This is an archived course. A more recent version may be available at

11.302J / 4.235J Urban Design Politics

As taught in: Spring 2003

Photograph of protesters in Argentina.

Protesters in Argentina. Photo by illuminaut on Flickr (BY-NC).




Prof. Lawrence Vale

Course Description

This is a seminar about the ways that urban design contributes to the distribution of political power and resources in cities. "Design," in this view, is not some value-neutral aesthetic applied to efforts at urban development but is, instead, an integral part of the motives driving that development. The class investigates the nature of the relations between built form and political purposes through close examination of a wide variety of situations where public and private sector design commissions and planning processes have been clearly motivated by political pressures, as well as situations where the political assumptions have remained more tacit. We will explore cases from both developed and developing countries.