Summary: UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA - SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE
DESIGN OF CITIES Michael Bednar
SPRING 2007 PLAN 563/ARCH 563
Thursday 3:30 6:00 Campbell 304
Cities are places formed by cultural forces which enable people to dwell. Design is one of
those cultural forces which give shape to settlement on the land. When design operates in
conjunction with social, political and economic forces, it gives rise to coherent settlement
forms which are both memorable and supportive of human enterprise.
This is a course in urban design which adopts a humanistic view of the city. The artifact
of the city, both historic and contemporary, is studied from the viewpoint of the people
and groups who dwell there. What psychological and social mechanisms do they utilize
to perceive, use, navigate, remember and experience the city? The premise is that through
understanding these mechanisms, planners and designers can develop more
humanistically meaningful urban realms.
The course begins by analyzing the city as a physical artifact. The role of natural forces is
studied; topography, water, climate and vegetation. This is followed by a study of open
spaces and buildings as typological elements which give spatial form to urban places.
Design is the artful composition of these elements to create meaningful visual and spatial
order through the use of form, hierarchy and geometry.
Cities are built environments experienced and used by individuals and groups of people.