From Fall 2016 Course: Seeking Resilient Urbanism in South Florida

City Design and Development

The Joint Program in City Design and Development (CDD) is an academic and research program concerned with shaping and designing the built and natural environment of cities and suburban territories.

CDD is a collaboration of the MIT Departments of Urban Studies and Planning and Architecture, as well as the Center for Real Estate, the Center for Advanced Urbanism, and the Media Lab. As such, it joins key actors and disciplines that are shaping cities. Together, we seek to better understand the changing urban environment and to invent new architectural forms, public policies, development products, and technologies that will improve the quality of urban life.

The program is led by scholars and practitioners who are committed to interdisciplinary research as well as action in the field, developing new modes of professional intervention. Our extensive course offerings and projects allow advanced students to develop specialized skills, while enabling those new to the field to achieve professional competence in city design.

The program addresses both cities and urban regions. It examines ways that they have been designed, planned, and developed in the past, while proposing new visions for the future. It is also international in scope, with studios and research projects in the US and worldwide. In all of these venues the faculty brings a commitment to reflective practice, to involving those who will be affected by city design decisions, to sustaining the natural setting and local culture, and to promoting a long range perspective on the consequences of actions that shape the urban fabric.

Students in CDD come from many countries with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Some have prior professional degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning; others come from varied academic fields in the sciences and arts. Faculty advisors help students to tailor the program’s extensive subject offerings and research opportunities into individualized areas of study, supported by the unparalleled information and technology resources of MIT.


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Spring 2018 City Design & Development Forum


In recent years, the practice of city design and development has become an increasingly fractured and pluralized. The spatial practices that are traditionally ascribed to giving form to the city—those nominally of urban designers, city planners, architects, and real estate developers—have also been taken up by new entrants—startups, technology companies, among others. At the same time, the spatial practitioners have responded and adapted to the radical technological, social, and environmental changes by seizing opportunities and adopting new practices at the frontier of urbanism including, reciprocally, the development of new technologies and the creation of new mechanisms for participation. In this time of flux, what are the limits of disciplinary promiscuity, and what are the necessary models of collaboration, responsibility, and expertise? The 2018 City Design and Development Forum at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning aims to simultaneously focus on the outward gaze of architects, city planners, urban designers, real estate developers and policymakers—that expands the purview of urban design practice—and the inward view of new entrants that are challenging the traditional methods by which cities are shaped. This series seeks to stimulate debate by presenting viewpoints of those who are practicing on opposite sides of the periphery, and questions where the delineation between these practices exists.

20 February
WeWork: Workplace As a Service 
Organized by DesignX with the City Design & Development Forum Elizabeth Burow, Joshua Emig, Nicolas Rader 
at Long Lounge, 7-429
7 March
City Leaders as Disruptors: Finding Unexpected Allies and Getting Results 
City Design & Development Forum 
Trinity Simons, Mayors’ Institute for City Design
at Room 10-485 
21 March
Shaun Abrahamson
11 April
Gehl Institute
Tara Eisenberg
18 April
KPF Urban Design & Planning
Jeffrey Shumaker, Kohn Pedersen Fox 
at Room 10-485 




CDD is based in room 10-485 on the 4th floor under the great dome and accessible from 77 Mass Ave.

Brent D. Ryan

  • Head, City Design and Development Program
  • MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
  • Room 10-485
  • 77 Massachusetts Avenue
  • Cambridge, MA 02139
  • tel: (617) 253-6707
  • bdr@MIT.EDU

Jesse S Kaminsky

Studio: Emancipation Park Neighborhood: Strategies for Community-Led Regeneration in the Third Ward