This class has been taught at MIT for close to fifty years, first by Kevin Lynch until 1979, and subsequently by the present instructor. It now consists of 26 lectures, each of 1.5 hours, including about 20 minutes for visual material. Students are given required and background reading material for each class as well as an overall general bibliography. The class is regarded as an advanced class for which appropriate previous education is required for enrollment.
The class is an examination of the physical and social form of cities. Cities achieve form over time, and while their temporal attributes are stressed in the class, the class is not a systematic account of the history of cities. It focuses rather on the theories, both normative and functional, that have motivated and still inform the construction of cities.
The class material is divided into three sections. The first examines the nature of city form theory through examples of traditional attempts to specify "goodness", recent attempts to explain how cities perform, and selected systematic claims on city form theory. The second section focuses on the modern city from its genesis in northern Europe in the late 18th century and discusses in detail the inventions which created it and formed the basis of the contemporary city. The third section attempts to build on the previous sections by concentrating on current theory and practice, in particular on city form process, spatial and social structure, and form models.
Lynch. A Theory of Good City Form. Chapter 5.