History: Design for the Crowd
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Constructed Environments
Department: Constructed Environments
Course Number: PSCE 5064
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
In this elective, the Manhattan grid and Central Park within it have long been seen as quintessentially American urban forms, symbolic of all that the nation wanted to be and achieve as it emerged in the nineteenth century. The rectilinear grid – the power of an informing idea made physical – was dedicated to convenience of settlement and ease of development. The park was equally ambitious, a universal open space designed for the use of all citizens, preserving in some way contact with the agrarian pastoral ideal on which the nation was founded. However the public spaces of New York City are not static in their form, use or conceptualization. From the starting points of the grid and the park, New Yorkers have continued to remake their urban landscape, debating the correct design and use of public space into the present day. This elective seminar uses the 1811 grid as the basis for an investigation of changing and contested conceptions of public space in the history of New York City from the early-nineteenth-century until the present day. It addresses not only large-scale urban design projects, but also small-scale and tactical appropriations of urban space. Subjects of investigation will include streets, squares, parks, playgrounds, markets, skyscrapers, the waterfront, the subway, and also public housing. In addition to course reading and discussion, students will undertake a research project into one historical or contemporary public space in New York City.
Course Open to: Majors Only
Pre-requisite(s): None. Open to: All University Students.