Urban Design for Planners

Urban design is a complex and interdisciplinary process that indelibly shapes the economic, social, and physical character of places and communities, large and small.

This seminar course introduces planners and others interested in urban development and cities to the principles and processes of urban design. It considers the critical role of design in creating beautiful, just, and resilient places and its lasting impact on people and communities.

The course explores the intersections and interplay between design and the built and natural environment, planning, public policy, politics, real estate development, and society. It considers the actors involved—including the public, private, and nonprofit entities—and their respective roles. It examines the roles of history, culture, and leadership in shaping the public realm and the benefits of public engagement and dialogue to advance and implement ambitious civic visions and projects with social impact.

The course provides an understanding of the history and evolution of urban design and the modes and methods of practice through readings, presentations, case studies, conversations with practitioners, and class discussions. Students will acquire knowledge, including access to resources and tools, and skills to successfully navigate, facilitate, and participate in urban design processes and projects.

Evaluation will be based on class participation; a semester-long reflection on a specific place integrating responses to readings, presentations, and panel discussions; and a final case study assignment.

Learning Goals:
• Appreciate and describe the role of design in the urban environment and its critical connections to equity, access, health, and environmental sustainability.
• Understand and discuss the history, evolution, and diversity of urban design and urban design practices processes and their impacts on communities and cities.
• Identify and describe the variety of actors involved in urban design (people, organizations, sectors), their influence, and the intersections and interplay between them.
• Develop and utilize an inventory of urban design resources and tools to educate and engage communities, clients, and constituents and support practice.
• Refine and apply observation, analysis, communication, and critical thinking skills and strategies to evaluate and respond to urban design and development scenarios and proposals.