Cities by Design II: Projects, Processes, and Outcomes

Cities are palimpsests. They are the spatial manifestations of a layering and re-layering of social and environmental systems over time. Cities by Design II is a lecture/seminar that introduces students to contemporary urban design projects through the case study method, with emphasis on critical contextualization and implementation. GSD faculty and outside experts will introduce 15-20 projects with lectures, readings, and class discussions. Beyond familiarizing students with contemporary urban design projects, this course will equip students with an understanding of the broader implications of urban design including historical contexts, institutional influences, financing mechanisms, stakeholder involvement, and other process-related aspects of urban design. Students will examine projects through two lenses: (1) Infrastructure (the what), and (2) Agency (the who, how, and why).

This year, case studies will be organized by Paradigm: Parks, Linear Infrastructures, Campuses, Megaform Cities, Housing Developments, Brownfield Reclamation, Resilient Systems, Component Aggregations, Conservation, Slums, and New Districts.

There are two main pedagogical objectives that guide the course: (1) Engage students in a comparative study of contemporary urban design projects as a way to broaden their understanding of how urban design happens, and (2) Explore the interrelationship of urban politics and urban design through projects that range in context, scale, and operational capacity. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the interrelationship of urban politics and urban design
  • Identify the political, institutional, and governing structures involved in urban design and implementation
  • Assess social, economic, political, and environmental implications of urban design
  • Identify and visualize the major phases and critical milestones in planning, design, and implementation
  • Contextualize a project within historical forces, trends, or pressures that shape urban design
  • Develop new methods of story-telling through cartographic and literary narratives

Term grades will be based on attendance and participation in lectures and section discussions, student group presentations, and a final paper or project. The year-long ‘Cities by Design’ course is mandatory for all incoming Masters of Urban Design Students. All other students are welcome to enroll in the course by semester, and need not do so in sequence. No Prerequisites.