Cities by Design studies urban form. Each semester the course focuses on five cities in order to expose students to a range of factors that affect the design of contemporary cities in various geographical contexts. The case studies will focus on both the urban condition as a whole by exploring processes of urban evolution, and on the study of urban fragments and projects.
Each case study will be comprised of four lectures and one discussion section. Two main pedagogical objectives guide the course: (1) to engage students in a comparative study of cities that will broaden their definition of the ‘urban’, and (2) to build the historical framework within which they will identify the urban characteristics and design strategies that render particular cities distinct.
The case studies will be guided by the following eight themes:
1. The city\’s genealogy and key historical events, phases of development & patterns of growth.
2. The ways in which the terrain, geography, and infrastructural development constrain and present opportunities for the city\’s development and ambitions.
3. The city\’s planning and design culture and decision-making institutions.
4. The challenges that social equity present to planning and design in the city.
5. The orchestration of the city\’s relationship to the broader region.
6. How the particular city contributes to a definition of the \’urban\’ condition.
7. The framing and design of key urban projects/case studies.
8. The city\’s planning institutions, historical conditions, urban forms, or ambitions, etc. that have contributed to its iconicity in a global context.
This semester Cities by Design examines Boston, Berlin, Moscow, Mumbai, Istanbul, the five cities that constitute the research Portals of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative: Reconceptualizing the Urban: Interdisciplinary Study of Urban Environments, Societies, and Cultures, a multiyear research project funded by the Mellon Foundation. The following themes and methodological concerns of the Mellon project will be added to those of Cities by Design:
1. City as research portal (opening a geography and set of questions)
2. The role of research in urban design
3. City as interdisciplinary site
4. Imaginative representations and urban morphologies; perceptual experiences
involved in using sensory media, digital humanities
5. Cross-disciplinary questions about public sphere, collective expression, conflict, and civil society
6. Preservation and gentrification
7. Networks and Inter-referencing
Term grades will be based on attendance and participation in lectures and section discussions, biweekly response papers, and a final paper.
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.
Eve Blau, Sibel Bozdogan, Julie Buckler, Alex Krieger, Rahul Mehrotra
Teaching Fellows: Matthew Gin and Morgan Ng