Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

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, it not a systematic account of the history of cities. Instead, lectures focus on the theories, both normative and functional, which have motivated and still inform the construction of cities.

Topics are categorized 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 eighteenth–century and discusses in detail the inventions that 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.

Students are given required and background reading material for each session as well as an overall general bibliography.


11.001J / 4.250J Introduction to Urban Design and Development (for undergraduates), or
11.301J / 4.252J Introduction to Urban Design and Development (for graduates)


Students enrolled in the course, whether for 9 credits or 12 credits, are required to submit a term paper at the end of the semester. Details, requirements, and resources are provided under Term Paper.

Grades are given based on this paper assignment as well as attendance and participation during lecture. Because of the nature of the material presented, students are encouraged to question the theories presented to them and also provide thoughtful insights and analysis through their class participation.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

theaters Lecture Videos
notes Lecture Notes
assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples
co_present Instructor Insights