Facultry: Patty Heyda and Carolyn Gaidis
This studio addresses the complexity of urbanized landscapes as interconnected ecological systems characterized by a diversity of physical conditions. Along any given metropolitan transect, a spectrum of typologically distinct urbanisms exists where natural systems, infrastructures, open spaces, and buildings and blocks vary in their formal organizational logics and in the ways they articulate and interact with each other and with other flows.
In order to develop skills and techniques in urban design, students must develop an understanding of the complexity of these environments at nested ecological scales, and through expanded perspectives from architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, development, sociology, and environmental sciences. These (once separate) professions cross-matriculate on all levels throughout this studio, given our current and evolving methodologies for re-thinking "sustainability" through design. This studio provides the foundational concepts and skills for students to engage the diverse conditions of the contemporary city formally while negotiating criteria of design quality, sustainability, and human use patterns, with in-depth knowledge of the systemic and inter-scalar relationships characterizing the metropolitan landscape.
Students work briefly in group formats for research and analysis, and then individually for design development over the course of the semester, rotating between three distinct sites along the St. Louis metropolitan transect. Analysis and design work reflect the intensive range of scales in view at all times: the regional to local to block and building scales. The final project id an urban design proposal for one of the three sites that reflects students' understanding of—and a clear position towards—the site and its ecological, spatial, and programmatic identities and needs. Students are introduced to ArcView/GIS; additional readings and technical workshops also supplement the studio.