M.S. Architecture and Urban Design

Overview
The Urban Design Program is focused on the city as an agent of resilient change and on the role of design in redefining the 21st century urban landscape. The program advances new paradigms of research, practice and pedagogy to meet the urgent challenges of rapid urbanization, the increasing threats of climate change and social inequality. Students and faculty in the Program aim to integrate the essential links between public space, social justice and ecological systems. We ask the venerable and necessarily shifting question: what is “the good city?”

Global shifts in the climate system require resetting the paradigms that have guided urban growth for centuries. The Program frames the city not as a fixed, delineated territory—a modernist fixation on boundaries—but instead as a gradient of varied landscapes supported by networks of food, energy, resources, culture, transportation and capital. In this light, the historical terms urban, rural or suburban are no longer sufficient to address the “wicked problem” of climate change. Program work stresses near and long term threats to local, regional and global ecosystems, framing urban design as both an inclusive, activist, tools-based project for specific sites and communities and as a critical project examining urban form, knowledge and research processes.

Students and faculty work together over a series of three intensive semesters to weave a multi-scalar analysis of urban-regional fabrics and infrastructures with on-the ground, detailed studies of places and lived conditions. New York City serves as a primary initial case study for a design methodology; the scope expands in the second semester to regional research about New York and other American city-regions and concludes in the final semester with investigations in emerging global capitals and agglomerations in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Curriculum

The curriculum exploits the pedagogic potential of the design studio as a site of research, visionary speculation and critical inquiry. The Urban Design curriculum broadly integrates a range of interdisciplinary expertise, internal to Columbia University—such as the School of Public Health, the Earth Institute, and the School of Engineering—and external to the school, through regular engagement with governmental and non-governmental agencies, institutions and organizations.

Across the three semesters of the program, work ranges from site formation and policy, to visualization, and documentation of lived spatial and social conditions. Research, assignments and deliverables seek forms of mediation and action to address the challenges of global and local change. The sequencing of three studios builds a shared understanding of urban theories and terms, design tools, and research methods essential to urban design thought and practice. The collaborative studio setting enables a synthetic approach to design that weaves together environment, systems, and planning.

Studios

Throughout the studio sequence, projects emphasize a multi-scalar approach to site and program, embracing local, regional, and global scales and advancing the role of the urban designer as a catalytic and thoughtful practitioner who can place herself among diverse actors, existing conditions, and imagined futures.

Studio I

The Summer Studio I is foundational, addressing experimental, representational and constructive aspects of urban design as a process. The studio frames the Five Boroughs of New York City as a learning lab, examining biophysical infrastructures, conflicting public and private interests, and ongoing socio-spatial change.

Studio II

The Fall Studio II expands in scope to consider the city-region, examining large scale interdependencies and interactions. Studio research addresses the particular conditions of American city-regions (currently, the Hudson Valley) in which shifting ecological, topographical, infrastructural, demographic and social conditions call for new strategies for systemic action.

Studio III

The final Spring Studio III takes on problems of global urbanization, extending previous work on variously-scaled physical and social infrastructures, programmatic interventions and community partnerships. The studio typically travels to two cities, working in close cooperation with local partners and organizations.

In this eleventh episode of GSAPP Conversations, Urban Design Director Kate Orff joins Dean Amale Andraos to discuss what it means to think across scales and connect our human life with the geological time scale, how traveling international studios allow students to better address challenges shared by otherwise very different cities, and teaching the reciprocity of physical design and social context.

Urban Design at GSAPP
Alumni from the Urban Design Program at Columbia University GSAPP share their experience. Recorded at the occasion of the 2017 symposium “UD Sessions: The Expanded Field of Urban Design”
Current Faculty

Spring 2018 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A4135‑1 Spring 2018
Urban Ecology + Design
Matt Palmer, Gena Wirth All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
408 Avery
F 9 AM - 11 AM
Full Semester
3 Points
88098
A4688‑1 Spring 2018
Public Space and Recombinant Urbanism
David Grahame Shane Cap 25
115 Avery
W 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
15797
A6804‑1 Spring 2018
Global Street Design
Skye Duncan, Ankita Chachra
115 Avery
M 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
63296
A6851‑1 Spring 2018
Urban Design Studio III
Kate Orff, Ziad Jamaleddine, Laura Kurgan, Nora Akawi, Geeta Mehta, Julia Watson, Dilip da Cunha
M & TH 1:30 PM - 6 :30 PM, F 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Full Semester
9 Points
73646
A4066‑1 Spring 2018
Quality Control: Architecture and Standardization
Nader Vossoughian
300 Buell North
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
78029
A4383‑1 Spring 2018
Gumbo Ya-Ya: African American Culture as a Practice Model
Sharon Sutton
409 Avery
M 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
87780
A4385‑1 Spring 2018
Arab Modernism(s): Experiments in Housing, 1945-present
Yasser Elsheshtawy Lecture
200 Buell
M 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
79032
A4390‑1 Spring 2018
Greats: China’s Big Projects 1949-1980
Amy Lelyveld
409 Avery
W 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
98347
A4397‑1 Spring 2018
Speculative City, Crisis, Uncertainty and Projections in Architecture
David Eugin Moon
505 Avery
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
26546
A4552‑1 Spring 2018
Dark Space: Architecture Representation & Black Identity
Mario Gooden
300 Avery
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
11696
A4642‑1 Spring 2018
Contested Grounds: The Spatial Politics of Memory
Mabel O. Wilson
412 Avery
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
63196
A4648‑1 Spring 2018
Beyond Beauty
Mary McLeod
300 Buell South
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
78696
A4846‑1 Spring 2018
Super-Tall
Nicole Dosso
300 Avery
TH 7 PM - 9 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
61032
A4858‑1 Spring 2018
Detail: Craft in Practice
Trevor Watson, Paul Sanderson
504 Avery Hall
W 7 PM - 9 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
62246
A4059‑1 Spring 2018
Global Cities & Climate Change
Michael Kimmelman All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
200 South Fayerweather
F 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
25030
A4869‑1 Spring 2018
Books, Figures, Objects
Hilary Sample
300 Buell South
M 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
70898
A6448‑1 Spring 2018
Design Theories
Enrique Walker
600 Avery
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
72246
A6460‑1 Spring 2018
Architecture, the Free Market and the Degradation of Civic Space
Nicolai Ouroussoff
200 Buell
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
65846
A6718‑1 Spring 2018
Buildings and Materials: Architectural Histories of Resources
Jonah Rowen
300 Buell South
TU 9 AM - 11 AM
Full Semester
3 Points
16047
A6814‑1 Spring 2018
New Towns to Smart Cities
David Smiley All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
600 Avery
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
28446
A4045‑1 Spring 2018
Questions in Urbanism
Vishaan Chakrabarti All GSAPP Interdisciplinary Workshop
115 Avery
F 10 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
63779
A4064‑1 Spring 2018
Informal Urbanisms: Incrementalism and Citizen Participation in the Built Environment
Cassim Shepard All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
408 Avery
F 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
67446
A4892‑2 Spring 2018
Data Visualization for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
Agnes Chang All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, GSAS
114 Avery Hall
W 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
18444
A4892‑1 Spring 2018
Data Visualization for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
Juan Saldarriaga All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, GSAS
600 Avery
F 9 AM - 11 AM
Full Semester
3 Points
81796
A4063‑1 Spring 2018
Points Unknown: Cartographic Narratives
Grga Basic, Michael Krisch All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, Joint Journalism
Ware Lounge (600 Avery)
F 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
66596
P4050‑1 Spring 2018
UP Elective Internship
Margaret Wiryaman
By Appointment
1.5 Points
15846
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