URP 566– Urban Design 2

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Course Details

Course No.: 21620

Department: Urban and Regional Planning

Semester: 2015 Spring

Location: Hayes B – 07

Meeting Day(s): Wednesday

Meeting Time: 8:30AM - 11:10AM

Faculty: Hata

By the end of the nation-wide frenzy interstate highways construction boom of 50s and 60s, every city across the US had them everywhere, typically along the waterfront and through the inner cities where the most disadvantages were unable to leave. Beginning the late 20th century, the tide has shifted to question the needs and wisdom of these highways slashing through the cities where land use and historic values were highest. Starting in Portland, OR followed by a dozen of cities across the nation, they decided to dismantle some of these highways to reclaim their precious waterfronts and in some cases from inner cities. In Buffalo, the I-190 still occupies the large portion of its waterfront obscuring and cutting off the public access to our waterfront. Route 33, Kensington Expressway not only destroyed an important arm of the Olmsted Parkway system but severed the East Side community in half. These are only a few of much larger issues in this region and others to be addressed in the 21st century.
The spring graduate seminar in Theories of Settlement Patterns will investigate Buffalo’s major highway systems and their ROWs in relation to the metro region and its major nodes of population, employment and education as well as the waterfront. We will map out these highways including their early programs, scope of work, budgets/funding sources, engineering, route selection, timeline, and public process involved in the construction of major highways. The purpose of the seminar is to challenge if these highways planned and operated in a silo without looking at the system as a whole. Yet another challenge is to take a good look at all modes of transportation balancing the positive and negative impact from a multiple perspectives — not just moving vehicles as quickly as possible from point A to B.
With these perspectives in mind, the seminar will address:
 consideration for changing the current way of sprawling to live within and closer to the city and maximizing public transportation needs thus reducing dependency on highway use;
 consideration for ecological and aesthetic values of land dedicated to the highways;
 consideration for downgrading these highways to become more a part of city road systems organically; and
 consideration for creating a set of plausible visions for reclaiming or retrofitting some of these conduits for broader public benefits and the more sustainable future.
The seminar will be organized as a research mode of learning for MARC/MUP students – perhaps, MENG students. Students will have the chance to invite stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to learn about their views on the future of the regional highway system.
The semester will be sequentially organized: introduction, precedents, site survey/historic documents – hard and soft analysis; visual studies, speculative projects, reviews and public presentations and forums with stakeholders. Students will complete weekly readings, participate in class seminars, write essays, complete team assignments and deliver final project at the end of the semester