Urbanism—which captures the way in which urban inhabitants interact with their surrounding built environment—is perpetually evolving. Boston features examples of the many iterations of urbanism—the traditional urbanism of the compact, walkable South End, the large-scale urban sites of the 1960s such as Government Center, and the contemporary and more reparative urbanism of the greenway at the central artery. However, the built environment is not recreated with each trend. Rather, each iteration layers upon the last, creating a unique urban environment—an amalgamation of both the present and past realities.
This term, Sasaki urban designer Stephen Gray will be teaching a studio on urbanism at Northeastern, examining how infrastructure, landscape, and architecture intertwine to construct urbanism. In particular, the studio will serve as a critique of 1960s urbanism and how these sites and landscapes can host—and even facilitate—future transformations. Students will closely examine Assembly Square in Somerville, which was originally the site of a Ford Motor assembly plant and has since become home to several big box retailers. The area has been identified for major redevelopment with an emphasis on mixed uses and transit, including a new MBTA Orange Line station. Students will formulate specific design solutions that acknowledge the 1960s urbanism context of the site while meeting the needs and expectations of contemporary urbanites.