Elements of Urban Design

Elements of Urban Design is an advanced core studio for the post-professional Urban Design program. The studio introduces critical concepts, strategies, and technical skills associated with current thinking about Urban Design, and speculates on the designer’s roles in analyzing and shaping urban landscapes. More generally, the studio aims to develop the necessary literacies for architects and landscape architects to critically engage in the bridging practice of Urban Design – to understand and interrogate questions related to urban environments, and to produce compelling formal responses.

Today, cities are often parts of larger networks of communities within regions, with both overlapping and complementary roles. Urban growth and change now range over a wider landscape of both opportunities and constraints, often with faster growing areas located in peri-urban and even peripheral locations. This is certainly the case in several North American cities like Detroit and Los Angeles, European cities like Rome and Paris, and a host of settlements in East and Southeast Asia. Even within the thrall of global pressures local characteristics and identities require both attention and resolution.

For the fall of 2018, the Elements of Urban Design studio is organized around three design exercises, located at the ‘core,’ ‘periphery’ and an ‘in-between’ zones of the Greater Boston Region. As representative samples of a metropolitan urban gradient, they cover a range of pertinent issues in Urban Design today, particularly, although not solely, in a North American circumstance. As elsewhere, expansion and transformation of metropolitan regions have introduced different scales and types of urban form. The increased economic, social and environmental complexity further complicates Urban Design circumstances and makes them more challenging. The studio will expose students to this range of conditions and propel them to think systemically about how to intervene in these varied emergent urban formations.