The City College of New York,
The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture
Spring 2009 Arch 51309/63131: 
Children and the City: Place, Power, Experience, Modernity    
Instructor: Professor Marta Gutman
TA: Jessica Lewis

Goals and Objectives

Why study modern architecture for children? Why study cities in relationship to children and childhood? Across the world, children live, learn, work, and play in urban spaces purposely made for them, usually by architects and other design professionals; they also creatively appropriate other places for these purposes. This new, experimental, interdisciplinary seminar looks at how modern architecture, modern cities, and concepts of childhood have changed as architects make special places for children--from houses and schools to streets and playgrounds. Students will be encouraged to question taken for granted meanings and think creatively about the topics at hand. What does the word child mean? Design? Modern? What does the design of a school, for example, tell us about adult values? How does it contribute to the modernization of cities? To the discourse of modern architecture and design? To a child’s daily life? To the ideological construction the “good” childhood in the US? Europe? Elsewhere in the world?We will give architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and designers their due, as we discuss ideals of the good childhood and how adult hopes (and fears) for children are embodied in the built environment. We also will consider children and children’s experiences, as they consume, play, resist, rebel, contest, experiment, and otherwise use the physical city to create culture. Who has rights to the city? What are a child’s rights? How are they expressed? In the end, we want to come to terms with the multiple identities of children and examine how space, place, bodies, and experience are engaged in the performance and critique of them. Teenagers and youth culture are also discussed, part and parcel of the spatial and social processes under consideration in this class. 
Work of the Seminar
The work of the seminar includes presentations by the instructor and invited guests, weekly readings, in-class discussions of readings and research (led by students), and a research paper, using primary sources and based on an assignment, shared across the class. Using a study area in Hamilton Heights, we will test the assumption that the worlds of adults and children became separated in the modern period. As children were understood to be different than adults, they were seen to need, if not to deserve a specialized material culture (from toys, clothes and furniture to rooms, buildings and public spaces).We will begin by identifying public places designed for and used by kids, and select a study area (or areas) so that these sites may be mapped digitally. Working together, we will develop graphic standards needed to make a digital map of the study area; the map should be conceived as research tool intended to be used by this and subsequent classes to record field and archival research. The intent is to scrape away the contemporary city--peel back layers of architectural and urban history--and determine when, how, and by whom a specialized urban world was made for children in this part of Harlem.Students will also choose a place to research in depth. The information will be used to fill out our map (which will grow incrementally, based on individual projects) and to examine the relationship of place, power, and experience in the modern city. Each student is expected to write a short, illustrated paper that will serve to nominate the study site to the “Place Explorer: Census of Places That Matter.”Reading (and thinking critically about reading) is central to the class; each student is expected to read and come prepared to discuss at least two of the assigned readings each week: we will divide and conquer to make sure material is covered. A quick look at assigned readings will show they take in history and theory and discuss sites across the globe. Be willing to consider different theoretical models, especially for grappling with space, power, and experience. The Panopticon, familiar to many of you, is critical, but it is not the only way to understand the public life of urban kids.The challenges are many--from setting graphic standards and learning primary research skills to coming to terms with terms and definitions that change over time. For instance, who is a child? How has the social construction of childhood changed? Been theorized? How should a researcher balance site analysis with analysis of specific buildings and places and the stories imbedded in and attached to them? What constitutes a place or space for children? Dedicated program? Architectural scale, made with a child in mind? On the ground social uses? Purpose-built architecture? Altered buildings? Additions? Ties to nature? Last but not least, what are the relationships between places, power relations, and human experiences in modern cities and how children do construct them?We are fortunate that an interdisciplinary conference, “Urban Childhoods,” will take place on Friday, March 6th at the New York Institute of Technology (Manhattan campus). The conference is free and open to the public; you are expected to attend, at least the keynote address, given by the instructor.    

• Attendance (more than 2 unexcused absences will result in failure of the seminar) 
• At least four presentations of readings and research in process to the seminar  
• Development of graphic standards for the mapping project 
• Historical documentation and presentation of a place in the study area, designed for children, using maps, drawings, city directories, census, and other primary resources 
• A concise, illustrated paper nominating the same place to the “Place Explorer: Census of Places That Matter,” Place Matters is a joint project between City Lore and the Municipal Art Society to promote and protect places of history and culture in New York City.This seminar is intended for graduate students; advanced undergraduates may enroll with permission. All students are expected to strive for excellence in all aspects of this class --meaning in primary research, oral presentations, written work, reading critically, and above all, in thinking.

Take heed!
Attendance is required; come to class on time and prepared to discuss the material at hand. More than two unexcused absences from seminar will result in automatic failure of the seminar. Incompletes will not be granted except in the case of an extreme medical or family emergency, supported by a doctor’s note or other written proof of the seriousness of the situation at hand. Please inform me about personal emergencies before they escalate. All discussions of personal matters will be held in strict confidence.All written assignments must be your own, original work. Any copying, including short excerpts from a book, article, and Internet source, published or unpublished, will result in automatic failure of the seminar. Do not plagiarize. In your papers, cite all sources, using footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations, and include a bibliography. For the correct format, see the Chicago Manual of Style or the instructor. Be cautious about information posted online; make sure it has been written or vetted by recognized scholars.  

Learning Objectives
This course seeks to deepen students' grasp of the history of built form and the formation of landscape and urban design, and to hone their analytic skills, both as regards the form and meaning of monuments. It seeks to make students alive to the implications of architectural forms within society and the responsibility of those who design them.


Required Texts

Marta Gutman and Ning de Coninck-Smith, ed., Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children (New Brunswick, NJ, 2008).

Ian Grosvenor and Catherine Burke, School (London, 2008). Peter N. Stearns, Childhood in World History (London and New York, 2006). 

Suggested Texts
Hugh Cunningham, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (New York, 2005), 2nd ed.

Sarah L. Holloway, and Gill Valentine, eds., Children's Geographies: Living, Playing, Learning (London, 2000). 

Alexander von Vegesak, Jutta Oldiges, and Lucy Bullivant, eds., Kid Size: The Material World of Childhood (Milan, Italy and Weil am Rhein, Germany, 1997). 

Books are available for purchase at Book Culture 536 W. 112th Street, New York, N.Y. Additional readings will be placed on electronic reserve (by the SAUDLA library). The college subscribes to several digital databases, including ARTstor. The Architecture Slide Library has also built an extensive database, "Art an Architecture Image Collections." To find these and other resources go to the CCNY library home page, click on "Databases, A-Z," and scroll through the links.