Urban Design Proseminar

The proseminar is a forum for conversation on contemporary urban design. It is structured around three overlapping discussions: the formation of the discipline, critiques of urban design, and projections and speculations on the future of the discipline. Theory and practice are contextualized in a way that is not limited to the study of the physical city but includes operations made on the city as well as topics in related fields. The course examines the contested terrain of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and design, with engineering, geography, sociology, and scientific, cultural, and historical disciplines. Although all the mechanisms for considering the city cannot be covered within the constraints of the proseminar, the focus will be on developing a critical perspective that comes from a deeper understanding of theory, practice, and speculation. Presentations by guest GSD and Harvard faculty, together with site visits, will contextualize urban design today and its range of opportunities and potential. The proseminar requires active engagement with discussions and assignments, and provides a foundation for further course and studio work at the GSD. EXPECTATIONSThe emphasis of the course is on engagement: with the readings, the guests, and with the discussions. 1.Questions for class: Seminar participants will be expected to submit a series of questions, before class, on the required weekly readings. The aim is to critically engage with the readings as a way of developing individual positions on the issues that they raise.2.Assignment 1: In the first weeks of the seminar, and by way of introduction to each other, you will be invited to select an urban design project from a city you know well, such as your hometown, that you consider a good example of urban design. Tell us why you consider it urban design? Why is it successful? What are its weaknesses? The presentation should take a critical approach, and must be limited to five-minutes in duration. 3.Assignment 2: At the end of the semester you will be asked to make a second 10-minute presentation that uses issues raised in the course to reflect critically on the previous presentation.GRADING1.Class participation (30%)2.Response Papers (40%)3.Assignment 1 (10%)4.Assignment 2 (20%)Late assignments will not be accepted unless agreed in advance with the instructors or, in the case of illness, accompanied with a medical certificate.