Urbanism and Landscape

Alan J. Plattus and Elihu Rubin, Study Area Coordinators

In this study area, a broad range of courses explore the aesthetic, economic, social, and political influences on the spatial form of urban places and the urban, suburban, and rural landscapes that form our designed environment.

For the M.Arch. I program, required courses in this study area include an introduction to urban design (ARCH 4011) and the satisfactory completion of one of the elective seminar courses from this study area. 

Required Course

ARCH 4011a, Introduction to Urban DesignStaff

(Required of first-year M.Arch. I students.) This course is an introduction to the history, analysis, and design of the urban landscape presented with weekly lectures and discussion sections. Emphasis is placed on understanding the principles, processes, and contemporary theories of urban design, and the relations between individual buildings, groups of buildings, and the larger physical and cultural contexts in which they are created and with which they interact. Case studies are drawn from cities around the world and throughout history and focus on the role of public space and public art in shaping the form, use, and identity of cities and regions.  0 Course cr

Elective Courses

ARCH 4210a, Design BrigadeElihu Rubin and Dana Karwas

3 Course cr
W 2pm-3:50pm

[ ARCH 4216, Globalization Space ]

This lecture course researches global infrastructure space as a medium of polity. More than networks of pipes and wires under the ground, this infrastructure space is a visible, enveloping urban medium filled with repeatable spatial formulas and spatial products. Lectures visit the networks of trade, communication, tourism, labor, air, rail, highway, oil, hydrology, finance, standard making, and activism. Case studies travel around the world to, for instance, free trade zones in Dubai, IT campuses in South Asia, high-speed rail in Saudi Arabia, cable/satellite networks in Africa, highways in India, a resort in the DPRK, golf courses in China, ISO standards, and automated ports. More than a survey of physical networks and shared protocols, the course also repositions spatial variables in global governance. Infrastructure space may constitute a de facto parliament of decision-making—an intensely spatial extrastatecraft that often spins around irrational desires. Each week, readings, with both evidence and discursive commentary, accompany two lectures and a discussion section.  3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4220, Port Cities ]

Historically, port cities around the world have played a crucial role as the nodes of connection and exchange for both local and vast global networks of production, trade, culture, and power. Since the industrial revolution, rapid development of new technologies of transport and communication has challenged the planners and developers of these cities to both adapt and innovate, creating new and hybrid spatial typologies and transforming vast areas of urbanized waterfront and rural hinterland. And now, climate change and its impact on coastal and riparian geographies add an additional layer of complexity and challenge. This seminar considers the changing and persistent patterns, functions, and images of port cities, particularly in the context of their regional and global networks, researching, analyzing, and mapping the architectural and spatial manifestations of those systems. Limited enrollment.  3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4221, Introduction to Commercial Real Estate ]

This seminar introduces commercial real estate. It does not require any prior knowledge of finance, accounting, or taxation policies. Commercial real estate is income-producing property that is built, financed, and sold for investment. This course examines five basic types of commercial real estate (office, industrial, retail, multifamily, and hotel) from the standpoints of the developer, lender, and investor. Principles of location, financing, timing of market cycles, leasing, ownership structure, and external factors are explored. Students are expected to evaluate assets, partnership interests, and other positions such as debtor interests through valuation measurement, which requires the use of some simple mathematics. An HP-12C calculator or laptop computer with Excel for use in class is required. Students also examine commercial deeds, leases, partnership agreements, and other legal documents. Each student selects a building or development site within New Haven County for a due diligence analysis of zoning, real estate taxes, deeds, liens, market supply and demand, projected income and expenses, and availability of debt. In addition to out-of-class assignments, a brief exercise is included during each class. Limited enrollment.  3 Course cr

ARCH 4222a, History of Western European Landscape ArchitectureWarren Fuermann

This course presents an introductory survey of the history of gardens and the interrelationship of architecture and landscape architecture in Western Europe from antiquity to 1700, focusing primarily on Italy. The course examines chronologically the evolution of several key elements in landscape design: architectural and garden typologies; the boundaries between inside and outside; issues of topography and geography; various uses of water; organization of plant materials; and matters of garden decoration, including sculptural tropes. Specific gardens or representations of landscape in each of the four periods under discussion—Ancient Roman, medieval, early and late Renaissance, and Baroque—are examined and situated within their own cultural context. Throughout the seminar, comparisons of historical material with contemporary landscape design are emphasized. Limited enrollment.  3 Course cr
F 11am-12:50pm

[ ARCH 4223, Introduction to British Landscape and Architectural History: 1500 to 1900 ]

This seminar examines chronologically the history of landscape architecture and country-house architecture in Britain from 1500 to 1900. Topics of discussion include the history of the castle in British architecture and landscape architecture; Italian and French influences on the seventeenth-century British garden; military landscaping; the Palladian country house and British agricultural landscape; Capability Brown’s landscape parks; theories of the picturesque and of the landscape sublime; Romanticism and the psychology of nature; the creation of the public park system; arts and crafts landscape design; and the beginnings of landscape modernism. Comparisons of historical material with contemporary landscape design, where appropriate, are made throughout the term. The collection of the Yale Center for British Art is used for primary visual material, and a trip to England over spring break, partially funded by the School, allows students to visit firsthand the landscape parks studied in this seminar. Limited enrollment.  3 Course cr

ARCH 4247a, Difference and the CityJustin Moore

Four hundred and odd years after colonialism and racial capitalism brought twenty and odd people from Africa to the dispossessed indigenous land that would become the United States, the structures and systems that generate inequality and white supremacy persist. Our cities and their socioeconomic and built environments continue to exemplify difference. From housing and health to mobility and monuments, cities small and large, north and south, continue to demonstrate intractable disparities. The disparate impacts made apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic and the reinvigorated and global Black Lives Matter movement demanding change are remarkable. Change, of course, is another essential indicator of difference in urban environments, exemplified by the phenomena of disinvestment or gentrification. This course explores how issues like climate change and growing income inequality intersect with politics, culture, gender equality, immigration and migration, technology, and other considerations and forms of disruption.  3 Course cr
T 11am-1pm

[ ARCH 4253, Labs and Landscapes of the Green Revolution ]

In 1968, the director of the US Agency for International Development, William Gaud, christened the decades-long experiments with agriculture and technology as the "green revolution." Juxtaposing it with the Red Revolution of the USSR and the White Revolution of the Shah of Iran, record harvests during the Cold War made the Green Revolution as much about food and hunger as it did geopolitics and diplomacy. This seminar explores the origins and development of the Green Revolution through its principal sites of experimentation: laboratories and landscapes. Whether hailed by some as a major turning point in the history of combatting hunger and food insecurity or castigated by others for perpetuating colonial and imperial asymmetries of power and environmental degradation, the legacies of the Green Revolution endure to this day. We attend to the global legacies of this color-coded revolution and how it reshaped the contours of the land, food distribution networks, settlement patterns, and cultures of eating and cooking, as well as reconfigured the habits and habitats of the human subject. Along with weekly readings and assignments that involve eating and cooking, we travel to one of the major laboratories and landscapes of the Green Revolution: India.  3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4254, The Environmental Project: Research, Methods & Discourse ]

Over the next decade, cities and human settlements will remain a critical lever for addressing the climate crisis and ecological collapse. Contemporary urbanization differs from historical patterns of urban growth in its scale and rate of global change, touching on such dimensions as food and agriculture, land use, biodiversity, water, energy, governance, and more. Large-scale urban expansion of new and growing cities as well as continued development of established cities present opportunities for a new conceptualization of the built environment in the context of sustainability. As cities dominate the globe, the intersection between architecture and environmental action must be redefined. This course is designed for students who seek new terrain for architectural thought within the context of evolving environmental challenges. The course is run as a colloquium and workshop. Invited guests forging new work in the built environment will share not only their current research and practice but also their methods of work. Student-moderated discussions with our guests will present the opportunity for students to build the skills to critically position themselves within the discourse of urbanization, architecture, and environmental action. Concurrently, students will workshop individual or group projects operating at the intersection of the built and natural environments resulting in a project proposal of each student’s choosing. In the short-term, students will build research skills and cultivate critical thinking. In the long-term, students will build the foundations for their future professional / academic trajectory by forging new methods of practice or research in urbanization and architecture. Students from all programs are encouraged to enroll and no design work is required. Projects can be historical, analytical, speculative, policy-oriented, etc. The only requirements is for the proposed project to interrogate the intersection between the built and natural environments and open new avenues for cross-disciplinary work about built form as a critical lever for global sustainability.  3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4255, londonCALLING: London ]

3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4256, ‘Housing’ The Constitutional Right: Mexico ]

3 Course cr

ARCH 4293a, Housing Connecticut: Developing Healthy and Sustainable NeighborhoodsAndrei Harwell, Alan Plattus, and Anika Singh Lemar

In this inaugural interdisciplinary clinic taught between the School of Architecture, School of Law, and School of Management, and organized by the Yale Urban Design Workshop, students will gain hands-on, practical experience in architectural and urban design, development and social entrepreneurship while contributing novel solutions to the housing affordability crisis. Working in teams directly with local community-based non-profits, students will co-create detailed development proposals anchored by affordable housing, but which also engage with a range of community development issues including environmental justice, sustainability, resilience, social equity, identity, food scarcity, mobility, and health. Through seminars and workshops with Yale faculty and guest practitioners in the field, students will be introduced to the history, theory, issues, and contemporary practices in this field, and will get direct feedback on their work. Offered in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) as part of the Connecticut Plan for Healthy Cities, proposals will have the opportunity to receive funding from the State both towards the implementation of rapidly deployed pilot projects during the course period, as well as towards predevelopment activities for larger projects, such as housing rehabilitation or new building construction. Students will interact with the Connecticut Commissioner of Housing and the Connecticut Green Bank.  3 Course cr
F 9:30am-12:30pm

ARCH 4294a, Reckoning Environmental UncertaintyAnthony Acciavatti

This seminar will focus on a series of historical episodes since 1200 C.E. that present different approaches to reckoning environmental uncertainty to develop specific social and spatial configurations. Topics range from anthropogenic forests in southern China to seafaring across the Pacific Ocean and from patchworks of agriculture and urban centers throughout the Gangetic plains to the proliferation of observatories across the globe to monitor weather patterns. What ties these diverse places and histories together is but one goal: to understand how strategies for claiming knowledge are entangled with environmental uncertainty. The aim of this course will be to assemble, and consider spatially, a variety of approaches to how people have come to know the world around them and what they have done to account for change.  3 Course cr
W 4pm-5:50pm

ARCH 4296a, Introduction to Planning and DevelopmentJoseph Rose and Eric Kober

3 Course cr
T 11am-12:50pm

[ ARCH 4297, Historic Preservation in the 21st Century ]

This seminar explores the evolution of historic preservation from a narrow focus on monumental properties to its broader, more complex, and more inclusive current purview. The course begins by learning about the history of the field of preservation through the understanding of its theoretical roots, definitions, professional practice, and the basics of material conservation. This introduction serves as a preamble to the second part of the course which focuses on the expanding role and potential future of historic preservation as it aligns its objectives with the principles of sustainability, social inclusion, and decolonization. At the end of this seminar, the students should have a working understanding of the theory and practice of historic preservation, the wide array of its concerns and sub-specialties, and its potential as an agent for sustainable development and social inclusion; the basic concepts of material conservation and documentation of existing conditions; and the challenges and opportunities presented by a preservation project in an underserved community.  3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4298, Agroecological Urban Constellations ]

3 Course cr

[ ARCH 4299, Independent Course Work ]

Program to be determined with a faculty adviser of the student’s choice and submitted, with the endorsement of the study area coordinator, to the Rules Committee for confirmation of the student’s eligibility under the rules. (See the School’s Academic Rules and Regulations. Available for credit to fulfill the M.Arch. I Urbanism and Landscape elective requirement with the approval of the study area coordinators.)  3 Course cr

Electives outside of School of Architecture

Courses offered elsewhere in the University may be taken for credit with permission of the instructor. Unless otherwise indicated, at the School of Architecture full-term courses are typically assigned 3 credits; half-term courses are assigned 1.5 credits. Students must have the permission of the Urbanism and Landscape Study Area coordinators in order for a course to count as an urbanism elective.