LEARNING FROM NATURE....TO CREATE PLACES THAT LAST
By Jacob Blue, PLA | Ayres Associates
FOLLOWING THE RULES OF NATURE
Nature is really good at making places for multiple organisms to live in harmony for long periods of time. Think about it.
At the time of European settlement, Nature had created a home for thousands of flora and fauna to occupy the Americas
for thousands of years. And while, at an individual level, all things may not have been harmonious, at a large enough
scale it was. Even today, hundreds of years after much of the American wilderness has been plowed over and turned into
lawn, roads, buildings and more, even the most rudimentary ecologist will find Nature has found a place for hundreds
of different species living in your neighborhood. Doug Tallamy in his book, Bringing Nature Home (2007), estimated that
a healthy white oak can support more than 500 different species of organisms. By contrast, we as design professionals
sometimes struggle to create places that won’t fall apart in a few decades. As design professionals, it’s not unrealistic to
expect our work to be replaced. Before you huff at this notion, think how long it takes for a community to redo a park,
or how fast office parks and campuses change. A place must be REALLY special to last more than 50 years. So why is it
Nature always plans for centuries? How is it Nature always “beats the house odds” and creates places with long‐lasting
capabilities? More to the point, what can design professionals learn from Nature in order to create places that last?