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Design With Nature

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In presenting us with a vision of organic exuberance and humandelight, which ecology and ecological design promise to open up forus, McHarg revives the hope for a better world. --LewisMumford

. . . important to America and all the rest of the world in ourstruggle to design rational, wholesome, and productive landscapes.--Laurie Olin, Hanna Olin, Ltd.

This century's most infl
Paperback, Wiley Series in Sustainable Design, 208 pages
Published February 20th 1995 by Wiley (first published March 26th 1969)
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Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Urban planners, local politicians, developers, ecologists
Shelves: work
A hell of a resource if you're ever put in charge of colonizing a new planet. McHarg alternates between case studies and philosophic chapters that veer towards pantheistic. Many of the revolutionary ideas and techniques McHarg writes about are now common practice, but it's still an interesting read for anybody with an interest in cities. ...more
Ahn Mur
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” has garnered a great deal of notoriety in the fields of both landscape architecture and conservationism. Taken as a whole, the prose can be lofty and is, in certain parts, somewhat dated (having never been updated), but generally it is both detailed and philosophical: a kind of walk through the woods with Ian McHarg. It gives an excellent understanding of the foundation of environmentally-sensitive planning.

In the Introduction, Lewis Mumford introduces ecology
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Informative, alarming, practical and inspiring view on the relationship between earth and human, first printed 45 years ago. In 1990, the author was awarded the National Medal of Art by the President Bush who stated then: "I hope that in the 21st century the largest accomplishment of art will be to restore the earth."
Quote from the last paragraph in the book:
"In the quest for survival, success and fulfillment, the ecological view offers an invaluable insight. It shows the way for the man who wou
Mario Joaquín
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fundamental thesis and practice for landscape architecture and regional planning. A gift from Ian McHarg to future generations
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the historical context of landscape design

Of course, there's no doubt that "Design with Nature" is a landmark publication in regional planning and landscape architecture, fusing the two masterfully. It contains a cohesive design vision for incorporating an understanding of nature into the ethos of civilization and its development processes. It also demonstrates an influential approach for architecting entire regions, namely overlaying transparent maps with different geographic criteria to analyze the holistic suitability of diffe
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Old planners
Recommended to Sarah by: School
Shelves: 2009, nature
It's always so tough to enjoy a book that you're forced to read for a meager 10% of your grade in a class, this one, however, was extra difficult to enjoy. It's dated, that's the problem. Everything is "man's domain" and ideas that are commonplace in planning/architecture/urban design are presented (repeatedly) as something outrageous, which maybe they were 50 years ago. So maybe my problem isn't really with this book or it's author, but rather with the fact that we're still reading it in 2009, ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
more accurate title might be:
"mcharg philosophy of paganism and land analysis" ... no design here, just abstract musings and maps.

i did not appreciate his condemnation of judaism as nature raper, and for as caustic and accusitory as several chapters were, i would expect that mr. mcharg lived a decidedly non-western lifestyle; off-grid, net-zero, the whole bit, lest he be Hypocrite Extraordinaire. and while i understand his intense passion for the subject at hand, i found nothing of value as a c
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
This book combines ideas from urban planning and landscape architecture with ideas from ecology. What is to be gained? A lot of lyrical passages about the beauty of nature, which grow more and more tiresome the longer they go on. It's not that the book is without its merits. McHarg's text, after all, is considered a classic. And when he gets down to practicalities, he often has intriguing ideas to present. But every other chapter is theory rather than practicum, and reading this theory fifty yea ...more
Maria Gulley
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Design with Nature is a classic landscape architecture text. As the title may suggest, McHarg's goal was to promote what he calls ecological design, an approach to large-scale design that takes into account pre-existing ecology and geography. He makes this argument through a series of case studies interspersed with more philosophical chapters on the role of man in design and in the world. While a lot has changed in the 50 years since its original publication, McHarg's insistence on assigning val ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had to read this for my urban planning class. McHarg knows his stuff but he spends way too much time jumping between telling you literally everything about sand dune formation to discussing paganism and Christianity. You’ll spend a chapter discussing highways and he’ll refer to a road commissioner as a philistine (because he’s the bad guy in this part of the narrative). Then he’ll experiment with astronauts and tell you about ancient seas and mans blood all within pages. His book was revolutio ...more
Joseph Reilly
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
His philosophies and methods were decades ahead of their time. This is a very philosophical book. McHarg believes humans are meant to improve the biosphere, we are essentially "masters of the biosphere". Every plant and animal on Earth serves a purpose except for humans. Some how our fascination with money has obstructed our true purpose. He also goes into several strategies of city planning including his layered mapping strategies which are still used today in modern Geographic Information Syst ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A critical read for architects, planners and landscape architects. I'm assuming everyone but the building architects reads this during school. It's heavy on the academic case studies and really requires very focused attention. I skimmed a lot and stuck to the lecture subjects. Written in 1969, it has a striking topical quality. ...more
Kirby Obsidian
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that I treasure because it gave me a new awareness and a different way of thinking about being in the world. In this case, it has mainly to do with habitat and with how we Humans carve out our space in it. This book got me understanding myself as a part of nature, part of an environment, instead of as an intrusion, manager or owner of an environment.
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese, design
与想象中的很不一样,不是纯理论讲解,而是案例分析;章节间相对独立,专业涉及广,更像是文献合集。叠加透明图的分析研究方法极妙。 读书笔记: ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
El mejor libro de SIG que hay... aunque realmente no vaya de SIG... Es un precedente que hay que leer, porque aquí empezó todo.
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Despite being a forerunner in GIS-driven environmental planning, the outdated information and long passages of lofty philosophical musings make this book a tough read. You can tell the author’s heart is in the right place, but 50 years later, these methods of environmental planning and conservation have only served as window dressing on the pyrrhic late-stage capitalist real estate and infrastructure developer practices.
Karen R
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book because it covered a variety of issues, tied them together and presented them in a manner that made them understandable to me, since I do not possess an extensive amount of knowledge on environmental issues. In certain chapters, it did cover some areas that I had not had any previous background in. This expanded my knowledge of environmental problems and increased my interest in new issues. For example, the book starts with a chapter titled “Sea and Survival” ...more
Sophie Hauser
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: landscape
Fantastic use of theoretical chapters highlighting the natural process of or world amongst practical case studies of how to improve mans relationship with our habitat.
Written in the 60s it could be seen as slightly outdated, as most of the ideologies are largely realized and methods are practiced, it is still relevant for anyone who is interested in mans relationship with nature and how we can improve it, particularly good for anyone getting into a profession related to this: landscape architec
Greg Balzer
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Land planners, City planners, Landscape Architects
The classic book on how to design in harmony with the natural environment. This book was green at least two decades before it was cool to be green - LEED, etc. It is really too bad that so many of the concepts expressed in this book have not been able to be implemented in the numerous new towns and planned communities developed since this book was published. A number of those communities pay lip service to conforming to site features such as topography, streams, rivers, solar exposure, views, wi ...more
Jan 17, 2016 added it
Design with Nature was an interesting read that covered two different topics concurrently - land use analysis and a new environmental ethic. The land planning portion is brilliant and equips landscape architects/planners with the ability to support design decisions. The switch between chapters on land planning case studies and chapters supporting a new worldview was sometimes a little forced. I would definitely recommend reading the case studies throughout the book.
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fellow Goodreader (J) put it best: "A hell of a resource if you're ever put in charge of colonizing a new planet."

I picked up this book as an environmental engineer interested in learning more about the origins of GIS. (McHarg is said to be one of the first people to publish on the concept of "layering" visual data.) I walked away wishing I had read the book much earlier and had had the chance to meet McHarg in person.

I think I'll read his autobiography next.
Phillip Fernberg
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hear ye, hear ye oh aspiring designers, architects, and engineers of the world! And come read the true doctrine of listening to the land!

Mcharg delivers a captivating, honest, informative, constructively critical, yet optimistic tutorial on how man can be transparent in his design treatment of both Mother Nature and the races that inhabit her. I highly recommend for anyone interested in environmental topics or the urban design discipline.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for anyone interested in or studying architecture, planning, environmental design, or even sociology, geography or cartography. There is a study of social diseases in Philadelphia that are mapped toward the back of the book that correlate the rate of disease with increase in population density. This book makes you think.
May 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I am not in this field so it was a bit more technical than I was expecting but nonetheless I was so pleased to see how he used nature as his tool for creating a landscape. Nature has a lot to teach us and we seem to avoid what she has to say.
LandscapeArchitect Books
Recommended by Tom Turner - author of 'Garden History: Philosophy and Design 2000 BC - 2000 AD' - as one of forty books which - he suggests - every landscape student should have seen. Thanks to the Landscape Information Hub UK. ...more
Ian Colby
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Flashes of intellectual and passionate brilliance are bogged down by the biases of the author's time and profession. If you cut out certain sections of the book where McHarg seems to be foaming at the mouth, spitting on cities and economics, I may have given it a 5. ...more
Fe Dia
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: college
Caroline Gerardo
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wish it had more images. God he was brilliant and before his time
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
gravy train for landscape architects
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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was a Scottish landscape architect and a renowned writer on regional planning using natural systems. He was the founder of the department of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. His 1969 book Design with Nature pioneered the concept of ecological planning. It continues to be one of the most widely celebrated books on landscape architecture and land-use pla ...more

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