Lecture Notes

SES # Topics Lecture Summaries
1 Introduction Can cities be designed? Course structure and objectives.
Part 1: Forces Affecting Urban Development
2 Viewpoints on the City How are cities understood? City themes and city culture. Representations of cities as examples of viewpoints. The idea of imaging a city from the viewpoint of its inhabitants: Kevin Lynch. Lowell, MA as an example in changing the viewpoint on a city.
3 The Forces that Made Boston How does a city grow? The city viewed in time as a process of cultural evolution. The recursive nature of form. How underlying forces are given form through design. Boston as an example of forces acting on the city and models of design applied to resolve them.
4 Walking Tour of Boston Meet at the Prudential Center Observatory lobby (ground floor). We will conclude the tour in the North End.
5 The Market The city viewed as a business. Land use, land value and urban development. Understanding how uses are located: the bid rent curve; cities as central places. Functional patterns of market and form: concentric zones, sectors, nodes. Evolution of the patterns — from the walkable city to edge city.

Case Study: Boston's West End

Guest: James Campano, Editor, The West Ender

The power of a place.
7 Social Forces The city from the viewpoint of those who live there. The dynamics of neighborhoods, class association and form. People and places: Dudley Street Initiative, Roxbury.
8 The Public Will The city viewed by those in power. Public development and its arenas: infrastructure, redevelopment and housing. How is public development financed and carried out? City form as a political response to problems: from Haussmann to Robert Moses and Nelson Rockefeller.
9 The Public Wish Balancing the public viewpoint and private rights. Regulation of private development: zoning and incentives to influence what the market would otherwise provide. Evolution of land use control efforts to shape the "good" city and protect scarce resources. Zoning and the form of New York City, from Hugh Ferris to Rudolph Giuliani.

Case Study: Shaping Private Development / The Case Of Smart Growth

Guest: Prof. Terry Szold, Principal, Community Planning Solutions

11 Discussion Session (In Sections) Discussion will focus on the readings. Please submit a journal (any length) reflecting on the readings thus far in the course. Questions to consider: Can you design places without designing buildings? Which tools of urban design have shaped the place you are examining for the first assignment?
12 Public / Private Partnerships The entrepreneur's view. Mixing public and private interests. Revitalizing downtowns with new incentives, formulas for development, and types of projects. Mixed use: from the festival marketplace to urban waterfronts.
13 Field Visit: Boston Redevelopment Authority Meet at BRA offices, top floor Boston City Hall, Model Room.
14 Visions The city as viewed from the future. Types of plans and plan-makers. The planning process. The role of urban design projections in shaping city form and function: who are the visionaries and where do their ideas come from? New themes and visions for Boston: Central Artery.

Walking Tour of Providence / Waterfire

Guide: Barnaby Evans, Creator / Producer of Waterfire

16 Discussion of Assignment 1 (In Sections)  
Part 2: Models of Urban Design and Development
17 The Traditional City The confluence of culture, geography, and form. The line and the grid as traditional models: colonial towns in New England and Georgia. The new traditionalism: Poundbury, Great Britain.
18 The City as a Work of Art Power, symbol and form. From Rome Sixtus V to Chicago, and the Worlds Columbian Exposition. The City Beautiful Movement and its continuing impact.

Case Study: Tradition and Invention in City Design / The Case of San Diego

Guest: Adele Naude Santos, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning


Case Study: The Political Art of Capital Cities

Guest: Larry Vale, Head, MIT DUSP

21 The Efficient City The city as a machine for production. The utopian industrial city: the 1939 New York World's Fair. Impacts on urban development policy: public housing, highways, and urban renewal. The continuing tradition: urban development in Shanghai and Beijing.

Case Study: Globalizing Cities

Guest: Yung Ho Chang, Head, MIT Department of Architecture

The world-wide impact of the efficient city model and local culture vs. international design and image.
23 Urban Nature How ideas of nature influence the way cities are perceived and built. How natural processes and urban form interact. How we can shape the urban natural environment. (PDF)
24 Discussion Session (In Sections) Please submit a journal (any length) reflecting on the readings in the second half of the course. Questions to consider: What planning strategies/tools could be employed to reshape the city or the suburbs? What strategies/tools of change are involved in the Plan you are studying?

Case Study: The End of the Suburbia?

Guest: Prof. Robert Fishman, University of Michigan, Historian and Critic

26 The Secure City Public Safety (the city) vs. Private Safety (gated communities). Impact of security on urban design. Post 9/11 influences. Cases: Ground Zero Reconstruction and National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan.
27 The Information City Experience design and the involvement of information and advanced communications in form: stories as a force in urban development. From Disney World to the Digital Media City. Case: Seoul DMC.

The Virtual City

Guest: Prof. William Mitchell, MIT Design Lab

Advanced technologies and their impact on the city.
29 Debating the Models Are emerging models of urban design helping to produce a good city? Class interactive exercise.
30 The Good City Reconciling ideals and the real. Discussion of models of urban design and development and their applicability in practice. Whose values should the city reflect?
31 Wrap-up Discussion of Assignment 2.