2011-05-17

Wisdom of the Ancients

Well, maybe not THAT ancient, but this is sage advice nonetheless. Back in 1907, John Nolen, who is considered a father of American urban planning, wrote down four guiding principles for urban planning. Unfortunately, Nolen’s list has not been all that influential. Here it is:

  1. Conform to topography.
  2. Use places for what they are naturally most fit.
  3. Conserve, develop, and utilize all natural resources, aesthetic as well as commercial.
  4. Aim to secure beauty by organic arrangements rather than by mere embellishment or adornment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if planners and urban designers listened to this advice? This is a perfect example of how so many of the new green” ideas are merely reintroductions to ideas that have been presented in the past. This was written over 100 years ago, yet a planner with these guiding principles who came into a town in Mississippi would be laughed out of the room.


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