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50 Years of 'Design With Nature'

Ian McHarg's groundbreaking book was published 50 years ago.
July 10, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jeffrey Bary

Design With Nature, written by Ian McHarg, was published 50 years ago, but its legacy and influence are still obvious today.

Peter Crimmins writes to commemorate the publication of the book, which "would have deep reverberations in architectural, environmental, and political worlds," and "undergirded the eventual passage of landmark federal air and water protections in the 1970s."

Crimmins describes McHarg as a data-driven designer, who didn't just influence environmentalists, but every generation of planners and designers that would follow. "He created a process to methodically collect information about a particular landscape — its underground aquifers, native foliage, soil types, human populations, etc. — and draw them as so many geological maps, maps that could be overlaid to show how all that information interacted."

The University of Pennsylvania, former employer of McHarg, is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Design With Nature with three exhibitions on campus, reports Crimmins. "The Kroiz Gallery in the Fisher Fine Arts Library summarizes McHarg’s work; the Arthur Ross Gallery at the opposite side of the building features an artistic response to his data-gathering methods by Laurel McSherry; and the lobby of Meyerson Hall next door pays tribute to the legacy of McHarg with displays of 25 large-scale environmental design projects currently happening around the world.

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