Urban Planning

How do you design a shared space to minimize the use of resources and maximize the quality of life? In Urban Planning, you will explore 3 systems that intertwine to create the ecosystem of a city: load, power and flow. These topics will allow you to investigate any city’s major structures; how the city is powered; and how its systems work together to create – or prevent – flow.

Course Units

How does weight stabilize and destabilize us?

In this unit, you will play the role of an engineer and look at how infrastructure can overcome obstacles. You will learn about weight, load, and the forces that act on everything around us. You will study Newton’s fundamental laws, to get some perspective and see how these forces behave. Then, you will observe different types of bridges, understand why they were built, and how they work by using geometric modeling and statics. You will analyze a bridge of your own choosing in Chicago, and use what you have learned in your final project: building your own bridge. Here are the unit sub guiding questions you will pursue:

  • How do we distribute weight in a form?
  • Why don’t bridges fall all the time…but fall sometimes?
  • How do we build a bridge with minimum resources to support maximum load?

How does electricity power & unempower us?

In this unit, you will become an electrician and determine how to efficiently power a facility. Your client (teacher) has hired you to model a facility, create a circuit, conduct a cost analysis and submit a proposal. Your teacher will give you additional specifications and constraints for the emitting circuit. Here are the unit sub-guiding questions you will pursue:

  • Why is Chicago the setting of the “War of Currents”?
  • How do we use less electricity?
  • How is an energy-efficient house wired?

How does form unite & separate us?

In this unit you will put it all together, and think about cities as a whole. Where did they come from? What is their history? How have they evolved? Where are they going? What makes a good city? What makes a bad city? We will look at examples from history as well as today, to learn how to build a strong city. We will analyze cities from around the world to see different strategies of urban planning, which will lead to your action project – building your own block from scratch. Here are the unit sub guiding questions you will pursue:

  • What does a city need to function?
  • What makes an ideal city?
  • How do we build the perfect block?

  • Science: .25
  • Math: .5


Traditional Subject Course Units SCED Codes
Algebra, Geometry Unit I. Load 02072
Algebra Unit II. Power 02105
Geometry Unit III. Flow 02074


Traditional Subject Course Units SCED Codes
Physics Unit I. Load 03151
Physics Unit II. Power 03151
Physics Unit III. Flow 03161