The Urban Laboratory® community and urban design studio was founded in 1963 by distinguished urban designer and scholar, David Lewis, FAIA. The program emerged from a period of heightened social activism within design professions and awareness of the failures of top-down urban planning projects of the time. It was one of the first initiatives by any university to enfranchise local citizens by initiating new public forums for collectively addressing urban design.
Over the years, the Urban Laboratory has shaped and been shaped by professional applications of participatory urban design as demonstrated through the work of Regional/Urban Design Assistance Teams (R/UDATs) of the 1960s, the first community design centers of the 1970s, and the founding New Urbanist visionaries of the 1980s and 1990s.
Urban Laboratory Undergraduate Design Studio
Today the Urban Laboratory studio is a mature interdisciplinary fifth year undergraduate urban design course led by distinguished practitioners and scholars spanning the fields of architecture, urban design, planning and policy. Since its inception, and especially since 1990, student and faculty of the program have worked with community organizations and local agencies in over 22 neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh region, including the most recent below:
- 2011: Chateau Street, North Side
- 2010: Downtown Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville
- 2009: Homewood/North Point Breeze, Downtown Pittsburgh
- 2008: Larimer, Hazelwood, Wilkinsburg
- 2007: Hazelwood
- 2006: North Side, Hill District
- 2005: Central Northside, Hill District
- 2004: Baum-Centre Corridor, Wilkinsburg
- 2003: Hill District, New Kensington Arnold
- 2002: Lawrenceville, Duquesne, Monessen, Neville Island
- 2001: Hazelwood
Urban Laboratory Research Projects
The Urban Laboratory community and urban design studio includes faculty and graduate students who engage in urban design research projects, both in the Pittsburgh region (airport light rail connector, Aerotropolis Vision Plan, and Bus Rapid Transit Oriented Development) and internationally (Canada, Qatar, and Rwanda).