urban design theory

urban design theory

this course focuses on architecture at the scale of the city and use historical periods and examples as the basis to develop theories that help us to design better cities, districts, neighborhoods and individual buildings. the course deals primarily with the settlement patterns and form (morphology) of the city and the ideas that brought them about, and secondarily with the social, economic, and political contexts under which these places have been shaped. while course reviews urbanism through the lens of historically diverse cultures and relate historical precedent to problems and applications in the present day, is an introduction and not a "everything-you-need-to-know-about-architecture-and-urbanism". as an introduction, it provides a fundamental vocabulary and present concepts and practices that students can use in design and discussions and as a basis for more advanced and perhaps specialized studies.

The Dérive


The course is organized along a datum or continuum of fundamental concepts -- essentially one long lecture -- but throughout the course there will be a deliberate, often radical disruption of this continuum with contemporary and asynchronous matters that face architects and urban designers in the 21st century. This format will be, I hope like any urban situation and might be best explained as Situationist Guy Dibord described as a "dérive" which is a relatively "unplanned journey through an urban landscape in which participants drop their everyday relations and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there". Your journey is similar to an urban experience: somewhat planned but mixed with the unexpected, it is not overly orchestrated, artificial, sanitized, simplistic experience but a hopefully a rich, compelling and, stimulating life-experience.

The "dérive" will occur in two significant ways:

1) The most common way will be asynchronous relationships of historic concepts and forms in subsequent, even contemporary, architecture and urban form. For example, I may discuss the relationship of 16th century Spanish colonial towns with late 20th-century New Urbanism.

2) The most significant interjections will be guest lecturers who will speak to contemporary architectural and urban design matters. The lecturers are design professionals and educators who will interject contemporary issues that I hope will link the past to the present and future. This "disruption" may not be comfortable but that is the nature of a dynamic architectural and urban experience: You never know what you might find around the corner. The information, concepts, etc. introduced in guest lectures will be part of exams, sketchbooks and final projects.

Spring 2021 Topics / Lectures

· Why Cities?

· Generators of Form

· Morphologies

· Ancient Origins

· Interjection 1: Contemporary Practice Guest: Lisa Cholmondeley

· Medieval Urbanism

· Islamic Cities

· Interjection 2: Democratic Space Guest: Susan Piedmont-Palladino

· Renaissance Cities

· Interjection 3: Hidden Forces Guest: Alex Klatskin

· Industrialized Cities

· 19th Century Interventions: Hausmann, Cerda, Nash

· Interjection 4: Dialectic Urbanism Guest: Grahame Shane

· The City Regulated: New York and Philadelphia

· The City Beautiful: Chicago and Washington, DC

· Romanticism

· Interjection 5: Geography of Segregation Guest: Thor Nelson

· Garden Cities and Garden Suburbs

· Modern Urbanism

· Post-Modern City

· Interjection 6: Informal Settlements Guest: Carlos Reimers

· Post-Industrial City

· Interjection 7: Campus Design Guest: Brian Kelly