Site Analysis A Contextual Approach to Sustainable Land Planning and Site Design Second Edition by James A. LaGro
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Site Analysis A Contextual Approach to Sustainable Land Planning and Site Design Second Edition by James A. LaGro


A context-sensitive approach to sustainable planning and development helps to protect public health, safety, and welfare. By avoiding inherent site problems, or constraints, and by capitalizing on inherent site assets, or opportunities, site planners can limit long-term maintenance costs and, more important, reduce the risks to life and property from natural hazards.

The careful analysis of sites—and the site’s context—can lead to better development proposals and, ultimately, to higher-quality built environments. Qualified site planners and designers are vital to this process. Proposals for carefully sited projects may receive faster approvals and permitting, improved marketability, and rent and sales premiums (Bookout, 1994).

The emphasis of the second edition, like the first, is on the site planning process and the organization, analysis, and communication of information throughout this process. This second edition keeps the same structure and format as the first but delves into greater depth within each phase of the site planning process.


New content has been added to every chapter of this second edition. Substantial revisions were made to Chapter 1 (Shaping the Built Environment), Chapter 2 (Visualization of Spatial Information), Chapter 3 (Site Selection), Chapter 6 (Site Inventory: Biological Attributes), Chapter 7 (Site Inventory: Cultural Attributes), Chapter 8 (Site Analysis: Integration and Synthesis), Chapter 9 (Conceptual Design), Chapter 10 (Design Development), and Chapter 11 (Project Implementation). Chapter 10 from the first edition was divided and expanded to create Chapters 10 and 11 in the second edition.

This revised edition explores in more detail the linkages between site conditions and ecologically sustainable development—and redevelopment—of the built environment. More attention is also given to finer-scale site and building design issues and to the development regulations and design review processes that influence the shaping of the built environment.


This book is divided into four parts. Part I, Process and Tools, contains Chapter 1 (Shaping the Built Environment) and Chapter 2 (Visualization of Spatial Information). The first chapter summarizes the site planning and design process and places site planning and design in the broader context of sustainable planning and development. The second chapter addresses the basic principles of mapping and graphic communication in site planning and design.

Part II, Site Selection and Programming, also has two chapters. Chapter 3 (Site Selection) examines the goals and methods of site suitability analysis leading to the comparison and selection of sites. Chapter 4 (Programming) focuses on programming methods such as user surveys, focus groups, and market analyses. Part III, Site Inventory and Analysis, is the core of the book.

Chapter 5 (Site Inventory: Physical Attributes) and Chapter 6 (Site Inventory: Biological Attributes) cover a wide array of physical and biological attributes that, depending on the unique features of the site and the program, may be analyzed during the site planning and design process. Chapter 7 (Site Inventory: Cultural Attributes) concentrates on documenting relevant cultural, historic, and regulatory attributes.

Chapter 8 (Site Analysis: Integration and Synthesis) describes how site opportunities and constraints for specific project programs are identified and documented in support of the subsequent phases of the site planning and design process. The last three chapters of the book are in Part IV, Design and Implementation. Chapter 9 (Conceptual Design) addresses the spatial organization of the programmed uses and activities on the site.

Chapter 10 (Design Development) addresses the spatial articulation of the organizational framework established in the conceptual design phase. This chapter explores design theory and ‘‘form-based’’ development regulations, which communities are increasingly employing to guide development and shape changes to the built environment.

Chapter 11 (Project Implementation), the book’s final chapter, addresses the permitting and approval processes, techniques for mitigating development impacts, and construction documentation and contract administration. The book concludes with an Appendix and a Glossary. The Appendix lists both commercial, non-profit, and government resources for data and other relevant planning and design information.

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