Blending project goals and performance goals in ecological planning: Ian McHarg’s contributions to landscape performance evaluation

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6 Scopus citations


Ian McHarg’s ecological planning method has been influential since the publication of Design with Nature in 1969. However, less is known about McHarg’s pioneering contributions to landscape performance evaluation, which are critical in today’s practice. After a review of McHarg’s theoretical foundation and interdisciplinary design process, we suggest that McHarg’s method facilitates the function of environmental performance, because planning goals, including performance benchmarks, are integral parts of the design process. In addition, we respond to the misconception of McHarg’s disinterest in social and economic factors, through a review of three exemplary projects—Interstate 95 in New Jersey, Medford Township, and The Woodlands—all of which illustrated salient, multifaceted benefits. Last, we synthesize the policy and practical implications of landscape performance evaluation (e.g., environmental impact assessment) that enrich McHarg’s theory and actionable planning process toward sustainability. We conclude that McHarg is a forerunner in landscape performance evaluation. Through blending project goals and performance goals, McHarg’s method improves project performance and increases the validity of ecological planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-225
Number of pages17
JournalSocio-Ecological Practice Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Design with Nature
  • Ecohumanism
  • Ecological resilience
  • Landscape architecture
  • Landscape performance
  • Multifunctional landscapes
  • Performance zoning
  • Socio-ecological practice research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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