The (New) Image of the City

In this course we will attempt to visualize cities as the outcomes of urban design. Through a reflexive method of visual and narrative investigation, each student will uncover and demonstrate a variety of experiential and structural characteristics of their chosen city. Acknowledging contemporary urban design as a decentralized practice, we will develop perspectives that cut across the various disciplines involved in shaping cities while addressing the many tangible and intangible dimensions that define any given city.

This course investigates how society perceives cities, their landscapes and architecture, and the designer's role in mobilizing imagery to digest existing conditions and project new urban possibilities. Part historical dive, part technical workshop, the class moves between investigations into the historical development of cities through image and instruction on the fundamental two and three-dimensional representational techniques involved in visualizing the vast array of inevitably convoluted and undetermined aspects of urbanity. The class will review how the city's evolution has been represented over time in urban design, landscape architecture, architecture, art, politics, and culture while developing new techniques and methods for representing latent urban conditions and uncertain futures.

Structured around participatory lectures, discussions, and creative exercises, the course necessitates students' abilities to consume, interpret, and produce. The majority of the work for the course goes towards developing a series of exercises that visualize a chosen urban condition at a series of scales and correlated perspectives. These exercises break down the process of image conception and execution over several weeks. Each scale builds on top of the previous and forms a composite image of a particular city when assembled. The final assignment will be curating the work produced to form a visual atlas through a whole class exhibition.

Designers with a robust representational repertoire will be those best suited to communicate their ideas and impact change in the coming generation. Students should take this course because they will learn how to maximize the potency of the images that they create. They will learn to integrate image crafting into the design process. They will learn the fundamentals and basis for harnessing the power of the image to supplement their intellectual and design ambitions. Students will create impactful visual content structured by meaning, beauty, and emotion. They will develop an eye for strong images and understand how individual details such as composition, tone, texture, and light strengthen the larger picture. A student who successfully engages with the course content will emerge with the conceptual and technical capacity to create compelling images that challenge the conventions of representation while also speaking to a broad audience. Simultaneously, by representing cities at various scales, students will come away with the ability to read various urban conditions and engage directly with contemporary pluralistic urbanism.

The course is for designers of all types. While we will use the term 'urban' to connote the ecological complexity of our contextual focus, designers from various disciplines are encouraged to bring their expertise to the group. Rendering techniques, both in engine and post-production, will be covered extensively and expertise is either is not a prerequisite. However, a strong foundation in 3D modeling with Rhino will be helpful, as is a curiosity and determination to test and acquire new skills and perspectives.

The first day of GSD classes, Tuesday, September 5th, is held as a MONDAY schedule. The course will meet for the first time on Thursday, September 7th and will meet regularly thereafter.