The Composition of Complexity
Routledge – 2011 – 240 pages
For planning to be successful, design must mean more than simply blindly following the dictates of legislation and regulation – yet losing sight of the importance of the design process is all too often exactly what has happened.
Ron Kasprisin has written a book for students of planning and urban design that reconnects the process of designing with outcomes on the ground, and puts thinking about design back at the heart of what planners do. The book identifies the elements and principles of composition and explores compositional order and structure as they relate to the meaning and functionality of cities. It discusses new directions and methods, outlines the importance of both buildings and the open spaces between them.
Mixing accessible theory, practical examples and carefully designed exercises in composition from simple to complex settings, Urban Design is an essential textbook for classrooms and design studios across the full spectrum of planning and urban studies fields. Not only filled with illustrations and graphics of excellent projects, it gives students tools to enable them to sketch, draw, design and above all, to think.
Ron holds a unique position as architect, planner and artist; he is also, in my personal experience, a very good teacher, as such he is able to explore urban design in a particularly organic and generative way… This will be an exciting text for planners, emerging design professionals, as well as a wide ranging audience of others involved urban design decisions. Ron aims to familiarize his readers with an expanded language of urban design. He endeavors to introduce its parts of speech and challenges his students with experiments in syntax which will result in a conversation much more robust in addressing the realities of complex urban environments. - John Shevenell, Architect
I am confident of the book’s value as a textbook at many levels of design education, from beginning architecture and landscape architecture to more advanced urban planning and urban design. - John Gilbert Luebtow. Award-winning artist and sculptor, teacher and lecturer
The book will also be a resource for the working professionals. In addition, there is a strong and growing trend regionally and nationally for on-the-job continuing education for planners. This book would tend to fit this instructional purpose as well. - Ben Frerichs PhD, Senior Economist/Principal Economic Consulting Services,
Ron is regarded in British Columbia, Canada as a well respected planner and designer, especially in the area of design charettes…We need to redesign our neighbourhoods and communities in order to address the critical issues facing us – from loneliness and isolation to climate change and security. Our students and professors need advice and education through books like this to achieve our community goals and aspirations. - John Talbot, John Talbot & Associates Inc
Kasprisin is an associate professor in urban design and planning at the University of Washington on Seattle, and this book comes across as a very useful compendium of curricular materials for a class in urban design theory and practice—with a laudable emphasis on the necessary skills of design composition. - Michael Mehaffy, Sustasis Foundation
Foreword and Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2. Definitions and Fundamentals of Urban Design in Culture 3. Urban Design Language and Parameters 4. Elements and Principles of Design Composition 5. Relationships in Composition 6. Transformations of Form in Urban Design 7. Context, Program and Typology 8. Experiments in Composition 9. Theoretical Considerations Appendix 1: Drawing Types for Urban Design Appendix 2: Working with People: The Politics of Urban Design Appendix 3: Remnants, Bridging, Hybridity, and Edges
Ron Kasprisin is an architect, urban planner, and artist with over forty years of experience as a practitioner in urban design as Kasprisin Pettinari Design; and over twenty years of academic experience as an Associate Professor in Urban Design and Planning, College of Built Environments, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Ron is also an accomplished watercolor painter with national recognition, awards, and exhibitions. Ron lives on Whidbey Island northwest of Seattle, Washington in Puget Sound, where he offers watercolor painting workshops at Kasprisin Ridge Studios, Langley, Washington.