Academics

Candidates of any degree offered by the Department may pursue their studies in the area of City Design and Development. Applications for the MCP and PhD degree programs are made to the Department. For information on admissions and financial aid and instructions on how to apply, please visit the Admissions page.

Introduction

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Cities are now transforming at a breathtaking speed. While Asia confronts rapid urbanization, some cities in Eastern Europe and the US are dispersing. New technologies are leading to different ways of understanding and organizing cities. But resources are dwindling. How do we design in this context?

New models of form, modes of intervention, and strategies are needed, but there is no consensus among theorists and practitioners about what these should be. For this reason, the Joint Program in City Design and Development takes a threepronged approach:

First, CDD provides a place for the exploration of ideas about the future city. It is a space of agendas, devoted not only to debate, but also to the development of alternative urban forms, techniques, policies, and codes. We research these alternatives by testing them in design. We therefore see design as central to the analysis of the city, and to understanding the consequences of more general agendas for urban change.

Second, CDD undertakes concrete projects in cities. Many of these projects build on our research, helping cities to cope with the changes confronting them. Members of the Joint Program have close ties to practice, as architects, landscape architects, planners, policy-makers, transportation engineers, and developers. This practical experience is in turn integrated into CDD’s propositional thinking.

Third, CDD grounds its work in history and theory. We study the historical traditions from which various contemporary propositions for the city have emerged. This is important not only to avoid past mistakes, but also to become conscious of the broader, age-old project of building the city that each of us has chosen to be a part of.

These characteristics distinguish the Joint Program in City Design and Development from planning institutions devoted predominantly to the analysis of the city, as well as from architectural schools occupied with the designed object in and of itself. By contrast, the purpose of CDD is to study, define and realize propositions about the city, consistent with MIT’s focus on innovation.

Since its founding by Kevin Lynch and others almost 50 years ago, CDD has provided critical paradigms about the city.