Elements of Urban Design

Elements of Urban Design is the required first semester advanced core studio for the post-professional Urban Design Program. Regarding learning objectives, the studio introduces critical concepts, strategies and technical skills associated with thinking about Urban Design and allows speculation on a designer’s spectrum of roles in shaping urban environments. More generally the studio aims to develop necessary literacies for architects and landscape architects to engage in the bridging practice of Urban Design and to understand questions related to urban environments and to produce compelling formal responses. Here a fundamental difference between Urban Design and Architecture and Planning is its concern for the ‘thingness’ in a Heideggerian sense, of urban settlement, which transcends the single building complex and involves competing claims and other unreconciled constraints needing to be resolved through design. Typically, cities are often parts of larger networks of communities and ecologies with both overlapping and complementary roles. Urban growth and change now range over a wider landscape, offering both opportunities, constraints and outcomes located in peri-urban, peripheral, and central locations. Within the scope and content of the studio, consisting of two Urban Design problems, each subdivided into exercises, evaluative reviews and crits will be accomplished by a series of fourteen presentations across topics within the two problems. Structural racism and effects of the Anthropocene Era, along with concomitant institutional issues and biases will be engaged with each specific exercise but also more generally through adherence to social actions, environmental awareness, and a cosmopolitan outlook. More specifically, in the first problem and exercises dealing with South Boston, housing affordability and other forms of discrimination will be challenged and discussed, along with the matter of Climate Change and sea-level rise. Similarly, in peripheral developments like Westwood in the second problem, the matter of access as well as environmental suitability will be topics of consideration. Throughout a sequence of topical presentations will be provided in an asynchronous format on these and related topics, including brownfield site amelioration, sea-level rise, landscape ecology, storm-water management, urban justice, and various forms of spatial development. The other first-term required course for incoming Urban Designers, titled GSD 4496 Urban Desing Contexts and Operations, will also bear on many of these and related topics.

TThe first day of GSD classes, Tuesday, September 5th, is held as a MONDAY schedule at the GSD. As this course meets on Tuesday, the first meeting of this course will be on Thursday, September 7th. It will meet regularly thereafter.