Introducing a New Contributor to Streets.MN: Rick Harrison


A few days ago I was asked if I wanted to be a regular contributor to Streets.MN. Of course I answered, and hopefully I can offer a different viewpoint which I hope many will agree with and certainly some will object to. This is a recent picture I took of the 169-494 interchange – I will NOT be suggesting anything like this as a solution. Instead we will look at both pedestrian systems and street systems that emulate nature, simple is the answer. Pedestrian and vehicular systems that keep flow through developments without creating elements that only add to transit time and energy consumption.

The theory we use is in our book Prefurbia: reinventing land development from disdainable to sustainable. We are the only land planning firm that exists that also develops engineering technology. Two companies I founded Land Innovation and SiteComp provided revolutionary software to thousands of engineers and surveyors. Our latest technology LandMentor will be available for general distribution Mid 2015, and available only to government agencies and schools for general distribution before then.

Since venturing out to create new methods to develop land 23 years ago, we have been contracted by over 300 developers and some cities to design over 800 developments in 46 States and 18 Countries. The average development we design has demonstrated a 25% reduction in infrastructure without losing density.

I will try to contribute some thoughts and examples a few times a month – there will be no self promotion nor promoting LandMentor, however I’m convinced that with the advent of software technology decision making and the physical design of our cities has gotten worse, not better over the past four decades. My past software packages as well as CAD and GIS, has contributed to designers wanting production over quality. In the 37 years I’ve sold software the first question out of a potential customer, an engineer or surveyors, mouth was ‘how much faster can I get my work out’. We are plenty fast today – we need to think about quality not quantity. And that is today’s thought I’m leaving you with.

Rick Harrison

About Rick Harrison

Rick Harrison is known for pioneering innovations in both methods and technologies for the design & construction of sustainable cities. Harrison’s career spans more than 45 years in Land Planning, Civil Engineering, Land Surveying, Land Development, and over 36 years in Computer Software Development. Awards include the coveted Professional Builder’s Professional Achievement of the Year Award, and more recently Building Products Magazine’s 2010 MVP award and as a finalist for the TekNe Award, and semi-finalists for the 2012 Cleantech Open, for his innovations in sustainable land development technologies. His book Prefurbia: Reinventing Land Development: From Disdainable to Sustainable, has received many favorable reviews. Prefurbia has been supported by AIA, APA, USGBC and many Green Building groups, as well as being fundable through HUD Sustainability Grants. Based in Minneapolis, Rick Harrison Site Design Studio, has designed over 800 neighborhoods in 46 States and 18 Countries, all pushing the envelope of sustainable design. His patented LandMentor System, is the first integrated land development solution that blends precision spatial (surface) technology with effortless virtual reality. It is the first software that includes an education in the methods developed by the design firm.