According to the dictionary, the word “dirt” is defined as “a filthy substance.” This is clearly a well-merited definition. But a new book called Dirt attempts to redefine soil in a more-positive light. The book’s authors are a team of dirt-lovers, including: Megan Borne, landscape and architectural designer at James Corner Field Operations in New York; Helene Furján, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design; and Lily Jencks, who runs the landscape and architectural design office LJA+L and in London; with Phillip M. Crosby, adjunct assistant professor of architecture in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Together, they make the case that dirt is an essential agent of landscape architecture, urban planning, design—as well as fine arts. The book investigates dirt as “active agents” in cities that have post-industrial ruins, such as Philadelphia: In such contexts, dirt is restored back into a center of productive urban life through both existing formal structures, as well as its informal and adaptive forms. It is capable of breathing life and cultivating growth—both plant and urban. Dirt features over 300 illustrations, and an arrangement of essays, interviews (including ones with Sylvia Lavin and Marion Weiss), and project materials by landscape architects, theorists, and various distinguished writers. As written by the founder of World Landscape Architecture, this book “will be on many landscape theory reading lists in the years to come.” Architects might want to put it on their reading list, too. • $34.95; PennDesign and the MIT Press, January 2012