First Semester Core Urban Planning Studio

First Semester Core Urban Planning Studio introduces students to the fundamental knowledge and technical skills used by urban planners to research, analyze, create and implement plans and projects for the built environment. The studio operates in conjunction with VIS-2129: Spatial Analysis and the Built Environment, which introduces students to the theoretical underpinnings and spatial analysis of representational techniques to design and communicate urban planning concepts. 

The studio will use the Boston region and its neighborhoods as a planning laboratory and students will be expected to understand the city through the lens of planning elements such as demographics; economic, market, social, cultural, environmental attributes; urban character and built form; and public and private stakeholder interests, all of which shape the city and inform decisions about land use, development, and infrastructure. 

We will consider urgent planning issues and dilemmas emanating from the US legacy of white supremacy, which operates through the built environment, political system, economic sectors and labor markets, and cultural institutions. These include disproportionate effects of the pandemic on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, mass protests against police killings of Black Americans, and the national movement for police divestment and reinvestment in public infrastructures and amenities, including parks and recreation, community development, and social services. 

We also will examine how anthropogenic climate change is challenging the design disciplines, asking what are the responsibilities of today’s planners in mitigating its effects and promoting justice as it impacts the built environment. This is particularly true in the context of the Greater Boston region, where many communities are expected to experience some degree of sea-level rise by the year 2050.