Other Faculty: 
Andy Yan
Section Number: 
2013W Term 2
09:30 to 12:30
WMAX 240
Credit Hours: 
This Course is currently offered
Course Description: 


This course is designed to offer students a distinctive opportunity to undertake critical research studies of experience of urbanization and development planning in a city widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most instructive exemplars of progressive urbanism: Vancouver City and Region. [Although there are also critical views and counter-narratives: see ‘Remaking Vancouverism’, @ UBC Geography]. This course will be situated as a ‘recommended elective’ within SCARP’s Urban Development Planning (UDP) domain.

The course will be offered jointly by a consortium of the UBC School of Community & Regional Planning, and BTAworks – the research and development division of Bing Thom Architects . The course will include an element of initial presentations and discussion, but will largely be conducted ‘in the field’ and student will assume the role of “consultant teams”. The Instructors will be Andy Yan of BTAworks, and Tom Hutton, of SCARP. Our purpose is to provide students with a stimulating experience of applying theory to development, and including critical professional planning skills. 

Initial sessions of the course will include overviews of development planning trends, issues and exemplars in the Metro Vancouver case, as well as discussion of student interests.

Learning Objectives: 

While we’re prepared to entertain proposals for themes and issues for discussion and analysis, we have identified the following as deserving of our attention, and likely to form the subject of stimulating and instructive discussions and debates:

  1.  Economic restructuring and the city: from post-industrialism to the cultural economy and creative city?
  2. Agglomeration, clustering and land use change in the contemporary city
  3. Climate change: implications for local/regional planning and policy
  4. Frontiers in architecture, urban design, and the built environment of the city
  5. Problems of social alienation: the ‘convivial city’ and its discontents.

As regards subject sites, we are proposing that our field studies and research focus be centred on two instructive municipalities within Metro Vancouver: The City of Vancouver, located in the core of the metropolis; and, secondly, the City of Surrey, the largest suburban municipality, and increasingly branded as Metro Vancouver’s ‘Second City’, the latter reflecting not only its unique scale and growth trajectory, but also its engagement with progressive ideas about urbanism, including sustainable communities, green buildings, and urban design.

The assignment will take the form of a project, the subject of which will be negotiated between the individual students and the instructors.  This could be the subject of independent study, but we are also open to the possibility of a group/collaborative project.

City Planning and the Urban Studies Canon

For us a clear vantage point for progressive and effective city planning is a commitment to engaging the ‘urban studies canon’ – which of course varies in the details of composition from person to person, and from place-to-place, but nonetheless insists upon critically informed urban knowledge as pre-requisite to good practice. That is, rather than seeing the urban studies literatures(s) and field- and profession-based practice as ‘separate worlds’ we perceive them essentially complementary realms which enrich and inform our understanding of cities and their complex problems and opportunities.

For Planning 548V this year we will prepare and share a set of readings which selectively at least reflect our interpretation of the urban studies/planning canon. But at the same time we encourage our students to bring to the class their own ideas of what constitutes the canon, and how it may contribute to the quality of our ‘practice’ – as city planners, architects or urban design specialists.  

Just as an example, the central area/downtown of metropolitan cities represents a distinctive urban terrain, comprising a uniquely complex mix of specialized functions, labour, landscapes, and social groups. The theoretical saliency of the urban core is reflected in its centrality to defining urban theory and models (e.g. the Chicago School of social ecology, the postindustrial and post-Fordist city, the ‘new middle class’, global cities and urban transnationalism), and indeed an even richer polemical and political history which includes Marx, Engels, Dickens, Balzac, the Fabians and so on

An element of the course pedagogy is to give students a sense of a planning work environment,  mainly that of a private sector consulting firm.  Academic and intellectual comfort zones are intended to be challenged in the face and practicalities of real world employability.  As a consequence, assignments will not only face a standard of academic rigor, but professional attention as students will face assignments that will teach and train them about theory and practice in the transnational metropolis.

Course Organization: 

See Learning Objectives

Course Requirements and Grading: 

See Learning Objectives

Course Assignments: 

See Learning Objectives

Course Policies: 

See Learning Objectives

Course Materials: 

See Learning Objectives

Special Needs: 

Please inform the course instructor as soon as possible if you have special needs and require accommodation of any kind.  Please visit http://www.students.ubc.ca/access/ for more information on campus resources. 

Academic Integrity: 

The University is an environment that fosters learning and the free exchange of ideas while maintaining responsibility and integrity.  Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to plagiarism, cheating, dishonesty, fabrication of information, submitting previously completed work and misusing or destroying school property.  Any material or ideas obtained from digital or hard copy sources must be appropriately and fully referenced.  Students are expected to uphold all the standards articulated in UBC's academic integrity site. If the instructor finds evidence of a violation of academic integrity the case will be investigated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and, where appropriate, action will be taken. Disciplinary action may lead to a failing grade or suspension from the University.


Supplemental Materials: 

UBC has numerous research, pedagogical and health resources available to students.  These include The centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG), the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Writing Centre, Student Health Services and student Counselling Services.  Please make use of these resources or contact the instructor if you have any questions. Students new to UBC are especially encouraged to become familiar with the broad spectrum of resources that UBC provides.