Topics: College of Architecture and Planning, Indianapolis Center

October 26, 2009

What better place to study urban design than in a progressive setting like downtown Indianapolis?

Ball State University's College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) has long played a key role in the Circle City's development. Professors and students helped the city create its downtown strategic plan, examine issues surrounding light rail service, assess the capital city's abandoned housing situation and plays a pivotal role in the renewal of many Marion County neighborhoods.

Now CAP is tapping into that wealth of expertise by offering a master of urban design (MUD) at the CAP's Indianapolis Center, located in the heart of the nation's 14th largest city. Students enrolled in the program will focus on learning how to design cities by understanding the past and anticipating the needs of the future, explained Michel Mounayar, associate dean of CAP.

Permeating all aspects of the program will be an emphasis on sustainability, Mounayar added. Students will design communities by determining the relationship of a city to its cultural values, economic purpose and multimodal pathways.

"This program will focus on enhancing and creating places that embody best-practice approaches to shaping urban investment," said Bruce Race, associate professor of urban planning. "Our students will explore civic and environmental form-making opportunities that embody economic revitalization and ecological integrity required to meet the 'global city' challenges ahead." 

They will learn how to view cities as part of a larger ecology affecting climate change and energy consumption. They will also explore ways to stimulate economic prosperity while protecting natural, historic and cultural resources, he added.

Indianapolis, which has a population of more than 800,000, will serve as MUD's urban laboratory. The city currently is pursuing important infrastructure investments that will contribute to the region's economic and environmental sustainability, and MUD students will have the opportunity to study and influence projects focusing on:

  • transit-oriented design
  • infill housing and mixed-use projects
  • neighborhood revitalization
  • river corridor planning
  • historic preservation
  • remediation and brownfield redevelopment
  • mixed-mode transportation
  • supporting implementation strategies

A 30-hour program that can be completed in three semesters or one year, the MUD will be a studio- and community-based core curriculum taught by an interdisciplinary team of instructors. It is based on CAP's nationally acclaimed Community-Based Projects program, one of the oldest in the United States that has assisted more than 300 communities since its inception in the 1960s.

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