Urban Laboratory Process
The Urban Laboratory is among a growing number of outreach-based urban design studios nationwide but is distinguished by its curriculum-driven outreach approach. In this model, studio projects address local neighborhood issues that are driven not exclusively by client demands but by the pedagogical objectives Urban Laboratory faculty. The collective product of the studio is not a buildable development plan but a mutually beneficial educational experience for students and local communities. Students gain practical experience in physical planning and design through a hands-on, collaborative approach. Local communities participate in new forums for neighborhood visioning and actively contribute to a rich body of academic work. Ultimately, the focus on long-term collaboration rather than short-term technical assistance enables the Urban Laboratory to build the capacities of local community groups to be their own drivers of change.
The program features two studio courses: a one-semester introductory urban design studio required for 5th year Bachelor of Architecture candidates, and a two-semester advanced studio for students enrolled in the Master of Urban Design program. Both courses are also open to Carnegie Mellon students of other disciplines interested in urban issues and participatory approaches to their solutions.