Resource analysis methods

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Paul, Rex A.
Russell, John R.
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Thesis (B.L.A.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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There has been a recent awakening to the fact that man, particularly in the United States, has been unwisely using natural resources and abusing the environment. There is no need to go into all the details of how wasteful he has been; the need now is for all people, and particularly designers concerned with modification of the natural environment, such as Landscape Architects, to become aware of the ways and means of recognizing the various elements in the natural ecosystem and how man's activities can be fit into it with the least possible disruption of the system. It follows, then, that if he is to take the lead in the area of design of the environment, one of the Landscape Architect's major responsibilities will be to educate the lay-public to the advantages of design that begins with nature.Fortunately, there have been some who have held this concern for a number of years so we do not have to begin at "ground zero". We merely need to turn to them for guidance and begin to learn what they have been teaching. It sounds simple but there is a problem. Traditionally, Landscape Architects have been reluctant to share their methods. Those that have been publicized seem to be very straight-forward----nearly scientific in their process of resource analysis and land use determinations or site design. One would expect, therefore, that any such project or method should be so documented as to be replicable by others. However, the many methods analyzed for this study, and particularly so for the three that have been chosen for inclusion here, seem to have, for lack of a better term, a "missing link", which makes it difficult for anyone less experienced to duplicate the method. This "missing link" is what has been referred to as "intuition", "intuitive design", "feel for design", etc. It has developed into a sort of "professional mystique" that some would argue is a necessary element to the maintenance of the profession. I would argue differently and that actually it is no more than a lack of communication.The designer concerned with convincing a client, or the public, that nature must be considered as a fragile commodity needs to use every means at his disposal. Filling in the "missing link" in the communication process, between the point of resource analysis- and design based upon natural constraints or advantages-and convincing the client or public of the benefits, is absolutely essential.Although there may be a number of reasons for the breakdown, one reason, it is suspected, is because of the common desire to display original data in "raw form" which, in the traditional graphic processes, requires much additional drawing and time that budgets quite often do not allow for.This study is intended to aid the Landscape Architect in two phases of environmental design. The first is a summary of three methods of analyzing the natural resources that can and should be considered as either facilitating or limiting any desired development on the land. The second phase is the description of a transparent overlay process that provides increased graphic flexibility as well as the analytic efficiency of a computer-like approach to filing, using, and displaying gathered data.