Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This subject introduces graduate students to ideas about the form of cities and how they are designed and developed. The subject is organized into two parts:

Part 1 explores the Forces which act to shape and to change cities. Starting with Boston and the American city as a reference, we will examine key forces affecting contemporary urban development, including the market, social forces, public development, regulation of private development, and incentives to encourage good design. Finally we will consider how cities define a vision for their future and how these are articulated in plans and proposals. Lectures will be supplemented by guest presentations, case studies and field trips.

Part 2 surveys Models of urban design which have been invented in response to forces acting on cities. We will discuss the evolution of each model and its current impact on design and development in cities worldwide, located in Great Britain, Italy, China, and elsewhere. Included are notions about the Traditional City, the City as a Work of Art, the Efficient City, the Garden City, the Secure City, the Information City, and the Virtual City. The application of each model will be illustrated in case studies and guest presentations.

Course Requirements

Work for the class will include readings, class participation, and two papers, related to the two units of the course. Students will also be required to keep a simple journal reflecting on the readings. Readings provide a context for class lectures and are also intended to expose students to the ideas of key urban design theorists on the topics presented. Please complete all required readings in advance of each class.


Activities Percentages
Two Papers and Journal 75%
Participation in Class, Sections, and Field Trips 25%