Louise Harpman

Associated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Associate Professor, NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Louise Harpman

Louise Harpman is the founder and principal of Louise Harpman__PROJECTS whose work includes architectural design, urban design, mapping, and research. She is the director of the zeroMicro™ applied research consortium, focusing on net zero energy buildings and micro-dwellings. Before founding PROJECTS, Louise was, for 20 years, a principal in the architecture and design firm Specht Harpman. Her firm’s website is http://www.louiseharpman.com.

Her teaching career begin in 1994 and she taught previously at the Yale School of Architecture, the University of Pennsylvania GSAAP, and the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, where she was Associate Dean. Her most recent book is Global Design (Prestel, 2013). 

Louise has always maintained a commitment to teaching as well as practice. She is an Associate Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and Sustainability at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and is a co-founder of Global Design NYU, which advances design innovation and environmentalism. She is an associated faculty member of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Department of Environmental Studies. She is an affiliated faculty member at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and a member of the faculty advisory board of the Marron Institute for Urban Management.

This course, titled “What the L?!” will engage the real-time urban design and transportation challenges connected to the closure of one of New York City’s subway lines. The L train operates between 8th Avenue (Manhattan) and Rockaway Parkway (Brooklyn) and currently serves over 300,000 riders each day. Beginning in April 2019, the tunnel between 8th Avenue and Bedford Avenue will be closed for reconstruction, causing significant transportation disruptions. Partial shutdowns along this inter-borough artery, in the form of suspended service during late nights and on weekends, have already begun to occur. 

The L train shutdown has been the subject of intensive study by the MTA and other agencies since saltwater from superstorm Sandy flooded the Canarsie Tunnel in 2012. In this urban design course, students will evaluate the system-wide studies performed by the MTA to mitigate delays, enhance existing travel options, and introduce alternative modes of transportation. Students will also analyze responses and critiques prepared by community boards, business associations, residents’ groups, academic research centers, and the popular press. Many professional and academic studies anticipate dramatic changes to transportation patterns throughout the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan during the L train shutdown. While most reports predict widespread inconvenience and problems for commuters, it is possible that “temporary” changes might also presage beneficial urban design opportunities for certain neighborhoods.

It is the goal of this urban topics course to engage as urban designers, spatial analysts, and advocates in this real-time urban design challenge. Students will be asked to focus on one or more areas of interest with the twin goals of identifying both expected and unanticipated challenges and opportunities.

1) buses, bus routes, traffic patterns, congestion 

2) bicycles, scooters, parking 

3) subways, distributed demand

4) pedestrians, grade crossings, disgorgement

5) ferries, ferry terminals

6) wayfinding, information interfaces

Course lectures and working sessions will include practitioners and researchers from these and other organizations: State of New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority; City of New York, Department of Transportation; TransitCenter; NYU Rudin Center for Transportation and Policy Management.

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This 7-week intensive, advanced urban design course will focus on a new housing typology—the multifamily, micro unit building—and its urban design implications. While the design of the micro units, the buildings in which they are located, and the construction technologies used to build them have generated a great deal of interest in the architecture and real estate communities, the urban designers have been largely silent. And yet, it is precisely because of certain negative effects on the urban realm that some cities, such as Seattle, have passed legislation (2014) limiting these types of new residential buildings and requiring more design reviews. This course will research, analyze, and make specific design recommendations for future developments of micro unit buildings with the explicit goal of enhancing the neighborhoods and cities where they are located.

Cities such as Boston, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, provide important case studies for this course, as each of these cities already has multiple, fully-occupied, micro unit buildings. New York City offers its own, more limited built examples—one is a new building, another is adaptive reuse. In New York, the architecture/development team for the new building required a mayoral override of existing zoning requirements to develop the city’s first micro unit building, Carmel Place, whose first residents occupied their apartments just last year, in 2016. The same year, the office sharing company, WeWork, launched its own version of micro dwelling units in lower Manhattan, called WeLive. Field trips to relevant building sites, combined with guest lectures with recognized experts in this emerging field, will supplement our course.

This new housing typology produces ripple effects throughout the urban realm, some of which are now just being seen. These new buildings or retrofits must engage, by necessity, the many systems that already structure urban life in New York City. But, at the same time, these new buildings can create opportunities by “connecting the dots” between seemingly separate systems. While traditional urban design might focus first on streets and buildings and the connective spaces between them, this class will also explore the design of urban systems. Whether we look at familiar systems, such as transportation, parking, minimum room sizes, and zoning, or other less, evident systems, such as water, electricity, waste, or telecommunications, the class will take as its challenge an understanding of all these systems as “urban design” that can be affected by strategic interventions. The aim of this advanced urban design course is to produce a set of new ideas, action items, physical improvements, and ultimately, design proposals.

Download Syllabus

This 7-week intensive, advanced urban design course will focus on a new housing typology—the multifamily, micro unit building—and its urban design implications. While the design of the micro units, the buildings in which they are located, and the construction technologies used to build them have generated a great deal of interest in the architecture and real estate communities, the urban designers have been largely silent. And yet, it is precisely because of certain negative effects on the urban realm that some cities, such as Seattle, have passed legislation (2014) limiting these types of new residential buildings and requiring more design reviews. This course will research, analyze, and make specific design recommendations for future developments of micro unit buildings with the explicit goal of enhancing the neighborhoods and cities where they are located.

Cities such as Boston, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, provide important case studies for this course, as each of these cities already has multiple, fully-occupied, micro unit buildings. New York City offers its own, more limited built examples—one is a new building, another is adaptive reuse. In New York, the architecture/development team for the new building required a mayoral override of existing zoning requirements to develop the city’s first micro unit building, Carmel Place, whose first residents occupied their apartments just last year, in 2016. The same year, the office sharing company, WeWork, launched its own version of micro dwelling units in lower Manhattan, called WeLive. Field trips to relevant building sites, combined with guest lectures with recognized experts in this emerging field, will supplement our course.

This new housing typology produces ripple effects throughout the urban realm, some of which are now just being seen. These new buildings or retrofits must engage, by necessity, the many systems that already structure urban life in New York City. But, at the same time, these new buildings can create opportunities by “connecting the dots” between seemingly separate systems. While traditional urban design might focus first on streets and buildings and the connective spaces between them, this class will also explore the design of urban systems. Whether we look at familiar systems, such as transportation, parking, minimum room sizes, and zoning, or other less, evident systems, such as water, electricity, waste, or telecommunications, the class will take as its challenge an understanding of all these systems as “urban design” that can be affected by strategic interventions. The aim of this advanced urban design course is to produce a set of new ideas, action items, physical improvements, and ultimately, design proposals.

Download Syllabus