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02/24/2010

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David Friedman

My pleasure.
I think that your landscape design story is an example of a much broader topic -- which sometimes goes under the name "unfolding". It is very difficult to figure out in an abstract way (like the first design firm in your story tries to do) what the best answer is in a complicated situation, especially one where everyone's actions depend in part on what other people do. So it's better to set up the situation, try to structure some interesting guidelines, and see what "unfolds".

There's a great book that takes your Landscape Design story to the nth degree. It's called "How buildings learn: What happens after they're built" by Stewart Brand. http://www.amazon.com/How-Buildings-Learn-Happens-Theyre/dp/0140139966 He talks about how some buildings have much more capability to be adjusted than others. I remember the story about one building at MIT that had been built hurriedly and of rickety construction during World War II. It was continually scheduled for demolition because it was ugly. But because it was so badly built, and people were so uninterested in protecting it, scientists thought nothing of punching a hole in a wall to stick in a new piece of equipment (without talking to Facilities Dept., etc.). The rate of scientific advance in the building was phenomenal, as the building could be made to adjust to whatever people needed it for now. So its demolition was repeatedly delayed.

Didn't realize it when I started, but I guess Stewart Brand was writing about a very physical kind of "positive structure"!!

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