You are here

Design with Nature: Urban Planning, Management, and the Sustainability Myth

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Nature in the City Proudly presents:

Design with Nature: Urban Planning, Management, and the Sustainability Myth

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn

Thursday November 16 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM

One Texas Center | Room 325

505 Barton Springs Road, Austin Tx 78704

*Ticketed free surface and garage parking available. Ticket for validation REQUIRED for free parking. No exceptions. 


This lecture will explore the history and contemporary use of the narrative of sustainability and urban nature in urban design, planning, and environmental management.

From the perspective of urban planners, environmental managers, and architects, urban nature is a design element of the built landscape and a redemptive and restorative enhancement for the degraded ecosystem of the city. Official urban nature is given spaces in the city to inhabit, which enhance the urban landscape aesthetically and ecologically. Terms like “open space” and “green space” delineate the proper place of nature in gardens, parks, farms, and preserves, with lawns and landscaping further integrating “green” into the urban and suburban landscape. Inspired by Ian McHarg, architects and planners suggest that we can “design with nature” to transform cities into “granite gardens” or “ecological cities” or “biophilic cities” where humans can flourish “sustainably” through ecological, and even psychological, services conferred by this deliberate incorporation of nature.

Facebook Event - Please RSVP and Share with your friends.

The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures will explore the complex relationship between the city and nature in America. Our American narrative of nature celebrates wilderness or “pristine nature” and rural or “pastoral nature” in contrast to the degradation of urban landscapes. However, we are now predominately a country of urbanites who have only recreational contact with wilderness or pastoral nature. To compensate for our urban “nature deficit”, we have incorporated “green space” into our cities - preserves, parks, farms, and gardens - to allow for contact with officially sanctioned approximations of wild and pastoral nature in the urban landscape. Ecologists are called on to mediate and to assess whether it is a real ecosystem, and thereby add another chapter to the narrative entitled “urban ecology” in which science measures ecological cycles and ecosystem function in the city. The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures are an attempt to disentangle this complex story of ecology, culture, and the American City and, perhaps, to give us all a better understanding of urban nature and the role it plays in our lives. 

Power Points for previous lunchtime lectures.

Kevin Anderson Ph.D.

Kevin is a geographer and philosopher researching the nature of, and the nature in, urban wastelands. He studied at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania [BA], Durham University, England, Ohio University [MA] where he taught philosophy and symbolic logic. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin with a dissertation entitled: Marginal Nature: Urban Wastelands and the Geography of Nature. His research interests include sewage treatment, soil ecology, and sustainable agriculture, urban ecology and sustainability, riparian ecology, environmental history, philosophy, and literature. He is a co-founder of the Texas Riparian Association and the Upper Tisza Foundation in northeastern Hungary. He runs the Austin Water-Center for Environmental Research which focuses on soil, sewage recycling, and environmental trace contaminants; rivers, riparian ecology, and alluvial aquifers; cities, biodiversity, and avian ecology.



Brought to you by Austin Water Utility, Center for Environmental Research (CER), The University of Texas, Texas A&M University. Nature in the City - Austin is sponsored by the Community Trees Division, and helps to implement the Imagine Austin and Urban Forest Plans. 

CER and Hornsby Bend are on Facebook! Visit to see what's happening today! Want more? Yes! Visit the Marginal Nature Blog and Nature in the City - Austin Blog.  



Austin Nature in the City is sponsored by the Community Trees Division, and helps to implement the Imagine Austin and Austin's Urban Forest Plans



Nature in the City - Austin is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Location Information
One Texas Center
505 Barton Springs Roads, 3rd Floor Room 325
Austin , TX 78704
Contact Information
Shelly Miller