy is to compete on the basis of their highly efficient operation. one of these three broad categories have characteristics of operation
and management that follow typical patterns.
Strong Service
These firms are organized to deliver a high level of experience in Evolution of Design Technology
handling complex projects where the requirements for success are Over the life of design firms there is a tendency for their design
unpredictable and tend to change from project to project. These firms technology to evolve in response to forces in the marketplace. Strong
emphasize management processes that coordinate multidisciplinary idea firms tend toward becoming strong service companies as the firm
teams and provide services to address problems until the project's crit- stakes out a particular market territory in which it develops a critical
ical issues have been resolved or implementation is complete. area of expertise due to repeated experiences with a particular type of
174 Design Practice 175
Chapter Eight

project. Then, after their area of expertise becomes incorporated into tions and entrepreneurs such as developers. The practice-centered
general practice, to the extent that other firms also develop competence ~ firm usually follows a staffing strategy of recruiting career-oriented
with a particular technology or project type, the firm is no longer able professionals and promotes leaders from within the firm. Conse-
to compete on the basis of its exclusive claim to expertise. After this, quently, staff turnover tends to be low and the firm retains maxi-
the strong service company tends to evolve into a strong delivery firm, mum experience among its employees. Profit strategy focuses on
competing on the basis of increased efficienciesdue to its lengthy expe- maximizing charge-out rates for delivering greatest value. The prac-
rience in a particular area of practice (Coxeet al. 1987: 16). tice-centered culture promotes a leadership-management style
There is a parallel tendency for markets to evolve over time. As focused on the philosophical and technical quality of work and long-
new challenges arise, new firms develop to meet them. The percentage term professional trends. Rewards are related to a qualitative index of
of firms operating on the basis of strong idea technology tends to how well projects come out; that is, how well the work is designed
increase over time as new problems or technologies, and the projects and recognized.
where they are required, emerge. And although the overall percentage
of strong service firms seems to remain relatively stable, the percent- Business-Centered Practice
age of strong delivery firms becomes relatively diminished as a conse- The term "business" is used to describe a commercial enterprise,
quence of the growth of new idea firms in the marketplace. engaged in the profession as a means to gain financial reward. The
business-centered firm engages in the practice for the purpose of
Organizational Values increased financial compensation. The business-centered practice
applies a quantitative measurement of firm success.
The business-centered practice is organized around a corporate
In addition to service delivery technologies, the other distinguish- structure with power closely held by owners and employs a hierarchi-
ing characteristic of professional service firms is the set of organiza- cal authority-based decision-making process to maintain it. The firm
tional values that underlie the firm's approach to its structure and operates from planned goals and objectives that target specific growth
operation (Coxe et al. 1987:21). There are two basic philosophical and development achievements in the marketplace. Marketing is cen-
positions: one focused on professional practice and the other on busi- trally controlled, using marketing representatives to find and pursue
ness as an economic enterprise. The two practice types produce radi- leads on work. These deal "closers" then hand the projects off to
cally different ways of determining the firm's success. "doers" who execute the work. The best client base for the business-
oriented firm includes large corporations and government clients who
Practice-Centered Business have the capacity to delegate project work within their own organiza-
Practice in this context means engaging in a profession or occupa- tions. The staffing strategy is to hire experienced staff on the basis of
tion as a way of life. The practice-centered firm engages in the profes- project requirements. This leads to high turnover, with job tenure
sion as a business for the purpose of executing works of design. The assured only for core expertise specialists. The profit strategy is to
practice-centered business uses a qualitative system of evaluating seek lump sum fees that stimulate maximum efficiency. The leader-
firm success. ship-management style focuses on administration of the firm as a
The practice-centered business typically employs an organiza- profit -oriented organization. Attention is directed to details and short-
tional structure such as a proprietorship or partnership with equal term results. The reward system is based on a quantitative index
ownership among the partners. Decisions are made by consensus and related to how well the firm did on the project; that is, how much
planning tends to follow existing forms of practice in response to money was made.
new opportunities. Since the owners are already engaged in doing
what they want and leading the professional life they choose, the While there are examples of firms that follow these pure forms of
firm does little formal strategic planning to facilitate change for the practice, most design firms do not. Most firms, although they may
future. Marketing tends to be broad with participation by partners favor one orientation or another, tend to be hybrids, responding to the
who act as job prospectors, deal closers, and project executors, called varied values of owners and managers, and to the opportunities for
"closer-doers." The firm's best market area includes clients who want work presented by different types of clients in the local or regional
to be directly involved with the person providing the service; institu- markets in which they operate.
Chapter Eight Design Practice 177

Changing Characteristics of Professions

The characteristics of design professions are changing in response Old New
to evolving economic conditions, technical capacities, and political solution oriented
dynamics. As the professions respond to these changing circumstances problem oriented
Professional practitioners were Professional practitioners are
in the marketplace they begin to assume new characteristics. Over the
trained to define problems in terms trained to explore situations and
last twenty-five years, professional design firms have undergone a
of a preordained solution. define problems in an effort to
number of fundamental changes. Consequently, the basic paradigms identify possible solutions.
regarding the role and nature of design firms have undergone some
profound shifts. A comparison of old and emerging professional para- question answering question asking
digms in box 8.1 illustrates the impact of evolving conditions on con- Professionals were trained to Professionals are encouraged to
temporary design practice. answer questions "professionally" inquire continually about problems
The factors that brought about these paradigmatic shifts include a (i.e., error-free and surprise-free). in a more open, error-embracing,
number of rapidly developing influences. These include management, and surprise-anticipating manner
construction practice, economics, technology, and the regulations that (fast-fail, then rapid recovery).
govern the development process. In combination these influences have system closing system opening
reshaped the nature and type of services that design firms offer. Professionals were trained to oper- Professionals operate in an open,
Because these changes in the character and orientation of contempo- ate within a closed system environ- democratic, liberal, flexible, con-
rary professional practice are ongoing, they need to be reflected in ment that was elitist, technocratic, flict-exposing, and process- or
design education if it is to adequately prepare students for successful bureaucratic, conflict masking, and system-oriented environment.
entry into design practice. Investigations in Great Britain and in the product oriented.
United States indicate that this has not been the case in the recent past organization captured boundary expanding
(Crosbie 1995:47; Symes, Eley, and Seidel 1997:44). Professionals were trained to Professionals operate in exposed,
operate in a protected, institution- free-floating, humanistic, and issue-
Management Considerations alized, client-oriented, and con- opportunistic situations.
strained situation.
Evolving conditions in urban land development have brought about
systemic changes in the nature of contemporary design practice (Der- politically explicit politically flexible
rington 1981:5-11; Crosbie 1995:50). Over the last quarter century the Professionals were trained to oper- Professionals operate early in a
size and scope of development projects have been increasing, with ate late in the political process with political process that is issue
projects being commissioned by a new type of client rather than the tra- well-defined roles and expectations. formulating and uncertain of roles
ditional owner-occupier of the past. Contemporary clients for expanded- or expectations.
scope projects are often collectivebodies such as public agencies, corpo- foreign ideas indigenous ideas
rations, institutional boards, and development consortia. In the United The profession engaged in "bor- The profession places emphasis on
States, three-fourths of landscape architects surveyed indicate that their rowed mentality" and was developing new local methods and
most likely type of client was a developer (American Society of Land- impressed by imported technolo- technologies, or adapting ideas to
scape Architects [ASIA] 1990:38). Because these clients rarely use the gies and organizations. suit local or regional conditions.
facilities they develop, the relationship between the designer and client is static conditions dynamic conditions
becoming impersonal and distant, with the result that many of the tra- Professionals were trained to deal Professionals are trained to deal
ditional advantages of a close working relationship have been lost.
with conditions and promote rela- with conditions as evolving and
These changes in clientele have also brought about a change in
tionships as if they were fixed and adapting, and to promote integrated,
their expectations (Derrington 1981: 5). Increasingly, they seek a cli-
unchanging. interrelated, systemic solutions.
ent-centered service rather than design advice with an aesthetically
sophisticated form orientation. These clients demand increasing atten-
tion to their unique organizational or operational needs-often time Adapted from Faniran 1987:317-33.
178 179
Chapter Eight Design Practice
and budget requirements or specific functional and marketing consid- has become a specialist broker of subcontractors engaged to execute
erations. The nature of the clients' needs depends on the type of orga- ~the different elements of the work. Because of its increased size and
nization they represent and its specific development goals or internal complexity, the building enterprise has diminished the role of the indi-
decision-making structures. Several areas of change in design practice vidual craftsperson. Consequently, the architect is no longer asked to
have been identified. Management is one of the most prominent. supervise the work of tradespeople in the production of quality build-
Management concerns are growing in importance as an integral ing, but to oversee work executed by unskilled or semi-skilled laborers
component of all the design professions. As building projects have who are often unconcerned with the quality of the finished product.
expanded in size and scope, many specialists have been incorporated The responsibility for quality now rests with the general contractor,
into the design process to address an increased number of develop- who is, in effect, removed from the building process (Derrington
ment requirements (Caudill 1971: 71). The growing number of partic- 1981: 7). The pressures of the contemporary development process tend
ipants in the process has required designers to devote an increasing to create a relationship between clients, designers, and contractors
amount of time to managerial responsibilities. These are responsibili- that may often be described as one of stress and frustration. These
ties that designers are often ill-equipped by temperament or training changes in the nature of contracting have led to a shift in attention
to handle, with the result that design firms are entering into collabo- away from the pursuit of quality building to the legal interpretation
ration with management consultants or introducing managerial of contractual obligations.
expertise into design practice. The consequence of these changes is an The traditional pattern of development has been for the designer
expanded and increasingly expensive administrative function that is to prepare design plans and specifications to describe the work. Clients
seen to detract from traditional focus on architectural concerns and as receive, on the basis of the plans and specifications, bids from contrac-
a consequence, constitutes an erosion of long-held professional roles tors who compete, on the basis of price for construction, to receive the
and design values (Derrington 1981: 6) building contract. The successful bidder is awarded the construction
Landscape architects report that they are increasingly engaged in contract and implements the project under the oversight of the
a variety of activities other than design in their routine work. These designer to assure compliance with the plans and specifications. This
include practice management, contract management, project manage- process, referred to as the design-bid-build process, is employed to
ment, marketing, and public relations (ASLA1990:3). Architects and separate the design decisions from construction decisions in order that
landscape architects alike indicate that recent graduates have little the most appropriate construction, rather than the easiest or most
awareness of project and budget management in particular, and that profitable development, will be implemented.
their general preparation for this area of practice is inadequate (Cros- A major consequence of this process has been that the relation-
bie 1995:47; Murphy, Seidel, and Huang 2002). British architects also ships among the parties "collaborating" in the execution of the devel-
report that they are increasingly engaged in management activities opment project are becoming increasingly adversarial-at times
(including budget management); activities for which they feel poorly resorting to the legal system to resolve disputes. Common disputes
prepared by their formal professional education (Symes et al. 1997). relate to construction that the designer deems inadequate or inappro-
About half of British architects surveyed report inadequate training in priate relative to the specifications provided. Because land develop-
other areas they rate as important to practice as well. These include ment is a complex enterprise with emphasis on the application of
urban design, planning, codes, and programming. specialized skills, division of labor, and cooperation to apply a wide
Management of the process of design service delivery has become variety of resources in orchestrating change to the environment,
complex because the requirements of landscape design have become adversarial relationships become both destructive to the process and
complex. It has become imperative that practitioners become manag- frustrating to the parties involved (L. N. Sullivan 1997, pers. comm.).
The result is that the delivery of excellence in both design and con-
ers as well as designers if they are to thrive in the contemporary
development environment. struction under traditional design-bid-build relationships is becoming
difficult in the extreme. Perhaps the greatest loss is that innovation
Construction Practice and creativity have become essentially impossible in the context of an
adversarial relationship often characterized more by conflict than
Changes in construction practice are having an important influ- cooperation and collaboration.
ence on the design professions. The nature of the construction con- An emerging alternative to the traditional implementation process
tractor also is changing. No longer a generalist builder, the contractor is the design-build process. In this process the designer and contractor
180 Chapter Eight Design Practice

collaborate to expedite the process and seek efficiencies that may be Design practice also is being affected by the growth of the con-
passed along to the client. There is a long tradition of design-build in ~sumer movement. In an effort to ensure that they receive value for
landscape architecture and about 25 percent of practitioners in Texas their money, clients demand detailed accounting of expenses, contrac-
now employ this approach (Murphy et al. 2002). tual performance specifications for services, and sometimes explicit
rationale (or defense) of (often rapidly formulated) design recommen-
Economics dations. Additionally, there has been an enormous growth in regula-
tory requirements to which designs must respond and regarding
Economics has become the most significant factor in the changing which the designer must submit to lengthy review by statutory
character of design practice. The influence of monetary inflation and authorities to assure compliance (Derrington 1981:9). Taken together,
depression cycles has created severe pressure for all decisions and ser- these influences create many layers of constraint to individual (unilat-
vices to be delivered within compressed time frames. In addition, many eral) design behavior and significantly alter (and from the point of
projects are undertaken with interim financing and clients want to view of the designer and client alike, complicate) the design process.
limit the amount of time during which this expensive financing
arrangement takes place. The urgency regarding financing impacts all Technology
other aspects of the design and development process. The most compel-
ling result of reduced time is noted in the quality of the design service Design, information, and construction technology are the pri-
being delivered (Derrington 1981 :9). As clients become increasingly mary tools for determining the quality of design results. What we
build is determined by the technology we control. What we design is
aware of the cost of services (and require the delivery of designs in
determined to a large extent by what we can build. Current means of
abbreviated time periods to reduce uncertainty and potentially
increased costs), their quality appears to be impaired. This is often evi- bringing technology to bear on shaping the landscape, and by exten-
denced by inadequate or conflicting instructions in the (rushed to com- sion on the learning tasks to prepare for that activity, require that we
pletion) design and contract documents, with the inevitable cost continually consider developments in implementation and informa-
escalation and delays that result when changes are made after con- tion technology. The ongoing developments in contemporary technol-
struction contracts have been signed and building begun. ogy are rapidly changing the nature of professional practice. An
The development industry has responded to these pressures with increasing amount of designers' time is being spent in keeping up with
process technology, such as construction management systems (often these rapidly evolving technical innovations.
supplied by outside experts), to ensure that projects are executed on Although the application of technology is not the purpose of
time and within budget. A major consequence of this is that the design, it is the vehicle through which change is implemented. Unless
our ideas are translated into physical reality they will have no influ-
designer has become only one of a number of service providers with
diminished capacity to oversee overall excellence in the quality of the ence on improving the landscape. We must understand and control
finished project. Moreover, design fees under tight economic condi- the technology by which designs are realized. Ultimately, the land-
tions are sometimes negotiated to the lowest possible levels with the scape will become not what we can design and build, but what we can
maintain. The technology to understand, organize, and manage the
result that design quality is further threatened (Derrington 1981 :10).
Design quality thus has been essentially redefined by current eco- landscape is continually changing. Unfortunately, it may be reason-
nomic conditions. Attention to physical form as the principal mea- ably argued that the change we impose on the landscape is far more
sure of design excellence (as defined by the professions) has an expression of our technology than our understanding. This condi-
diminished in light of contemporary influences on design and con- tion may be reversed when we dedicate as much attention to learning
struction processes. To clients, quality has come to mean the delivery what is appropriate as to what is possible.
We also must be mindful that what we build is based on what is
of the project on time and within budget (Derrington 1981: 10). And,
in construction, time means money. Clients often feel that consider- socially acceptable and permitted by laws and ordinances. Through
ations of design function and aesthetic appeal are concerns for the the application of statutorily enacted codes and regulations based on
designer, and as a consequence, tend to trust that the designer will contemporary technology, changes in the landscape are based on nor-
attend to them as a matter of course, separate from more pressing mative procedures (not innovation) as imposed by presumably quali-
responsibilities such as time schedules and budgets, with which cli- fied technicians in the areas of development, maintenance, or
ents are primarily concerned. environmental concern. But, the regulations to assure the application
182 183
Chapter Eight

of technology are invariably framed by those with political and legal,

rather than technological, expertise.
One of the most promising technologies for landscape architecture
Building codes
lies in the power of rapidly advancing geographic information sys- Zoning ordinances
tems (GIS). These complex data-management systems are beginning Property setback restrictions
to reveal the landscape in terms that closely approximate the true
Building height restrictions
complexity of its cultural, physical, and ecological interrelationships. Land-use restrictions
This is a significant advance when we compare the decision making of Land-coverage restrictions
today with that of just a few years ago when designers trusted aes- Accessibility requirements
thetic values as their primary source of environmental understanding. Park and open space requirements
Today we are able to amass enormous amounts of spatially locatable Stormwater discharge restrictions
data about the landscape and evaluate the interacting relationships Pollution discharge restrictions
among them in ways that were barely possible a decade ago. This Sewerage discharge restrictions
ability not only provides new insights into the environment but also
Local Restrictions Deed restrictions
will guide future design and management of the landscape. The grow- Architectural controls
ing complexity of contemporary practice with its increasingly compli-
Signage controls
cated environmental and regulatory requirements necessitates that
Materials requirements
landscape architects understand and apply these sophisticated data- Tree-removal restrictions
management systems. Plant-use restrictions

Regulations Regional Restrictions Wetland protection

Protection of threatened or endangered species
Land development is highly regulated: directly, through building Riparian rights
codes and zoning ordinances, and indirectly through the provision of Flood-control requirements
capital and infrastructure. It also is influenced through public partici-
pation in applications for changes in land-use zoning ordinances. In
some situations the physical arrangement of designs is almost entirely
shaped by legal and statutory requirements. These requirements these requirements demands that designers work closely with regula-
include those listed in box 8.2.
tory agencies to avoid conflicts that may interrupt the flow of the
Legal requirements may originate from a variety of authorities development process.
and agencies, ranging from local, county, and district levels to state, Because land-development regulations are continually being
regional, and national levels. Different levels of authority with differ- revised and expanded, designers have seen a similar increase in the
ent areas of statutory responsibility regulate development through time required to understand and respond to them through design. On
the imposition of restrictive criteria. Municipal agencies often have rare occasions authorities may be unable to provide direct informa-
detailed guidelines to control design and development. It is in the tion except in response to specific proposals or requests for project
designer's best interest to identify the extent and potential impact of approval. In these cases restrictions may be politically influenced and
these restrictions as early as possible. Only when the land develop- instructions or approvals may not be directly forthcoming. In such a
ment parameters are fully understood can effective design proposals scenario the specific language of the code or ordinance may be insuffi-
be developed and services provided. cient to provide a complete guide to development requirements. In
The restrictive language of codes makes it difficult for designers to some circumstances the review process may be expanded to include
retain flexibility since regulations often dictate a normative rather community participation or local authority involvement to address
than a creative response. Designers are constantly reminded that issues to the satisfaction of all concerned parties. Professional design-
agencies act in the public interest and although practitioners are paid ers must spend increasing amounts of time to anticipate likely design
by their clients, they also have responsibilities to the broader commu- limitations or requirements and limit their potential to stall proposals
nity through the satisfaction of codes and legal requirements. Meeting or require substantive changes late in the design process. Proposals
184 185
Chapter Eight Design Practice

that fail to satisfy required statutory requirements inevitably slow the relate to their clients. Not too surprisingly, these changes have been
development process and make it more expensive. responsible for a perceived deterioration in the value of the services
being rendered. One reason for this perception is that contemporary
Professional Services clients require more than mere design service. They demand strict
control of costs, adherence to abbreviated time schedules, provision of
consistent and knowledgeable contact personnel, rapid and effective
Landscape architects operate in the marketplace through the pro- decision making, and the demonstration of considerable flexibility in
vision of professional services. We tend to focus our attention on the design approach to accommodate specific client goals, needs, and
design service, but there are a number of supporting services that are activities. They prefer primarily that the construction be sound.
necessary for the effective delivery of design research, development, Architects, on the other hand, continue to place primary emphasis on
and implementation. In our initial contact with clients, for example, it the quality of design form, apparently unaware of or unconcerned
is premature to discuss design ideas even though this is the basis of with the changing needs of their clientele (Derrington 1981 :88). Land-
the conversation. Designers must begin by inquiring into the client's scape architects are under similar pressures and exhibit similar, if less
motives and perceived problems before enough can be known to dis- pronounced, tendencies.
cuss reasonable design solutions. For this reason, designers usually Moreover, clients sometimes feel their needs are going unmet due
initiate the process with a discussion of the comprehensive nature of to the design community's lack of managerial skills and the inability
the services we offer; that is, programming and project research as of formal mechanisms within the design process to precisely deter-
well as design and documentation. mine and satisfy client needs (Derrington 1981 :89; Crosbie 1995:48).
The discussion of the broad range of professional services informs Not only are architects often ill-prepared by training to satisfy their
clients about the nature of the work we provide and the types of prod- clients' needs, but more importantly, the profession as a whole is not
ucts we deliver in the course of a typical design commission. Clients, oriented toward the identification and satisfaction of these needs (Rap-
on the other hand, have needs that go beyond the finished product. oport 1990:82). A survey of Texas landscape architects indicates they
They must first engage in the sometimes-lengthy process from which believe their clients place a high value on the execution of projects
a design product will eventually result. Clients have apprehensions within budget, but that their actual performance in this regard falls
about the entire process of design and implementation and tend to short (Murphy et al. 2002). This may be a result of their focus on, and
focus on its economic and temporal dimensions and the inherent risks confidence in, their well-established internal values and professional
involved with them. Design services are organized to address the goals in preference to the values and goals of their clients.
needs and responsibilities of both the designer and the client. It is important that the design disciplines do a better job of align-
Service, which includes management of the design process, has ing the services they offer with the needs of their prospective clientele.
been identified as the most important aspect of design practice for cli- Specifically, there needs to be a better correlation between the values
ents (Derrington 1981 :80). Clients ranked management and technical held by designers and those expressed by clients.
knowledge equally for second place, and design form as the least
important aspect of the services they received from architects (Der- Design Services
rington 1981: 80). Architects queried in the same survey that identi-
Landscape architects influence the environment through the
fied client needs, however, considered the creation of design form to be instruments of design service they provide. They do not normally
the most important aspect of their service, with technical knowledge change the landscape directly but give advice to those who will. Pro-
ranking second and professional service a close third in priority. Cli- fessional advice is rendered in the form of specific design and con-
ents place the highest priorities on controlling costs and having their struction oversight services. These services are conveyed in the form
interests and priorities accurately identified by the designer. More of documents, usually drawings and written descriptions of the
recently, landscape architects have placed their highest priority on
design ideas proposed. Design services follow a typical sequence of
design quality with projects that function effectively and conform to
stages. The process outline and the documents that convey these ser-
regulatory requirements and codes, as well as the delivery of consis- vices are as follows.
tently high quality service (Murphy et al. 2002).
As a consequence of this divergence in perceptions, or values, Programming. Work begins with project definition; that is,
there have been changes in the way architects and landscape architects research and analysis on site, user, and activity characteristics to
186 Chapter Eight Design Practice

determine the requirements-the design problem-to be satisfied by design service for clients who wish to make broad site development
the design proposal. decisions prior to the execution of specificdesigns. The site is organized
into an overall pattern of development to guide future design decisions.
Schematic design. This is a preliminary stage of design resolu-
tion intended to provide direction for the solution, but without Landscape planning. lYPically this service provides developers
detailed investigation of precise form and materials deployment. This of future projects with a broad understanding of the most appropriate
stage typically explores available options prior to establishing the overall pattern of development in relation to the context of the site
basic arrangement of the solution to be pursued. and the political, economic, or environmental limitations to be over-
come in responding to it. Site context analysis usually includes an
Design development. This involves refining the selected design assessment of the problems and potentialities that are likely to be
approach to determine the detailed requirements of the solution and encountered in the landscape regarding a particular type of develop-
its implementation. At this stage specific form relationships, dimen- ment project. Landscape planning is a broad organization of the pro-
sions, and materials are finally established. • posed development's land-use activities and service infrastructure
Construction documentation. This typically includes drawings fitted to the general pattern of the site's existing cultural and biophys-
and specifications prepared to guide implementation through the con- ical setting.
tract for construction between the client and the building contractor. Project/construction management. This service amplifies the
These documents form the basis of the implementation contract role of the designer to include administrative oversight and technical
between client and contractor.
management for clients who lack these capacities within their current
Bidding and negotiation. The designer makes the contract doc- organizational structure. This is a relatively new service area for land-
uments (contract forms, drawings, and specifications) available to con- scape architecture professionals.
tractors for the submission of competitive bids for the construction Community development. Such a service is typically related to a
contract and assists the client in negotiating a final contract agreement. particular type of development, such as medium-density housing
Contract administration. The designer oversees the implemen- projects. It includes landscape planning, master planning, and site
tation process as executed through the construction contract to assure design services in support of the rapidly expanding suburban housing
the quality of the finished product. The landscape architect typically developments, usually on the margins of urban areas.
serves as agent on behalf of the client in oversight and reporting of Public participation facilitation. Designs to improve commu-
construction progress during the implementation process. nity services, such as new or renovated parks in existing cities, often
These typical services parallel the phases of the design and imple- require the active participation of local citizens since these projects are
mentation process as provided by other design professionals, notably normally paid for by their taxes. To assure active support for these
architects, who originally developed the process and its standard projects and to prevent the development of facilities the community
phases of service. might consider wasteful or unusable, local citizens are included as
active participants in the programming and design review process.
Other Services Design-build. This occurs when a single firm provides both the
In response to an expanding development market and the ready design and the installation for clients. Although a minority of firms
availability of information technology, landscape architects are broad- offer this type of service, it is the basis of one of the most common
ening the range of services they provide. Many of these fall within the forms of landscape architecture practice. Those providing this service
typical design or pre-design activities, while the newer areas of profes- have produced some of the best examples of design, particularly resi-
sional service include construction management and community dential landscape design.
development-services that are beyond the areas of preparation pro- Urban design. Designs for the urban landscape offer one of the
vided by conventional design education. The most common of these most important areas of opportunity to touch the lives of a substan-
broad-scope service areas are listed below. tial number of people and improve the quality of their shared envi-
Site master planning. This is one of the more common services ronment. Because the urban landscape is typically characterized most
offered by contemporary practitioners. It is an almost standard pre- by structural features and infrastructure rather than natural fea-
188 Chapter Eight;

tures, design consideration to include or retain natural elements is

high. In urban design the organization of space and the provision of
amenities are even more important than in more naturalistic settings'
due to the increased number of people who must use and live within
them. It is important to note that involvement in this type of project
is almost always a collaborative effort, undertaken in concert with a
number of other professionals such as architects, urban planners, pol-'
iticians and administrators, economists, horticulturists, and sociolo-
gists, as well as representatives from the communities for whom the
designs are intended.
Environmental management. Some design firms offer services'
in environmental resource and conservation management. Typically
these services are in support of the management of large holdings or
public lands for which landscape quality or public use is an important
area of responsibility or concern.
Design Collaboration
There are a number of other services currently being offered by
some practitioners. These include such things as GIS services and golf
course design. The wide array of service areas, some offered by a rela-
tively large percentage of landscape architects, suggests very clearly
The ultimate good is better reached by free trade in ideas. The best
that practitioners must be knowledgeable in a number of service deliv-
test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in
ery areas if they are to compete favorably in today's marketplace. the competition of the market.
Moreover, the increasing list of emerging service areas also suggests
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
that professional preparation needs to continually expand to satisfy
the ever-widening range of services required by potential clients for
their land planning, design, development, and management projects.
Increasingly, landscape architects are becoming involved in
projects that require the collaboration of multiple disciplines in a com-
prehensive design enterprise. In a complex setting it is inevitable that
designs prepared by professionals from a single discipline will, on
occasion, be inadequate to address all the issues at an appropriate level
of resolution. Each discipline has its own particular strengths, knowl-
edge areas, and skills, and as a consequence, its own weaknesses and
limitations. To make up for these weaknesses, design teams are formed
to broaden the base of expertise and resolve problems holistically.
Comprehensive design resolution requires a deep understanding of
the issues. The application of knowledge from a broad range of disci-
plines or knowledge areas is best achieved when those possessing that
knowledge are directly involved with decision making. Integrating
this broad-based knowledge and applying it to design decisions is a
process that requires its own area of expertise. Managing a collabora-
tive design enterprise requires knowledge and skill beyond that nor-
mally provided in design schools.
190 191
Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

Participatory design is an area of growing concern in contempo_ !ems of working in teams in very strong terms. In a January 1971
rary professional practice-particularly for design projects with com- ~officememo he wrote: "Team action is hell! But," he went on to say,
plex technical, environmental, or user requirements. Successful design "it's the best way" (1984). He recognized conflict for both its creative
within the context of economic, political, and environmental concerns and destructive potential. The memo continued:
is difficult due to the shifting nature of events and our growing A firm like CRSwhich operates on a highly complex multidisci-
awareness of them. Perhaps the most significant problem to be plinary basis will always be in turmoil. It's a matter of degree.
addressed is the difficulty of fully comprehending and, as a result, Once we accept this-knowing that there will always be con-
successfully managing complex systemic relationships (Senge flict, then we can eliminate the feelings of personal inadequacies
1990: 14). The knowledge required to inform design decisions that and concentrate on perfecting the tasks which we have to do as
manage comprehensive change in complex systems must come from individuals and as groups.
many sources and respond to many different problem situations and Thrmoil must not breed contempt for either the task or for
value systems. For this reason a multidisciplinary design approach those working on the task.
has been adopted for many large-scale or community-based develop- I look upon a certain degree of turmoil as healthy, engrossing,
ment projects. A collaborative approach, whereby specialists with intellectual vitality, stimulating and stretching one's capabilities.
knowledge from a wide range of disciplines interact to improve under- On the other hand, too much turmoil tends to destroy. (1984)
standing and design response, is seen as one of our most powerful The territories in this context are professional territories, some-
approaches to resolving complex problems. times called "turf." Tobalance the level of turf conflict and resolve dif-
ficulties without destroying the creative potential of team interaction
Design Teams requires the establishment of innovative working procedures, or team
organizations. Organizations are systems that capitalize on learning
to minimize the difficulty associated with managing complexity and
The design team approach has two basic advantages: (1) it is built uncertainty (Senge 1990; Wheatley 1992). Developing and maintain-
on an expanded knowledge base and (2) it has the potential for ing team structure and management is a constant problem for teams
advancing knowledge beyond that held by the individual team mem- that include members from multiple disciplines. There are two basic
bers. This is possible because team members are able to learn from one types: multidisciplinary teams and interdisciplinary teams.
another through interaction, and more learning takes place among Teams that include members from a number of different disci-
multiple disciplines working in groups than when individuals or disci- plines but are led by a single discipline are referred to as multidisci-
plines work alone (Senge 1990: 14; Parker 1994:23). plinary. The knowledge base from which these teams operate is
Working in teams, however, also has a number of disadvantages. expanded, but the definition of the problems they address tends to be
When people from different disciplines interact, they almost always disciplinarily focused-such as a multidisciplinary team to address an
lack a conventional method of communication such as that which engineering project, for example. Success is measured in a discipli-
typically exists within individual disciplines. Consequently, it is often narily discrete way; that is, the team is intended to provide an
difficult for professionals from different fields to interact meaning- improved engineering outcome. The additional expertise is there to
fully since they have their own ways of communicating and making strengthen the engineering. The turf of these teams is well defined as
decisions. In these cases we often try, although usually without suc- "belonging" to a particular discipline.
cess, to get others to come around to our way of doing things. This is Interdisciplinary teams also are made up of people from multiple
further hampered by the fact that people from different disciplines disciplines, but the definition of the problem and the outcome tend to
operate from different knowledge bases, and in particular from differ- be more open to the interpretation that the team members collectively
ent value systems, that may not be fully shared by other members of establish. Success for such a team may not conform to any particular
the team. Perhaps the greatest difficulty for team members is to over- disciplinary definition. The role of the team is not to maximize the
come perceived infringements on their professional territory. outcome for a particular discipline (engineering, for example) but to
Territorial conflict, behavior that seems to be a constant in nature optimize the outcomes for all participants. That is, such teams address
(Ardrey 1966:170; Bell et al. 1996:305), creates a situation that must problems in holistic rather than disciplinary terms. The question of
be continually confronted. William Caudill, who led one of the most turf is more open to interpretation since team members define both
successful team design firms in the United States, describes the prob- the problem and their mutual responsibilities.
192 193
Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

Management of interdisciplinary teams-teams that behave inte- excel in their contributions because they do so in their own
gratively rather than cumulatively-is much more problematic since self-interest.
the design project the team is formed to resolve may not have a clear 4. Reliance on systems thinking: managing activities within a
disciplinary definition, such as an engineering project or an architec- conceptual framework; that is, a body of knowledge and tools
tural project. In these cases the project is not oriented toward a spe- developed to make patterns clearer and to help the team discern
cific disciplinary outcome and may lack the clarity of expectation that how best to change patterns by focusing on critical relation-
helps unite members of diverse teams.
ships rather than the objects of design intention.
A major challenge for interdisciplinary teams is the need to recon- S. Reliance on team learning: developing an ability to think col-
cile and integrate individual team members' strongly held opinions, as lectively based on dialogue and participation, to surpass the
well as the views of clients and users. Under single-discipline or multi- power of any single discipline and accelerate the learning process.
disciplinary approaches, individual designers, by virtue of the design
services contract, are able to draw authority from the client to lead A learning-based design process builds on these principles to pro-
others in the acceptance and support of proposals with a strong disci- vide the philosophical basis for synergistic interaction to initiate
plinary focus. In an interdisciplinary setting, however, authority is meaningful change in the environment. It is based on fundamental
more diffuse and it becomes necessary for all team members to estab- change initiatives (as opposed to replicating conventional solutions
lish their credibility through individual contributions of expertise, from the past), emphasizes leadership from all levels (as opposed to
insight, or discovery of useful information. This helps build mutual leadership from the top), places importance on individuals as the criti-
understanding and acceptance of ideas representative of the team as a cal element of the group in reaching defined goals, and promotes the
whole. This means that each discipline must have knowledge that is development of shared values and the collective creation of a binding
understood to be of value to the rest of the team. vision for the future.
Because of the considerable advantages of team learning and syn-
ergy, and in spite of the very real interpersonal, organizational, and
Team Learning communication problems, the interdisciplinary design approach is
becoming an increasingly important organizational method for
addressing complex and difficult to resolve planning and design initia-
The basis of team interaction is the learning that takes place tives. Particular attention must be given to forming, maintaining, and
among people who have different knowledge and experience. The
managing interdisciplinary teams. Because complex design problems
team learning process, when all participants are collaboratively
are unique, and thus difficult to define, the organizations established
engaged, can serve as an important means of reaching a collective
understanding of the issues and lead ultimately to consensus and to address them are typically ad hoc and short term; intended only for
the life of the project they are formed to address. This means that
shared ownership of the resultant design ideas. But this is only likely
these organizations often lack continuity and the ability to continu-
to happen if the team is constituted as an effective learning organiza-
ally learn and develop as their members gain experience in working
tion. Senge (1990) describes five principles necessary for the develop-
ment of an effective learning organization. together over an extended period of time.
One of the most common problems with interdisciplinary teams is
1. Personal mastery: continually clarifying and developing our leadership. Such an approach is not based on a lead discipline with
personal and professional vision, of seeing reality objectively, others (consultants) acting in subordination, but rather on the
of focus, and patience. This is the learning organization's premise that the environment exists as a whole and that designs for
basic foundation.
whole environments-not discrete components such as buildings or
2. Continual development of mental models: deeply ingrained infrastructure or setting-should be the result. Rather than using con-
assumptions, generalizations, or images that influence how we sultants to support the elaboration of a lead designer's ideas (devel-
understand the world and how we take action. Mental models oped from the perspective of a single discipline), interdisciplinary team
must be rigorously scrutinized and periodically amended if members collaborate equally to define and resolve problems holisti-
appropriate change is to take place. cally. However, participation on teams of equals is not something for
3. Creation of shared vision: collectively forming a clear pic- which designers (planners, engineers, architects, or landscape archi-
ture of the future to be created, enabling team members to tects) are particularly well prepared by their training (or perhaps tem-
194 Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

perament). Most designers tend to trust their own (disciplinary) ideas are directly affected (Park 1993:8; Whyte 1991:7). Thus, in participa-
more than the ideas of others who operate from a different knowledge ~.tory design the values of the people from the affected community,
base and value system. rather than those of the design professionals, should be given prefer-
Traditional design training is heavily focused on the value of indi- ence (Reason 1994:328).
viduals working alone, with professional recognition being conferred One way to ensure that people's needs are well understood is to
on those whose work is considered innovative or creative-but only involve them directly in defining the design problem. John Motloch
when understood within the prevailing values of their individual dis- and Thomas Woodfin (1993) have identified a number of tasks they
cipline. In the relatively recent past, a team approach was considered regard as essential if designs are to produce settings that are meaning-
unsuitable for the creation of design ideas, particularly in pursuit of ful to the people who use them. To promote culturally sustainable
excellence in individual achievement, to which all professionals aspire decisions, designs should address the full range of operative value sys-
(Caudill 1971). In fact, the phrase "design by committee" is intended tems and integrate with local ecological and cultural systems. To do
as a pejorative to convey the inevitable dilution effect of consensus. this they suggest that designers:
But, design by committee is not the same thing as design by team. • Discover the value systems operating at the local level
William Caudill was one of the first to describe the benefits of team
design with the publication of Architecture by Team in 1971. The Hous- • Respond sensitively to the user groups' value systems as well as
ton architecture and engineering firm of Caudill Rowlett Scott (CRS) to their perceptions of problems, coping strategies, and organi-
zational structures
began in the 1960s to experiment with design teams to address the
technical, management, and production aspects of large-scale design • Identify the needs and perceptions of the full range of users, many
commissions. CRSrecognized that projects were becoming far too com- of whom may approach the world from different value systems
plex for one person to command all the knowledge and skill required • Facilitate environmental understanding by the full range of peo-
and that teams of specialists were necessary to resolve all the problems ple who form their cognitive images of the environment
to a high level of satisfaction. Team participants were united by a com- through different value systems
mon goal driven by a design commission, even though the teams
included clients, users, and technical advisors in addition to architects. • Provide designs that address the needs and perceptions of the
full range of users to build consensus, minimize stress, and
Under the CRSconcept, specialization led to greater competence in all avoid conflict
areas of practice-programming, design, technology, management,
design development, contract administration, and eventually project These measures are suggested to assist designers in producing
management-and thus enabled the delivery of an improved architec- places that promote self-esteem, involvement, and a strong place-spe-
tural product. Significantly, this approach facilitated the direct incor- cific sense of community for users with diverse value systems. When
poration of client and user information into design decision making. these conditions exist the place becomes not only a setting for behav-
Because the views of designers and users often conflict (Berger and ioral interactions, but territory to which individuals and groups
Sinton 1985 :24), it is now recognized that the views of users must be belong, and to which they have responsibilities for defense and main-
consciously included as a central feature of the process for reaching tenance over time; that is, culturally sustainable space.
effective design decisions. User values must be understood so designs Because landscape design is based on a process of perpetual discov-
address the way people use the landscape and adapt to it (Abbott ery, it should always be viewed as participatory, involving the inhab-
1995:156; Ndubisi 1997:28). Though designers and social scientists itants of a place in a meaningful way (Ndubisi 1997:38). Participation
alike have difficulty in reaching the understanding necessary to ensure by users, as a central feature of the design learning process, is viewed
that culturally distinct values are included in decisions about how the as an important way to ensure that the design form created is capable
landscape is to be shaped, some useful methods have emerged. of expressing the intricacies of interrelationships between people and
Community participation through workshops or through the the landscape. "Participatory design fosters a better understanding of
inclusion of community spokespersons on design teams has become a 'community' and is in itself a reflection of (socially) ecological pro-
common way to empower people to shape and control their immedi- cesses evolving towards higher forms" (Kaplan 1983:311). Participa-
ate living environment (Abbott 1995:6; Hester 1984:7; Kotze and tory decision making, however, has inherent organizational and social
Swanepoel 1984). Designs that address issues of broad community problems. The type of organizational structure being employed exerts
interest are, of necessity, focused on problems arising from those who a significant influence on the outcome of the project.
196 Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

Authority and Collaboration the information being used through independent evaluation from
~II1ultiple perspectives (Lincoln and Guba 1985).
In addition to broadening the knowledge and skills base, there is
Different types of organizational structures have been identified another reason that integrating different perspectives is so important
with respect to group decision making. These include pyramidal to design. Innovation is required to change reality significantly, but it
structures, factional structures, and coalitions of power (Ahmed and is not just designs that are different that matter; they must incorpo-
Ludtke 1990:2).
rate the differences that matter. The changes to be imposed must deal
• Pyramidal power: structures resulting from elitist models with reality and promote improvement on multiple levels simulta-
that place the greatest power in the hands of a few at the top- neously. Innovation requires a departure from the norm-a shift in
a traditional design paradigm in which the designer is pre- paradigm or way of viewing reality. Departing from the conventional
sumed to know best and thus should be responsible for making mind-set is much more likely to be by chance than intention, and the
final decisions. innovations that attend these departures are almost always initiated
• Factional power: this occurs when groups with diverse inter- by outsiders (Barker 1992). Teams incorporating members from many
ests compete for resources to address their individual concerns- different disciplines consist essentially of outsiders, improving the
a common scenario when resources are limited or the values of chance of innovation-first in understanding problems, later in
designers conflict with those of users or clients. resolving them.
When team members develop their particular disciplinary solu-
• Coalition power: occurs when individuals or groups form alli-
tions prior to the establishment of a comprehensive view of the prob-
ances to address issues they have in common. Community par-
lem, they are likely to spend their time arguing over whose solution is
ticipation is most likely to succeed when there is both a strong best. Alternatively, if the team begins by sharing insights and defining
community structure where coalitions may be formed and
when the issues to be addressed are understood to be common to the problem in a comprehensive way, the solutions they develop will
be held to a shared vision of the issues to be resolved and the prospect
all participants in the design decision-making process.
of arguing over disciplinarily discrete solutions will be largely elimi-
The community participatory approach, sometimes called design nated. In other words, when the team has a common understanding
facilitation, is a process that focuses on coalition building, and thus of the whole problem-as defined by the team as a whole-the mem-
provides one of the most effective bases for collaboration between bers become more interdisciplinary in their thinking and more syner-
designers and users. Unfortunately, traditional design training has not gistic and creative in their interactions.
included preparation in coalition building. Most design training is A number of factors contribute directly to the success or failure of
based on an elitist model with the designer at the top of the pyramid. team design initiatives. These factors include the quality of the team
Most community or environmentally sensitive design projects require environment, the extent to which team members share a common
grassroots influence on decision making with input coming from vision of project success, team leadership, team size, and the responsi-
many sources to develop broadly acceptable conditions. The future bilities of team participation (Murphy 1997).
practice of landscape architecture is likely to require considerably
more use of coalition power rather than decision making by authority.
Participation in collaborative teams requires a sensitivity to many
The Team Environment
issues that are not taught in traditional design schools. To begin,
teams are the antithesis of individual action. Teams are small groups The most important indicator of an effective team environment is
of people who hold themselves mutually responsible for achieving the quality of the interactions among team members (Forsyth 1990).
common goals through the integrated application of complementary The strong group dynamic required for effective interaction is depen-
skills (Katzenbach and Smith 1993). By definition, design teams are dent on a working environment of mutual trust and acceptance
collaborative in nature and structure. Collaborative teams offer some (Bertcher and Maple 1996).
key advantages. They provide a way of integrating different kinds of Although teams work best when everyone shares the same values
knowledge and different ways of comprehending reality. They also and their interactions are guided by common principles (Wheatley
offer different ways of defining and solving problems. This increases 1992), this is difficult to achieve when team members represent
the internal checks on intellectual rigor and improves the reliability of diverse professional positions. Team members must share the core val-
198 Chapter Nine Design Collaboration 199

ues of their collaborative enterprise if they are to trust the guiding tion of team members to synthesize common group values and pro-
principles of what in most cases is a temporary organization. When ~mote harmonious and synergistic interaction. When people have the
participants are able to trust in the purpose of the organization, they security such a setting provides they may also be expected to have
are also likely to feel secure enough to express themselves in creative the confidence to deal with the uncertainties of demanding interper-
or unconventional ways. Unconventional behavior, however, is only sonal interaction.
acceptable it if does not threaten others and if it is understood to be in People behave differently in different settings. A team environ-
the interest of the group effort. Each discipline has its own conven- ment that frees members from the constraints of prior experience and
tions and we are often uncomfortable if forced to work outside those enables them to excel as individuals also holds the greatest potential
conventional rules of appropriate behavior. One of the most effective for creating the best individuals for the team, and a team that can
ways for team members to overcome the perceived threat of working make the most of the opportunities confronting it.
outside the comfort zone of their disciplinary conventions is to create
new ones. But before they can do this, they must have a working Shared Vision
environment that supports the communication and interaction
required for integration.
Different cultural groups have distinctly different perceptions, The greatest likelihood that a design team will realize its full
understandings, and concepts of reality. Different professions function potential is when all the members share a strong personal commit-
much like different cultures with their own value systems and social ment to their common enterprise (Katzenbach and Smith 1993). For
norms and in the way they read clues and pattern their interactive team members to be committed to interactive collaboration they must
behavior (Motloch 1991). In group settings people are expected to fol- have a common core of shared values. One of the first priorities in
low the rules of the prevailing culture. However, on interdisciplinary establishing a team is to develop a set of inclusive project values.
teams many professional "cultures" must coexist in the same setting. Through these a sense of common purpose will be created that will
Each culture or profession takes its values for granted and mem- govern their collective behavior (Senge 1990; Parker 1994). This is
bers assume that others share their perceptions and interactive behav- established by the collaborative development of a set of inclusive
ior. Unfortunately, these are internalized patterns and people rarely project goals.
understand the behavioral norms or social values of others. This For the collaboration to be seen as worthwhile, the team goals
makes it difficult to interact and achieve consensus in a complex or must embrace the individual values of all its members. Although
poorly understood cultural setting. In providing a team environment project purpose is the critical factor to group formation, the mem-
that is mutually understood, it is useful to recall the two kinds of spa- bers are only likely to commit themselves to full and active participa-
tial settings: proxemic space and distemic space. tion if they see a personal benefit in doing so. Shared goals enable
Because proxemic settings are occupied by homogeneous groups individual team members to shape the work of the entire team to
with highly consistent social behavior, they facilitate interpersonal address their personal aspirations and ensure the loyalty of all mem-
interactions that are extremely complex. All members of the group are bers to the group. A strongly shared sense of purpose provides a clear
thoroughly familiar -with the rules, which are largely taken for picture of the common future they seek to create and binds team
granted, therefore policing behavior is accomplished by internal social members together (Lawson 1994). Team members are motivated to
pressure and there are few interpersonal conflicts and little need for excel in their collaborative participation because they do so in their
behavioral cues to prompt appropriate interaction. own self-interest.
Distemic settings, on the other hand, are occupied by people who Teamwork is most creative when it operates with a few clear prin-
are culturally diverse. They hold different values, codes of conduct, or ciples and a great deal of individual freedom (Wheatley 1992). Teams
attitudes, and the behavior of one group may be expected to conflict working as learning organizations with a capacity for self-develop-
with and infringe on that of another. To avoid conflict, behavior is ment and periodic renewal naturally develop their own unique vision
controlled by explicit rules, cues, or external policing. The need to con- as members share knowledge and increase one another's overall
trol behavior makes spontaneous and creative interaction difficult in a understanding of their common purpose. Since reality is not fixed, it
distemic setting. must be continually defined and redefined. Central to the process is a
The team environment needs to provide a proxemic setting for capacity for good listening. Unfortunately, since we all seem to trust
interactions to be effective. To do this it must promote the accultura- the things we understand the most, individual designers may trust
200 201
Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

their own vision of the future more than that of someone else whose Team Size
vision they may neither understand nor appreciate very well. Team
interaction that promotes good listening, which is not a universal
A team should be as small as possible while maintaining the
trait, is one of the most important factors to the creation and mainte-
nance of a sense of common purpose. capacity to perform its required mission (Parker 1994; Bertcher and
Maple 1996). As team size increases arithmetically, the relationships
among the members increase geometrically, demanding significantly
Team Leadership increased time and energy for communication and interaction. This in
turn requires greater management oversight to prevent the loss of the
team's intellectual agility and effectiveness.
Effective team leadership is usually subtle. On interdisciplinary The larger the team the more rules members have to accept to
teams the leader's function is to provide focus and direction for the maintain effectiveness. Larger team size reduces the team's freedom to
group by constantly reminding members of the project vision they act and results in a loss of spontaneity and creativity. Larger team size
themselves have created. Since the best teams are self-defined, self- provides less opportunity for each person to participate actively, and
managed, self-taught, and self-regenerating, it is not the function of some members may participate very little. The result of limited partic-
the team leader to establish the vision. Team members must be able to ipation is that some individuals will undergo very little personal
make significant individual contributions as well as participate collec- change from the process, and the group's ability to function as a
tively. Successful leaders are those who can bring out the best contri- learning organization will be diminished. Thus, team size is of critical
butions of the members individually and, as a consequence, the team importance to team success.
collectively. A prerequisite to successful leadership is mutual respect Assessment of architectural teams reveals that many designers
between team members and team leaders. prefer their teams to be small enough to build close, productive rela-
An effective leader needs to represent the project rather than a tionships that lend themselves to easy communication-usually about
particular discipline, although they often are drawn from one of the five members-but large enough to assure the development and
disciplines on the team. People tend to have more confidence in and exploration of a variety of ideas (Lawson 1994). Team size, however,
feel more comfortable with those who see the world in much the same depends as much on the requirements of the project as the preference
way they do. Although such a leader may (or may be thought to) of the participants.
favor the position of a particular discipline, effective leaders have the
ability to transcend discipline-based labels and foster broad support
for the shared values of the team. Team Participation
The effective leader facilitates team interaction by protecting
members from embarrassment and power struggles. The team must The most effective teams have members that are task oriented,
not be dominated by a few who may be highly verbal or have domi- interact positively with one another, and share power equally (Bales
nant personalities. Domination by a few can diminish the contribu- and Cohen 1979). Effective teams are composed of people who share
tions of less assertive members, thereby diminishing the quality of an interest in doing the best they can now rather than entertaining
team learning and the quality of the team's collective understanding. aspirations of achieving greater things later when they have more
An essential aspect of team leadership is the ability to organize a information or conditions are more favorabk Good team members
number of highly talented people, who are most often accustomed to are improvisers, flexible in their thinking and approach (Parker 1990);
organizing themselves or others. Caudill described this with an anal- they learn what is needed to accomplish their goals, rather than rely
ogy to football and the role of specialists on the team. If the team has on a formula. Their power derives from an ability to learn quickly
a superstar, management is easy-just give that player the ball most what needs doing and doing it quickly. Creative, self-reliant team
of the time. But teams may have several superstar specialists and this members are not only free to act, but just as importantly, free not to
requires a much more sophisticated style of management. 'A. good act according to previous patterns. They do not require the legitimiz-
coach designs the game plan to fit his people. Same with good manag- ing tools of past experience to feel competent; they can learn new
ers" (Caudill 1984:74). The game plan must fit the people, not the ways and change as they learn. While team members must focus on
people to the game plan. the collective problem from a holistic perspective, effective interdisci-
202 Chapter Nine Design Collaboration 203

plinary action is possible only when strong disciplinarians interact. It unwilling to participate fully or conform to group norms should be
takes accomplished disciplinarians and the depth of understanding c . replaced. On very rare occasions a team's members might need to be
they provide to function interdisciplinarily. reconfigured to cope with a dominant individual, particularly if that
Team members must be competent to represent their area of person is considered central to the success of the project. But replacing
expertise and be able to communicate their knowledge and values a team member is not something to be taken lightly. If new members
effectively to the wider audience of the team. They need to have confi- must be brought in they must be carefully integrated to ensure that
dence in the value of their contributions and in the contributions of they fully understand and accept the unique vision that has been cre-
other team members. Good team players are knowledgeable, self-con- ated by the team. If new members are not fully integrated, they run
fident, hard working, and have good communication and diplomatic the risk of constantly referring to their individual rather than the
skills. They have the ability to work within the limitations of a team group's frame of reference.
setting (Adair 1986).
Team members must be able to engage in what is often heated dis-
cussion without being offended or threatened by challenge from oth-
Team Member Responsibilities
ers. They must be able to put criticism of their ideas to constructive
advantage without damage to their egos. Team members need to be The most important decision in forming an effective and creative
free to express themselves openly in order to say what is needed to team is the selection of its members. Successful team participation
improve team understanding and performance. This is done most requires members who understand and accept two general responsi-
effectively when conflicts are framed as a conflict of ideas rather than bilities throughout the life of the project: to achieve the group's com-
a conflict of personalities. They should also feel an obligation to pro- mon purpose and to maintain harmony within the team environment
vide the greatest support possible to the team, as well as the right to (Adair 1986; Forsyth 1990). Neither of these responsibilities can be
depend on that same level of support in return. satisfied in the absence of the other.
Teams need members who have similar levels of expertise but dif- Design team members assume a number of specific responsibili-
ferent knowledge and problem-solving skills. If members are too dif- ties: to uphold the standards of performance in their professional dis-
ferent in the extent of their knowledge or experience, or if the cipline; to support other team members in meeting their standards;
boundaries between them are too distinct, they may withdraw into and to creatively integrate the team's multiple talents to produce an
their comfort zones. Conversely, the more homogeneous the team in overall understanding and design result of exceptional quality. Meet-
terms of knowledge or professional values the less likely the potential ing these responsibilities requires attitudes and working habits we
for truly creative interaction. If there are two people on a team with may be unaccustomed to and for which we may be ill prepared by
the same expertise, there is probably one too many. past experiences.
Team success seems to rely on having knowledgeable specialists To be genuinely creative, participants on an interdisciplinary team
who have the capacity to integrate into a commonly defined group. must be willing to relinquish control of the design process and of the
Followers must be able to become leaders when the moment is right, design concept, to trust the collective vision as well as their collabora-
and leaders must be able to become followers when it benefits the tors, and to see the problem from a broader perspective than their pre-
project. The best teams become highly integrated learning organiza- vious experience provides. This is not easy for those accustomed to
tions rather than a multidisciplinary collection of experts. What is exercising control of the process as a way of controlling the quality of
crucial is the relationship that exists among members as they interact the product. The creative ideas of others may not be expressed in a
to pool their talents and establish the best course of action. A team form that we consider professionally acceptable according to the pre-
operating within the context of its own self-referential values and vailing standards of our individual disciplines. But, upholding the tra-
principles is free to create-knowledge, vision, ideas, strategies, even ditions and best practices of our particular discipline should not be
itself-the things teams are formed to produce. confused with being creative. In fact, it is just the opposite since these
Effective team members are committed to their group task as well are character traits of convention not innovation. The depth of under-
as to the overall concept of collaborative resolution. All members of standing seasoned professionals possess enables them to defy conven-
the team should be there by choice. Members who do not wish to par- tion without an unacceptable risk of error or oversight.
ticipate cannot be forced; they will only become obstacles to the To achieve the understanding required for design excellence, team
progress of others. Team members who want to be present but are members must act in ways that bring out the best contributions of
204 205
Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

one another. Unfortunately, we do not traditionally see the work of and improve the chance of reaching a successful conclusion. Some-
our collaborators as our personal responsibility. This is because times highly regarded individuals come to be seen as prima donnas.
between the professions we are not traditionally team players. The But, there can be no prima among a team of equals. To avoid this each
different disciplines have developed around real differences. participant will benefit by observing a few rules.
The most important contribution of designers is their skill in com-
posing the elements of the environment into a satisfying and effective Be a Team Player
form. But much of this contribution occurs after programming and The first consideration in collaborative design is the integration of
development concepts have been determined, after the program has
the different individual personalities into an effectively functioning
been essentially (and collaboratively) finalized. This means that the
social group. Teams are formed to take advantage of differences and to
designer's individual contributions do not interfere with team pro-
gramming but rather amplify the process. Many designers tend to be pool dissimilar talents, consequently keeping the team together is a
constant and collective responsibility. To fit into this milieu, designers
more synthetic than analytic in thinking style and if takes the integra-
tion of both styles to realize the greatest understanding of the issues. must find ways to shift their conceptual focus from thinking of their
Designers also are particularly well prepared to formulate and role as autonomous individuals to that of team players. This happens
predict the possibilities inherent in conceptual ideas. Their experience only when team members commit fully to doing more than just their
in implementing designs gives them valuable insights into potential share of the work, with the expectation that others will do the same.
technical and functional relationships; they are well acquainted with
the impact of construction and maintenance methods on designs. Everyone Is Equal
Another valuable contribution is their ability to pull the ideas of other By definition there can be no most or least important players on a
team members together and express them in ways that ensure every- team. Only those who are necessary are members of the team and all
one's complete understanding of the implications of the issues. More- those who are members of the team are necessary. Within a knowl-
over, the designer's fluency in the universal language of graphic edge-building process it is important that the contributions of all
communication facilitates the understanding and discussion of con- members are seen as crucial to overall design success. This requires
cepts required to advance the investigation process. It is particularly avoiding verbal and symbolic communications designed to convey an
important that ideas are made concrete and visible through graphic elevated status for any individual discipline or team member. Since all
display to ensure shared understanding and reduce reliance on mem- members of the team are selected on the basis of individual excellence,
ory as well as interpretation (Warfield 1990). excellence among team members is the norm, not the exception.
Each team must work out its own procedure for integrating mem-
bers' multiple contributions without yielding to the temptation to fol- Share Knowledge
Iowa path of least resistance and let the "experts" take charge in the
interest of efficiency. Even after the program has been finalized it is All members of the team must take responsibility for identifying
important that it is thoroughly reviewed by the full team to ensure that the relevant issues and communicating them effectively (persuasively)
goals and performance criteria related to every member's point of view to the rest of the team. Each discipline contributes to the creation of a
have been included. Or, alternatively, if all such criteria have not been comprehensive view of the project. It is important for team members
included, at least everyone will be fully aware of the trade-off that has to bear in mind that their particular area of expertise may not be fully
been made. The omission will not be made in error but by consensus. understood by other team members and to take steps to ensure that
the necessary information is communicated. Withholding knowledge
to enhance individual position or influence, for example, can be highly
Rules of Engagement destructive to team interaction and learning.

Because the interdisciplinary process is so unlike single discipline

Listen Actively
or multidiscipline approaches, team members may have to follow a To become effectively integrated into the team, members must
few rules, some of which call for interactions that are different from hear and understand the positions of one another. This requires more
traditional designer behavior. These rules of engagement enable the than just allowing other members to present their views; it also
interaction of relative strangers to proceed without undue disruption requires that all members assume responsibility for listening care-
206 Design Collaboration 207
Chapter Nine

fully, with an open mind, to understand fully the views of others. to promote the form-giving influence of other team members and to
Unless we achieve this level of understanding it will be impossible to help form a design team that will, in turn, collectively influence
understand the implications of another's insights to our own area of design form. This role requires shifting from a product -as-object to a
responsibility. Good team members listen well-to clients, users, and product-as-process approach to design. During the programming
one another. stage, the designer serves more as a player/coach than as a player
with primary responsibility. It is the design relationships rather than
Learn Critically the design form that facilitates improvements in the environment,
and each member of the team has important contributions to make in
To be effective, participants need to learn new things quickly if establishing those relationships. Programming seeks to establish the
they are to internalize them in time to put them to use through design requirements, not the design form; the form of the solution,
design. Perhaps even more importantly, team members must be able which will come later, is simply the instrument for shaping the
to unlearn old things, things they thought were true, but only when desired relationships.
viewed from prior positions. The conditions and ideas to which partic-
ipants must respond change with the composition of the team. Being Share the Ownership of Ideas
a quick learner also enables team members to move effectively from
project to project and team to team. Viewing the designer as the sole source of ideas is not only ineffec-
tive, it is destructive to team interaction. When teams work synergis-
Remain Flexible tically it is often difficult to determine where ideas originate; they just
seem to happen. When team members share in the collective owner-
Because the team is a learning organization, members must be ship of ideas they are allies in getting them accepted and realized. If
able to shift position as new information or ideas are absorbed. Unless only one or a few get the credit, the others cannot be counted on for
team members are able to reposition themselves and their ideas full support. What can be counted on is that those who do not receive
quickly, the development of new knowledge will not be able to favor- credit will work against acceptance of the ideas of those who do.
ably influence design outcomes. It is important to remain tentative
with all positions until a final, consensual decision has been reached. Actively Seek Critique
This means that commitments must be abandoned and reformed
The critical evaluation of ideas is the team's primary means of
repeatedly throughout the process as increasingly integrated under-
standing emerges from the interactions of team members. feedback for the improvement of design understanding. Without feed-
back there is no learning. Although we normally like to have positive
No Hidden Agendas feedback, it is the negative feedback that provides the most useful
insights. Feedback from multiple perspectives strengthens our under-
All members of the team must be confident enough to reveal their standing of reality at the same time that it strengthens our ability to
individual goals and aspirations for the project. One of the major think collaboratively. Designers are not always objective in evaluating
obstacles to effective interaction within a design team is not the result their own ideas. Because other team members may have less emo-
of too many disciplines but too many agendas. Sometimes these are tional commitment to a particular design idea, they may be expected
openly stated, but far too often they are not. Hidden agendas can pre- to respond with greater objectivity.
vent the best-organized team from reaching collectively acceptable
design performance standards and results. Excellence in a single area Keep Designs Impersonal
may be a common way of achieving exceptional disciplinary results, Critical analysis of design schemes carries the inherent risk that the
but it will almost certainly lead to mediocre team results. Participation proposal under review may be unacceptable to other team members.
to satisfy ulterior purposes, other than those agreed upon by the team Should this happen and the originators of the concept refuse to accept
as a whole, is certain to damage the team process. criticism, the process will not lead to improved understanding. When
ideas become team property, critique serves to preserve an attitude of
Share the Design Role open-mindedness and objectivity and permits the growth of under-
In a team setting the traditional role of the designer is altered. Par- standing on which appropriate design response may be based. To main-
ticularly during programming, the designer must act as a facilitator tain freshness in approach and to move quickly to gain new knowledge
208 Chapter Nine Design Collaboration

from design concepts, we must be able to actively promote the critical team's primary focus, thinking may slip back into traditional pat-
evaluation of the ideas we produce. Doing so is dependent on our abil- ~terns. Once this happens, the creative interaction of the team will
ity to separate ourselves, and our reputations, from our ideas. diminish. Once lost, regaining focus on the project's uniquely defined
character is virtually impossible. If an idea of importance to a particu-
Keep Communication Effective lar member is not accepted by the group, that member must accept
this and move on. Repeated attempts to bring the team to accept the
One of the most important aspects of successful interaction and
idea may only have the effect of marginalizing its proponent, result-
decision making is positive, two-way communication among the par-
ticipants. Great care must be exercised in the method of information ing in further loss of that member's contribution.
exchange since lengthy, poorly structured interaction is time consum-
Maintain a TIght Schedule
ing and unproductive. This not only becomes prohibitively expensive,
but actually discourages further communication. The challenge lies in The need for focus is mirrored by the need for speed and momen-
how to encourage more communication rather than just more talk. tum. Because group work is inevitably slowed by the increased need
Each team member must strive for informative and efficient commu- for communication, it is important that the time schedule is rigor-
nication if group interaction is to be productive. ously compressed to take advantage of as many feedback cycles and
as many opportunities to build and refine understanding as reason-
Keep Communication Positive ably possible. If time is allowed to drag, the process will lose momen-
tum that may never be regained.
Since team members must work closely together it is important
that sharp comment on ideas is not interpreted as a personal attack. Carry Your Share of the Load
The openness required for effective team interaction and feedback
requires the removal of social masks, which in turn leaves team mem- Always do your share of the work, and when necessary, be pre-
bers vulnerable. Team members must exercise particular care to avoid pared to do more. Teams have little patience with members who are
destroying this openness, and the free exchange of ideas it promotes, not, or appear not to be, doing their share. When the work of the
through the use of careless comments. It is a truism that others will project as a total effort is understood to belong to everyone, then the
issue of someone doing only his or her share never arises. While all
go along with you only if they get along with you. There should be an
team members share overall responsibility for the project, they rely
underlying concern that all communication is expressed as a positive
on one another to provide specific leadership in the areas of expertise
attempt to improve understanding, rather than as a contest between
and skill each member represents.
people with competing ideas.
Put Pride Aside
Avoid Jargon
The most important rule for managing a team is to prevent per-
Effective team interaction requires the use of a common language sonal pride from negatively affecting the relationships. If we can keep
equally understandable to all members. As disciplines become more focused on what the team is trying to collectively achieve and ignore
sophisticated and distinct they develop unique language forms for the slight of having our own ideas rebuffed from time to time, almost
communicating complex concepts in shorthand. This means that anything is possible. But if we are overly sensitive to our individual
team members uninitiated in a particular discipline will often be position or contributions, the slightest conflict can become magnified
unable to decode the language being spoken. Unless all members com- to the extent that it interferes with, and perhaps derails, the process.
municate in a common language the predictable transfer of knowl-
edge will not take place. At times this may require an explanation of
esoteric terms, but these should be kept to a minimum. Interdisciplinary Process
Keep Focused On interdisciplinary teams the design professionals, as all other
For decision making to proceed effectively the process must focus members, serve the team and the team collectively serves the project:
on the project and its key issues-as they have been holistically they employ their discipline to address the problem rather than
defined by the group. Unless the critical issues are maintained as the engaging the project to advance the status of their discipline. This is a
210 Chapter Nine Design Collaboration 211

substantial departure from the process employed to produce many environment, the unsuccessful design innovation cannot withstand
highly regarded (and awarded) designs of a disciplinary discrete char- ~ the harsh realities of knowledge-based evaluation; only those ideas
acter. Projects executed by lead-discipline teams are often more effec- with high survival value flourish. Also, just as in nature, anyone of a
tive at articulating the prevailing values of their profession than number of factors may be limiting to the survival of the novel form.
addressing the broad problems of the environment. The first task of In nature, feedback from the environment acts directly; in design the
the collaborative process is to define the problem comprehensively, at influence of limiting factors is expressed indirectly, through the
which stage the design professional is just another member of the knowledge of team members who are intimately familiar with their
team with a particular area of expertise to contribute. The knowledge potential implications. Survival value in design depends on acceptance
that drives design decisions may originate from many sources and of an idea from the multiple perspectives of the team members, and
interactive learning represents one of the most important ways of ultimately from individual users and society. The requirement for
establishing the broad base of understanding required for effective broad team support diminishes the possibility of strong disciplines or
project resolution. A team process that promotes success through the personalities exerting undue influence on the acceptance of idiosyn-
recognition of specific individuals or disciplines impedes interdiscipli- cratic, and perhaps inappropriate, design forms.
nary interaction and synergy. But the form of the environment, even successful form, is only
Ultimately, it is not a particular design process but the design temporary. The more comprehensive and appropriate the changes
result that matters most. Any way to introduce increased knowledge imposed, the more satisfying and enduring, that is, the more sustain-
into the stream of decision making to improve holistic understanding able the design. The more narrow the range of issues addressed, the
and the conditions of the environment is desirable. Central to success less designs will satisfy and the more transient they will be. Survival
is an ability to understand the salient issues and apply that under- or design success depends heavily on whether the changes imposed on
standing to design response. Better informed design is the immediate the environment are both comprehensive and appropriate-the issues
goal of the process; better places for living and improved relationships interdisciplinary teams are best at determining.
between people and the environment are the long-term goals. Any Our concepts of aesthetics, form, function, and environmental fit
approach that achieves excellence in these areas is an appropriate way continuously evolve toward greater complexity and process defini-
for designers to discharge their responsibilities. However, one depar- tion. One reason for this is that our methods for producing and evalu-
ture from the traditions of design practice seems particularly useful; ating changes in the environment are responsive to the demands of
for designers to shift their attention from design products to design increasing knowledge to explain the expanding relationships we seek
process, to move from a view of reality that focuses on the objects to improve. By understanding design as an integrated and interactive
making up a system to an understanding of the systemic relationships process of systems learning and change, rather than just the individ-
among them. This can lead to a particularly useful discovery: that ual creation of unique proprietary artifacts, we will reform a tradi-
product and process are not different aspects of reality but the same tional definition of design as an activity. And perhaps for the first time
thing seen from different points of view. The landscape "product" is the environmental design professions will begin to operate holistically,
simply a point-in-time expression of the ongoing "process" of envi- under concepts that approximate the reality of nature rather than our
ronmental change. Therefore both must be considered before either is relatively limited disciplinary concepts of it.
likely to be understood or improved by design.
The conceptual design ideas produced by the interdisciplinary
team may be compared to the variable organic forms found in nature.
Life forms develop in response to the diverse forces of the environ-
ments in which they evolve. In the design process, just as in nature,
many potential new forms are proposed. All organisms occasionally
produce atypical results, mutant progeny, most of which do not sur-
vive. But every so often a new form appears to fit a little more per-
fectly and becomes the progenitor of its line due to its success in the
environment-possibly because the environment itself has changed
(Bohm 1982; Birch 1990). In design, as in nature, most experimental
forms do not survive. Just as the unsuccessful progeny fails in the

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but
in seeing with new eyes.
-Marcel Proust

Linking knowledge to design form depends as much on how well

we think as on how much we know. Design thinking includes many
kinds of mental activity, including observation, inquiry, recall, specu-
lation, interpretation, evaluation, and judgment. Just as the land-
scape is our most valuable resource, thinking is our most valuable
design tool. We need to keep it on the cutting edge of learning, cre-
ativity, and exploration.
Unfortunately, we all have preconceived ideas that are reinforced
by our personal experiences and professional allegiances. Engineers,
for example, are trained to value a conservative approach-their
designs favor a proven prototype. Architects are trained to value a lib-
eral approach-they favor innovative departures from prevailing
norms. Landscape architects value prevailing environmental pro-
cesses-their designs tend to integrate change in ways that respect
existing cultural and ecological conditions. Developers tend to be
pragmatic-they value immediate market response.
When left to our own devices none of us is really objective about
design priorities (Lawson 1994). Because we subconsciously operate
214 Chapter Ten Conclusion 215

from these preconceived notions, it is difficult to maintain objectivity. solvers. Poor problem solvers are often hesitant, feeling that
These notions have been established by past experiences that cloud our they will be better informed and better equipped later when
ability to assess current reality objectively (Pearce 1988). We do not more information is available.
perceive reality objectively, but mentally construct our notions of it • Systematic thinking: Breaking down problems allows you to
from the information we process (Bruer 1993; McCombs 1994). Since resolve comprehensible components or sub-problems. Poor
we all operate with different background knowledge and information, problem solvers often begin unsystematically, jump haphaz-
we anticipate a different reality. And because our assumptions influ- ardly from one part of the problem to another, or operate from
ence our understanding, what we see of reality is strongly influenced untested hypothetical positions.
by what we expect to see; the mind directs perception as much as per-
• Rely on reasoning: Confident and self-reliant, good problem
ception informs the mind (Pearce 1988). Mental activity does not
solvers trust their intelligence to find a productive and satisfy-
reflect an environment independent of the mind that perceives it and
ing solution. Poor problem solvers often lack the confidence to
therefore does not reveal an objectively existing external reality (Capra move vigorously ahead and confront problems directly, particu-
1996). Each of us lives in a different reality. To design for a commonly larly when they have no clear vision about a conclusion.
shared reality, rather than for one that is individually conceived, we
must be able to determine what it is. We need to impose a measure of • Critical perspective: This occurs when you recognize that
objective assessment on our observations and our judgments. To do problem solving requires critical evaluation of steps and possi-
this we must be able to think critically. bilities until the issues are completely resolved. Poor problem
solvers often lack a critical attitude and take too much for
granted, moving through the process without thoroughly eval-
Critical Thinking uating possibilities to determine whether knowledge is being
applied effectively.
While most attention is focused on creative thinking in design, it In design, as in all aspects of life, if we cannot effectively apply the
may be that critical thinking is the most important. This is not knowledge we possess we are no better off for having it. Through crit-
because creativity is less important but because we need to be sure ical thinking we develop an awareness of the assumptions we, and
that we are applying ourselves to the right, or at least the most others, make to guide thoughts and actions and as a consequence,
important, problems. Creatively addressing the wrong problems is become aware of the context in which thoughts and actions are devel-
unlikely to lead to meaningful change in the landscape. Improving the oped. It is through this critical awareness that we examine ideas and
quality of our thinking processes is the most productive area of con- decide for ourselves whether to accept or reject them. For critical
trol at our disposal to improve design process and design success. thinkers, ideas are accepted not because they are acceptable to others,
Thinking is defined as controlled mental activity (Ruggiero but because they are found to be congruent with the reality in which
1998:2). There are at least two areas of control that are critical to they exist (Brookfield 1987).
design success. To be a successful thinker requires both factual accu- Critical thinkers are, by definition, independent thinkers-skepti-
racy and facility in dealing with the facts we possess: proficiency in cal of universal truths, simple answers, and quick-fix solutions. When
thinking. One of the most common ways of describing design is to Galileo published the Dialogue on the Great World Systems, his theory
that the earth rotated around the sun rather than the other way
frame it as a problem-solving process. Designers are, among other
things, problem solvers. Good problem solvers share a number of around, he was threatened with torture if he did not publicly recant.
characteristics (Ruggiero 1998:10): His ideas were not acceptable to the Church of Rome. In fact, Galileo
had been instructed not to publish the theory (originated by Coperni-
• Clarity on how to begin: Good problem solvers are able to cus) because it conflicted with Church doctrine that the earth was the
assess a problem carefully and begin immediately to attack it. center of the universe (Bronowski 1973:209). Although he prudently
Poor problem solvers have difficulty in understanding unknown recanted, Galileo stubbornly held to his critical view, as expressed in
situations and formulating a clear method of attack. his famous comment: "1 do not feel obliged to believe that the same
• Focused application of available knowledge: Bringing to bear God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has
the knowledge they possess, rather than waiting for more per- intended for us to forego their use./f But of course, for many, that is
fect information, is a common characteristic of good' problem precisely what happens. Because thoughts and actions are socially
216 Chapter Ten Conclusion 217

mediated, critical thinking can be a threatening prospect, even though the reality that exists because our minds are already fixed on
for most this is a social rather than physical threat. what we expect it to be, leading to irrational thought.
The most important object of design education is to develop flu- • Self-deception: willful self-delusion to support a positive or
ency in critical and creative thinking. Acquiring knowledge is impor- flattering rather than negative interpretation of our ideas or
tant, of course. "You can only think what you know" (Barucchieri actions; often to protect our egos, or to avoid responsibilities or
1990, pers. comm.), so acquiring knowledge is prerequisite to creative consequences we wish to avoid.
thinking. Critical thinking is prerequisite to knowledge application:
Designers who are successful in changing the environment in
making effective use of what we know. Many people possess knowl-
meaningful ways, reliant on their own self-confidence and reasoning
edge that they cannot effectively apply through design. Design think-
capacity, tend to avoid these thinking pitfalls. Their ability to sustain
ing, the integration of critical and creative thinking, requires learning critical evaluation as an integral aspect of design thinking actively
that is actively directed and contextual rather than passive and socially protects them from habits of ego protection and self-delusion.
mediated. Scientists, who spend their professional lives trying to objec- For designers, developing the facility of critical thinking is funda-
tively define reality, are often reluctant to speculate and thus lose their mental to improving their capacity to see the world anew with each
objectivity. Designers, on the other hand, are forced to speculate since project and create new and more effective intellectual responses to it. To
all design is for the future. To improve the likelihood of success, develop the skills of critical and creative thinking we need to be able to
designers must be highly critical with their thinking. But there are recognize the traits by which they are defined. Critical thinking is an
many common obstacles to independent thought. The common activity that involves much more than the skills of logical analysis. "It
impediments to critical thinking are mostly habits or learned patterns involves calling into question the assumptions underlying our custom-
of thinking. Many of these thinking habits are easily recognized. ary, habitual ways of thinking and acting and then being ready to
Among the most common are the following (Ruggiero 1998:45): think and act differently on the basis of this critical questioning"
• Assumption of superiority: asserting that our ideas are the (Brookfield 1987: 1). Some ofthe fundamental characteristics by which
best they can be, usually as an extension of ourselves or an this kind of thinking may be identified include (Brookfield 1987: 5):
expression of ego. Beginning with the presumption of superior- • Productive and positive activity: Critical thinkers are engaged
ity destroys objectivity and eliminates the possibility of examin- with life; they are innovators who see possibilities for improving
ing issues openly on the basis of merit. all aspects of their personal, social, and professional lives. They
• Face saving: similar to the assumption of superiority, face sav- see the world as dynamic and open to change rather than static
ing comes into play after a position has been expressed or an and are confident about their possibilities for change through
action taken. It then becomes necessary to prove that it was the personal actions or collaboration with others. By thinking criti-
correct action, seeing only the advantages of an idea in order to cally, they tend to become aware of the value of diversity in all
protect the ego and avoid embarrassment. aspects of life, making them accepting of differences and respect-
ful of values and actions different from their own.
• Resistance to change: the tendency to reject new ideas without
examining them thoroughly simply because we are comfortable • Process, not outcome, oriented: Critical thinking requires an
with the way things are. Intellectual inertia may be one of the ongoing process of learning and questioning of assumptions.
Such thinkers never arrive at a final conclusion. Reaching a final
most powerful, and normal, human forces. This may serve as a
defense mechanism against change coming too fast to be or perfect state that describes a single desired or universal truth
absorbed, threatening the status quo. is contradictory to the skeptical nature of the critical thinker.
The world and the ideas to describe it are thought to be dynamic
• Conformity: taking the value of adhering to mutual expecta- and evolving rather than fixed.
tions and social mores too far; thinking and acting with greater
• Driven by context: Manifestations of critical thinking are
regard for what others might think rather than for truthful-
dependent on the contexts in which they occur. To the critical
ness, intellectual honesty, or the advantages, as well as disad- thinker there is no conclusive way of describing reality through
vantages, of a concept or action.
the development of universal truths, ideas, or values. All ideas
• Stereotyping: the extreme form of generalizing things into cat- are contextual and thus varied according to setting: localities,
egories according to common traits. StereotypiIlg blinds us to regions, or cultures.
218 Conclusion 219
Chapter Ten

• lriggered by either positive or negative stimulus: Critical pose a series of "what if?" questions and move from program to
thinking is just as likely to result from a traumatic or unsatis- ~design response in an alternating pattern (Lyle 1985). The sequence
factory event as from an exhilarating or joyful one. In either enables designers to pose a series of conceptual design proposals-
case, critical thinkers tend to reinterpret past values, ideas, or what if we did this?-then evaluate them to gain insight into the crit-
actions in light of current knowledge or experience and extrapo- ical issues. The sequence alternates between creative and critical
late applications to create a more satisfying future. thinking (De Bono 1994). The designer creates a new idea, critically
• Emotive as well as rational: Emotions are central to the criti- evaluates it to determine its strengths and weaknesses from varied
cal-thinking process. The exhilaration of an intellectual break- perspectives and, as a result, broadens the basis for improvements in
understanding. Most significantly, the process creates an expanding
through is just as rewarding and important as the rationality
of its content. Abandonment of old assumptions can be a per- knowledge base from which to evaluate proposals and gain increas-
sonally liberating experience, just as the creation of a new intel- ingly insightful feedback.
We seek creative solutions to design problems because no other
lectual paradigm is satisfying as a strategy for responding to
this abandonment. type of response will do. Conventional responses are not solutions.
Unless we depart from tradition, designs will never improve on our
Ultimately, design success will depend on how effectively we ability to incorporate new knowledge and address the changing condi-
employ knowledge to create the conditions we seek. Insights about tions of the future. But that does not mean that any departure from
future potentials are as important as information about prevailing the past is automatically creative or a better-informed solution. Cre-
conditions. We need to place more emphasis on the value to be derived ative departure is only useful when it is successful relative to intent
from information than on the information itself. Being right about the and context.
past does not make us right about the future; that is, right about how If we are to improve our creative thinking ability we need to
to best use knowledge to shape design. Consequently, our Western tra- understand its qualities and the characteristics of those who produce
ditions of thinking, which are highly focused on knowing and catego- novel and effective design responses. Creative thinkers share a number
rizing "what is," often work against the interests of design thinking, of common characteristics (Ruggiero 1998:84) and tend to be:
which is highly innovative and speculative about "what might be." • Daring: For creative people, thinking is an adventure since they
are less inclined to conform to conventional views and less con-
Creative Thinking fined in their mental outlook. The challenge for creative thinkers
is stimulating and enjoyable. They are unafraid to entertain
unpopular or even outrageous ideas. And they are unafraid to
Designers like to speak of being creative. But, in fact, designers make a mistake.
create nothing. What designers actually do is to think creatively about • Resourceful: They are effective due to their ability to conceptu-
how best to rearrange things in significant and unusual ways. If we alize unusual and unconventional approaches to problem solv-
"create" a building, this does not mean that we create the stone or the
ing. This ability, one of the most important aspects of practical
wood or the glass. These design components are created by nature.
intelligence, may develop as a consequence of having limited
What we create are new relationships. The stone is quarried and the access to conventional means or resources.
wood is cut from trees in regular shapes. The glass results from
reforming the sand. Then we assemble these components into innova- • Industrious: They are hardworking and undaunted by the
threat of failure, determined to succeed no matter what effort is
tive--ereative-arrangements. The same is true in the design of a
landscape. Buildings are arranged and plants are moved from one required. This may result in part from creative thinkers' ten-
place to another to form desired patterns. Stone is arranged for walls dency to become deeply absorbed in the problem and to focus all
or paving, and water may be relocated by reshaping the soil to form their attention on solving it. It is also likely that they are pas-
sionate about the issue and thus willing to expend whatever
impoundments. For designers, creation means thinking up meaning-
ful ways to arrange the parts and the whole. effort is required.
The design process requires both creative and critical thinking, but • Independent: They draw greater strength from personal
they must be organized into a pattern that integrates rather than con- accomplishment than from the approval of others. Conse-
flicts. A common way for designers to improve understanding is to quently, the social distance that is created by proposing a new
220 Chapter Ten Conclusion 221

idea is not threatening to them and does not inhibit their specu- Summary
lating with or expressing these ideas to others.
Because these characteristics are thinking habits as much as they This brief introduction to landscape architecture theory has dealt
are expressions of intellect and personality, they lend themselves to with few issues in detail. The attempt rather has been to bring a broad
learning and development. To become expert in any field requires a range of issues together in a systematic way. As an interpretation of
significant investment in time and effort to master the necessary design theory it began with a few simple questions. What is it that
knowledge and skills. For this reason people rarely gain expertise in an landscape architects do? Why do we do it? How do we do it? How do
area in which they do not have the intellectual predisposition-the we determine when we have done it well? The ability to answer these
talent-and the intense personal interest-passion-necessary to sus- questions relies on a comprehensive body of knowledge. The responses
tain the required commitment of time and effort. Of these requisites, provided have been a summary of the writings of some of the clearest
intense personal interest may be the most important to success. Bau- and most articulate thinkers in our field. They have included land-
haus architect Walter Gropius said, "Only work which is the product scape architecture teachers, researchers, and practitioners, as well as a
of inner compulsion can have spiritual meaning." Deriving spiritual wide range of designers and scientists from other fields: anthropolo-
meaning from our work enables us to focus intensely, improving the gists, architects, artists, ecologists, engineers, foresters, geographers,
likelihood of "discovering" creative ideas. But intensity is often bal- geologists, mathematicians, physicists, planners, psychologists, and
anced by another characteristic of creative thinkers.
sociologists, who have been actively engaged in advancing design
Creative people are, as much as anything else, playful, almost knowledge and theory over the last half century.
childlike about their work. They are highly engaged because they find An interesting result of this examination of the literature has been
their work enjoyable and challenging. Carl Jung said, "The creative the revelation that the criteria for producing appropriate functional
mind plays with the object it loves." Creative thinkers become so
relationships, enhanced aesthetic experience, healthy ecosystems, and
immersed in their work that they are endlessly entertained by it. They healthy people bear striking similarities to one another. They all
toy with the things they enjoy, with the result that many possibilities require a holistic and creative approach to organizing and integrating
are created and examined before reaching a conclusion and selecting complex relationships into unified wholes. We may have begun to
the best of their ideas for application to the problem before them. An
answer the questions about what we do and why, but left largely
amateur within any field may find his or her pursuits personally and unanswered are the questions about how to do it and, in particular,
spiritually meaningful. Amateurs, however, love doing a thing how to assure that it is done well. That is, how to creatively connect a
whether it is well done or not. Professionals require more than the broad and rapidly changing knowledge base to design performance. In
personal satisfaction of engaging in the creative activity. They also this regard it might be well to remember the advice of Linus Pauling,
require objectively measured success. They hold themselves account-
two-time recipient of the Nobel Prize. "The best way to have good
able for a much higher standard of performance that mere participa- ideas is to have lots of ideas." After that, it is simply a process of
tion. Their ideas must be intellectually sound as well as rewarding to
throwing out the bad ideas and keeping only the best.
produce, and for them the success of the idea relates to objective and
Simply stated, landscape architects discern what needs to be
peer recognition as well as success in the market environment.
changed in the landscape, as well as what should not; develop and
Successful designers have the capacity for creating new ideas.
evaluate a number of possible courses of action and predict their likely
Ideas are to design what light is to painting. Ideas are the vehicle that
implications; and formulate design recommendations for changing the
both shapes and expresses the meaning of design. Designers must be
creative as well as critical thinkers. As Francis Cartier noted: landscape. The processes we employ to achieve these ends encompass a
range of complex and interacting systems. This seems to be necessary
There is only one way in which a person acquires a new idea: by no matter what our client's intentions, the needs of users, or the con-
the combination or association of two or more ideas he already text of the environment. It is particularly true if our goal is design
has into a new juxtaposition in such a manner as to discover a excellence: to achieve the highest standard of design performance and
relationship among them of which he was not previously aware. satisfy a full spectrum of immediate and long-term requirements for
Looking for this new relationship requires great effort as well as great improving our relationships with one another and the landscape.
interest. Discovering new relationships, as the goal of the creative What we require from theory is a basis for design approach that will
designer, is greatly advanced by a deep interest in pursuing them. dependably lead to the results we seek. The character of such an
222 Conclusion 223
Chapter Ten

approach was outlined by John Ormsbee Simonds, one of the clearest are well-informed by current knowledge and equipped with contem-
voices of landscape architecture in the twentieth century: porary technology to predictably devise and realize the improved con-
The design approach then is not essentially a search for form, not ditions we seek. An evidence-based design approach is required to
primarily an application of principles. The true design approach systematically identify and integrate the knowledge required to frame
stems from the realization that a plan has meaning for man(kind), these goals and estimate their likely satisfaction. It is useful to
for whom it is planned, and only to the degree to which it brings approach design from the view that it is not in spite of, but because of,
facility, accommodation, and delight to the senses, and inspiration our comprehensive understanding of the critical design issues and
to his mind and soul. It is a creation of optimum relationships limitations that we are able to design. Without constraints there
resulting in a total experience. (1961 :226) would be no design since there would be no compelling purpose to the
Unless we are content to rely upon chance, one of the critical tasks changes we propose. Unlike art, design requires purpose beyond the
act itself.
for achieving excellence in design must almost certainly be to devise a
Finally, there is the issue of design skill. We must be well-trained,
strategic thinking process. Unfortunately, designers are often reluc-
skilled in the integrated processes of acquiring new knowledge, trans-
tant to accept or develop a definitive, systematic process for the cre-
lating it into design performance and form relationships, and commu-
ation of design ideas, viewing it as an inhibition to their creativity and nicating these relationships to others so that they may understand
design freedom. This is true, partially because different design prob- and support our efforts.
lems require a different approach to understanding and resolution. It Formulating appropriate, intellectually defensible, and inspiring
is also true that greater knowledge creates greater responsibility and design ideas is only one aspect of the design process. We should not
thus places greater restrictions on our freedom to act. But this insis-
forget the equally difficult task of implementation, realizing our ideas
tence on personal freedom is also somewhat unrealistic in light of as a physical condition in the landscape. Design conceptualization and
what we know about the environment today. It is no secret that the realization are equally complex and demanding activities. But, the dis-
landscape is being systematically, although for the most part inad- cipline, technology, and economics of implementation exist at another
vertently, degraded by careless development and management. When level of consideration. For this examination of theory it is enough to
considered in this light it seems to be a dereliction of responsibility consider only the quality of design ideas.
when the cost of failure is so high. It also seems the height of inconsis- What designers sell is advice based on the ideas we have for
tency for designers to disdain the use of a strategic process to achieve reforming the environment. When people take the advice we offer,
their goals, while at the same time seeking to convince their clients and act on these ideas, design concepts become realities. For clients
that they should do so. That is, we encourage our clients to under- and users, the physical reality may be the ultimate objective. But for
stand the need for a systematic design approach to resolve their devel- designers, the quality of design ideas-as ideas-is as important as the
opment projects. We want clients to engage us to execute the quality of the environments we create. And, in the selling of ideas, we
systematic process on their behalf-and, in addition, to compensate us must remain mindful that advice is only taken and acted on when it is
for applying the process. understood and believed to be useful. Design success depends as much
There is an implicit message in an offer of design service that the on communicating the purpose, validity, and value of our ideas as on
designer is knowledgeable of such a process and expert in its applica- the process of formulating and expressing them.
tion. It is, after all, the only area of knowledge in which we can claim Ultimately, the role (perhaps the goal, and certainly the hope) of
exclusive expertise. Almost all other knowledge comes from disciplines the profession is to make meaningful and lasting contributions to the
outside the design domain. When armed with such a strategy, we are quality of our shared environment. If we can do this with each project
reasonably well positioned to predict whether our theory and its we undertake no matter how small or how large, and these contribu-
influence on what we do to shape the landscape-how we design and tions accumulate over time, the positive influences of landscape archi-
why-will lead us toward satisfaction of the goals we set out to tecture will be expressed in the nature and character of human life.
achieve, and not incidentally, toward the goals that our clients, design Although we may all desire the great commissions by which the influ-
users, and members of the general public wish to achieve by the ence of our designs will be felt by many, the most likely commission is
design changes they undertake. more modest. But the results need not be modest. It is not among the
In addition to design process, there is the issue of the knowledge great monumental works of landscape design that most of us will
required to achieve excellence in design result. We must assure that we spend our lives. The most pressing need for good design lies in the
224 Chapter Ten Conclusion 225

streets, parks, neighborhoods, schools, shops, offices, and factories a dynamic and interactive system of human-environment integration.
where we live and work and play each day of our lives. If there were a For this reason the challenge of good design continues to expand at a
single agreed-upon purpose in our work, it might be to change with pace even faster than the accumulation of knowledge or the demand
each new design our concepts about how to learn from and reform for actions in response to it. As a consequence the designer can never
the ordinary landscape, the landscape that shapes our lives each day. establish design excellence as a permanent condition. Each significant
As Garrett Eckbo wrote in 1950: achievement not only creates a new plateau of expectation, but also
A goodtheory of landscapedesign,then, must be a theory of form raises the bar in the pursuit to exceed these efforts in the continuing
as well as function. It must be artistic as well as practical,in order quest for design excellence.
to produce the maximum for those who will experiencework Design theory is required to support and improve both the cre-
influencedby it. Every work of landscape design, conscious or ation and the implementation of great design ideas, and the continu-
unconscious, whether it be the utility garden of the southern ous learning on which they are based. But we are still in the early
sharecropper or the Central Compositionof Washington, D.C., stages of forming a coherent theory of landscape architecture. As edu-
producesan arrangement of forms, colors, and textures in space cated citizens and professionals, we need a guiding philosophy, if only
which results in some sort of cumulative effect,good or bad, on to satisfy our curiosity about the world and our place in it and,
those who pass through it. . . . This we can work toward every equally importantly, to establish our role in society as architects of
day on everyjob and everyproject,no matter how smallor incon- the landscape. I encourage you, as you move into practice and
sequentialit may seem.(1950:58)
research and begin to learn by experience, to continue to read and
The urban landscape-the city and its regional hinterland-is the reflect, and most importantly, to write your own version of landscape
ultimate human artifact. The quality of our cities speaks clearly about architecture theory. By committing your thoughts to paper over time
who we are as a people and the aspirations for life we share. Great you may see more clearly what your ideas are and better determine
societies quite naturally create great cities because they require them where they are leading the profession you are preparing to lead. For
for and of themselves. It does not matter whether they are formed by most designers this is a lifetime search. In regard to that search I have
the marble palaces of Venice or the mud buildings of Timbuktu. The two hopes for your journey through the development of theory. First,
most important measure of quality in the city is not in the material of that it will provide an intellectual undercurrent of life-long learning
its construction but in the character of life it creates for its inhabit- to propel you along the professional stream of your choice. And sec-
ants. And this quality is, to a significant extent, determined by the ond, that the journey will be as enjoyable as it is productive. As writer
character of its shared public space-the landscape of the city. It is also Ursula le Guin said, "It is good to have an end to journey towards; but
this aspect of the city that is often the last to be consciously or art- it is the journey that matters, in the end."
fully designed as a place for community life. The idea that it should be
so designed continues to go unrecognized in far too many places. In
the American experience these urban spaces are typically designed as
zones of traffic movement and the location of utilities, not as settings
of vibrant human interaction. To design and build them otherwise is
considered a novel idea. But if it is the role of designers to advance
new ideas, then the ideas we propose must be seen as useful and
appropriate and inspiring. Creating ideas with relevance and urgency
must be central to our task as designers if we are to approach great-
ness in our professional pursuits.
Ultimately, the greatness to which designers aspire will result
from more than sound knowledge well applied to satisfy the require-
ments of utility or economy or aesthetic experience or social vitality
or ecological sustainability. It will be more than the form concepts
that integrate knowledge to achieve these aims. Excellence in design
results when all these considerations integrate to achieve a synergy of
form and process that is greater than the sum of their parts, forming
There are some things which cannot be Aesthetic needs an individual's need to express or experience beauty and
learned quickly, and time, which is all we deep satisfaction with the conditions of life.
have, must be paid heavily for their Aesthetics the branch of philosophy that deals with beauty or that which is
acquiring. They are the very simplest things beautiful.
and because it takes a man's life to know
them, the little new that each man gets from Architecture the design discipline concerned with the creation of buildings
life is very costly and the only heritage he and physical structures to shape, shelter, and facilitate human activities.
has to leave. Arousal the level of a person's psychological or physiological alertness
regarding their extent of mental engagement in an activity or experience.
Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
Behavioral setting a space used as the setting for specific human activities
or interactions.
Carbon cycle the transfer of carbon from the atmosphere to plants through
the process of photosynthesis and the return of carbon to the atmosphere
through the process of respiration.
Cognitive factors influences expressed as higher level human needs that
motivate perception, intellectual inquiry, and learning.
Conative factors influences expressed as basic needs that motivate human
Consumers organisms (animals) arranged in the ecosystem as a food chain
hierarchy that utilize, organize, and distribute the nutrients and energy
stored by producer organisms (plants).
Creative thinking mental activity free to move in any direction without
constraint by prior knowledge or validation.
Critical thinking mental activity held to high standards of knowledge and
prior validation.
228 229
Glossary Glossary

Culturally sustainable space territory to which individuals and groups Ecosystem processes fundamental maintenance activities required to keep
belong and to which they assume responsibilities for defense and mainte- the system in good health and working order.
nance over time.
Ecosystem services the processes that occur throughout the ecosystem that
Decision modeling a process during which the designer assesses the out- have value, but which are rarely exchanged for monetary benefit.
comes from alternative development scenarios to determine the most
Equilibrium structure characterization of the state of a system that is sta-
appropriate recommendation for future action.
ble, highly integrated, interactive, and self-perpetuating.
Denitrification a process of bacterial decomposition that returns nitrogen Feedback information in response to the evaluation of conditions that either
present in the soil or in other organisms to the atmosphere. confirms their appropriateness or illuminates discrepancies.
Design the process of determining the future form of a thing or place to bring Golden section a form with proportions exhibiting uniquely reciprocal rela-
about improvement; i.e. to make it more useful, economical, or beautiful. tionships between two unequal parts of a whole, in which the small part
Design goals the broad results intended from a design intervention that are stands in the same proportion to the large part as the large part stands to
too far removed from specific form or behavior to be directly measured. the whole.
Design legibility the extent to which environments reveal themselves and Hydrologic cycle sun-driven cycle of water moving through the biosphere
facilitate people's ability to comprehend and use them. through the mechanisms of evaporation, transpiration, condensation, pre-
cipitation, and runoff.
Design objectives the steps, or measurable actions, specifically related to
design form that are employed to satisfy the design goals. Inorganic elements components of the ecosystem such as oxygen, carbon,
hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc. that are derived from and
Design performance criteria the desired standards and relationships by continuously recycled through the physical and biological components of
which the quality of design'performance may be measured. the environment.
Design process the sequence of events that extends from the time when a Interdisciplinary team a working group that includes members from mul-
condition requiring design intervention is detected, through the delibera- tiple disciplines that interacts integratively to define and address problems
tion of factors influencing the decision, to the final determination of a in a holistic fashion rather than in disciplinary terms.
course of action.
Landscape an area of the earth's land surface that has been modified by
Design program the definitive statement of a problem to be solved by design. human activity.
Design programming the process of acquiring knowledge to establish the Landscape architecture a design discipline devoted to understanding and
statement of a problem to be solved by design. shaping the environment. Professional practitioners provide site planning,
Dissipative structure characterization of the state of a system that is design, and management advice to improve the landscape for human benefit.
highly spontaneous, dynamic, and inherently unstable. Landscape architecture as art a philosophical position that describes land-
Distemic space space that is shared by people who are culturally diverse scape architecture as an artistic design discipline (rather than a science) in
and who hold different values, codes of conduct, myths, symbols, and cog- which professionals create new and innovative ways for people to relate to
nitive attitudes. the physical environment.
Distraction the temporary loss of focus that results from excessive sen- Landscape architecture as science a philosophical position that describes
sory stimulation. landscape architecture as a profession of stewardship-identifying and
managing for improved human utility the intrinsic qualities found in
Ecological succession a process during which an ecological community nature through research and ecologically sound land planning and design.
transitions from a relatively simple array of species and energy structure
Landscape ecology systematic investigation applied to the understanding of
toward increasing complexity, and ultimately a climax condition of species
whole landscapes, which are defined as heterogeneous areas made up of sev-
structure and energy capture, use, and storage.
eral ecosystems forming a mosaic of visually distinctive landscape elements.
Ecology the study of the relationships between organisms and their envi-
ronment to understand the structure and function of nature. Landscape planning a process of investigation and recommendation to
improve the social and ecological aspects of the landscape at temporal and
Ecosystem goods things with market value that are extracted from the spatial scales greater than those typically undertaken by site design.
environment and exchanged for money. Learning a process by which a system alters its structure to adapt to its
Ecosystem management the management of ecosystems by regulating environment and increase its capacity to survive.
internal ecosystem structure and function to safeguard sustainability, Multidisciplinary team a work group that includes members from differ-
diversity, and productivity rather than to provide for the delivery of ent disciplines, but is led by a single discipline and tends to interact cumula-
resource "goods" and "services" to society. tively to address problems with a disciplinary focus.
230 Glossary Glossary

Nitrogen cycle a process that transfers molecular nitrogen from the atmo- Values the ideals and principles we consider important in our lives that
sphere to the soil, where it becomes available to plants for use in forming motivate and give purpose and meaning to our thoughts and actions.
essential compounds before returning it to the atmosphere through decom- Wayfinding the ability to cognitively map the environment and make
position. appropriate navigational decisions.
Nitrogen fixers bacterial organisms that have the capacity to withdraw
nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to the ecosystem in the
form of ammonia.
Overload a condition in which there are too many demands for attention
that command more of a person's mental capacity than can be spared to
perform an activity effectively.
Personal space the "bubble" of space surrounding each person into which
others may not intrude.
Phosphorus cycle the process through which the phosphorous contained in
sedimentary deposits enters the ecosystem through the slow weathering of
rocks in order that it may be incorporated into the ecosystem before return-
ing to the soil and geological components of the environment.
Post-occupancy evaluation the evaluation of design projects after execu-
tion and occupation to determine the extent of their success.
Procedural theories theories regarding methodology and the application of
knowledge that describe functional and procedural relationships that guide
planning and design decision making.
Producers plants that transform radiant energy into chemical energy
though the process of photosynthesis.
Prospect-refuge theory the theory that people innately prefer settings that
offer a panoramic view of the landscape from a position of relative seclusion.
Proxemic space space that is shared by homogeneous groups with highly
consistent spatial behavior.
Seres the transitional ecosystems of increasing complexity that develop dur-
ing the process of succession.
Stress the psychological and physiological response to conditions (typically
unpredictable or uncontrollable) that represent the possibility of threat or
challenge; responses include arousal and active attempts to cope.
Substantive theories theories regarding the knowledge from which an
understanding of the landscape as the interface between human and natural
processes is derived.
Suitability analysis the process of determining the fitness of a landscape
condition to support specific human activities or land uses.
Sustainable development wise development and conservation of the
earth's resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Systems entities and relationships that function through the interrelated-
ness of their parts.
Territory a spatially defined area, typically with visible boundaries, that is
owned or controlled by one or more individuals.

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Barker, J. A., 103, 197
accreditation standards of, 21
curriculum requirements of, 20 Beauty, 153-156. See also Aesthetics
of form
Beck, D. E., 117
of landscape suitability, 79-82
Behavioral dimensions of space,
of research data in design pro-
gramming, 59-60
246 Index Index
choice model of, 36-37
Behavioral settings, 126 Clarity Consumers vs. producers, in ecosys- collaboration in. See Collaboration
Behavioral-science-based design, as consideration in defining tems, 89-90 definitions of, 17-18
35-38 beauty,155 Consumption
Berger, J., 194 ecosystem knowledge applied to,
importance of, in critical think- conspicuous, 6 97
Berleant, A, 11, 153 ing, 214 effect of consumerism on design
form in. See Form
Bertcher, H. J., 197,201 Climate practice, 181 fundamental considerations in,
Biophysical environment. See also defined, 86 required changes in, for sustain- 56
Ecosystems influence on ecosystems, 94-99, able development, 31
geophysical conditions in, 84-87 105-106 Context-driven critical thinking, 217 goals of, 161-168
importance of, in landscape archi- Continuum, landscape architecture golden section relationships of
site analysis factor of, 112 form in, 139-143
tecture, 83-84 Coalition power, 196 as reflective of, 15
site analysis factors in, 109-114 Cowan, C. c., 117 "grand tradition" vs. "vernacu-
Cognitive mapping, 124-126 lar" approach to, 51
Biotic complexity, 106 Cohen,S., 201 Coxe, W,48, 171-172, 174
Birch, c., 152,210 Creative thinking, importance of, history of methods in, 51-52
Collaboration. See also Teams
Biswas, A K., 100 218-220 imporlance of creative thinking
comprehensive design resolution in, 218-220
Biswas, M. R., 100 Critical thinking, imporlance of, 20,
requiring, 189 importance of critical thinking in,
Bohm, D., 152,210 77-78,214-218
design-team, 190-195 20, 77-78,214-218
Bonner, J., 29 Crosbie, M. J., 176, 178, 185
organizational structures for
Broadbent, G., 50-52 Cross, N., 51-52 prejudicial influence on, 23
Bronowski, J., 1, 154-155,215 group decision making, purpose/intent of, 160-166
196-197 Cultural conditions, site analysis
Brookfield, S. D., 215, 217 factor of, 138 quality of life and quality of the
Brooks, K. R., 125 shared vision in, 199-200 environment as interrelated
Comfort/convenience, as design Cultural diversity, effect on land
Brown, H., 29 concerns in, 47
Brown, 1. R., 101 goal, 162 planning and design, 117-118 studio-format education tech-
Commodity, landscape as, 7-11 Cultural values. See Values
Bruer, J. T., 214 niques in, 20, 35
Bunch, M., 35 Communication, effective and posi- technological evolution in,
tive, 208 Data analysis, in design program- 173-174
Burkeman, 0.,122
Community ming, 59-60
Business-centered practice, 175 Design practice
Byrne, E, 85 design guidelines for building, Data gathering, in design program- business-centered, 175
127-128 ming, 58-59 construction practices' effect on,
development services, 187 De Bono, E., 77,219 178-180
Capitalism, values of, 6-9
housing, performance criteria for, Decision modeling, 53, 77
Capra, E, 30, 38,43-44,46, 53, 69, economic effects on, 180-181
97,102,214 128 Decision-making, group. See Collab-
oration; Teams land regulation's effect on,
Carbon cycle, 90 interaction, as design goal, 163 182-184
Cartier, E, 220 services, site analysis factor of, Dee, c., 125
137 Deforestation, 101, 104 organizational values in, 174-175
Caudill, W W, 52, 54, 178, 190, practice-centered, 174-1 75
194,200 Commuting, financial and health- Delayed feedback, problematic
nature of, 70 professional services in, 184-188
Change related costs of, 169 professions, changing character-
landscape form as promotional Compatibility and comprehensive- Denitrification, 91
istics of, 176-184
agent of, 147 ness, as design goals, 161 Derrington, P.A, 36, 57,176, technologies of, 172-1 74
as principal characteristic of Conative factors, in human needs 178-181,184-185
technology's effect on, 181-182
design, 18-19, 150 hierarchy, 118 Desertification, 100-101
Design process. See also Design tech-
resistance to, 216 Concepts, alternative, evaluation of, Design. See also Design theory; nologies
stewardship linked with, 29-30 65, 73-74 Landscape design creative thinking in, 218-220
Choice Conformity, dangers of, 216 application-oriented learning critical thinking in, 214-218
discretion, as design goal, 162 Conspicuous consumption, 6 process of, 40
cyclical nature of, 70-74
model of design, 36-37 Construction beauty as measure of quality in, defined,50
Churchman, C. W, 19 management systems/services, 155
ideation and interaction phases
Circulation, site analysis factor of, 180, 187 change and improvement as prin- of,67-68
136 practice, changes in, 178, 180 cipal characteristics of, 18-19
248 Index Index
human. See Human environment
as indicator of successful practice, Design subculture, values as, 4 Economy, as design goal, 164 management services, 188
48 Design technologies, 172-173. See Ecosystems quality-of-life design criteria and,
innovation-intervention pro- also Design process accelerating modification and 168
cesses,52 Design theory deterioration of, 92, 104 relationship ofform to, 146
investigating systemic relation- contemporary, how vs. why of, basic processes and components wayfinding in, 129
ships in, 65 34 of,89 Environmental health, as design cri-
learning through feedback, 65-67 fundamental questions regarding, biotic complexity of, 106. See also terion, 168
nonsequential nature of, 69 10-11 Biophysical environment Environment-behavior studies, 34-38
post-occupancy evaluation in, holistic, 27, 38, 41 changing nature of design in, Equilibrium structures, 44-45
64-65 human ecological planning, 27-28 14-15 Esteem needs, 119
predicting future conditions in, 63 moving beyond formal design climate's influence on, 94-99, Evaluation, importance of, in design
programming in, 53-54. See also paradigm, 15-16 105-106
process, 70-71
Design programming procedural, 27-28, 49-82. See cycling of elements in, 90-91 Excellence, design as pursuit of,
quality as goal of, 151 also Procedural theory diminished stability of, 106-107 165-166
reiterative vs. linear approach to, professional education in, 21 ecological principles for manag-
75 substantive, 25-48. See also Sub- ing/changinglandscape, 97 Fabos, J. G., 76
research, analysis and synthesis stantive theory ecological succession in, 88-89 Face saving, 216
in, 50 Design-bid-build process, 179 effect of increasing population Factional power, 196
six steps of, 63-64 Design-build process, 179-180, 187 on, 116 Faniran, A, 177
stages of, 51 Designed form, 147-152 goods, services and processes of, Feedback, in design process, 65-67
Design professions Designers, evolutionary role of, 151 99-104 Financing, impact on design process,
business-centered, 175 Dewey, J., 53 health of, 104-107 180
changes in construction practice, Dissipative structures, 44-45 hierarchies (food chains) within, 90 Finklestein, E. A, 169
178-180 Distemic space, 117-118 human impacts on, 92-93 Fiske, D. W, 154
changing characteristics of, 1 76 Distraction, 120 landscape ecology and, 93-94 Flexibility, as quality-of-life design
changing paradigms of, 177 Diversity long-range planning, factors criterion, 168
economic effects on, 180-181 cultural, constraint on landscape working against, 102-103 Focke, J. W, 54-55
management considerations in, planning and design, 11 7-118 management of, and sustainable Food chains, hierarchical, in ecosys-
176-178 as design goal, 123-124, 163 development, 31-32 tems,90
practice-centered, 1 74-1 75 Doczi, G., 139 population increase effect on, 105 Food production, and sustainable
technology's effect on, 181-182 Dodds, E, 104 porous and dynamic boundaries development, 30-31
Design programming Douglas, V. S., 55 of, 94 Form
data analysis in, 59-60 Downing, J. A, 106 resource exploitation in, 101-102 aesthetic appeal of, 153-158
data gathering in, 58-59 Dramstad, WE., 93, 107 systems theory and, 42 architectural model of, 146-147,
defined, 53-54 Dregne, H. E., 101 urban development's effect on, 150
elements of design in, 54 108-109 beauty as rightness of, 156
goals, objectives, and perfor- Easements, site analysis factor of, Education system, emphasis on art design as the medium of, 145
mance criteria in, 60-62 135 vs. science of design in, 45 design forces influencing, 148
incorporating humanistic infor- Eckbo, G., 25-26 Efficiency, as design goal, 164 design quality, determining
mation in, 56 Ecological community, concept of, Ehrlich, A. E., 86 through,149-150
integrated tasks of, 57-58 7-8 Ehrlich, P. R., 17, 86 designed, 147-152
lukewarm reception for, 57 Ecological corridors, 125 Einstein, A, 12 expression of desired relation-
making connections between Ecological succession, 88-89 Eisely, L., 29 ships through, 144
knowledge and form in, 55 Ecology, defined, 87 Eley, J., 57, 176 fundamental characteristics of, 150
problem seeking in, 55, 56 Economics Environment golden section proportions of,
proponents of, 57 conditions, site analysis factor of, biophysical. See Biophysical envi- 139-143
purpose of, 54 136 ronment linking with knowledge, 213
translating conclusions into effect on character of design prac- evaluating aesthetic response to, natural, 144-147
instructions, 60-62 tice, 180-181 157
252 253
Index Index

contemporary complexity of, 12 Ordway, S. H., 29 design programming in, 53-62

Mapping,cogrritive, 124-126 first- and second- generation pro-
evolving needs addressed by, 12 Mapping, for landscape suitability Organizational values in profes-
cesses, 51-52
meeting human needs through, analysis, 82 sional practice, 174-175
115-138 Overload, 120 landscape planning as, 75-79
Marcus, C. c., 35, 126-128 landscape suitability analysis,
negative impact on natural sys- Marsh, W M., 76, 80, 94, 101 Ownership, concept of, 5-6 79-82
tems,17 Marshall, L. L., 52
synergizing biophysical and cul- Palmer, M. A, 54-56 systematic design method, 50
Maslow, A H., 118 third- and fourth-generation pro-
tural processes in, 17 McAllister, D. Eo,104 Papanek, V, 18,31, 35, 156
Park, P., 195 cesses,52
theory of. See Design theory McCombs, B., 214 three basic questions regarding,
Landscape ecology, 93-94 Parker, G. Mo,190, 199, 201
McHarg, I. L., 27, 80, 143, 147, 160 49-50
Landscape planning, 75 McNulty, R. H., 171 Participatory design, 190. See also
Collaboration Process vs. outcome orientation, in
decision modeling in, 77 Meinig, D. W, 11, 150 critical thinking, 217
definition and purpose of, 75-77 Miller, C. G., 133 Passini, R., 129
Paths, 125 Producers vs. consumers, 89-90
landscape-human relationship Mitroff, I., 19 production and consumption para-
questions regarding, 76 Pattern language, in design pro-
Molles, M. c., 90-91, 94 digm, 7,9
professional services in, 187 Moore, Ro,70 gramming, 54
Pattern recognition in systems the- Productivity, as design goal, 163
six-levelmodeling approach, 78-79 Motloch,52 Professional services
Landscape suitability analysis, 79-82 ory, 44
Motloch, J., 41, 44, 51-52, 122, Pearce, J. c., 115, 214 broadening range of, 186, 188
Lappe, F.M., 116 195, 198 changing characteristics of,
Laurie, M., 76, 155 Pena, W M., 54-56, 60
Motloch, J. L., 11, 38 Performance criteria, 61, 127-128 176-184
Lawson, B., 54,199,213 Multidisciplinary teams, 191 design-related, 185-186
Leadership Performance requirements, 62
Murphy, G., 139 Professionalism, in landscape archi-
Personal space, 121
and interdisciplinary teams, 193, Murphy, M. D., 57,178,180, Peterson, C. H., 106 tecture, 22-23
200 184-185, 197 Professions. See Design professions
Learning Phosphorous cycle, 91
Myer, Jo, 130 Physiological needs, 118 Profitability, as design goal, 164
application-oriented, in design, 40 Ping, T., 153 Programming. See Design program-
defined, 39 Nadakavukaren, A, 92, 101, 116 ming
Pleasure, as design goal, 163
as a design process, 40 Nasar, J. L., 157 Programming services, 185-186
population, 17, 107, 116. See also
importance of, in systems the- Natural form, 144-147 Urban development Project/construction management
ory, 39-40 Nature Possession, symbolic currency of, 6, 8 services, 187
systems approach to the process as commodity, 5 Postel, S., 104 Prospect-refuge theory, 37-38
of,46 quantitative vs. qualitative view Post-occupancy evaluation, 64-65 Proust, M., 213
Legibility, as design goal, 162 of,43 Power structures in group decision Proxemic space, 117
Leopold, A, 5, 7,43 restorative and healthful qualities making, 196 Public participation facilitation, 187
Lincoln, Y. S., 197 of, 129 Power, territory and artifacts as Public space, 126-127
Linstone, H., 19 Ndubisi, F.,27,76,82,194-195 Public territory, 121
symbols of, 5-6
Long-term sustained yield. See Sus- Newman,P., 29, 133 Practice-centered business, 174-175 Purcell, T., 157
tainable development Newton, N. T., 159 Preiser, W F.E., 56, 64 Pyramidal power, 196
Lovings, A, 32 Nicomachean Ethics (Aristotle), 20 Prejudice, negative influence on
Lovings, L. H., 32 Nitrogen cycle, 90 design, 23 Quality, systems integration as
Ludtke, Ro,196 measure of, 47
Nitrogen fixers, 91 Press, D., 12
Lyle,J. T.,31, 33, 106, 108, 145,219 Nodes, 125 Privacy, as design goal, 163 Quality of life
Lyman, S. M., 121 Problem seeking, in design program- as design goal, 166-168
Novelty, as requirement of beauty, lifestyle and health aspects of,
Lynch, K., 36, 125, 160 154 ming, 55-56 168-170
Problem-oriented paradigm of
Maddi, S. R., 154 design professions, 177 Quality, education and theory as
Objectivity, importance of, 213-214 measuring devices for, 21
Management concerns, and the Odum, E. P.,88, 108 Procedural theory
design profession, 178 defined,27-28 Quality-of-environment design cri-
Olgyay, V, 97 teria, 168
Maple, F.F., 197,201 Olson, J. Do,93 design process in, 50-51, 62-75
254 255
Index Index
Rabinowitz, H. Z., 64 Smith, A D., 28 leadership in, 200
sustainable development, 28-34
Rapoport, A, 34-37, 51, 123, 185 Smith, D. S., 196, 199 learning as interactive basis for,
Reason, P., 195 systems theory, 38, 48
Smith, R. L., 87 Succession, ecological, 88-89 192-195
Recyclingwith feedback, 66 Smuts, J. c., 41 member responsibilities, 204
Regulations, 182-184 Suitability analysis, 80--82
Snow, J. T., 131 Sullivan, L. H., 143 multidisciplinary vs. interdiscipli-
Reiterative design feedback, 73 Social conditions, site analysis factor Sullivan, L. N., 179 nary, 191
Relief,defined, 87 of,136 Sustainability, as design goal, 165 organizational power structures
Resource conservancy/utility /recy- Social progress, accumulation of Sustainable development, 28-34 of,196
clability, 164-165 wealth as measure of, 4 participation in, 201-203
ecosystem management and,
Rights-of-way, site analysis factor Socialization needs, 119 31-32 rules of engagement for, 204-209
of,135 size of, 201
Society, landscape as an accurate resource productivity improve-
Roads, influence on perceptions of indicator of, 11 ment principles, 32-33 Technology
environment, 130-132 Soils Sustainable development theory, categories of. See Design technolo-
Rodiek, J. E., 4 desertification of, 100-101 gies
Ruggiero, V.R., 214, 216, 219 site analysis factor of, 110-111 Swanepoel, H. J., 194 effect on design practice, 181-182
understanding types of, 87 Symbols, power- and status-defin- importance of, in sustainable
Sadler, B., 31 development, 33
Solution-oriented paradigm of ing, 5-6
Safety needs, 119 design professions, 177 purpose of, in design, 34
Symes, M., 57, 176, 178
Safety/security, as design goal, 162 Sommer, R., 121-122 Synergy, as design goal, 165 Territory
Sanoff, H., 54, 56 Soult\ M. E., 12 encroachment on, 122
Systematic design method, three
Sarkissian, W, 35, 127-128 Space spatially defined areas of,
stages of, 50
Sasaki, H., 20, 50 behavioral dimensions of, 121-122
Systemic relationships
Schedule maintenance, 209 121-123 hypothetically modeling and Theory, defined, 25
Science,landscape architecture as, 27 distemic vs. proxemic, 117-118 evaluating in design investiga- Thinking, critical/creative, 214-220
Scott, M. B., 121 personal, 121 Thompson, I. M., 3
Sears, P.B., 29 public, 126-127 Thornley, D., 50
managing through collaborative
Seasonal change, influence on eco- territorial, 121-122 Tilman, D., 106
design, 190
systems, 94-98 Species destruction, 101 Time, American concept of, 102-103
Systemic thinking, 41, 215
Security, as consideration in defining Statutory requirements, site analy- Systems theory, 38-48 Topography, site analysis factor of,
beauty,155 sis factor of, 135 critical understanding of relation- 109-110
Sedentary lifestyle, 169 Steiner, E, 80 'Itaffic, site analysis factor of, 136
ships in, 41
Seidel, A D., 57, 176, 178 Steinitz, c., 20, 78-79 'Itansportation
ecosystems and, 42
Self-actualization needs, 119 Stereotyping, pitfall of, 216-217 design challenge of, 132-133
equilibrium vs. dissipative struc-
Self-deception, pitfall of, 217 Stewardship, 8, 26, 29-30 tures in, 44-45 health-related issues, 169
Senge, P.M., 12,38,190-192,199 Stoddart, L. A, 28 holistic thinking in, 41 sustainable development and, 30
Sense of place, 163, 168 Stokels, D., 119-120
Seres, 89 importance of, in landscape archi-
Strauss, E. L., 51-52 tecture,43 Ulrich, R. S., 129, 153, 155
Service technologies, categories of, Stress, 120, 129 principles of design process, 40-41 Unity, as consideration in defining
Strong delivery/strong service/ principles of systemic learning, beauty,155
Services, professional, 185-188 39-40 Urban development
strong idea design technologies,
Shared experience, value of, 6 172-173 access and movement in, 129
system relationships, defined, 38
Shared vision, in teamwork, biophysical environment and,
199-200 Structure, as characteristic of design
form, 150 Teams. See also Collaboration 108-109
Shurman, R., 116 design services in, 187-188
Substantive theory advantages and disadvantages of,
Sinton, J., 194 defined,27-28 190-191 human environment and, 124
Site analysis factors in human envi- design philosophy of, 27-28 effective environment in, 197-199 transportation problems in, 132
ronments, 134-138 innovation factor in, 197 vehicular circulation systems
environment-behavior studies,
Site master planning services, 34-38 interdisciplinary process in, and, 133-134
prospect-refuge, 37-38 209-211 Utilities, site analysis factor of, 137
Values Wealth
corporate capitalistic influence as measure of social progress, 4
on, 7
natural, human attitudes toward,
individual vs. community, 7 5
influence on landscape architec- success measured by, 9
ture, 3-7 Weiner, J., 145
landscape as a reflection of, 11 Weir, J., 29
Van Gigch, J. P., 52 Weisbord, M., 18
Variety, as consideration in deter- Weisman, G. D., 67
mining beauty, 154 Wheatley, M. J., 41,191,197,199
Veblen, T., 6 White, E. T., 64
Vegetation, site analysis factor of,
White, R. E, 97
Whitfield, T. W A, 1.'57- O~
Vehicles. See Transportation
Vehicular circulation systems,
Whyte, W H., 126, 195
Wildlife, site analysis factor of,
urban, 133-134. See also 1tans- 113-114 N-

portation; Roads Will, G. E, 6 O;;;

Wilson, E. 0., 32, 37, 101 OO~
Ward, A, 52
Wohlwill, J., 157
Wood, C. A, 31, 93
hydrologic cycle of, 91
world population's increasing
demand for, 104
Wynberg, R., 30, 104-105, 132

Zeisel, J., 67
Wayfinding, 129, 162-163 //,
Zube, E. H., 34-35, 37, 52, 64

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