Urban Design, Planning and Real Estate Development

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Urban Design, Planning and Real Estate Development

The vital role of designers in shaping the physical environment and its relationship to the natural world is at the core of the school’s pedagogy. Urban Design and Real Estate Development, and the nexus between them, form a critical field of inquiry supported by the School’s Center for Urban & Community Design and two distinct Master programs: the Master of Urban Design and the Master of Real Estate Development + Urbanism.

In 1989, the School initiated its first graduate program, a post-professional curriculum titled Master of Architecture in Suburb and Town Design (current Master of Urban Design). Program Director (and former Dean) Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, who founded the acclaimed and highly influential program, is recognized for her foundational role in the development of the New Urbanism as an alternative to urban and suburban sprawl. Subsequently, the School’s highly successful Master of Real Estate in Development + Urbanism program, an interdisciplinary initiative of the schools of Architecture, Business Administration, and Law, was developed by Associate Professor Charles Bohl in 2008 with the assistance of the Knight Foundation. The program blends the fundamentals of real estate development with livable community planning and design. More recently, Rodolphe el-Khoury, formerly the director of urban design at the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty, was appointed U-SoA Dean.

Ongoing Projects and Resources:

Center for Urban and Community Design. The CUCD was founded in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew with the mission of fostering a collaborative interdisciplinary approach that supports the buttressing, retro-fitting and creation of sustainable communities and buildings. The Center seeks to integrate research, teaching, and service, encouraging interdisciplinary thought and action in the areas of historic preservation, urban design & community engagement, and, sustainable & resilient design in the sub-tropics and tropics. The Center assists or leads faculty, alumni and students in funded research, publications, and community partnerships, workshops and charrettes.

Real Estate Impact Conference.

In concert with the UM School of Business, the School’s annual Real Estate Impact Conference assembles the biggest names and issues in real estate development to discuss the most relevant issues of the day.

Mapping Informal Cities Project.

Initiated in 2008 in coordination with UM’s Center for Computational Science, the on-going initiative has mapped informal cities around the world. In combination with drone mapping, students walk the streets, studying the slum’s building and construction patterns, peering into its simple wood and clay brick homes, observing neighborhood social interactions.

Open City Studios.

Now in its 28th year, the Open City Studio offers six week intensive study abroad experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students. Recent programs have focused on the study of Asian cities, with studios in Japan and China.

Smart Cities Program.

In partnership with the Center for Computational Science, U-SoA has initiated a research program exploring the transformative effect of information technology on the city. Current projects include the design of “Zenciti,” a smart city in Yucatan, and a ubiquitous sensing project deploying an array of multi-sensing devices in Miami Beach. The Smart Cities program was formally launched with the inaugural Annual Smart Cities Miami in 2017.

Third Place Project.

Funded by the Knight Foundation, U-SoA has launched Third Place Projects in two South Florida communities. Coined by Sociologist Ray Oldenberg to describe the important places in our lives other than home or work, the Third Place Project blends the School of Architecture’s expertise in architecture and placemaking, especially in the design and layout of incubator space and public markets with the School of Business Administration’s expertise in business startup training and entrepreneurship.

Master of Urban Design Sponsored Studios.

Design studios in the Master of Urban Design program engage communities in the study of improvements to the built environment. Recent studios have proposed scenarios for public space and for private development in Coral Gables, Charleston and Atlanta. These projects are guided by a variety of sponsors, including city governments, architecture and urban design firms, developers and non-profit organizations.

Annual Capstone Urban Workshop.

U-SoA students generate architectural and real estate analyses, develop design and development scenarios for each property, and presented strategies and proposals for the public realm in key urban areas.

Urban Prototyping.

Initiated in 2016, the School is developing associative project-based environments, including multi-scalar prototypes, that promote social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability of public spaces. Students work alongside faculty and multidisciplinary teams of fabrication, construction and placemaking specialists within local communities, production facilities and cultural institutions to execute projects. The objective is to creatively engage students in investigating how design, art and technology can serve as tools for civic participation.

Sicily Rebuilt.

In collaboration with the University of Palermo the U-SoA launched a yearly studio to document and retrofit seven towns in the Val di Noto region of Sicily. These towns which were totally rebuilt in the 17th century following destruction by successive earthquakes, and are examples of resilient building in a seismic region. Most recently, the studio has produced proposals for the town of Ragusa Ibla.

Rome Studio.

The documentation and analysis of Rome’s modern patrimony continues to grow, as publicized through several international exhibits and permanent displays. U-SoA’s work on modern Rome has been instrumental in the restoration of abandoned 20th century buildings such as the Casa della Gioventu Italiana del Littorio and the Casa delle Armi by Luigi Moretti. The drawings and models built in the School’s Rome seminar courses were used by the construction team on site while renovation was taking place.

Forma Urbis Romae.

An ongoing project uses archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani’s early 20th century map of Rome to investigate the repurposing of archaeological, historic and abandoned sites.