Spring 2014

Semester Start Date: 
Monday, January 27, 2014

Playing in Place: What Planners can Learn from Play

Gary Chan's (MCP '14) thesis examines play in the context of planning and place, arguing for play as a component of public participation practice. Public participation, though an integral part of Western contemporary planning practice, is largely viewed as lacking by academics, planning practitioners, and the public at large.

New Urban Manufacturing: Neo-Industrial Design in Louisville, Kentucky

Christopher Rhie's (MCP/MSRED '14) thesis found that American manufacturing is experiencing a modest renaissance. U.S. firms are choosing to re-shore manufacturing jobs not out of their sense of patriotism, but because it makes good business sense. The costs of transportation and overseas labor are increasing, opening the door for domestic production. Political leaders are embracing the prospects for skilled, living wage jobs: President Obama has made manufacturing one of the central tenets of his economic recovery plan.

New SPURS Newsletter

DUSP's Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) has issued the 2014 edition of their group newsletter, including updates from the Director, coverage of the Abdulaziz Alkhedheiri Leadership Seminar and SPURS's collaboration with Roxbury Community College, an artlcle on Mobility Management in China, and more.  Click the link in the sidebar to download.

Planning for Simultaneous Transience and Stability: Neighborhood Transformations in Nabaa, Beirut

Nabaa is one of the most marginalized neighborhoods of Beirut; it is abandoned by the public authorities and therefore lacks basic service provision. Due to its own history and to larger sociopolitical events impacting it, Nabaa has become home to a nationally, ethnically and religiously mixed population. The purpose of Tania El Alam's (MCP'14) thesis is to conceptualize urban planning in the context of population transience. It uncovers how communities negotiate their differences and diversities in their everyday life.

Chinese Gated Community: degree of openness and the social impacts

Rong Chen's (MCP '14) thesis looks at the rise of contemporary gated communities in China- only gaining prominence over the past two decades, since the Housing Reform and market economy. Research on this field mainly criticizes Chinese gated community on their negative social impacts by directly borrowing arguments from the studies of Western gated communities, especially from the US counterparts. However, the socioeconomic connotation attached to gated communities in the US is not necessarily applicable to gating in the Chinese cases.

Boston’s Urban Wilds: The Persistence of an Idea Over Time

Many city natural areas programs are constricted due to limited resources for the acquisition and management of land. Boston’s urban wilds offer an alternative model for the protection of urban open space that focuses on decentralized advocacy and activism rather than on a centralized city program. Caroline Bird's (MCP '14) thesis analyzed the forty-year history of the urban wilds, investigating how the idea first captured people’s attention and how advocates have kept it relevant over time in the face of political, economic, and social changes.

Designing Indian Streets as Social Public Spaces - Contextual design and planning in Bangalore

Sneha Mandhan's (MCP '14) thesis explored how streets in India have traditionally been the public spaces around which social life has revolved. They constitute the urban public realm where people congregate, celebrate and interact. The hypothesis that forms the basis of this thesis is that there is a need to understand and design these urban streets as living corridors through which one perceives and understands the city, and the places where one has daily social encounters.

A Planning Paradigm for Electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Tanzania

Sarah Dimson (MCP '14) investigated electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a lack of clean electricity generation sources, poor electricity access and low levels of electricity consumption are profoundly stifling sustainable development.  This thesis presents a specialized investigation, in context of Tanzania, of the primary paradigmatic approaches to electrification – centralized, large-scale grid systems conceived through least-cost-planning; and decentralized, small-scale off-grid systems administered through entrepreneurial pilots.

Redefining the Typology of Land Use In the Age of Big Data

Liqun Chen (MCP '14) thesis concludes that land use classification is important as a standard for land use description and management.  However, current land use classification systems are problematic. Labels such as “residential use” and “commercial use” do not fully reveal how the land use is used in terms of function, mix use and changes over time. As a result, land use planning is often a natural prompt of segregation; Land use is poorly connected with other fields of urban studies such as transportation and energy consumption.

In the News: IKEA to Use MIT Living Wage Calculator

Data from the MIT "Living Wage Calculator" show the gap between the cost of living modestly in the US and the minimum and poverty wage rates. Amy Glasmeier, professor of economic geography and regional planning, began developing the calculator a decade ago while studying the causes of recurrent poverty. Besides contributing data to discussions on raising the minimum wage, the tool and Glasmeier’s comments in Slice of MIT illustrate why higher wages help everybody.