Planning Ideas that Matter

This experimental series of sessions brings together DUSP faculty and others to debate key issues in applied planning theory, while providing a parallel opportunity for incoming doctoral students to consider a range of ideas and perspectives that cover many aspects of planning and development. Sessions focus on questions of livability, territoriality, governance, and reflective practice. These four overarching ideas form the framework used in the required text, Planning Ideas That Matter, edited by Bishwapriya Sanyal, Lawrence J. Vale, and Christina D. Rosan (MIT Press, 2012). The intent of the debates is to identify some of the “planning ideas that matter” while opening up the question of just what a “planning idea” might actually entail. The debates and associated seminar cannot be either a full “history of planning theory” or, for that matter, a “theory of planning history,” but instead can provide windows into thinking about what such frameworks ought to include. We want to encourage participants to identify the “planning ideas” that matter most to them.

Coordinators: Prof. Larry Vale and Prof. Jinhua Zhao

Fall 2015

Wednesdays 12:30-2:00, MIT 9-450

September 10:  What is a “Planning Idea” and How Might it Matter?

  • Susan Fainstein and Scott Campbell, “Introduction: The Structure and Debates of Planning Theory,” in Readings in Planning Theory (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), pp. 1-20.
  • Bishwapriya Sanyal, Lawrence J. Vale, and Christina D. Rosan, “Four Planning Conversations,” in Sanyal, Vale, and Rosan, eds., Planning Ideas that Matter (2012), pp. 1-29.

September 16:  City Design: Are Planners Designers? Are Designers Planners?

Speakers: Brent Ryan; Eran Ben-Joseph; Susan Silberberg; Larry Susskind

Video of the debate; Transcription of the debate; Student Questions; Student Reflections

  • Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen, Martijn Duineveld, and Harro de Jong , “Co‐evolutions of Planning and Design,” In Susan Fainstein and James DeFillipis, eds., Readings in Planning Theory, 4th edition (Wiley: forthcoming, 2016), 51-74.
  • Kevin Lynch on “City Design: What It Is and How It Might Be Taught,” in Tridib Banerjee and Michael Southworth, eds., City Sense and City Design: Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990) and 652-659. 

September 30: Resilient Cities: Clarifying Concept or Catch-all Cliché?

Speakers: Larry Vale; Jim Wescoat; Justin Steil; Anne Spirn; Kian Goh, Northeastern

Video; Transcription; Questions; Reflections

  • Lawrence Vale, “Resilient Cities: Clarifying Concept or Catch-all Cliché?” The Cities Reader, 6th edition (forthcoming 2016).
  • Brendan Gleeson, Disasters, Vulnerability and Resilience of Cities.  In Susan Fainstein and James DeFillipis, eds., Readings in Planning Theory, 4th edition (Wiley: forthcoming, 2016), pp. 241-272.

October 14:  Good City Form: Can One Plan For Flux?

Speakers: Gary Hack, University of Pennsylvania and MIT;  Ann Forsyth, Harvard; Dennis Frenchman; Alan Berger 

Video; Transcription; Questions; Reflections

Reading:  Gary Hack on “Urban Flux” from Tridib Banerjee and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, eds. Companion to Urban Design  (Routledge, 2011), 446-462.

October 15: Guest:  Gary Hack, Reflection on October 14 Debate and Planning Education

  • Gary Hack, “Good City Form,” from Planning Ideas That Matter
  • Gary Hack, “Designing Cities and the Academy,” from Journal of the American Planning Association (2015).

October 28: Regional Planning: Can Climate Change Adaptation Revive It?

Speakers: Michael Teitz, UC Berkeley; Janelle Knox-Hayes; Balakrishnan Rajagopal; Amy Glasmeier

Video; Transcription; Questions; Reflections

October 29: Guest Michael Teitz, Reflection on Oct 28 Debate

Michael Teitz, “Regional Development Planning,” in Sanyal, Vale, and Rosan, eds., Planning Ideas that Matter, pp. 127-152.

November 18: Healthy Cities: Have Planners been Marginalized?

Speakers: Mariana Arcaya; Phil Thompson; Bish Sanyal

Video; Transcription; Questions; Reflections

December 2: Urban Information Systems: a Pathway to Social Inclusion?

Speakers: Carlo Ratti; Joe Ferreira; David Hsu; Sarah Williams; Chris Zegras; Jennifer Light

Video; Transcription; Questions; Reflections

December 10: What’s Missing from Planning Theory? 

Student Questions; Student Reflections Image via