Course Syllabus

A4027 APP: Architecture, Planning, and Preservation: New York

Carol Willis and Rosalie Genevro and

FALL 2018

Thursdays 9:00 am - 12:00 pm BUELL 300N

APP FALL 18 syllabus.8.20.18 (1).docx

Architecture, Planning, and Preservation: New York (APP), a core course for the New York session of The Shape of Two Cities program, is designed to develop students’ capacities as urbanists who can read, analyze and interpret the form of the city and the interplay of economic, regulatory, and design forces that create and continuously act on it. The course looks at the roles of architects, planners and preservationists in shaping cities, and introduces students to professional and theoretical issues in the three disciplines. The lectures and readings focus on history, theory, and public policy. Field trips to professional offices, public hearings, and development projects and guest lecturers expose students to the dynamics of design, planning, and policy decisions.


We will pursue a close reading of classic urbanist texts – Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch, and William H. Whyte – which we will study for both their evergreen empirical approaches, as well as in their historical contexts. We will also read more recent works, including texts by Edward Glaeser and Vishaan Chakrabarti, among others. Our field trips, guest speakers, and class discussions will highlight the contrasts and tensions between large-scale, long-term planning and the concerns of and pressures on specific communities and economic sectors. 


This year’s APP will apply its general overview and critical analysis to a focus on the Garment District as a case study in the evolving history of manufacturing in the city, and the consistent pressure in contemporary New York City for new residential, hotel, and office development.


Field trips will include visits to architects’ offices and development firms; walking tours of significant sites; observation of the proceedings of government agencies; and visits to “third sector” organizations (non-profit groups such as think tanks, civic, professional, and cultural organizations) that influence the development of the city.

Group projects and individual research papers will prepare students for an informed classroom debate near the end of the semester.


Requirements and criteria for grading:


Lively class participation                                                              15%

Reading comments/Short papers                                                     25%

Term project: oral debate                                                              30%

Final paper to be explained in class                                                30%

The following books have been ordered at Book Culture on Broadway:

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage (1961).

Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City, MIT (1960).

William H. Whyte, City: Rediscovering the Center, U Penn Press (1988; 2009).


We recommend that you also purchase or read in the Avery Library reserve:

Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City, Penguin (2011).

Vishaan Chakrabarti, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America, Metropolis Books (2013).


Additional readings will be assigned over the course of the semester.


Important Course Policies

Class attendance – you must attend each and every class meeting. Please be on time. Three unexcused absences will threaten failure for the semester.

Lectures and reading assignments: See the dates below, but note that speakers on listed dates may change.


Sept. 6.  Field trip: Walking tour of Lower Manhattan, including Wall Street, the World Trade Center site, Battery Park City, and The Skyscraper Museum. (If you are late, or otherwise lose the group, you can find us at The Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Pl. in Battery Park City after 10:30.)

Meet at 9:30 am on the steps of Federal Hall National Memorial, at the northeast corner of Wall and Nassau streets (

Directions by subway: 1 to Rector St. or 2, 3 & 4, 5 subway to Wall Street

Readings:           (For class September 13 and September 27)

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage (1961). Discussion will focus on the introduction and chapter 11, “The Need for Concentration,” but the entire book is highly recommended.

Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City, MIT, (1960).
(Much of this book can, in fact, be read on line on Google Books (with some missing pages), but that would be far inferior to holding the book in your hand to read it.  Likewise for Jane Jacobs. ) 

Coursebooks are available at Book Culture, 536 West 112th Street

Assignment:        Following our class tour of Battery Park City, describe our walk through the World Trade Center and Battery Park City in Lynchian terms. Please illustrate this with photos or sketches. DUE at class meeting September 20.


Sept. 13. Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

Introduction to the issues and requirements of the course.

Kevin Lynch, Jane Jacobs, and William H. Whyte in context.

Discussion of Jacobs and Lynch readings.                             

Readings:           Continue with Jacobs, close reading of Chapter 11 for in-class discussion on September 27.

Sept. 20            Field trip: SoHo, a former manufacturing neighborhood that has been transformed over the last four decades into a high-end residential and commercial district. Meet at 9 am at The Architectural League, 594 Broadway, Suite 607.


Readings:           (For classes September 27 and October 4)


                        William H. Whyte, “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” Please view the full 59-minute video on your own. We will see sections during class.

William H. Whyte, City: Rediscovering the Center, U Penn Press

(1988; 2009), Chapter 16, “The Rise and Fall of Incentive Zoning”.

Most of the points of the video are documented in Whyte’s book.

We advise you to look at the entire book in order to enhance your understanding of the video.


Sept. 27            Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

Discussion of Jacobs and Whyte readings.

Guest lecturer, historian Andrew Dolkart.


Oct. 4              Visit to Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP. Presentation of work by and tour of the office of one of the city’s leading preservation, architecture, and planning firms.

                        Guest lecturer Frederick Bland, Managing Partner, Beyer Blinder Belle.


Readings:           (For Landmarks visit October 9) No written comments due.;


Oct. 9               Very important: This class meets on a Tuesday, to allow us to visit the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which holds its hearings on Tuesdays.


We will meet in front of the Municipal Building, One Centre Street at 9:30 am and go upstairs to the hearing room on the 9th floor together. If you are late or miss the group, make your way through Security to 9th floor, North. Take the 2/3 subway to Chambers/City Hall. Make sure to bring identification. Your bags will be go through metal detectors, so no exacto-blades, etc.


Readings:           For in-class discussion on October 18:      

Vishaan Chakrabarti, p. 21: defines “city” as “a place that can provide significant ridership for rapid mass transit such as a subway network, which typically requires a density range of 30 housing units per acre.”


In Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser defines cities as places with an “absence of space between people and firms.” What does he mean by this? Comment on the different definitions of Glaeser and Chakrabarti.


Oct. 18              Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

Definitions of density.

Density and the contemporary city.

Discussion of Chakrabarti, Glaeser.


Readings:           Before field trip on October 25:


Oct. 25              Field trip: Garment District, including meeting with Eric Gural, principal of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a major garment district landlord; visit to several typical buildings.


Assignment:        Following our class visit to the Garment District, describe the structures, spaces, and street activity of the Garment District, or a select area of it, using the analytical lenses you have learned from Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte. Please illustrate this with photos or sketches. DUE at class meeting November 8.



Nov. 1               Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

                        The structure and role of government in New York’s development.

                        The role of Third Sector organizations--think tanks, advocacy groups, professional organizations, and cultural organizations—in New York’s development.

                        Guest lecturer, Juliette Michaelson, Executive Vice-President, Regional Plan Association


Nov. 8               The planning function in the development and governance of New York.

Field trip to be announced.


Nov. 15             Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

Discussion of project presentation topics, format, roles, strategies. Discussion of final paper due December 11.


Nov. 22             No Class: Thanksgiving holiday


Nov. 29             Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

Practice session for project presentations


Dec. 7               Class meeting, BUELL 300N.

Oral presentations of projects on the garment district.



                        MAILBOX, 4TH FLOOR AVERY, by 5 PM

Course Summary:

Date Details