ARC 591LEC– Making and Mapping The Buffalo Landscape: Through the Lens of Ecological Urbanism

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Course Details

Course No.: 19367

Department: Architecture

Semester: 2017 Spring

Location: Hayes Hall – 106

Meeting Day(s): Thursday

Meeting Time: 11:00AM - 1:40PM

Faculty: Bassett

This course will consist of a series of assignments introducing the Urban Design GRG students to various technical methods which support the Urban Design Studio, as well as strengthening their overall urban design understanding.


We will examine, through the agency of mapping(s), various aspects of Buffalo’s urbanism through the lens of its ecological landscape. This includes mapping its urban, ecological and infrastructural transformation over its urban history. Included are its vacancies, terrain(s) vague(s), and post-industrial landscape with its relics and artifacts.


Through graphic inquiry and discussions, this seminar will challenge conventional methods and modes of representation of the urban landscape, site and context. We will explore new methods of envisioning, through visual representation which describes and represents the urban landscape, while at the same time revealing new relationships of the site to its ecologies. This exploration includes new ways to describe and represent the city’s built urban systems with respect to its natural ecologies. Systems include transportation networks, hydrological systems, and the city’s land-water interface as examples… We will examine such concepts as site palimpsest, indeterminacy, agency, flux, change over time and dynamics.


We will work across a spectrum of scales, beginning with the zoomed-out scale of regional ecologies and systems and how they relate to the city. We will then zoom-in to the scale of the university campus and its urban landscape. Ultimately, these new methods of envisioning and representation will be generative of new ways of thinking and recalibrating students’ architectural projects. In this framework, we will discuss how a building or ensemble of buildings do not simply occupy a finite site, but that there are, in reality, products of the forces and systems which act on them at different urban and ecological scales. These forces have the

latent possibility of informing design interventions at the architectural scale.


There will be weekly assignments for this semester which include graphics, readings and the mastering of technical methods. Format will include pin-ups, discussions and student presentations.