Cities by Design

Cities by Design is concerned with the in-depth longitudinal examination of urban conditions in and among selected cities in the world. The broad aims are: to engage in a comparative study for the purpose of broadening definitions of what it is to be urban; to identify characteristics that render particular cities distinct; to understand the manner in which geography, locational circumstances, and related infrastructural improvements both constrain and promote opportunities for city development; and to gain insight into the role of human agencies, planning institutions, and design cultures in shaping cities and their role in broader regions. 

In Fall 2021, the cities under examination are Boston, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, and Mumbai. Each will be the subject of three lectures, and a Q&A discussion session with the speaker. In addition to the city-specific lectures, broader comparative frameworks will be provided by two lectures on Metropolitan Spatial Dynamics and Historic Conservation. Cities by Design is mandatory for all incoming Master of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Urban Design students, and open to all. Grading will be based on performance in discussions sections, general class participation, and the mid-term and final papers.

This edition of Cities by Design will follow a hybrid model, with the lectures presented asynchronously, and the Q&A sessions and discussion sections hosted in-person or via zoom subject to the university’s evolving policy. The lectures will be released weekly and viewable asynchronously. There will be 12 live sessions throughout the semester requiring student attendance. These include the introduction at the beginning of the semester, Q&A sessions for the seven cities at the end of the third and final lecture on each city, and four discussion sections on Sept 23, Oct 7, Nov 18, and Dec 2. Note all meetings until Wednesday (Sept 15) will be remote. This includes the introduction on Tuesday (Sept 2) and the Boston Q&A session on Tuesday (Sept 14).

Please note this course will meet online through 9/15. After that, ten sessions will be in-person, including six whole-class Q&A sessions for specific cities and four discussions sections amongst smaller groups of 2-10 students. The remaining session will be held on Zoom. Please review the syllabus for more details.