Field Studies in Real Estate, Planning, and Urban Design: East Chicago, IN and Malden, MA

The Field Study course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the dynamics and complexities of reality that create contemporary urban physical environments. The course emphasizes the integration of design and development aspects of projects that respond to realistic market demand, political, financial and other regulatory constraints – how financial implications affect planning and design and vice versa. The course is intended for architects, planners, real estate students, landscape architects and others who want to improve their skills in design and financial analysis within the context of real world urban development. The class will be divided into two groups each focusing on one of the two field studies described below.

Rebuilding the Industrial Lakefront and Downtown in East Chicago
This field study will focus on economic development for the waterfront and adjoining downtown and residential area of the City of East Chicago. East Chicago is part of the industrial heritage corridor along the shore of Lake Michigan. It is located just across the Indiana border, 35 minutes from downtown Chicago. The waterfront and adjoining downtown and residential districts are undergoing redevelopment as the historic industrial area is repositioned for new economic uses including a recently developed casino. The course is jointly sponsored by the East Chicago Department of Redevelopment and The Community Builders. The class will focus on creating a viable vision and master plan for redeveloping four neighboring areas: the marina district and waterfront, the Main and Broadway Mixed Use “Main Street”, the Residential and Education District with workforce and subsidized housing, and the public lakefront commercial/residential destination district.

Housing for the Asian Community and Economic Development in Malden, MA
Students in the Malden field study will work closely with the Asian Community Development Corporation to select a site, design and implement development of new affordable housing for the community. They will investigate possible partnerships with for-profit developers for a larger project that combines affordable housing with market-rate housing and possible retail. They will also work closely with the redevelopment agency in Malden to redevelop selected parts of the town center. Redevelopment considerations will include offices for city employees, housing, transit-oriented development, retail, parking and open space as a 24 hour lifestyle destination for both residents and workers. Architects in the class will have the opportunity to produce detailed designs for the mixed-income housing to serve the Asian community in Malden.

For both field studies, students will examine precedents around the world and study the literature about strategies for redevelopment of industrial cities. The class will give students an immersion experience in real world redevelopment with clients who will put the students’ recommendations into practice. Students will prepare master plans for the area including infrastructure and open space and then will select a site within the study area for detailed urban design-scale visions of redevelopment. The work product will include market analyses, master planning, strategic planning, urban design, and financial analysis. Implementation strategies including public-private partnerships will also be addressed. Students will work with private and public officials as well as non-profit housing providers to produce visions that will contribute to what is ultimately built. This course exposes students to public and private development situations within the context of real-world stakeholders, clients, government officials, and financiers.