Urban Stack: Practice Methods for a Complex World

The Urban Stack is a pedagogical framework for understanding the infrastructures of power that operate in relationship to practice. These constructs shape the design and production of the built environment in our time of increasing uncertainty, project complexity, and risk. The course is designed to explore, translate and generate alternative readings of our built context; to imagine how design and planning practice can shape the environmental, social, cultural, and experiential qualities of urban form within our emerging 21st century context. A primary objective of the course is to identify gaps and opportunities in the layered socio-technical systems that guide the production of the built environment; to enable culturally and socially transformative development with the goal of practical application in the real world.

This course addresses the practice of design as it inevitably confronts and interacts with infrastructures of policy, technology, and finance. Theoretical frameworks will help us seek space for design impact and agency through established and emerging modes of practice and projects that operate upon, within, or against these systemic constructs. Our task is to collectively answer the following questions: As urban projects grow in complexity, swelling and speeding up to attain maximum impact, is our work inevitably defined and shaped by the pressures of finance, automation, and regulation? Where does our agency as designers of the built environment lie in current practice?

The first day of GSD classes, Tuesday, September 5th, is held as a MONDAY schedule at the GSD. As this course meets on Monday, the first meeting of this course will be on Tuesday, September 5th. It will meet regularly thereafter.