Land Development Handbook, Fourth Edition
When this business was launched in 1956 the Land Development Planning, Engineering, and Surveying professions were largely viewed as a backwater branch of Civil Engineering and not respected as a legitimate engineering field. Other consultants looked down their noses at anyone engaged in this practice and felt it was not “real engineering:’ Since land development consulting was how I made a living, I strongly resented the notion. I felt then, and still feel now, that this is a very noble profession. It requires expertise in all branches of civil engineering including surveying, roadway design, grading, drainage, water systems, wastewater systems, dry utilities, and environmental science; as well as knowledge of the related fields including urban planning, landscaping, archaeology, and architecture. We also have a responsibility to understand the economics, schedule, and vision of a project. But more important than the experience gained as a land development consultant, is the product of our diligent labor: we work to improve our communities.
For this reason, I have devoted my career to elevating this profession to the level it deserves.
In the early days, infrastructure was often considered an inconvenience that reduced the overall budget of the project. Few regulations required adequate drainage, utilities, and other infrastructure to provide good, reliable access to housing, employment, healthcare, public transportation, and retail developments. We often clashed with our clients over these issues as we advocated for sustainable and resilient infrastructure that exceeded the minimum standards. Gradually, the localities mandated better infrastructure and improved environmental performance through enhanced standards and regulations. These requirements are still progressing and evolving today as evidenced by the tremendous strides taken in the Green Building and environmental movements. Today, most developers and localities acknowledge the importance of infrastructure investments. The profession of Land Development Consulting is now recognized and respected among the engineering disciplines. Every major A/E consulting firm has a land development practice. It is taught in many colleges and universities and in some cases, as its own specialty track within the civil engineering program. Young people are aware of and attracted to the profession. They enter this field inspired, bringing with them new ideas, the most recent technology, and a youthful perspective on the world that challenges us “old-timers” to keep pace with the speed of learning, rise above convention and truly innovate for the benefit of our clients and our communities. I feel that our firm, in its way, has greatly contributed and remains attuned to this dynamic industry with the Land Development Handbook series.
The first Land Development Handbook began as a dream of mine many years ago. In the mid-eighties I committed to developing a literary resource that could be shared with the civil engineering industry. Rather naively, I thought a book was something you sat down to do and finished within a few weeks’ time. How surprised I was to learn that it would take years. The first edition of this text, in fact, took 7 years from start to finish. When looking for interest from publishers, I was pleased that many were anxious to publish and distribute
the book. We then entered into what has become one of the most treasured and unique business relationships I have formed over the years with a premier technical publisher, McGraw-Hill Publishing. After the first edition, McGrawHill told us they would want us to update the handbook every few years (if the book was successful). By their measures this book is a best seller for the industry and continues to serve as a great resource. I’m proud to see the book in the offices of our clients, in the hands of students, and on the shelves of other design firms.
This business and our communities have changed dramatically since the first edition was published. To evolve with these changes, we regularly update the book to capture changes in policies and identify ever-changing design processes.
With this fourth edition we have also expanded the scope of the book to better represent the expanded scope of land development. New technologies, tightened economics, and more complex projects require a broader range of knowledge. This fourth edition of the Land Development Handbook has evolved into three books to focus on (1) business, (2) design, and (3) construction. Together, these texts are the Land Development Handbook series: I. Development of the Built Environment is all about business and economics of public and private projects. This book is meant to improve understanding and communication between consultants and developers/ owners to ensure greater success of projects.
2. Land Development Handbook continues to focus on both the process and the technical design of civil engineering. We also emphasize the importance of public, private, and community relationships and involvement. We can’t design in a silo-everything is connected to the community and the environment.
3. Construction Practices for Land Development describes the construction and operations of a project. Our industry is quickly trending toward design/ build processes. Design is influenced by construction and operation considerations, and the design team should be actively involved in the construction. I want to personally thank everyone who contributed to the fourth edition. Having been through this process several times before, I know the success of this exciting Dewberry endeavor is due to the dedication of each team member. A new edition of a book is no small task, and the development of two new books is a monumental effort. This latest edition truly represents a corporate-wide effort, as nearly all our 52 offices have contributed in both large and small ways. This diverse corporate presence has yielded valuable insight and fresh perspective from across the country. Our lead contributors, Cody Pennetti, Chris Guyan, Kat Grimsley, and Claire White have demonstrated tremendous dedication and passion toward a shared vision of creating a great resource for the industry. This team is unique with backgrounds in both professional consulting and academia that adds depth to the content of the texts.
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