Landscape Performance : Ian McHarg’s ecological planning in The Woodlands, Texas book cover
1st Edition

Landscape Performance
Ian McHarg’s ecological planning in The Woodlands, Texas


Bo Yang

ISBN 9780367664794
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
300 Pages

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Book Description

Ian McHarg’s ecological planning approach has been influential since the 20th century. However, few empirical studies have been conducted to evaluate the performance of his projects. Using the framework of landscape performance assessment, this book demonstrates the long-term benefits of a renowned McHargarian project (The Woodlands town development) through quantitative and qualitative methods.

Including 44 black and white illustrations, Landscape Performance systematically documents the performance benefits of the environmental, social, and economic aspects of The Woodlands project. It delves into McHarg’s planning success in The Woodlands in comparison with adjacent Houston developments, which demonstrated urban resilience after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Lastly, it identifies the ingredients of McHarg’s ability to do real and permanent good.

Yang also includes a number of appendices which provide valuable information on the methods of assessing performance in landscape development. This book would be beneficial to academics and students of landscape architecture and planning with a particular interest in Ian McHarg.

Table of Contents

Part 1  1. Overview of Landscape Performace Scholarship  2. Ian McHarg: A Pioneer in Performance Evaluation  Part 2  3. Premier Research Programs  4. Social Benefits  5. Economic Benefits  Part 3  6. The Woodlands: An Exemplary Case for Performance Assessment  7. Planning and Design Process  8. Resilience to Flood  9. Runoff Volume  10. Stormwater Quality  11. Urban Heat Island  Part 4  12. An Evolving Ecological Plan  13. Modeling Development and Runoff Scenarios  14. Stormwater Performance  15. Safety Perception  16. Major Players and Barriers  Part 5  17. McHarg’s Ecological Wisdom  18. Urban Resilience and Contemporary Relevance


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Bo Yang is an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Arizona, USA.


"Given the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and an awakening to the importance of resilience planning in Houston, Texas, and other coastal cities, Americans would be well advised to reexamine the planning principles of Ian McHarg. Bo Yang’s rigorous assessment of McHarg’s work clearly demonstrates the benefits of McHarg’s approach, as well as, the shortcomings of conventional planning in Houston and the shortsighted abandonment of McHarg’s principles by the new owners of the Woodlands after 1997. Yang beautifully illustrates how the creative collaboration between two visionaries – developer, George Mitchell, and landscape architect, Ian McHarg – provided a blueprint for a more sustainable future for America." Kurt Culbertson, Chairman and CEO, Design Workshop, USA

"Design is rife with new ideas and innovations that are widely touted but rarely assessed to see how well they fulfilled their intentions, particularly over the long-term. In this thoughtful analysis, Bo Yang reviews the current state of landscape performance scholarship in the landscape architecture discipline, highlights Ian McHarg as a pioneer in landscape performance, and provides the evidence to support McHarg’s ecological design theory, focusing on present-day issues of flooding and urban resilience." Barbara Deutsch, FASLA, CEO, Landscape Architecture Foundation, USA

"When it comes to the planning of human settlements, the application of a new theory into built form is fraught with challenges. In 1969, Ian McHarg put forth a bold new theory in Design with Nature: ecology should guide design and planning. His theory was implemented by Texas oil man and developer George Mitchell in The Woodlands near Houston. Bo Yang provides a wonderfully detailed analysis of the application of McHarg’s theory in the planning of The Woodlands, illustrating that we can indeed use ecological wisdom to design with nature." Frederick Steiner, Dean and Paley Profe