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 themselves 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.

Listen to more podcasts from the Urban Design program by following UD Sessions: The Expanded Field of Urban Design, a series of conversations with urban designers around the globe, who graduated from or taught at GSAPP’s Urban Design program. By discussing their current work and reflecting on how their experience at GSAPP shaped their thinking about design, cities, and politics, the series explores the ways in which the field of urban design expanded since its emergence. Hosted by Kaja Kühl and Grahame Shane.

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” Listen to the related podcast series here
Current Faculty

Spring 2019 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A6804‑1 Spring 2019
Contested Sights: Urban Design in the Wild
Damon Rich
115 AVERY
M 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
77046
A6851‑1 Spring 2019
Urban Design Studio III
Kate Orff
TBA
M & TH 1:30 PM - 6 :30 PM , F 3:30-5:30
Full Semester
9 Points
10029
A4383‑1 Spring 2019
Gumbo Ya-Ya: African American Culture and the Art of Dwelling
Sharon Sutton
409 AVERY
M 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
67197
A4385‑1 Spring 2019
Arab Modernism(s): Experiments in Housing, 1945-present
Yasser Elsheshtawy LECTURE
200 BUELL
M 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
93629
A4397‑1 Spring 2019
Speculative City, Crisis, Uncertainty and Projections in Architecture
David Eugin Moon
504 AVERY
W 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
68347
A4846 Spring 2019
Super-Tall
Nicole Dosso
300 AVERY
TH 7 PM - 9 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
61246
A4059‑1 Spring 2019
Climate Change + Global Cities
Michael Kimmelman All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, Required
200 S FAYERWEATHER
F 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
12246
A4987‑1 Spring 2019
Architectural Photography: From the Models to the Built World
Michael Vahrenwald
203 FAYERWEATHER
F 9 AM - 11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
17900
A6797‑1 Spring 2019
Mapping Borderlands
Nora Akawi, Naor Ben Yehoyada
300 AVERY
W 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
91848
A6814‑1 Spring 2019
New Towns to Smart Cities
David Smiley REQUIRED ALL GSAPP_ INTERDISCP
600 AVERY
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
Full SEMESTER
3 Points
78247
A6815‑1 Spring 2019
Out of Date: Expired Patents and Their Unrealized Histories
Anthony Acciavatti
200 BUELL
F 11 AM -1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
85799
A6826‑1 Spring 2019
African Cities
Mpho Matsipa
504 AVERY
TU + TH 11 AM - 1 PM
SESSION A
3 Points
63447
A4890‑1 Spring 2019
Conflict Urbanism: Puerto Rico Now
Laura Kurgan, Frances Negron-Muntaner All GSAPP interdisciplinary, GSAS
HAMILTON 420
F 1 PM - 3 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
79032
A4045‑1 Spring 2019
Questions in Urbanism
Vishaan Chakrabarti All GSAPP Interdisciplinary Workshop
115 Avery
F 10 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
17196
A4064‑1 Spring 2019
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
22596
A4892‑1 Spring 2019
Data Visualization for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
Jia Zhang All GSAPP interdisciplinary , GSAS
WARE
F 9 AM - 11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
88396
A4063‑1 Spring 2019
Points Unknown: Cartographic Narratives
Grga Basic, Michael Krisch All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
504 AVERY
F 11 AM -1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
86396
A4552‑1 Spring 2019
Dark Space: Architecture Representation & Black Identity
Mario Gooden All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
300 AVERY Hall
TU 11 AM-1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
27496
A4896‑1 Spring 2019
Who Let Them Build That? An Interdisciplinary Investigation of Six Places in New York
Justin Davidson ALL GSAPP_ INTERDISCP
409 AVERY
F 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
84284
A4898‑1 Spring 2019
(Re)Programming - Museums
David van der Leer ALL GSAPP_ INTERDISCP
505 AVERY
F 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
76047
A6787‑1 Spring 2019
Third Landscape: Urbanization in the Amazon
Anna Dietzsch All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
412 AVERY
F 11 AM- 1 PM
FULL SEMSTER
3 Points
91046
A4839‑1 Spring 2019
Aesthetics of Decay
412 AVERY
TU 4 PM - 6 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
16646
P4050‑1 Spring 2019
UP Elective Internship
Margaret Wiryaman
N/A
BY APPT
FULL SEMESTER
1.5 Points
66846
Pla4518‑1 Spring 2019
Urbanisms & Algorithms I
Luc Wilson
114 AVERY HALL
TU 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
77194
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