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Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature 1st Edition

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471777519
ISBN-10: 047177751X
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Editorial Reviews


"The book's appealing-sounding moniker knits together smart growth, new urbanism, and green building, three movements that address the sliding scales of regions, neighborhoods and buildings. Farr advocates for transit-served, walkable neighborhoods with high-tech buildings and infrastructure." (A Daily Dose of Architecture, July 2009)

"Providing a historical perspective on the standards and regulations that got us and keep us on the course toward sprawl and unsustainable development, along with earlier attempts at reform, the book makes a strong case for Sustainable Urbanism, showing how architects and urban designers need to shape the built environment for the benefit of both humans and nature." (APADE, 2009)

"A masterpiece, it combines good writing with a thorough treatment of the subject." (The Bernard Place Bee Line, 4/22/08)

"It's not immediately obvious how Doug Farr's new book differs from the many other books in this field, aside from having a laudatory preface by Andres Duany. His careful division of the case studies into built greenfield, unbuilt greenfield, built infill, and unbuilt infill, should be a clue. It's also nice that he offiers a fairly specific definition of the s-word. Farr's book is distinguished by his systematic determination to reveal the trade secrets of sustainable design-those rules of thumb that bridge the gap between woolly generalities and highly specific case studies." (, February 1, 2008)

"A broadly-focused and solutions-based look at environmentally sustainable urban design. Case studies and essays written by Farr and others give a real-world context to the ideas and methods espoused in this ambitious argument on behalf of a new type urban design and development that is interrelated with nature." (; 1/29/08)

"The author of Sustainable Urbanism wants to break down barriers between nature-focused environmentalists and human-focused urbanists. The book asserts that we need a radical change in how we live, not just for the health of our planet, but for ourselves. The author's ambitious goal is to make sustainable urbanism the dominant pattern of human settlement by 2030. This book is a valuable resource for anyone that is in a position to advance a more organic way of life that is more in tune with the environment." (Vector 1 Magazine, January 6, 2008)

"Sustainable Urbanism is important because it addresses the sustainable development issue from all sides and provides solutions across the vast array of disciplines that create the built environment. The book…should be a resource not just for developers...but also for city councils, mayors, governors, engineers, and voters." (Urban Land, 1/08)

"Beyond just developing a concept, however, the book acts as a comprehensive how-to manual for anyone who helps shape the environment...after setting the stage with a compelling case for sustainable urbanism, Farr provides specific and detailed standards and steps to guide readers." (Environmental News Network, 12/21/07)

"There is something for everyone in Sustainable Urbanism, the new book that tackles exactly what the title implies. Backed by an impressive range of research, tables, charts, it is a comprehensive look at how to make our development pattern more sustainable." (Joe Urban Blog, 12/07)

"Chicago architect Douglas Farr is no Le Corbusier--Who is?--yet his thoughtful new book is propelled by the same sort of visionary energy and desire to integrate architecture, city planning and nature for a better way of life. Here's the twist: Whereas Le Corbusier celebrated the car, Farr fingers it as a prime factor in creating today's sprawling, auto-dependent suburbs and all the lifestyle woes, like rising levels of obesity, they've supposedly wrought. While that's a familiar rant from the New Urbanist architects who call for compact, walkable communities, Farr wisely goes beyond them, urging a grand integration of the New Urbanism and the fledgling green building movement." (Chicago Tribune, December 2007)

"What makes his volume stand out is that it combines expertise in New Urbanism with a thorough understanding of environmental issues and techniques. The result is the most comprehensive, technically informed volume available on how to design and build places that are environmentally responsible and also gratifying to inhabit." (New Urban News, December 2007)

"makes excellent use of physical case studies, it is also concerned with the intangible forces that shape our cities…" (Building Design, Friday 15th February 2008)

From the Back Cover

A call to action and a comprehensive guide to sustainable urban design

"This book celebrates the magical power of design and of an emerging pattern of human settlement—Sustainable Urbanism—that holds the promise of strengthening the interdependence of all life on earth. . . . This book is a strategic call for leadership in the design and development of the places where Americans live, work, and play."
—From the Preface

Written by the chair of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Core Committee, Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature is both an urgent call to action and a comprehensive introduction to "Sustainable Urbanism"—the growing sustainable design convergence that integrates walkable and diverse places with high-performance infrastructure and buildings.

Providing a historical perspective on the standards and regulations that got us and keep us on the course toward sprawl and unsustainable development, along with earlier attempts at reform, Douglas Farr makes a powerful case for Sustainable Urbanism, showing how architects and urban designers need to shape the built environment for the benefit of both humans and nature. He then explains how to implement Sustainable Urbanism in cities, towns, and neighbor-hoods through coordinated leadership and communication. Essays written by Farr and others delve into such issues as:

  • Increasing sustainability through density

  • Integrating transportation and land use in an auto-dependent era

  • Creating sustainable neighborhoods with walk-to-work neighborhood centers of locally owned businesses, share cars on every block, and walkable neighborhoods

  • The health and environmental benefits of linking humans to nature, including walk-to open spaces, neighborhood stormwater systems and waste treatment, and food production

  • High-performance buildings and neighborhood-scale infrastructure including district energy systems

Enriching the argument are in-depth case studies in Sustainable Urbanism, from BedZED in London, England, and Newington in Sydney, Australia, to New Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, California, and Dongtan, Shanghai, China. An epilogue looks to the future of Sustainable Urbanism over the next 200 years.

At once solidly researched and passionately argued, Sustainable Urbanism is the ideal guidebook for urban designers, planners, and architects who are eager to make a positive impact on our—and our descendants'—buildings, cities, and lives.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047177751X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471777519
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Doug Farr, AIA, LEED AP is the founding principal of Farr Associates, an award-winning architecture and planning firm identified by the New York Times as "the most prominent of the city's growing cadre of ecologically sensitive architects." Having a mission to design sustainable human environments, Farr's niche is in applying the principles of LEED at the scale of the neighborhood and in designing green buildings exclusively for urban contexts. Farr Associates was the first firm in the world to design three LEED-Platinum buildings (Christy Webber Landscapes, the Chicago Center for Green Technology and the Center for Neighborhood Technology), which stand as models of urban architectural sustainability.

An architecture graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University, Doug's work has been featured in Architectural Record, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the PBS documentary "The Green Machine." Doug is on the board of the Congress for the New Urbanism, serves on the BioRegional Development Group board of directors, on the Energy and Climate TAC of the Star Community Index, and was the founding chair of the LEED Neighborhood Development project (LEED-ND). Based on the firm's pioneering sustainable design practice and his insights gained from chairing LEED-ND, Doug authored Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature. This planning best seller visualizes Sustainable Urbanism--the growing sustainable design convergence that integrates walkable and transit-served urbanism with high-performance infrastructure and buildings--as the normal pattern of development in the United States by 2030.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Moe Hong on April 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Thank god for the current trend toward the generalization of textbooks.

I don't mean generalization in the sense of broadening or watering-down of subject matter, but rather in writing: many more texts in relatively technical fields are being written so that they can be appreciated interdisciplinarily, but professionals in related and sometimes even slightly-unrelated fields, and other folks who may simply be interested in the topic. It's good marketing, too, of course - it opens up much larger markets both academically and professionally, and as long as the book contains enough authority to convince instructors and professionals to purchase (or trust) it, it's a win-win situation for the publisher and author as well as the audience.

Douglas Farr's Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature (Wiley, 2008; foreword by Andres Duany) falls into the category of win-win for everyone. A very well-illustrated primer on the subject, it appeals to planners, architects, landscape designers, engineers and other folks interested in integrating their work into the larger natural environment.

Duany - the great architect and urban planner whose work with Arquitectonica shaped what we think of as "Florida modern" and whose current firm, DPZ, has become a de facto leader of the New Urbanism movement - suggests that the problem with such books is often that they most often fail to engage the reader in any kind of dialogue by simply being too technical, or by failing to instruct by simply being too exhortative and dogmatic.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By James F. Durrett on May 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Every once in awhile you find a book that becomes a new favorite. That happened recently with the arrival in our Livable Communities Coalition offices of this fabulous book by Doug Farr. Not long after receiving and beginning to read it, I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop for the development of a "sustainability element" for the master plan for an intown Atlanta neighborhood. We are now organizing the outcome of that workshop for consideration by the neighborhood and the city. It feels as though Farr has handed me the answers to a final exam before I have to take the test.

Farr's book combines passionate, compelling arguments for design reform with more than 100 pages of short essays. The essays explain how to implement sustainable urbanism and present case studies to illustrate his points. The book has given me a logical framework for organizing and connecting concepts and recommendations. And with just the right amount of detail - enough to get the point across, with where to go if you need more.

Reduced to its most basic tenets, Farr's sustainable urbanism is walkable and transit-served urbanism integrated with high-performing buildings and infrastructure. As Farr puts it, high-performing infrastructure is an emerging field that combines many strains of reform: smart growth concerns about the financial burden imposed by new infrastructure for greenfield development; the New Urbanist's desire for humane, pedestrian-scaled infrastructure design; and the green building movement's focus on resource "greening" and consumption efficiencies.

If smart growth, sustainable development or healthy communities interest you, and especially if you also work in the nonprofit or for-profit arenas for these causes, buy and read this book, and buy another and pass it on.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Debra L. Carter on September 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm a UNLV Landscape architect student (4th yr) and this book has been used as one of the text books for two classes so far, design studio, and urban land use. The concepts all relate to sustaining our planets resources and lowering our urban footprint. It presents the concepts from historical, present and future view. It has many illustrations,and is a terrific reference book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Vogel on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having known Doug Farr, author of Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature through participation in his LEED ND sessions at Congress for the New Urbanism congresses for 4-5 years, having followed him via the LEED ND Correspondence Committee, I thought I knew much of what Farr had to offer. Make no mistake, I considered him a thought leader. I helped to found a Sustainable Urbanism Ratings Group in Portland, Oregon to help Farr improve LEED ND. I have espoused the 2030 Communities Campaign he founded both within CNU and in the larger world for the last two years now.

But it took hearing that there was a Biophilia chapter for me to push my local library to buy this rather expensive book. After all, I have been prompting CNU designers to design utilizing ecosystem services for the 6-7 years that I have been active in CNU. I needed to see who my soul mates are and connect with them.

Sustainable Urbanism integrated many threads that were sometimes divergent or confusing for me. It gave me a better historical perspective and showed me where we are in a continuum. As an underemployed planner, it gave me the assurance I need to believe that my skills will be needed well into the future. It gave me a wealth of sound bites and quotes that I will use in my blog articles, public testimonies and other advocacy for progressive policy. It reinvigorated the boldness that comes with certainty and reinforced my commitment to sustainable urbanism.
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