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Harvard Graduate School of Design

The Resilient City: Master Planning

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Today, cities across the world are shaped by new forms of urbanism, a growing awareness of environmental challenges, and evolving cultural identities. The focus of this two-day program is on developing a broader understanding of how the master planner or designer’s skills contribute to more resilient cities and futures. Panel discussions, field work and interactive activities will explore environmental, economic, and social issues.

Amidst increasing diversity and several years of strong economic and population growth, planners are discovering that cities are rich labs for exploring innovations in areas including: regional and local food systems; arts, culture and place-making, spatial planning and urban design; ecological systems, equity and social justice; and technology. The program will draw from interdisciplinary expert perspectives and active learning to explore these topics (and others) and to encourage participants to expand their understanding of how to design resilient and adaptable cities in the face of a changing climate, social equity challenges and a need for increasing competitiveness and innovation. .

Participants will use the City of Boston as a laboratory and case study throughout the course, learning from local and international experts, touring key sites and working together to synthesize case studies and their own observations. A series of presentations and discussions will lay the foundation for the course and introduce the breadth of environmental, economic, and social issues that must be addressed at all scales. The panelists will include planners, public officials, urban designers, artists, technologists, economists, ecologists, and developers.

Learning Objectives

  • Investigate master planning approaches to achieving urban resilience: What common themes or topics are addressed? What are the spatial or design issues to be addressed to achieve a sustainable future?
  • Explore planning and urban design case studies that demonstrate how interdisciplinary approaches (including arts and culture, local food systems and technology) are becoming critical to city-building
  • Discover how the real estate market and regulatory context are responding to resilience goals
  • Understand the role of natural and ecological systems
  • Synthesize and apply knowledge from panelists to a case study of Boston

Who should attend

Planners, urban designers, architects, landscape archi¬tects, developers, land owners, public officials, and non-profit/advocacy planners.


Brie is an urban planner, co-founder and principal of Agency Landscape + Planning. With a passion for understanding and improving communities and places, Brie brings a systems-based approach that integrates multiple disciplines and celebrates diverse perspectives. She has extensive experience dev...
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