NYC: Form and Fantasy
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Art and Design History and Theory
Department: Art and Design History
Course Number: PLSD 1050
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Architectural History, Theory & Criticism
For two centuries the city of New York has been the object of urban thinkers’ fantasies. Architects and planners in the 19th and 20th centuries imagined idealistic and dystopian schemes for the great city, including roadways stacked five or ten stories high, aerial avenues of commuter airplanes, or uncontrolled speculative skyscrapers turning the island into a grid of canyons. But the island’s realized dreams were often even more audacious; among the grandest of these was the 1811 legislation of the city’s street grid at a moment when most of the island was hilly forest and farmland. No less timid are a town made from towers (Rockefeller Center), a neighborhood where the Hudson recently flowed (Battery Park City), and an 800-acre populist artificial garden made from the most valuable land in the world (Central Park). This course will use these audacious imaginings as a scaffold from which to examine—at an introductory level—not only the city itself but also the practices and discourses of architecture and urbanism. Multiple field visits will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions in our study of the forms and fantasies that comprise New York City.
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: University undergraduate degree students, freshmen and sophomores only.


Open to Undergraduate students.