Looking back at a legacy inspires a sustainable future.

Landscape architect and environmentalist pioneer Ian McHarg published his book Design With Nature in 1969, presenting a new vision for land use planning in harmony with nature. To celebrate the 50th year of the book’s publication and with climate change pushing the stakes growing ever higher for the environment, UPenn’s Weitzman School of Design and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy conceived Design With Nature Now, a book that looks back at McHarg’s legacy while showcasing advanced ecological design projects being undertaken today.

Studio Rainwater worked closely with the editorial and publishing teams to design a book that is readable, usable, and inspirational for environmental policy makers, planners, and landscape architects working to save our fragile ecosystems.

The book needed to capture the gravitas of the work while appealing to a new generation that is more concerned than ever about our relationship to our natural surroundings. The book’s mix of essays, planning drawings, and photography needed to be brought together in a cohesive and easy-to-navigate style.

The book design was inspired by the artist and landscape architect Laurel McSherry whose Book of Days project used McHarg’s childhood home in Scotland’s Clyde River Valley to present everyday landscapes in new and thoughtful ways. McSherry’s tactile prints recalled the original graphic moon-like cover of the 1969 book and formed the jumping off point for the new design.

Imperfect circles and shifting layouts formed the visual language of the design, reflecting the approach to landscape architecture espoused in the book that is ever mindful of the dynamic natural systems around us. It was important to keep the flow of the book consistent, clear, and interesting for its 350 pages so that the design supported—and never overshadowed—the critical information being conveyed.

The book was published in October 2019 and has been named one of the best books of the year by the American Society of Landscape Architects’ The Dirt and is about to go into its second printing after becoming a top 5 bestseller for the organization in less than 6 months (the fastest in its history).

The Dirt praised the book: “Design with Nature Now is an accessible and well-designed book … this collection of essays and projects should inspire any environmental policymaker, planner, or landscape architect to forge broader coalitions and act regionally and globally to save our fragile ecosystems and protect the future of humanity.”


Silver Creativity International Award 2020


Book Design


Landscape Architecture, Sustainability