Pattern Language Framework


Stan J. Cross
Environmental Leadership Center Interim Director

Stan Cross Address:
WWC CPO 6323
PO Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000

Phone: 828.771.3782


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In 1990, WWC adopted “pattern language” as the conceptual tool to develop underlying principles for its land use decisions. Pattern language was developed by architect Christopher Alexander in the early 1970’s to assist the University of Oregon with its planning process. A pattern is any general planning principle that states a clear problem that may occur repeatedly in the environment, states the range of contexts in which the problem may occur, and gives the guidelines that will solve the problem. Patterns are dependent upon community input and continuous review. They maintain the internal physical integrity and character of a community while allowing for growth and change. The pattern language process is compatible with Warren Wilson’s tradition of shared governance, its legacy of land stewardship, and its use of representative committees to oversee the operations of the College.

In the early 1990’s, Warren Wilson’s Long Range Land Use Committee was tasked with developing “Environmental Pattern Language” for land use, energy, transportation, solid and hazardous waste, water quality, air quality, purchasing, personnel, and construction in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Since that time, several patterns have been developed, some more in keeping with the formal concepts of pattern language than others. The following overview summarizes the Environmental Pattern Languages and operational plans developed to date by relevant stakeholders and approved through the College’s shared governance process.

Approved Patterns and Plans

Forest Management Plan (1980/1990)

Solid Waste Pattern Language (1986/1994)

Hazardous Materials Pattern Language (1986/1997)

Long Range Facilities Plan (1992)

Long Range Land Use Plan (1996)

Farm Long Range Land Use Plan (1998)

Landscape Pattern Language (1999)

Native Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Fisheries Pattern Language (2000)

Purchasing Pattern Language (2001)