Multiple Miamis Project-based Course: Infrastructure, Affordability, Identity + the Public

The Miami project-based course will explore how urban planning and design can promote affordable housing, retail, and services, public mobility and access, and sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems in more inclusive and equitable terms within the context of the contemporary American city. Funded through the Knight Foundation, and using Miami as an urban laboratory, it is part of a series of courses that seeks to address contemporary urban dilemmas facing many American cities and explore opportunities for transformative urban design and planning interventions.

The project-based seminar course (which will run alongside and be integrated with the “sister” Miami option studio taught by Chris Reed and Sean Canty) will focus on the Overtown neighborhood near downtown, home to a predominantly African-American population partly rooted in historic waves of migration. The source of skilled labor and cultural vitality through Miami’s rapid growth, Overtown has also been a target of racial discrimination, violence, and dispossession. Following decades of redlining and segregation, its vibrant commercial and entertainment district and residential neighborhoods were decimated by two interstate highway projects in the 1960s. As Miami transitioned into a major global hub for capital, innovation, and tourism in subsequent decades, Overtown experienced overwhelming public and private disinvestment, police surveillance, and mass incarceration of its populace. Today, the effects of real estate speculation and boom, together with climate change and sea level rise, compound pressures on the neighborhood. That parts of Overtown are served by the Miami MetroRail, spatially proximate to the city’s premier cultural and medical institutions, and sit on high/dry ground poses both acute tensions and transformative opportunities.

Centering the neighborhood of Overtown in exploring questions about Miami’s future as an American city with an emphasis on power and empowerment, the hybrid project-based course + studio will grapple with and challenge its hitherto fragmented development pathways and sociospatial realities. Students will develop multi-disciplinary spatial strategies and design and planning proposals for re-imagining a Miami that reckon with its multiple, conflicted pasts; recognize its full and diverse citizenry; and suggest new possibilities for living in the contemporary American city. Work from the studio and project-based seminar course will be published in a GSD-produced Studio Report and will be presented in Miami. We will organize topical seminars on key issues with special guests from across the design disciplines, both at GSD and in Miami. 

Twelve students will be selected to participate in the Miami, FL trip via the limited enrollment course lottery. Students traveling to Miami will be term billed $200, and are responsible for the cost of all meals and incidentals related to the trip, including any change fees related to modifications to set flight itinerary. Those selected in the limited enrollment course lottery will lose their places in the Miami trip if they fail to show up at the first class. Students with close waitlist numbers should also attend. The site visit will take place September 23- 27. The project-based course primarily caters to planning and MDes students, and preference will be given in the running of the limited enrollment lottery. Students participating in a traveling option studio or course are not eligible for enrollment.