Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: URSI Logo  URBS 110—The City in Design & Architecture

Term:  Spring, 2012

Instructor: Tony Filipovitch, 126 Morris Hall, xt.5035, 388-2264 (home)

Office Hours: My office hours are posted here  (other times, too—make an appointment)

Note:  Some of the course materials will be found online on Desire-to-Learn (D2L)


Scheer, Brenda.  2010.  The Evolution of Urban Form, 2nd Ed.  (Chicago:  APA Press)

Course Calendar

Week of





Introduction: Evolution of Urban Form; Principles of Design;

Ch. 1-4


  Evolution of Urban Form (cont.)


Ch. 5-8


 European Roots




Precursors:  Mesopotamia, Mohenjo-Daro; Ancient Egypt




The Greeks; Rome




Dark Ages; Gothic 



Renaissance & Baroque


Build a forum/agora/plaza

 Test 1 (D2L)


Grand World Tour




Dar al-Islam 




Break Week!


China & Japan




The Americas & Africa




Where in the World Are You?

 Test 2 (D2L)


US Cities



Colonial  & Federal Republic

History Underfoot—City Tour



Romantic Era & Age of Steam & Iron




Expanding City & City of Towers


 City Tour Report due


Post-Industrial City & Post-Modern Cities




Exam time:  10:15

Build It So They Will Come

Final Exam (D2L)

Course Objectives:

The purpose of this course is to help you understand the evolution of cities and the social forces that drive city structure and architecture.  The goal is for you to appreciate the cities you live in, understanding how they emerged as power centers, and how cities of the past influence the cities you live in today.  In this course you will learn how to “read” a city, how to look at architecture and city form and place it into a historic context.


This is not a history course, art history survey, engineering course, or even an architecture course.  Instead it will cross these disciplines, and focus more on applied concepts.  As a General Education course, the intention is to give you a critical perspective of what cities are and how they function, not just in the western world, but from a spectrum of cultures and historic periods. 


By the end of the course you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of city forms and architectural elements;
  2. Understand the city as an expression of values in a historical and social context;
  3. Respond critically to built forms in cities and articulate a personal reaction to them;
  4. Engage in the creative process of city-building.

In this course you will read about cities and their opportunities and problems. You will also need to wander about in them.  Above all you will need to think about them.


Instructional Methodology and Teaching Strategies:

A variety of techniques will be employed throughout the course. My teaching style in this course is based on an "adult-centered" model which assumes that you are active participants, each responsible for your own learning, and I am a facilitator and resource who helps you advance your project. My goal for myself as a teachers is to "take you someplace you would never before have gone alone."

With apologies to Michael Feldman (of Public Radio’s “What Do You Know?”), there are four disclaimers that go with this course:

1.      This is a course about the evolution of city structure and architecture. 

If you want a course on the forces shaping contemporary cities, look at URBS100 (Intro to the City); if you want a course on urban environmental issues, look at URBS150 (Sustainable Cities); if you want a course on urban politics, look at URBS230 (Community Leadership).  In fact, by the end of this course I hope you do look into one of these other general education courses.

2.      The book is not the course! 

The textbook is a tool to help you master the course, but the course is much bigger than the book.  Just because it is not in the book does not mean it is not important—often I think it is more important (or I would not have gone through the trouble to work it in).

3.      Sure, Professor Filipovitch knows a lot—but that’s not the point! 

He’s been around a lot longer than you, and they have actually been paying him to read books!  The trick is to get him to talk about the things you want to know.

4.      This is a general education course. 

The course is designed to broaden your general education, in addition to passing on specific urban studies information.  Such things as the etymology of words, phrases in their original language, the philosophical roots of an idea, or the basic science behind an application are not digressions.  They are connections.  And, I hope, the beginning for you of a lifetime of exploring the connections between ideas.




The course will be a combination of slide-lectures, projects, and other supporting activities. You are expected to read the assigned readings and notes prior to their due date (see the Course Calendar). Sometimes the activities and projects will be in-class, sometimes they will be on your own.  To get credit for a unit, you must hand in a brief (one-page) summary the following Monday of what happened/ what you learned in class the prior week, and your response to two questions:

·         The one thing I learned this week that stands out most in my mind is….

·         I am still not clear about ….

Field Tour

There will be a fairly extensive (@ 2 hr.) guided tour to familiarize you with the architecture of the city. The tour itinerary is available from the hyperlink to this section.  I will schedule a time when I will take a group on the tour, but this will spill over class time so it is optional.  You may also take the tour on your own or with your friends.


There will be 3 projects spaced throughout the term.  These projects are designed to give you the opportunity to respond critically to the design issues that you have been studying, and to apply your own creativity to those issues.  See the course calendar for the assignments and their due dates.


There will be three tests given during the semester (see Course Calendar), worth 120 points toward your final grade.  Tests are multiple choice format.  The first test will be worth 30 points; the second test worth 40 points, 30 questions from segment 2 and 10 from segment 1; and the third test worth 50 points, 30 questions from segment 30 and 10 questions each from segments 1 and 2.  Tests will encompass information from the beginning of the semester to the current segment.  I reserve the right to modify the content (but not the points) for any test, as long as I announce the changes in class at least the week before the test is scheduled.


Make up tests are given only in the case of emergency (family birthday parties and oversleeping are not considered legitimate reasons for missing a test.  Funerals, severe illness, and car accidents are). If you must miss a test, e-mail or call me immediately. Make-up tests are short answer and essay format.



The points for the course will be counted as follows:

The final grade may be based on a curve, but you can expect at least an A if you achieve 180, a B with 160, etc.

Other Matters:

Extra Credit:   In general, I do not encourage extra credit in this class. I would rather that you put the extra effort into your regular assignments. 

All assignments are due on the assigned date. While I would prefer not to receive work late, you can get at least partial credit for late work if it is no more than one week late (better late than never, and better something than nothing).  I reserve the right not to permit extensions or makeups unless you obtained prior permission or have a very good excuse.

Written reports are expected to be free of grammatical, spelling, and content errors.  They should be submitted in typewritten, standard formats (APA, MLA, URSI Style Sheets).  You must familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.  I encourage you to draw on the ideas of others—but you must also identify when you do so (you gain “brownie points” for citing the work of others!).  Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic behavior and will result in an F for the course.

I will help you in whatever manner humanly possible.  However, once the semester is over, there is not a great deal I can do.  If there is something that you don’t understand, are having problems with, or need help on, please get in touch with me as early as possible.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities.  If you area student with a documented disability, please contact us as early in the semester as possible to discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disability Services Office at 507-389-2825 (V) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY).

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© 2006 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 1 January 12