Urban Design and the Color-Line

We cannot talk about physical infrastructure in the United States without also talking about race. This seminar/workshop introduces students to the role that race and class have played – and will continue to play – in the design and implementation of physical infrastructures. It provides tools for: (1) Interrogating design’s contributions to, and complicity with, structural and infrastructural racism; and, (2) Developing intentionally anti-racist, equity-focused research and design methodologies that produce more equitable public spaces.

Reflecting on the High Line’s social and economic challenges, in 2017 Friends of the High Line (FHL) established the High Line Network (HLN), a peer-to-peer community of infrastructure reuse projects that spans the United States. This “trans-local” advocacy network disseminates knowledge on avoiding failures and missed opportunities that plagued the High Line’s advocates from the beginning, ranging from ensuring social inclusion, managing gentrification to avoid displacement, institutionalizing public programming, and negotiating city revenues for project development. Throughout the semester, students will work in pairs and collaborate with one of six HLN organizations, helping them develop their own Equitable Impacts Framework (EIF).

This limited enrollment project-based seminar provides students with a framework for unpacking the making and remaking of physical infrastructures with a deeper understanding of the relationship between systemic racism and the production of space. This course requires weekly readings, writing, discussion, and engagement with a US based civil society organization, as well as the creation of graphic materials for a single infrastructure reuse project.


Up to three seats will be held for MDes students.


This course will be taught online through Friday, February 4th.