An advertisement for McHarg’s lecture in the Queen’s Journal.

Ian McHarg was an expert on town planning. Born in Scotland in 1920, he was a proponent of regional planning using natural systems. After his work with the Royal Engineers during the Second World War, he moved to the United States to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design. McHarg became an influential member of the environmental movement, bringing environmental concerns to broad public awareness and ecological planning methods into the mainstream of landscape architecture, city planning and public policy. His 1969 book, Design with Nature, pioneered the concept of ecological planning. In this book, he laid down the basic concepts that would later inform the development of geographic information systems. He was Chairman at the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania and had a private practice in Philadelphia. In the 1970s, McHarg began to develop his view of humans as a “planetary disease,” which he addressed in his Dunning lecture. He was the recipient of several awards, including the 1967 Bradford Williams Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the 1990 National Medal of Arts, and the 2000 Japan Prize in city planning. He died in 2001.

McHarg’s was the third lecture in the series “Social Problems in Environmental Recovery.” He began with a catalogue of what he called “planetary diseases,” including the nuclear energy and weapons, the industrialization of agriculture, advertisements, economic determinism, and the desire to rule the natural world. He proposed three essential concepts: creativity, aperception, and symbiosis, arguing that the task of ecological planning was not to call for man’s elimination but to find fit environments. Survival, he suggested, required either finding the most fit environment, adapting to fit the environment, or adapting the environment. In ecological planning, the goal was to help institutions to find the most fit environment and/or adapt that environment or themselves in order to accomplish a creative fitting to their environment. This was a model solution for environmental issues, he suggested, and should be adapted by law, art, government, and commerce. At the end of his lecture, he was joined by Hardin and Moriyama to summarize their views and impressions from the series of seminars.

McHarg’s lecture was held on October 25, 1972.