2nd Edition

Site Matters Strategies for Uncertainty Through Planning and Design

Edited By Andrea Kahn, Carol J. Burns Copyright 2021
    308 Pages 90 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    308 Pages 90 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    In the era of the Anthropocene, site matters are more pressing than ever. Building on the concepts, theories, and multi-disciplinary approaches raised in the first edition, this publication strives to address the changes that have taken place over the last 15 years with new material to complement and re-position the initial volume.

    Reaching across design disciplines, this highly illustrated anthology assembles essays from architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, historians, and artists to explore ways to physically and conceptually engage site. Thoughtful discourse and empirically grounded pieces combine to provide the language and theory to contextualize the meanings of site in the built environment. The increasingly complex hybridity of constructed environments today demands new tools for thinking about and working with site. Drawing contributions from outside and within the traditional design disciplines, this edition will trace important developments in site thinking with new essays on topics such as climate change, landscape as infrastructure, shifts from global to planetary urbanization debates, and the proliferation of participatory site transformation practices.

    Edited by two leading practitioners and academics, Site Matters juxtaposes timeless contributions from individuals including Elizabeth Meyer, Robert Beauregard, and Robin Dripps with original new writings from Peter Marcuse, Jane Wolff, Neil Brenner, and Thaisa Way, amongst others, to recontextualize and reignite the debate around site. An ideal text for students, academics, and researchers interested in site and design theory.

    Preface to the Second Edition
    Andrea Kahn

    Why Site Matters
    Carol J. Burns and Andrea Kahn

    Claiming the Site: Ever Evolving Social-Legal Conceptions of Ownership and Property
    Harvey Jacobs

    Reclaiming Context: Between Autonomy and Engagement
    Esin Komez-Daglioglu

    Site Citations: The Grounds of Modern Landscape Architecture
    Elizabeth Meyer

    Site Specific or Site Responsive Interview with Denise Markonish
    Carol J. Burns

    Robin Dripps

    Landscape Processes as Site Context
    Simon Dixon

    In the Anthropocene Site Matters In Four Ways
    Dirk Sijmons

    Shifting Sites
    Kristina Hill

    Adaptive Systems: Environment, Site and Building

    Carol J. Burns

    Translating Sites: A Plea for Radicant Design
    Lisa Diedrich

    Defining Urban Sites: Towards Ecotone-Thinking for an Urbanizing World
    Andrea Kahn

    Sites, Stories, Representations, Citizens
    Jane Wolff

    Urban site as Collective Knowledge
    Thaisa Way

    From Place to Site
    Robert Beauregard

    Neighborhoods Apart: Site/Non-Sight and Suburban Apartments
    Paul M. Hess

    From Gerrymandering to Co-mandering: Re-drawing the lines
    Peter Marcuse

    Afterwords What does site look like to …
    Neil Brenner
    Naomi Darling
    Anne Haynes
    Claudia Herasme
    Natalie Mahowald
    James Musser
    Judith Nitsch
    Jeremy Till
    Janet Echelman

    List of Contributors

    Figure Credits



    Andrea Kahn is a professor of site thinking in research and practice at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp/Malmö, where she facilitates SLU Landscape, a research and teaching collaboration initiative. She is also the founder of designCONTENT, a consultancy offering strategic and communicative process support for complex design, planning, research, writing, curatorial and editorial projects. She has taught urban design, planning, and landscape extensively in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Her current research interest revolves around collaboration, communication, and synthetic, transdisciplinary knowledge creation.


    Carol J. Burns, FAIA, an educator and principal with Taylor & Burns Architects, has taught at Harvard GSD, MIT, UVA, Yale, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. She pioneered the founding of the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, as well as the BSA Research Grants program, which spurred the AIA Upjohn and Small Project grant programs. Her research has resulted in books, articles, competitions, and design studios. Integrating education and practice within a culture of research, she has with her firm designed buildings, spaces, and theoretical projects recognized with awards, including the national Honor Award for Excellence from the Society of College and University Planners.

    "Site Matters is serious scholarship on an urgent topic. Site is so much more than landscape—it is a concept loaded with social and political meaning, imbued with narrative that needs to be revealed and understood if we are to address climate change—and now global pandemics—in a resourceful way. This reader provides an essential and plausible foundation for tapping that intelligence."
    Emily Talen, University of Chicago

    "This innovative and now fully updated set of short essays invites reflection on the meaning of the site as a focal point for the design imagination. The collection provides a uniquely fine-grained and polyphonic vantage point for the enrichment of urban discourse in uncertain times."
    Matthew Gandy, Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge

    "Site Matters predicted a relational and contingent trajectory for architecture. Its assertive wake-up call implied that design disciplines, including my own, had insufficiently theorized how site circumstances shape project outcomes. The authors were right. I welcome this new work for its even broader transdisciplinary reach and its frank embrace of earth-bound realities we dare not overlook."
    Gary Hilderbrand, Peter Louis Hornbeck Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, Harvard GSD, Principal, Reed Hilderbrand

    "The original edition of Site Matters was pioneering in its multidisciplinary approach. This new edition further widens the lens, reflecting the complexity and uncertainty of the times in which we live, and the scale of the challenges we face, particularly the climate crisis. Kahn and Burns, and their diverse roster of contributors, are again ahead of the curve, searching—with deliberation and urgency—for the way forward."
    Deborah Berke, Dean, Yale School of Architecture