Contemporary Practices in Urbanism

This course will provide an in-depth study of the range of practice issues, methods and strategies for achieving built works in the urban context, including the public realm. Success in the urban environment requires an understanding of the full range of activities that are required – from both public and private sector perspectives. The course will present a range of topics 1) Roles of the Designer, 2), Identifying Issues, 3) Selecting Talent/Aligning Expertise, 4) Methods for Success, 5) Engaging the Community, 6) Governance Models, 7) Using Public Funds, and 7) Securing Approval/Implementation.

The course will be a three-hour, seminar format involving lecture, student investigation and presentation and debate surrounding the topics and their consequent issues and outcomes. Readings will be limited but required, with a greater emphasis on student investigation, analysis and presentation of case studies that support the learning objectives. Guest speakers from both the public and private sector will present contemporary issues and their implications on best practices. Students will be evaluated on class preparation, participation, case study analysis, and creative presentation of one final case study analysis.

There are no prerequisites other than an intense interest in how design professionals can be effective leaders of change in the urban context. The class will be a mix of architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning students engaged in a collaborative exchange that parallels the partnerships that are required to accomplish large, complex urban projects. The course will have an emphasis on the role of design thinking in solving urban problems, recognizing that truly successful works require mastery of the full range of urban issues from urban policy through construction.

The instructors are both highly experienced in all forms of urban practice including public and private sector perspectives. Case studies, with limited readings, will form the basis of the course. Mark Johnson, Civitas, and Christopher Glaisek, Waterfront Toronto, will lead the course. Together they hold decades of experience in international practice on projects that range from large urban regeneration through detailed design of exemplary built work.