Cities by Design

Cities by Design is concerned with the in-depth and longitudinal examination of urban conditions in and among select cities in the world. The broad aims are: to engage in a comparative study for the purpose of broadening definitions of what it is to be urban; to identify characteristics that render particular cities distinct; to understand the manner in which geography, locational circumstances, and related infrastructural improvements both constrain and promote opportunities for city development; and to gain insight into the role of human agencies, planning institutions, and design cultures in shaping cities and their role in broader regions.

In Spring 2024, the cities under examination are Boston, Barcelona, Berlin, Los Angeles, São Paulo, Copenhagen, Shanghai, Aleppo, and Mumbai. Each will be the subject of two in-person lectures or a combination of asynchronous lectures and an in-person discussion with the speaker. In addition to city-specific lectures, broader comparative frameworks are provided by three lectures on Implementation, Metropolitan Spatial Dynamics, and Historic Conservation.

The class is organized around a twice-a-week cadence of lectures, discussions, and debates. Beyond participation and contribution to in-class discussions, the main deliverables of the course are student debates around city-specific topics mooted by the presenters. Students will be grouped and assigned the debate topic at the beginning of the semester and meet with the instructor one and two weeks before the debate. Cities by Design is required and limited to Master of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Urban Design students.


This course is required for and limited to students in the GSD Master of Urban Design programs.