Metropolitan Dynamics Studio

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This course will help you establish and continue to build a foundation of urban ecology knowledge as the basis for your design interventions in urban landscapes.  In this course, you will use urban ecology to help you:


  • envision metropolitan development and urban design across scales,
  • use your understanding of environmental function to contribute to spatial decisions,
  • use your understanding of cultural values and social norms to propose more sustainable landscape patterns,
  • think beyond distinct categories of natural and developed landscapes, private and public land, brownfields and greenfields, open space and developed land, high density and low density.


The course asks you to consider the possibilities for design intervention in an urban place dynamic in which the landscape is constantly and simultaneously changing at different scales that have different but related drivers. This urban place dynamic includes ecological, atmospheric, hydrological and geological factors; global trade and financial markets; water, waste, energy, communication, and transportation infrastructure maintenance and construction; fate and transport of pollutants and contaminants; economic use, design, development, occupancy and management, and abandonment of landscapes by different communities and for different purposes; and different aesthetic, spiritual, and cultural interpretations and interventions by people who “own” the place in different ways.  Among these drivers is design – not only as an intervention in this dynamic - but also as an imaginative proposal that inherently opens possibilities for future landscapes. 


Third year MLA students in this course will work with student colleagues in complementary disciplines to use urban ecology as a basis for analysis and to conceive design interventions in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit, MI, USA.  In the next module of this course, in Winter 2017, individual MLA students will build on insights developed in this course to propose their own, individual design proposals for a green zone in the Warrendale neighborhood.


Together, we will use our textbook, Urban Ecology (Forman , 2014) as a shared foundation for insight into urban environmental processes that be a platform for landscape analysis, design development and critique.

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Terms Offered

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Students enroll in EAS 787 in Fall B and Winter A.