11.308J | Fall 2012 | Graduate

Advanced Seminar: Urban Nature and City Design


The readings below represent the required readings for each week. Please see Further Reading for a list of additional readings.

1 Ideas of Nature and City Design and Development

Williams, Raymond. “Ideas of Nature.” In Problems in Materialism and Culture. Verso, 1985, pp. 67–85. ISBN: 9780860917298.

Spirn, Anne Whiston. “Ecological Urbanism.” In Resilience in Ecology and Urban Design: Linking Theory and Practice for Sustainable Cities. Edited by M. L. Cadenasso Pickett, and Brian McGrath. Springer, 2013. ISBN: 9789400753433. [Preview with Google Books]

[Further Reading]

2 Urban Nature and City Design: Practice, Theory, and Tradition I

Spirn, Anne Whiston. The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design. Basic Books, 1984. ISBN: 9780465026999.

[Further Reading]

3 Urban Nature and City Design: “The Power of Example”

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “The Power of Example.” In Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780521775687.

In addition, select one of the following two sets of readings:

Hise, Greg, and William Deverell. Eden By Design: The 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan for the Los Angeles Region. University of California, 2000. ISBN: 9780520224155. [Preview with Google Books]


Philadelphia: Philadelphia Water Department. Long-term Combined Sewer Overflow Program: Program Summary.

Madden, Sarah. Choosing Green Over Gray: Philadelphia’s Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Plan. MIT MCP Thesis, 2010.

[Further Reading]

4 Urban Nature and City Design: Practice, Theory, and Tradition II

Spirn, Anne Whiston. “Restoring Mill Creek: Landscape Literacy, Environmental History, and City Planning and Design.” In Nature’s Entrepot: Philadelphia’s Urban Sphere and Its Environmental Thresholds. Edited by Brian Black, and Michael Chiarappa. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780822944171.

———. The Mill Creek Project.

———. The West Philadelphia Landscape Plan: A Framework for Action. The West Philadelphia Landscape Plan, 1991.

West Philadelphia Landscape Project website.

[Further Reading]

5 Introduction to Library Resources and Image Copyright Issues No Readings
6 Earth and Water

Select one of the two sets of readings below.

Robinson, G. D., and A. M. Spieker. Nature to be Commanded…Earth-Science Maps Applied to Land and Water Management Occasional Paper 950. USGS, 1978.

McPhee, John. “Los Angeles against the Mountains.” In The Control of Nature. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1989. ISBN: 9780374128906.


Dunne, Thomas, and Luna Leopold. Water in Environmental Planning. W. H. Freeman & Company Limited, 1978. ISBN: 9780716700791.

Tree People (“Rainwater as a Resource.” in particular).

[Further Reading]

7 Air and the Urban Biome

Select one of the two sets of readings below.

Arnfield, A. John. “Two Decades of Urban Climate Research: A Review of Turbulence, Exchanges of Energy and Water, and the Urban Heat Island.” International Journal of Climatology 23, no. 1 (2003): 1–26.

Spirn, Anne Whiston. "Air Quality at Street Level: Strategies for Urban Design." (PDF - 3.06MB) 1986.


Pickett, S. T. A., and M. L. Cadenasso. “Linking Ecological and Built Components of Urban Mosaics: An Open Cycle of Ecological Design.” Journal of Ecology 96, no. 1 (2008): 8–12.

Felson, Alexander, and Steward Pickett. “Designed Experiments: New Approaches to Studying Urban Ecosystems.” Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 3, no. 10 (2005): 549–56.

Pickett, S. T. A., M. L. Cadenasso, et al. “Resilient Cities: Meaning, Models and Metaphor for Integrating the Ecological, Socio-economic, and Planning Realms.” Landscape and Urban Planning 69, no. 4 (2004): 369–84.

Casey Trees website

[Further Reading]

8 Presentations and Discussion  
9 Presentations and Discussion (cont.)  
10 Web Authoring Workshop  
11 Presentations and Discussion  
12 Presentations and Discussion (cont.)  
13 Reflections: Lessons for Cities

Schön, Donald. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books, 1983.

[Further Reading]

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2012
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples