Landscape Architecture Theory
6 x 9
20 photos, 40 illustrations
6 x 9
20 photos, 40 illustrations
For decades, landscape architecture was driven solely by artistic sensibilities. But in these times of global change, the opportunity to reshape the world comes with a responsibility to consider how it can be resilient, fostering health and vitality for humans and nature. Landscape Architecture Theory re-examines the fundamentals of the field, offering a new approach to landscape design.
Drawing on his extensive career in teaching and practice, Michael Murphy begins with an examination of influences on landscape architecture: social context, contemporary values, and the practicalities of working as a professional landscape architect. He then delves into systems and procedural theory, while making connections to ecosystem factors, human factors, utility, aesthetics, and the design process. He concludes by showing how a strong theoretical understanding can be applied to practical, every-day decision making and design work to create more holistic, sustainable, and creative landscapes.
Students will take away a foundational understanding of the underpinnings of landscape architecture theory, as well as how it can be applied to real-world designs; working professionals will find stimulating insights to infuse their projects with a greater sense of purpose.
"An instructional, highly-narrative book that strikes on the fundamentals while stepping lightly through complex subjects...This distillation of a huge number of important ideas into a quick and coherent format is the blueprint for a go-to book. Landscape Architecture Theory is eminently useful and widely applicable...There is not a single landscape architecture student who wouldn't benefit from reading this book cover to cover, and general readers will appreciate its simple and direct treatment of even widely understood subjects."
ASLA's The Dirt
"As Kurt Lewin observed, "There is nothing so practical as a good theory." Landscape architecture is a discipline which has benefitted greatly from a few good theories, including, "parks are good for people" and "design with nature." Even so, theory in the field has not been well organized or systematically understood. With this fine book, Michael D. Murphy wonderfully fills these gaps. Landscape Architecture Theory provides a valuable resource for scholars, students, and practitioners to understand how the discipline can help guide change to improve the human condition."
Frederick Steiner, Dean, The University of Pennsylvania School of Design
"Landscape Architecture Theory is indispensable reading for anyone looking for a compelling synthesis of seminal ideas that have shaped theory about how people interact with the landscape—and how the ensuing knowledge can be translated successfully into practice. This book stands apart from other theory texts as a persuasive investigation of the role of design in mediating the dialogue between biophysical and human processes, in order to facilitate a mutually sustaining relationship between people and the landscapes they inhabit."
Forster Ndubisi, Professor, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University
“Murphy’s description of the practical application of landscape architectural theory is invaluable. Our firm has successfully applied his theories and models of multidisciplinary planning and design collaboration, which is a critical feature of our practice. This is particularly important in regard to the technically and environmentally challenging aspects of large scale development projects.”
Chris Mulder, Principal, Chris Mulder Associates Incorporated
Part I: Substantive Theory
Chapter 1: Substantive Theory
Chapter 2: The Biophysical Landscape
Chapter 3: The Human Landscape
Chapter 4: Design Purpose
Chapter 5: Design Form
Part II: Procedural Theory
Chapter 7: Design Process
Chapter 8: Problem Definition
Chapter 9: Design Collaboration
Chapter 10: Design Thinking
To download the appendix, please click here.
In honor of the first presidential debate tonight beteween Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we asked Island Press authors: "If you were advisor to the president, what would your top priority be and why?" Check out their answers, in their own words, below.
I'd urge the President to act on every possible opportunity to reduce the influence of money in the political process, because until that happens it will be increasingly difficult to make progress on anything else.
-Dan Fagin, Toms River
Maintaining and extending the collaborative relationship with the Republic of Mexico over the shared waters of the Colorado River should be a sustained priority. The 2012 agreement known as "Minute 319", signed in 2012, included important water sharing provisions and for the first time allowed water to be returned to the desiccated Colorado River for the environment and the communities of Mexico. The deal was an important milestone, but it was only a temporary agreement. We need permanent solutions to the overuse of the Colorado River, and sustaining our partnership with Mexico is a critical piece.
-John Fleck, Water is for Fighting Over
1) Ending farm subsidies and other protection/promotion of food crops.
2) Embracing GMO neutrality.
3) Ending federal support for state unpasteurized (raw) milk bans.
4) Reining in the FDA.
5) Ending the federal ban on sales of locally slaughtered meat.
6) Ending federal policies that promote food waste.
7) Improving food safety and choice by requiring good outcomes, rather than mandating specific processes.
8) Ending the federal ban on distilling spirits at home.
9) Deregulating the cultivation of hemp.
-Baylen Linnekin, Biting the Hands that Feed Us
For more elaboration on these bullets, see Linnekin’s full article on Reason.
My advice to a presidential candidate would be to recall the words of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “The good thing about science is that its true whether or not you believe in it.” Natural forces are at work that will have adverse consequences, many of which are diametrically opposed to our national interests. Global climate change, the spread of vector borne diseases, and the rampant overuse of nonrenewable and renewable resources are just three such forces currently in play. The decisions that you make during your tenure will be pivotal relative to the health and well-being of our citizens, as well as the citizens of the world. Recognize the fact that you are governing, just as Lincoln did, during a period of history that will resonate for centuries to come. Make wise environmental decisions even if they are not necessarily politically advantageous. Our futures depend upon it.
-Alan Kolok, Modern Poisons
“I would urge the President to take strong action to pass climate change legislation in Congress. The form that climate change legislation would take would depend on the politics, but it is imperative that the U.S. begins to lead the world to action on climate change. Climate change isn’t even my own professional issue of focus (I would love to talk to the President about how to make our cities more resilient, green, and livable), but it seems to me clearly the crisis issue. Every major scientific study that is coming out is pointing toward serious consequences of climate change, happening now. Rather than thinking about climate change that will impact my kids’ lives, I am realizing it will deeply impact my own as well.”
-Rob McDonald, Conservation for Cities
If I had a chance to sit face-to-face with the winning candidate, my advice would be something like: Think about the welfare of our grandchildren when you make decisions on energy and environmental issues. Consider not just the short-term impacts but the long-term consequences of sea-level rise, extreme weather events, droughts, and loss of agricultural land. Set an example for reducing carbon emissions based on energy efficiency and renewable energy that can serve as a model for developing countries. Listen to our climate scientists and heed their warnings. Trust their advice on global warming in the same way you trust the advice of your physician with regard to your personal health.
-Charles Eley, Design Professional’s Guide to Zero Net Energy Buildings
I would push for the next President to try again (yes, again!) to work on bipartisan climate action, perhaps with a revenue-neutral carbon tax like the Initiative 732 campaign that I’m a part of in Washington State. We’re proud to have endorsements from three Republicans in the state legislature as well as from a bunch of Democrats. The short-sighted opposition from some left-wing groups (including some mainstream “environmental” groups) highlights the risk of making climate change a partisan wedge issue for electing Democrats instead of an existential issue for all Americans. We need to try harder to build a big tent for lasting climate action, and that’s one one reason I’m so fond of the quote at the end of this NYT story (about the failed attempt by enviros to win control of the Washington State legislature for the Democrats in Nov 2014): “The most important thing is to normalize this issue [climate change] with Republicans,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic strategist. “Anything that makes it more partisan makes it less likely that there will be legislation, until such time as Democrats take over the world. Which according to my watch, will not be happening anytime soon.”
-Yoram Bauman, Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change
I would urge the President to reassert cross-departmental efforts such as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to further empower local governments and constituents to meet ongoing challenges of urban development, because those challenges of land use, transportation, affordability will not be entirely met by private market solutions. I would also advise that the new administration investigate further centralizing resources relevant to urban areas, and evaluate (as was once proposed by Richard Florida) a new cabinet-level position focused on cities and rapidly urbanizing areas. Finally, I would suggest to the President that the federal government should lead by example by illustrating methods to elevate civic dialogue, including program development and funding to encourage individuals to obtain firsthand knowledge of the cities around them through careful observation and input into urban political and regulatory processes.
-Charles Wolfe, Seeing the Better City
Challenging as this will be even to try, much less accomplish, the next President should work to return a spirit of compromise and cooperation to the American political conversation. On the current course, no real progress toward environmental or social sustainability is possible. The impacts of climate change and demographic pressure are now becoming obvious to people of all political persuasions. Growing awareness may eventually offer room for fresh policy ideas: a carbon tax with proceeds turned into dividends and a universal basic income for all citizens, access for all to comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive health services, and humane and sustainable migration law.
-Robert Engelman, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want
As much as climate change will affect the United States, we likely have the capacity to adapt more effectively than most other countries—at least in terms of human welfare. At the same time, US demand for foreign goods and services is not going away; I, for one, don’t care what you say about the damn environment—I’m having my morning cup of tea or coffee come hell or high water (the latter an increasingly distinct possibility). If my personal recalcitrance is at all reflective of our national attitude, we nonetheless ought to be striving for a broadly-defined international stance that fully and coherently accounts for climate change. Specifically, in a world where the actions of our friends and our enemies will be increasingly defined by surging resource constraints (as well as “releases”—think Arctic oil…), our next President should focus on integrating foreign aid, fair trade, free trade, and military/security policy in a way that anticipates the incoming tsunami of threats—and opportunities—posed by climate chaos.
-Charles Chester, Climate and Conservation
In general terms, I believe the wealth of the nation lies in two areas: natural resources and human resources. As a matter of national defense priority, these areas require policy attention at the national level. Attending to these issues requires commitment and collaboration among all political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic affiliations—it is time for the adults to take charge. In particular, it will be necessary to harness their combined strengths in a public and private partnership initiative. An outline of my top priorities topics includes the following:
Natural Resources/Climate Change:
-Michael Murphy, Landscape Architecture Theory, Second Edition
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read Glenn Beck’s recent commentary in the New York Times. “The only way for our society to work is for each of us to respect the views of others, and even try to understand and empathize with one another,” he wrote. He took the words right out of my mouth. And so, Glenn and I urge the next President to do exactly that, reach across the aisle, connect with the great diversity of people and views in this country, and with respect and empathy seek to understand.
-Lucy Moore, Common Ground on Hostile Turf
Given the evident impact of rampant development pressures and climate change on our nation’s wildlife populations and diverse ecosystems, I urge the next President to endorse and promote a strong federal leadership role in collaborative landscape-scale planning efforts among federal, state, tribal, and private landowners in order to ensure our natural heritage is conserved for present and future generations.
-Robert Keiter, To Conserve Unimpaired
Dear Future POTUS,
The U.S. must be consumed with the urgent goal of retooling the energy infrastructure of our country and the world. Cooperatively mobilizing with other nations, our government—we, the people—must immediately, using all just and complementary means at our disposal—e.g., directives, incentives, and disincentives—close down fossil fuel operations and facilitate replacing coal, oil, and gas dependencies with cradle-to-cradle manufacture and ecologically and socially sensitive installation of ready, climate-responsible technologies, including locally scaled wind turbines, geothermal plants, and solar panels.
No less urgently, as a globally-responsible facilitator, the U.S.—members of all administrative branches together with the citizenry who have chosen them—must, with forthright honesty and transparency, support a matured narrative of progress that is alluring across political spectrums. This story must redefine power to integrate economic prosperity with other commonly held values—such as equality, justice, democratic liberty, and skillful love for land that interpenetrates with human health and flourishing. It must recall people to ourselves and each other not as mere individual consumers, but as diverse, empowered, capably caring members—across generations—of families, neighborhoods, and of the whole ecosphere of interdependencies—bedrock to sunlight—the source of Earth’s life.
Julianne Lutz Warren, Plain member of the U.S. and Earth, and author of Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey, Tenth Anniversary Edition
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
For decades, landscape architecture was driven solely by artistic sensibilities. But in these times of global change, the opportunity to reshape the world comes with a responsibility to consider how it can be resilient, fostering health and vitality for humans and nature. Landscape Architecture Theory: An Ecological Approach re-examines the fundamentals of the field, offering a new approach to landscape design that incorporates art, science, sustainability, and more. Drawing on his extensive career in teaching and practice, acclaimed landscape architect Michael D. Murphy's clear writing makes complex theory topics understandable, and his unique emphasis ont he science and sustianbility aspects of landcsape architecture set his book apart from existing literature.
As Frederick Steiner, author of Human Ecology observed, “Landscape architecture is a discipline that has benefitted greatly from a few good theories, including ‘parks are good for people’ and ‘design with nature.’ Even so, theory in the field has not been well organized or systematically understood. With this fine book, Michael D. Murphy wonderfully fills these gaps.”
Check out an excerpt from Murphy's book below.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.