During the 1960s the term environmental design became increasingly common as a way of framing course material as well as measuring the quality of architectural projects. Sachs discusses the various ways in which environmental design became a profession and field at key design schools, sometimes at the expense of other, perhaps more radical or politically loaded, approaches to design. She does an excellent job in discussing the various ways in which such design was realized at different universities and classrooms, as well as in built structures in natural and urban settings. In discussing the emergence of an architectural counterculture of the 1970s, she shows that this social movement represented more of a continuation than a break with the past, an insight that may come as a surprise for readers old enough to have experienced the events.
Though well-researched, Sachs’s book is not an easy read and younger students would probably find it hard to grapple with. The many interesting nuances and rich source material makes her study a fine contribution to architectural history. It is an important and interesting book that is well worth the read.
Peder Anker, From Bauhaus to Ecohouse: A History of Ecological Design (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010).
Sylvia Lavin, Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004).
Richard Neutra, Survival Through Design (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954).
Walter Gropius, Scope of Total Architecture (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955), 184. Gropius’s emphasis.
Ian L. McHarg, Design with Nature (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969).
Serge Chermayeff and Christopher Alexander, Community and Privacy (New York: Doubleday, 1963).