GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2008 - DES-03503-00
03503: Proseminar - Defining Urban Design (DES 0350300)
Urban Planning and Design
Lecture - 4 credits
Tuesday Thursday 3:00 - 6:00 Gund Hall
Urban Design as a new discipline emerged from an International Conference held at Harvard in 1956 under the support and initiative of Dean Jose Luis Sert. Shortly thereafter the first Urban Design Curriculum was officially structured and then launched at the Graduate School of Design, becoming the first program in its kind.
It is evident that the issues at stake in the city have drastically changed since the 1950's. If the 20th century focused on the mature development of cities under the influence of industrialization and through them the social acceptance of Urbanism as a necessary practice for coherent physical development, the 21st century, it seems, could be characterized by the development and transformation of new urban and territorial modes of settlement.
These new spatial organizations are questioning, and in many cases fading, the values and scales that have previously guided physical design. The traditionally marked division between Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Urban Engineering, and Planning, is slowly weathering away and new forms of overlap and cross-pollination have strongly emerged between these disciplines, particularly at an intermediate scale.
This integration among all the disciplines that work upon the urban and territorial sphere have a stronger participation in our contemporary culture. Throughout the course of the semester we will come across the fact that such mergers of scales, professional fields, managerial agents, and cultural issues have further enriched the project in the city. Additionally, these new alignments have triggered fresh and innovative ways to engage the current built environment. Understanding a complex reality by mapping and representing will allow the development of vary important skills as introduction into the field.
Such precedent gives great importance to the idea of the "poject" n and within urbanism, in its implementation as either a long term vision or an immediate action able to decanter more to the point improvements than what a large scale, holistic project could achieve. The urbanistic project appears as the entity that acts as a vehicle between theory and practice, since only through the urbanistic project can certain theoretical points be tested and converted into actions.
Particularly for you as students, the individual readings of this extremely rich field of study allow for a simulation and evaluation of the distinct lines of work that are currently active in the city, and through them, help you understand the space of the "project" in relation to new urban and territorial phenomena. Also embedded in these studies should be a clear understanding of the ethical compromise that we as designers have to face in order to improve the spatial conditions of a growing society in the most progressive manner.
The design practices that deal with Urbanism and Urban Architecture have always lent themselves to a constant evaluation and re-evaluation process. Such a re-examination seems particularly necessary at this point in time. First, it is evident that the paradigms which directed the actions of plans of the 20th century are no longer as relevant and / or have been played out. Second, the city and its projects have a much higher profile presence than ever before. Acknowledging the fact that current theoretical discussions of Urbanism and the city are ambiguous and wide ranging, it is more effective to frame an investigation by classifying the lines of work that are currently being explored in the built environment and focus on an urbanistic debate which departs from a project based discussion of the city.
The initial objective of this course is to emphasise the idea of the "project" in urbanism, this one being a fragment of a given scale or one that engages the city as a whole. The following project taxonomy of the current state
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