Maria Elosua
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

Maria Elosua is an urban designer, architect and planner with over 20 years of wide-ranging experience.  Her professional training and experience have included work in both Mexico and the USA.  Ms. Elosua was a Graduate Studio Workshop Instructor at the City Planning Department, School of Fine Arts for University of Pennsylvania. She has worked on diverse projects, from regional planning to specific urban revitalization plans.  As the City Planner of the county of San Pedro Garza Garcia, Ms. Elosua developed more than 50 projects for the county. Additionally, over the past five years, she has worked in various planning projects in Monterrey Mexico, including a masterplan for the International Airport Mariano Escobedo and its surroundings, a conceptual plan for the PIIT (Technological Innovation and Research Park of the State of Nuevo Leon) and several mixed used developments for the private sector. Ms. Elosua has a Masters of City Planning from MIT and also a Master of Science in Architecture from MIT as well.

Semester Course
Spring 2014 URPL-GP.4670.001 Urban Innovations in Latin America

It is easy to assume that innovations in Urban Planning can only happen in a developed country and that developing countries could not possibly achieve it due to lack of resources or lack of capacity to implement policies. But over the last two decades, some Latin American cities have proved this assumption wrong; its leaders have implemented a series of innovative policies and transformed their cities and the quality of life of its citizens.

Since the 1980s, several Latin American countries rolled out policies on the national level that focused on democratization, transparency, security, and decentralization. City government leaders took a new approach to urban challenges. With teams headed by charismatic mayors that did not fit the typical of politicians, city government tackled the corruption and clientelism so common in their cities. The strategies they adopted focused on improving mobility for all, creating educational facilities, recuperating and improving public spaces, and designing better homes for the poor. 

In this class, we will study Latin American cities that exemplified these innovative policies. We will look at: the Brazilian city of Curitiba, which developed an ingenious bus system (bus rapid transit or BRT) expanded its system of natural preserves, and implemented interesting policies of recycling; Bogotá, Colombia, which created a civic culture, recuperated public spaces, and reduced the use of the auto by implementing a BRT and a large net of bicycle paths; Medellin, Colombia, where the leadership focused on the education of the poor, and built and revitalized a series of high quality libraries, schools, and training centers in the poorest neighborhoods; Santiago, Chile with an interesting case of social housing build through a process of public participation of its final users; and finally, Mexico City, which built on federal budgeting reforms to increase social housing for low-income residents. 

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