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The problem.

Growth in Champaign County is taking place at the edges of three cities—Champaign, Urbana and Mahomet—but all of these growth areas are not created equal. Environmental factors make some areas more suitable for development and others more valuable for preservation. In this class project, I set out to find the most suitable locations for urban growth.

The solution.

In his 1969 book Design with Nature, Landscape architect Ian McHarg pioneered a method for considering multiple natural systems in a single suitability analysis. McHarg’s method overlays transparent layers: one for each natural system under consideration. In the resulting map, the lightest areas are the most suitable for development.

In this report, I apply McHarg’s method to Champaign County, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. Using layers representing slope, soil, surface water and green infrastructure, my composite map reveals that the growth area east of Mahomet is the most suitable for development.

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