Urban and Regional Planning

Term: Fall 2023
Section: 2
Class Number: 402
Credits: 3
Required: No
Elective: Yes
Course Brief

/ URP 402

Tech Clusters, Innovation Districts, and Smart Cities

This course examines the evolution, planning, design, funding, and future of high-tech clusters. These dense agglomerations of innovative enterprises take on various forms: suburban research parks, urban innovation districts, industrial corridors, tech incubators/accelerators, and smart cities. They range in scale from single megastructures to neighborhoods, cities, and regions. We examine the economic advantages of these clusters (higher levels of innovative learning-and-interaction, synergies across firms and sectors, higher wages and job advancement, a critical mass of entrepreneurial activity and venture capital), as well as the social and environmental costs (e.g., on housing affordability, labor markets, open space, pollution, inequality, traffic congestion, historic preservation). We contrast government versus private-driven tech clusters, and explore the role of research universities as hubs and instigators of tech parks. We trace the shifting geography of these tech centers:  starting on the East Coast but later migrating south and west; moving from industrial cities to modern, campus-like suburban settings; and the recent “back-to-the city” push to build urban “innovation districts” (e.g., in Detroit and Boston). The overall theme is the dynamic interaction between place, urban form, technological innovation, and economic development.

This course is cross-listed with URP 610-003. Undergraduate students should register for URP 402-002.


Tue, Thu 1:00-2:30pm  2222 A&AB


Scott Campbell