Design, Development, and Democracy in the Future City

This course will meet for the first time on Tuesday, September 1st from 9 am – 12 pm in room 510.

This workshop will question status quo urban design practices in search of a new paradigm for development that balances the democratic values of planning with the power of urban design vision. It will involve research, analysis, and an interdisciplinary design project.

Cultural, social, and economic diversity in the United States is expanding. Nowhere is this demographic complexity more evident than in the country’s urban centers where people of different races, ideologies, religions, sexual orientations, and socio-economic origins find themselves sharing the same space. Urban centers are also shifting physically – in some cases as a result of mounting development pressures, in others as a result of crippling disinvestment – but in all cases, these shifts are dramatically altering the physical landscape.

Our greatest contribution as urban designers is our ability to facilitate the complex negotiation that takes place in cities and to help diverse groups move together towards a common vision. At the same time, our greatest challenge will be to identify and proactively build upon the values of an increasingly diverse public. These changes in cities beg two important questions: What role does the design process have in connecting and building trust among the increasingly diverse public? And, can broad-based engagement make for better designed and more inclusive cities?

· Students will create a community profile. This will include researching recent projects and planning efforts, identifying local players, and developing new ways of seeing the community through creative and analytical mappings and visualizations.
· Students will form cross-disciplinary teams to develop and illustrate district-scale design visions that build from a balanced understanding of economic pressures, political complexities, and social realities of the city.
· Students will participate in a convening of grassroots leaders, community development staff, designers, engaged artists, and public officials to share effective practices, in order to consider new tools, processes, and infrastructure for broad based public engagement in the process of city-building. (mid-November TBD)