New urban planning connections for gateway cities

Apr 04, 2013
Naturalization ceremony at Salem Custom House

Gateway Cities, a new class this semester, is uniting GSD students with colleagues from HBS and HLS. Interdisciplinary teams are working on projects partnering with state, local, and community representatives. In addition to the fieldwork and final project reports, students meet with course faculty to learn about urban redevelopment and the disciplines of planning and design, law and business.

Students’ projects include neighborhood redevelopment in Salem, economic development in Worcester, and a social impact bond initiative. Susie Chung (MUP ’13) explains that the bond would raise funds for improvements to elderly public housing to enable residents to avoid nursing homes. Chung says, “This is an issue that requires a comprehensive approach with an understanding of housing, healthcare, statistics, finance, and legislation. It's a daunting task for one student, but as a group in which everyone has a different useful skill set, we can conduct a thorough investigation.”

Other students laud the interdisciplinary collaborations. Josh Westerhold (MUP ’13) says, “Working with this group has exceeded all of my expectations. Our colleagues from the law school are skilled at rationalizing a problem and assessing very specific legal and political elements of what strategies we are pursuing, which provides a grounding force at times but also new creative alternatives as well. They have also mentioned that working with planners and being exposed to the spatial components of the law, policy, and redevelopment strategy has been eye opening for them.”

The class has provided students the opportunity to look at a problem in new ways. Claire Ricker (MUP ’13) says, “The differences in perspective is one thing that really stands out for me. My group has had many meetings with developers, city officials, and legal experts; and teammates often ask questions that never would have occurred to me to ask. It has made for a more thorough, rigorous process.”

At the end of the semester, students will give presentations on their topics and submit a final report. Faculty include David Barron (HLS), Nic Retsinas (HBS), and Ann Forsyth (professor of urban planning).

Image of the Salem Custom House by Torsten Henning

Academic Programs: Urban Planning and Design

News: New urban planning connections for gateway cities

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