A Line in the Andes: Rethinking Quito through its sub-surface

This option studio examines how the introduction of a new metro transit system can serve as the backbone for the development of more comprehensive urban interventions within the context of a mid-size South American capital city. The studio will explore how the stations of a new mass transit system, soon to be implemented in Quito (Ecuador), can become epicenters of a much richer and varied programmatic brief. 
The new “metro” project, conceived as a 15 station / 23 kilometer long line, will serve as a central spine further complemented by existing and new rapid bus lines along the east-west corridors in the city. Such an unprecedented project in the context of a topographically complex geography presents the current administration with an immense logistical challenge. More importantly, the project opens up a significant opportunity to rethink portions of the city beyond the basic requirements of the metro in order to capitalize on the urban opportunities an infrastructural project of this scope and ambition can bring to the city. This joint Architecture and Urban Design Studio will take the surface footprints of the sub-surface network (the metro stations) as focal points for new centralities in the city that can establish a spatial framework for a more ambitious transformative process in the city. The studio will consider how an expanded programmatic toolkit, one that goes beyond the mono-functional objective of simply solving a transportation deficiency in the city, may incorporate into the system a larger set of cultural, educational and recreational facilities synthesized in precise design projects. The armature of the new metro system can result in a far more ambitious and comprehensive network of collective spaces with diverse scales and areas of influence. The research and pedagogical bearings of the studio will focus on how small and intermediate scale interventions, heavily driven by sectional articulations, can take advantage of the “metro” system in order to establish a constellation of projects that, through accretion, can exercise substantial change at a metropolitan scale.