Elective: Case studies






Summer 2020

Case studies in urban design

Neal LaMontagne

Urbanism and urban design is best experienced in situ - and the objective of this course is to explore and examine how ideas and issues in urban design play out on the ground in selected places throughout the Metro Vancouver region. Each week, we will visit a different location, meet with a local expert, walk around, take notes, measure, consider, debate, and unpack the myriad complexities of, and the role of design in, how places and urban environments are shaped and evolve. 

Through this course, we will collectively explore, through ‘feet on the ground’ engagement with real places, questions of what makes a ‘good’ place, how do we assess and measure urban design quality, and how places come to be - through an ongoing and dynamic intermingling of decisions, inheritances, negotiations, and resources. Guest speakers will provide essential context and insight into some of the decisions and trade-offs involved in shaping places from an urban design perspectives, as well as successes, failures, and lessons learned. Above all, however, this course is intended to be interactive with students participating by being prepared, asking thoughtful questions, contributing their own perspective, and reflecting on each week’s readings and tour. 

Throughout the course we will take a broad and inclusive perspective of what constitutes urban design (intentional actions to shape the built environment) and what makes a ‘good’ place (exploring questions of aesthetic pleasure, fit, vitality, sustainability, adaptability, complexity, inclusivity, and livability, for example). We will also use the real world case studies to ground larger debates and critical thinking in urban design.