Megaregion to rail: systems-based urban design


The studio was an interdisciplinary, systems-based urban design studio focused on the interconnectivity of megaregion, city and district systems and their spatial, social, and environmental design opportunities. The aim was to utilize strategies of infrastructural urbanism to develop next generation, integrated design solutions that explored sustainable, innovative and creative options for proposed projects in recovering cities of the Midwest. The second half focused at the scale of the city, using the St. Louis Northside / Southside Metrolink expansion as a case study for how cities might better leverage infrastructural investments for greater social and environmental gain through urban design.

A key component of this course’s work was mapping—defined as a strategy of visualizing layers of dense and synthesized information.

Mapping defines the spatial problem and priorities, and the key interest as designers was how information and data impact the spatial condition, and, more importantly, why it matters. Maps are design problems as well as analytical results, defining obstacles and opportunities for intervention.



The mapping represented here, part of Project 2, XL/L Systems at the City Scale, was a three week project with two phases. The first was focused on data gathering, analysis, and synthesis in an effort to understand the existing conditions of St. Louis. Students gathered quantitative, qualitative, and empirical data.


The second portion of this project involved the creation of four distinct composite maps, three synthesizing an even greater grouping of systems, and one synthesizing the greatest areas in need of intervention within the city along the proposed corridor, assisting in the progression to the scale at the line segment.