This course, "City Streets and Urban Landscapes," will immerse students in a study of established and emerging urban design priorities for city streets. Streets and sidewalks operate as the most public of our city’s public spaces, at once forming connective tissue between different locations while also creating borders and boundaries. Using New York City’s streets as a living laboratory, students will develop methods to evaluate the many different publics served by city streets with the goal of producing design proposals that promote livability, ecological resilience, and social justice.
Streetscapes are among the most territorialized urban spaces, as multiple city and state agencies exercise jurisdiction over their design and approved uses. Still, within these regulatory frameworks, a high degree of design innovation has taken hold. Streets are dynamic networks that embed design as well as social, political, ecological and technological priorities. The archaeological record indicates that roads were originally developed to support wheeled surface transportation. Contemporary streets remain dedicated to transportation, to be sure, but the streetscape also engages most every other essential system that allows for dense, urban human habitation, including the provision of power, fresh water, waste water, trash collection, telecommunications, and emergency services. Streets also support the habitats of many non-human occupants such as plants and animals and a focus on ecological, climate-conscious design is an additional priority for this course. Extreme weather events highlight the streets’ role in stormwater management, further underscoring the urgency for redesigned streetscapes.