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.

Expectations: The emphasis of the course is on engagement: with the readings, the guests, and with the discussions.

Grading: Class participation (30%), Response Papers (40%), Assignment 1 (10%), Assignment 2 (20%). Late assignments will not be accepted unless agreed in advance with the instructor or, in the case of illness, accompanied with a medical certificate.