The purpose of site design is to mediate the impact of built form on the world. Site design is consciously engaged in conspiring with the various realities of the site to suggest or limit form (this is readily distinct from, say, structural design). In the broadest sense, site design includes design done when the building – or any intervention – is considered not as an isolated object but as a specific piece of the world, both practically and theoretically.
So site design is concerned with, on the one hand, something like proper drainage; and, on the other, what water on a site means to inhabitation. In site design, the specific architectural identity of the site is established by analysis, either with a program in mind or in search of program, and architectural interventions are suggested or controlled as a consequence of that analysis. While site design addresses issues ranging from the layout of parking to the history of landscape making, it actually describes an underlying design agenda (conspiring with the various realities of the site to suggest or limit form).
Site design necessarily includes a variety of subject matters, and these are wide-ranging enough to warrant the inclusion of two types of site design tests on the licensing exam (one written and one graphic). Site design is affected by many bodies of knowledge, including architectural design and its histories, landscape architecture and its histories, civil engineering, sociology, anthropology, geology, biology, real estate, planning, environmental planning, civics, government, etc., so this course is really "an introduction to site design.” Critically, "site" and "design" are terms that have been substantially redefined in relationship to each other over the past twenty-five years. Consequently "site design" as an understood activity has also changed, and we will explore this evolution.
The intentions of this course are: - to give you an overview of the factors and forces at work in architectural site design, with particular concentration on the various concerns which develop from the site. - to provide you with necessary rudimentary technical knowledge and experience in the analysis and manipulation of site factors. - to prepare you for the Site Design portions of the A. R. E., the licensing exam, which tests a specific type of site design ability. - to explore what "site design" is becoming due to reconsideration of the value of landscape and the architect's concerns and responsibilities to landscape.