Cross-disciplinary action: the spring option studios

Spring semester option studios took UPD students across the globe, from Milan to Mexico City, from Chicago to Istanbul. Planning and urban design students were teamed with colleagues from across the GSD’s disciplines to investigate some of the core issues of the built form. Here are a few snapshots:

An interdisciplinary perspective

Between Geometry and Geography: Mexico City was led by associate professor Felipe Correa and lecturer Carlos Garciavelez and included the 2013 Loeb Fellows. The studio examined how a new conception of the role of architecture and design within urban public works can transform mono-functional mobility projects—in this case, proposed extensions to Mexico’s transit system—into multifaceted infrastructural spines that can activate urban space.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the option studio was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and it came with tremendous benefits,” said Stefan DiLeo (MAUD ’14). “Carlos Garciavelez . . . provided a personal view and experience of the city, as well as a scholarly perspective.” Garciavelez (MAUD ’12) recently published his thesis research on the Periférico, a double-decker beltway in Mexico City. With architects, designers, landscape architects, and planners peppered throughout the studio, DiLeo called his group of classmates “a fantastic mix.”

 A comprehensive approach

Chicago Grid: In Search for new Paradigms was taught by Joan Busquets (professor in practice of urban planning and design). The studio interpreted Chicago’s evolution from various historical and theoretical viewpoints and was part of larger project on revisiting urban grids. Manuela Guzman Ramirez (MAUD ’14), said she appreciated the comprehensiveness of the studio, which involved reading, analysis and design, “Although it is focused on design, the methodology used by Professor Busquets informs the design process with theory.”

 Learning from peers

Urban Grafting: New Dwelling Landscapes for the Extended City was led by Cino Zucchi (John T. Dunlop visiting professor in housing and urbanization).  Based in Milan, its aim was to rehearse in the field the complex task of creating new lively urban environments within the extended dimension of the contemporary city, understanding the interaction between spatial configurations and social behavior.

“It ultimately helped me realize one of my objectives for choosing the GSD: working in an interdisciplinary environment, where I could learn as much from my architecture, urban design, and landscape student peers as I could from my instructors,” said Kelly Lynema (MUP ’13). “As a planner, I was able to bring insights about workforce housing, relationships between the development and surrounding retail and employment corridors (or lack thereof), ecological and sustainability-oriented solutions, sociological and demographic concerns, and challenges to policy and zoning requirements.” Meanwhile, she said, working with designers and landscape architects “enabled me to explore issues of urban form, spatial relationships, and design in new ways.”

View a photo essay of the Mexico City studio tour on the LOEBlog.

Photo of the Mexico City Periférico by Caroline James.