11.946J | Summer 2004 | Graduate

Beijing Urban Design Studio


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 6 sessions / week, 8-12 hours / session

Course Description

For five weeks during the summer of 2004, MIT and Tsinghua University will jointly offer an Urban Design Studio in China’s capital city. This will be an outstanding opportunity for American and Chinese students to learn urban design and to jointly consider the issues of development and urban form in the context of China’s rapid modernization.

The studio will center on preparing designs for an urban district in Beijing, including housing and shopping, and will include lectures on Chinese architecture, planning theory, and urbanism. The participants will take bicycle and walking trips to the project site, historic monuments and districts in Beijing and its vicinity. The Workshop will be interspersed with short study tours of new and traditional Chinese cities.


The studio will be led jointly by Professors Dennis Frenchman and Jan Wampler of MIT and Professor Wu Lianyong and Zhang Jie of Tsinghua University. Other lecturers and visiting critics will include faculty members from Tsinghua and MIT, practicing professionals, and government officials.

Dennis Frenchman

An architect and planner, Frenchman is Professor the Practice of Urban Design at MIT, heading the City Design and Development program. He is also a principal of ICON architecture, Inc., an architecture and planning firm in Boston. His experience includes heritage development, downtown commercial projects, and public housing revitalization.

Jan Wampler

An architect and urban designer, Wampler is a Professor in the MIT Department of Architecture, teaching architectural design. He is also a practicing architect in Boston, recognized for his experience in innovative housing design with a special focus on special needs groups. He has led studios and workshops in architecture and urban design in many countries.

Paul Lukez

Lukez is a practicing architect who joined the faculty in the fall of 1999 to teach architectural design studio. In addition he teaches workshops focusing on the transformation and integration of urban structures and infrastructure elements (highways and bridges) and their adjacent sites.

Ken Kruckemeyer

Kruckemeyer is a Research Associate at the Center for Transportation and Logistics at MIT.  His current research includes a collaborative research program between MIT and the Chicago Transit Authority, and a multi-year program to conduct research and education at MIT and the University of Puerto Rico focused on the development of Tren Urbano, a new rail system planned for the San Juan metropolitan area

Wu Liangyong

Liangyong is Director of the Institute of Architectural and Urban Studies at Tsinghua University, Center for Human Settlements. He is an internationally recognized expert on the evolution of Chinese city form and has prepared designs for many areas of Beijing, including the famous Ju’er Hutong courtyard housing complex, enlargement of Tiananmen Square, and the National Academy of Art.

Zhang Jie

Jie is Associate Dean of the Tsinghua University School of Architecture.


The Workshop will involve 20 graduate students of architecture, planning, or real estate development at MIT and other invited schools. Preference will be given to students or recent graduates with skills in physical planning and design. Approximately 12 graduate students from Tsinghua University will participate in the Workshop, collaborating on the project and sharing perspectives on cities and urban design.

The Program

The Workshop will begin with our arrival in China on Day 2. It will include four weeks in residence at Tsinghua University in Beijing and two study tours at the beginning and middle of the Workshop. The study travel will involve travel by coach and overnight train to traditional Chinese towns and sites as well as some major new development projects that will inform our work in Beijing. In 2002 the tour included the burgeoning city of Shanghai, Suzhou, known for its canals and gardens, and visits to traditional Chinese towns in Shanxi province. The Workshop will conclude on Day 18. We will depart from China on the Day 19. Dates and itinerary are tentative and are subject to change.

The Workshop, conducted in English, will take place in the building of the Tsinghua School of Architecture located on the campus in Beijing, northeast of the city center. Several mornings each week will be spent in lectures on the history and contemporary development of Chinese cities. We will also plan several site visits in the city including traditional and new housing areas, shopping, parks, and historic monuments.

The Workshop problem will involve revitalization of a district in Beijing. Work will be done in teams, focusing on: An overall urban design plan of a selected area, renewal of local retail shopping and services, and design of new housing to fit with the traditional context. Tsinghua students in the Workshop will aid in understanding social issues in the study area as well as collaborate on design proposals. The study will be presented to planning officials in Beijing and collected in a booklet on the Workshop produced by the students. MIT students will receive 12-18 academic credits for attending the studio.


Lodging will be provided for the entire stay. Students will be housed in the Foreign Student Guest House at Tsinghua University. On the field trip, we will be staying in college facilities or modest hotels. Meals will be provided on the study tour and for one week in the Guest House dining room. (Additional meals may be purchased by students at the guest house if desired.)


Fees, visa, travel within China, accommodations, meals for the Study Tour and part of the workshop are anticipated to be around $700, inclusive for 34 days. Airfare to Beijing is estimated to be $1200. Costs are subject to change. Students are required to make their own travel arrangements, and must arrive and in Shanghai and depart from Tsinghua University in Beijing at the same time with the group.

A number of partial scholarships will be available to those students who are accepted to the program who require financial assistance to attend. Scholarships may average about $1000 and will be based on need.