Parsons the New School for Design
School of Constructed Environments
Master of Architecture Program
Theory of Urban Form
PGAR 5513 B Fall 2012
Friday, 12:00-2:40, 25 East 13th St., Room 206
Brian McGrath, Associate Professor of Urban Design
Theory of Urban Form examines the various ways architects have theorized their role in relation to the design of cities over the past four decades. The period of time covered, from the 1970’s to the present, comprises an era of radical transformation in architecture, urban form and daily life. It comprises the emergence of digital technologies, the end of the Cold War, neo-liberal globalization, and its recent collapse.
Additionally we have seen an awakening of environmental consciousness as well as the emergence of a multiplicity of diverse urban subjectivities around civil rights struggles around race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. While we will focus on the last forty years, contemporary theories will be examined in relation to intellectual genealogies and historical examples and practices reaching deeper into the past. A key theme will be examining the tension between how the city is made through collective architectural expression, and how individual buildings are informed by the architecture of the city itself. Therefore, transitions in urban form will be examined through the change in discourse both in written architectural theories and explored in representations. Urban form beyond its abstraction is a material construction establishing a specific metabolism of the city based on social, food, energy and water systems, and ultimately changes the role of the architect in shaping urban form.