Introduction to Urban Design Techniques
This seminar course will introduce students from outside the discipline of urban design to the approaches, techniques, and tools of urban design necessary to structure the spatial and dimensional relationships of the built environment with an emphasis on sustainable urbanism. The morphology of the city – relationships of built form, circulatory systems, and open space – will be the primary subject of the course, as students will be required to give form to an urban district through the elaboration of street structures, block and building morphologies, open space networks and typologies, and urban design guidelines. This course complements the existing Physical Planning core sequence by concentrating on the design and character of urban spaces beyond zoning and land use descriptions, along with an emphasis on nascent codifications of sustainable urban development practices. MethodologyThe parameters for the site and program will be clearly defined at the outset of the course in order to begin with the investigation of urban form directly. The first lectures will cover the relevant history and condition of the site, located in the Columbia Point area, as well as completed and on-going planning initiatives for this area. Site reconnaissance will include a guided field trip and meeting with the city planning agency to review the physical characteristics of the site and context, as well as the larger scale prospects for its redevelopment. Working together, the class will develop a spatial analysis of the site including but not limited to block patterns and parcelization, circulatory systems, open space characteristics, and relevant regulatory restrictions – easements, waterway setbacks, etc. We will review current standards for sustainable neighbourhood development in order to establish appropriate formal responses. Working individually, students will then create spatial concept plans for the site that will be elaborated throughout the remainder of the course. We will review urban design approaches for similarly scaled redevelopment sites, identifying conceptual precedents from a range of urban design practices. Students will develop their plans through the production of a specific urban design document that will include a street network plan, a public realm plan, a taxonomy of building types, 3 dimensional modeling of height and setback requirements, and perspectival views conveying character. The general techniques of representation will be customized by each student to align with their specific project approach in an acknowledgment of the relationship between representational schema and spatial or programmatic ideas. Course structureThe course will meet twice a week combining topic lectures and regular design reviews of student work. Following preliminary lectures, site reconnaissance, and meeting with planning agencies students will work together to develop a baseline site analysis including but not limited to block patterns and parcelization, infrastructures, open space characteristics, and the applicability of sustainable development parameters. Working individually, students will then create spatial concept plans for the site that will be elaborated throughout the remainder of the course. Grading will be based on the quality and completeness of a final Urban Design Plan, successful progress on weekly exercises, and class participation. This course is primarily intended for students enrolled in the urban planning program but is open to all.