Urban Design and the Color-Line

We cannot talk about physical infrastructures in the United States without also talking about race. In this seminar/workshop, students will examine the role that race and class have played (and will continue to play) in the design and production of physical projects. It provides tools for: (1) interrogating design’s contributions to, and complicity with, structural and infrastructural racism; and, (2) developing intentionally anti-racist, equity-focused research and design methodologies that produce more equitable public spaces.

Reflecting on NYC High Line’s social and economic challenges, in 2017 Friends of the High Line (FHL) established the High Line Network (HLN), a peer-to-peer community of infrastructure reuse projects that spans North America. Network partners at various stages of development lend their technical assistance and advice to one another about how to advance racial equity in their respective communities. Student research and recommendations will support these efforts ranging from ensuring social inclusion, managing gentrification to avoid displacement, institutionalizing public programming, and negotiating city revenues for project development.

This limited enrollment project-based seminar provides graduate students with a framework for unpacking the making and remaking of physical infrastructures with a deeper understanding of the relationship between systemic racism and the production of space. This course requires weekly readings, writing, discussion, and engagement with a US based civil society organization, as well as the creation of graphic materials for a single infrastructure reuse project. There is no requisite background to take this course.