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.

Read Time: 1 minute

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

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Aerial view of Bend, Oregon with river and old mill district

Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums

The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.

January 20, 2023 - KTVZ

Sunset view over canal and downtown Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale Cuts Water Supply to Nearby Suburb

The city claims it has no responsibility to provide water to the unincorporated Maricopa County community.

January 18, 2023 - The Washington Post

Aerial view of Ogden, Utah with Wasatch Mountains in the background

Utah Could Eliminate Parking Requirements Near Transit

A proposed state bill would bar cities from requiring parking in areas adjacent to transit stations in an effort to make housing production more affordable and encourage walking and transit use.

7 hours ago - The Salt Lake Tribune

People on bikes on crowded Rue de Rivoli in Paris in 2020

Where Pandemic Bike Improvements Won Out

While some cities are reverting back to pre-pandemic street configurations, others are taking advantage of the momentum for bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make pandemic-era projects permanent.

January 29 - Momentum Magazine

Atlanta Rail Service

Atlanta Transit Plans Stall Due to Budget Concerns

With MARTA facing a potential billion dollar shortfall, the agency says it can’t fulfill its system expansion plan.

January 29 - Urbanize Atlanta