The Unexpected Influence of Christopher Alexander

Known for A Pattern Language, his landmark book on architecture and urban design, Christopher Alexander's ideas have had an effect on everything from software and iPhone apps to business management and ecology.

September 8, 2011, 7:00 AM PDT

By Tim Halbur


Michael Mehaffy says that Alexander had an early and seminal influence on software development:

"[Alexander] was always concerned with the processes by which parts transform into wholes. He wants to know how we are implementing this part-whole synthesis; how nature does it; and especially, where we, in our own human version, might be getting it wrong. This core interest was what occupied his work documented in Notes on the Synthesis of Form. As it happens, an earlier generation of computer programmers, organization theorists, design theorists and many others, were struggling then to figure out how to generate and manage the large new design structures of that era - computer software being one prominent example. Alexander gave them some very helpful conceptual tools to do that."

Mehaffy continues with many other examples of Alexander's extensive influence.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 in Metropolis Magazine

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