Greetings from the Department of Urban Planning and Design (UPD) at the GSD

Dear UPD Alumni,

It’s been my great pleasure to connect with so many of you at various GSD alumni gatherings and planning events over the course of the last few years. I am grateful for the support and vitality of our robust alumni community; the GSD is a better place because of your engagement. 

Despite our global reach, the department continues to focus efforts on the needs of our immediate community by bringing GSD planning and design talents to bear on urban challenges in Cambridge, Allston, and the Greater Boston area. This fall we welcomed back GSD alumnus and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan MArch ’95, MPA ’95, to teach an option studio on the transformation of Allston, home to Harvard’s expanding campus. This important studio foreshadowed the announcement of an innovative new community design and learning initiative, tentatively titled GSD Bridges, that aspires to cement the GSD’s relationship with local non-profits, community groups, civic organizations, and government agencies. We are grateful for the support and commitment of Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, who shares our vision for this worthy program. Educating design leaders necessitates collaboration between urban planning and urban design, between our department and other GSD departments, among the schools within the University, and ultimately with an informed community. We hope that GSD Bridges reinforces our commitment to engaging our neighbors to create impact locally.

Our department continues to provide leadership within the broader discipline. I am delighted to acknowledge the recent successes of our faculty. Our esteemed colleague,Ann Forsyth, will succeed Alan A. Altshuler as the Ruth and Frank Stanton Professor of Urban Planning at the Graduate School of Design. Professor Forsyth was also awarded the American Collegiate Schools of Planning’s Margarita McCoy Award for her outstanding contributions to the advancement of women in planning and named Editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association. David Gamble MAUD ’97 and Alex Krieger MCPUD ’77 convened a roundtable on the Future of Urban Design at a symposium in Washington DC hosted by the AIA and its Regional Urban Design Committee. And several of us, including Eve BlauJoan BusquetsAndres SevtsukRahul Mehrotra MAUD ’87, and I, have published books (covers below left to right) this year that we hope will make significant contributions to our respective fields. Please emailmy office to get more information on recent publications.



Our students have garnered similar acclaim. Incoming and existing students have also been recognized with significant scholarships: Henna Mahmood MUP ’20 received the 2018 Judith McManus Price Scholarship for women and minorities entering the field of planning, Gina Ciancone MUP ’19, MArch ’21 won the 2018 Charles Abrams Scholarship for students intending to study planning, and Mark Bennett MUP ’19 won the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Transportation.



Finally, our spring lectures and studios continue to address the essential urban planning and design challenges of our times, while also considering local conditions through a global lens. Lectures focused on urban topics include: Janette Sadik-Khan’s presentation of “Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution;” the 19th annual John T. Dunlop Lecture by Kimberley Dowdell “Diverse City: How Equitable Design and Development Will Shape Urban Futures;” and Kresge Foundation CEO Rip Rapson with Maurice Cox and Toni L. Griffin LF ’98 in “Designing Detroit: A Decade of Change and Transformation.” (Photos above left to right)

Our options studios have also continued to engage timely themes, including gender and public space, in a studio in Argentina taught by UPD alumna Chelina Odbert MUP ’07, founder of the award-winning design firm KDI; an examination of sanitation infrastructure in Mumbai, undertaken in a sixth studio Extreme Urbanism studio led by Rahul Mehrotra MAUD ’87; and the future of streets in a world where disruptive transportation technologies upend longstanding assumptions about streetscapes, through a Los Angeles-based studio led by Andres Sevtsuk that considers the impact of new mobility technologies on the built environment. Finally, a new course offered this spring on socially impactful real estate development, co-taught by UPD alumna and former head of the Boston Planning and Development Agency Sara Myerson MUP ’11, further reinforces our commitment to collaborating locally.

While I am certain that your practice is as busy and full as our calendar, I would be honored to see you on campus for a lecture.

I look forward to connecting soon.

Warm Regards,

Diane Davis
Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism
Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design