Patch Atlas


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Integrating Design Practices and Ecological Knowledge for Cities as Complex Systems

Victoria J. Marshall, Mary L. Cadenasso, Brian P. McGrath, and Steward T. A. Pickett

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A new tool for analyzing urban land cover that integrates design practices and ecological knowledge for understanding cities as complex, patchy and dynamic systems

This atlas is a unique conceptual tool to describe and analyze cities as complex systems, using a new, hybrid approach to urban land cover classification. As an impetus to bring ecologists and urban designers together, it builds on over a decade of shared knowledge from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study to inspire ecologically motivated design practice.
Rather than separating human-constructed environments from predominantly biological and geological ones, this book integrates built and ecological structures and shows how this integration can contribute to the scholarship of ecology and the practice of design. The atlas displays maps and tables depicting these hybrid land cover classes and the relationships between them; information on how the specific patch arrangements evolved over time; and speculations on how cover might change through design, disturbance, or succession. Interdisciplinary and strikingly illustrated, the atlas is a new way to study, measure, and view cities with a more effective interaction of scientific understanding and design practice.

Victoria J. Marshall is president’s graduate fellow at the National University of Singapore and founder of Till Design. Mary L. Cadenasso is professor of landscape and urban ecology at the University of California, Davis. Brian P. McGrath is professor of urban design at Parsons School of Design. Steward T. A. Pickett is distinguished senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and director emeritus of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.

“An excellent contribution to the rigorous and comprehensive application of patch dynamics theory and urban heterogeneity to the study of urban systems. Especially commendable is the intention to integrate ecology and design, and the book will most certainly result in a further engagement by designers with the work of urban ecologists on novel systems of analysis that offer the opportunity to better integrate ecology and design.”—Clinton Hindes and Julian Raxworthy, Journal of Landscape Architecture

"This brilliant study creates a methodology that enables architects, urban designers, landscape architects and ecologists to share a language that defines urban patches in terms of their dominant ground cover, and then degrees of hybridity in a matrix of cover mixtures."—Grahame Shane, Columbia University

“Patch Atlas provides an invaluable bridge between the science of urban ecology and the art of urban design. The authors offer an important template for understanding our interactions with our surroundings, crucial for designing better futures in this age of cities.”—Frederick Steiner, Dean and Paley Professor, Stuart Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

“If we are to transition to sustainability in an urban century, we need urban designers to understand ecology, and we need ecologists to understand urban design. This much-needed and timely volume brings together the practice and aesthetic of design with urban ecology to uncover hidden patterns in urban systems. It will help designers and ecologists read the urban landscape with a fresh perspective.”—Karen Seto, Yale University, and co-author of City Unseen: New Visions of an Urban Planet
ISBN: 9780300239935
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
128 pages, 7 x 10
104 color illus.
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