Options studios take students around the world

This semester urban planning and design students are investigating issues through option studios in New York, Jerusalem, Burkina Faso, China and locales close to home.
 The Jaffa Road Studio, Jerusalem focuses on the historic Jaffa Road, the ancient highway connecting Jerusalem to the Mediterranean. After visiting Jerusalem, students are producing specific designs for a one-mile segment of the road that passes through several contemporary and historical neighborhoods. Will Cohen (MUP ’13) reports, “The Jerusalem studio has students representing each of the design programs here, and working in the company of all of them allows me not only to improve my understanding of those fields but also how urban planning complements and can strengthen them.”
Rather than examining a single site or issue, Networked Urbanism allows students to develop individual projects that reconcile existing physical conditions with the needs of citizens through network design thinking.  James Perakis (MUP ’13) says, “It’s a great opportunity to explore a contemporary urban issue in detail and implement new strategies and solutions on the ground in Cambridge and Boston.”
Territorialism: Inside a New Form of Dispersed Megalopolis investigates the role of design as knowledge producer and the need for spatial and procedural concepts to deal with time, new problems and perspectives. “This semester my teammates and I have interrogated theoretical literature on urbanization, edited historical research, and practiced investigative fieldwork to reveal a nuanced reading of social, economic, political and environmental fragility of the Berkshires,” says Christopher Buccino (MLAUD ’13). “What do these readings suggest regarding position of the territory within a larger urban system? Design proposals reflect on possible future scenarios to generate knowledge and agency for planning and design at the territorial scale.”
Urban Development and Housing for Low Income Groups in the Rapidly Growing City of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso focuses on generating new, affordable living spaces for low- and middle-income groups within Ouagadougou. Students travelled to Burkina Faso where they met with people from a range of backgrounds and studied problems caused by urbanization.
The Good Old Days: Design for the Age-Friendly Environment helps New York City and Long Island seniors living in NORCs – naturally occurring retirement communities. After a studio trip to New York as well as a Florida retirement community, students are using interdisciplinary methods to better plan for the senior citizens.
Common Frameworks: Rethinking the Developmental City is the first of a three-years of sponsored research on China, this one investigating the city of Xiamen. The studio will conceive of and design a common framework for the city, accommodating housing, nature and civic functions. As research, the students traveled to Xiamen and Shanghai.