Department of Urban and Regional Planning   
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign   

UP 503: Physical Planning

Assignment 5: Natural Systems Suitability Report

This is a four-week module that commences with an in-class discussion on Sep 17th and ends with the assignment submitted on Oct 20th. The time in between will be spent reading and understanding key concepts, and doing the assignment.

This module is intended as an intensive exposure to ideas about the relationships between site planning decisions and different characteristics of natural systems. In particular, we will look at how relevant characteristics of these systems might be studied and analyzed as a way guide more sustainable development priorities.

We will consider three broad categories of natural systems: land (slopes, soils), water (surface water, groundwater), and green infrastructure. Land, of course, is the fundamental system in terms of site planning decisions. Related to land, in many ways, is water and its characteristics. Green infrastructure is usually dependent on a combination of land, water, and climate. The relationship with site planning decisions is not unidirectional in that these decisions are affected by charactetistics of these systems, and these decisions also alter and affect these systems.

For each of the factors associated with these systems--slopes, soils, surface water, groundwater, and green infrastructure --we must first establish answers to two questions:

  • How is this factor related to development decisions?
  • How do we analyze this relationship? What data do we need for this analysis?

The first step towards working out these answers is to build a sufficient knowledge and skill base. To facilitate this, a series of readings are listed below. Some provide the fundamentals. Others are listed for those interested in more depth. Please use these to establish answers to the questions listed above.

  • Land
    • Landforms
    • Soils
      • Online database of soil types
      • Soil suitability
      • Champaign County soils
      • Advanced: Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Taxonomy, Chapters 1, 5, and 6.
  • Water
    • Surface Water
      • Andersen, Chapter 6
      • Delineating watersheds
      • Surface water runoff
      • McGraw-Hill, Introduction to Wetlands and Destruction of Wetlands
      • Floodplains Manual
      • Advanced: L-THIA
    • Groundwater
      • McGraw-Hill, Groundwater Systems and Human Modifications
  • Green Infrastructure

The end product of this module will be a professional quality suitability report describing the conclusions drawn about the extent to which these natural systems are related to development decisions and how this information might be used to inform development priorities as the region makes plans to accomodate projected growth. The final outcome of your analysis should be a graphic that identifies areas of the region based on their suitability (suitable and not suitable, or some combination of the two). This report will consist primarily of maps describing how the impact of each factor varies across your selected area along with text elaborating on the inferences that can be drawn from these maps. The text does not have to be very elaborate, but must be descriptive enough that one does not have to rely only on the maps to figure out these inferences.

This document is to be completed and submitted in a single PDF file following the format 5_[Last Name].pdf by 11:59pm in the assignment dropbox folder on Sunday October 20.

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