11.360 | Fall 2010 | Graduate

Community Growth and Land Use Planning


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


MIT students are required to get the permission of the instructor.  No prior training or experience in physical planning or urban design is assumed, although it is advantageous. Some exposure to imaging software and Geographic Information System (GIS) is helpful.

The “Envisioning Needham Street” Plan

The City of Newton’s Department of Planning and Development has engaged the Community Growth and Land-Use Planning course of MIT (11.360) to envision redevelopment along the Needham Street Corridor and recommend implementation strategies to make the plan a reality. As a gateway to the city of Newton, Needham Street has the potential to be an inviting place that encourages people to work, shop, enjoy civic interaction, and live. The city is interested in reconstructing the street in the near future, and the project with MIT is designed to assist in improving its appearance and transportation options, and inspire economic development.

Course Overview

This subject explores the techniques, processes, and personal and professional skills required to effectively manage growth and land use change. While primarily focused on the planning practice in the United States, the principles and techniques reviewed and presented may have international application. This course is not for bystanders; it is designed for those who wish to become actively involved or exposed to the planning discipline and profession as it is practiced today, and as it may need to be practiced in the future.

The fundamentals of the land use planning and growth management system are explored. Discussion and review of both traditional and innovative approaches to land use planning and growth management will occur, with emphasis on participatory processes and performance-based systems. Examples of the tools and techniques utilized at the local, regional, and state level of government will also be presented and evaluated.

A major focus of the course involves student work on a client-based land use planning project in Newton, Massachusetts. The project will enable students to draw upon and apply a variety of approaches and interventions explored in the course and readings.


Class sessions employ lectures, discussions of readings, case materials, role-playing exercises, and student presentations. Readings include journal articles, papers, and other written works relevant to contemporary planning practice and the evolution of the discipline. These readings supplement class session topics and discussion. Where appropriate to specific topics, guest speakers will present to the class and join in class discussion. There is no final examination required for completion of the course. In addition to classwork, each student will be required to participate, as a project team member, in the preparation of a project for an actual client.


Student evaluations will be principally based upon contributions to the community planning project, including the preparation of the final plan report, participation in mid-term and final presentations of the plan to the client and others, and submission of a short “synthesis paper” about the planning project. Participation in class discussion will also be a significant factor in final grade evaluations.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2010
Learning Resource Types
Projects with Examples
Presentation Assignments
Written Assignments