05 April 2007

Flashback: Ian McHarg

When I found this old 1991 Planning Magazine article about Ian McHarg, I just had to share. While some of the pieces of his work seem a little dated, the ideas and the work itself have held up so well over time.
McHarg's reputation is most often linked with a method of suitability analysis which, as everyone who has read his 1969 book, Design With Nature, knows, is a way of planning land uses using hand-drawn, translucent overlay maps of geology, soils, vegetation, and other critical factors.

When the maps are superimposed, sensitive areas, as well as areas suitable for particular human activities, are revealed as in the "light shining through a stained-glass window." The concept was not original with McHarg. It had been tried as early as 1912 by landscape architect Warren Manning in Billerica, Massachusetts, and later, in various rough incarnations, by others. It took McHarg to turn an old refrain into an environmental call to arms.

And in our planning class, it is nice to see how his work keeps coming up in different units.


fabien said...

what is the magazine name dedicated to Ian Mc Hargh?

David Tulloch said...

It was an article in Planning Magazine. Unfortunately, the article has been taken down but would still be available in libraries.

Chris Arnold said...

The cited reference can be found in:
Planning 57.n11 (Nov 1991): pp14(6).
WorldCat.org should list nearby resources. Planning via WorldCat link.

Ian McHargs' book Design With Nature was first published in 1969 and outlined a method of "suitability analysis" highlighting some of what is being called "spatial design" among GIS circles today.