Urban Design Seminar

Re-imagine urban design and architecture in the public realm.

Event Details


San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco, California United States


September 05, 2014 - September 13, 2014


$250; Free public talks also available

Individuals interested in design, urban planning, or architecture may apply until August 29, 2014.

swissnex San Francisco, ETH Zurich’s Urban Think Tank, and UC Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning department are offering a week-long urban design seminar with an emphasis on the parklet approach in San Francisco.

This is a rare opportunity to participate in daily morning and afternoon workshops and discussions on urban design at UC Berkeley, Gray Area, and envelope A+D. Also attend city tours and site visits at cutting edge studios including MIN | DAY, CMG Landscape Architecture, and more. And hear evening lectures (also open to the public) from top thinkers such as John Bela of Gehl Architects, Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban Think Tank, and Nicholas Polansky of MIT Architecture and the Future Cities Lab.

Participants will develop and try out design ideas that have the potential to transform and activate public spaces, even building modular objects to be included in the final design of the forthcoming swissnex San Francisco parklet.

Learn more about the seminar.


Free Public Talks

September 8 – 12, all talks at 7pm.
No advance registration required

Monday, September 8:
Liz Ogbu and Kevin Conger
UC Berkeley campus, Wurster Hall, room 112

Kevin Conger has led CMG Architecture and its projects since the beginning and has contributed to major projects in San Francisco such as Better Market Street and the SFMoMA’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden.

Self-proclaimed “Green Giant,” Liz Ogbu is a professor, designer, urbanist, and social innovator. She is an expert in sustainable design and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments globally.

Tuesday, September 9:
Margaret Crawford
UC Berkeley campus, Wurster Gallery

Margaret is a Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley. Her Research focuses on the evolution, uses, and meanings of urban space. She has been actively publishing in her field for over 25 years.

Wednesday, September 10:
Urban RISK Lab
Nicholas Polansky
swissnex San Francisco, 730 Montgomery St., San Francisco

Nicholas Polansky is a researcher at MIT’s Urban Risk Lab. They are operating as designers at the intersection of disaster management and risk engineering, hurricanes and earthquakes, ecology and infrastructure, rural and urban, research and action.

Thursday, September 11:
Future Cities Lab
Jason Kelly Johnson & Nataly Gattegno
swissnex San Francisco, 730 Montgomery St., San Francisco

Future Cities Lab is an experimental design studio, workshop, and architectural think tank operating globally out of San Francisco. Founders Jason and Nataly have collaborated on a wide range of award-winning projects exploring the intersections of art and design with advanced fabrication technologies, robotics, responsive building systems, and public space.

Friday, September 12:
Project Parklet: Reclaiming the Streets
swissnex San Francisco, 730 Montgomery St., San Francisco

Seminar Leader Bios

Katerina Kourkoula

Katerina Kourkoula received her Bachelors of Science from the Bartlett School of Architecture (U.C.L.) in 2003, her Bachelors of Architecture from The Cooper Union in 2008, and her Masters in Architecture from The Cooper Union in 2011. She is a Professor for Architecture at ETH Zurich in the Urban-Think Tank department.

Kristina Hill

Kristina Hill is an Associate Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and is currently focused on developing proposals for urban adaptation to climate change in the San Francisco Bay area, by learning from international examples. She co-edited and authored the book Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Island Press, 2002), and has published numerous book chapters and articles in scientific and professional journals. Hill lectures internationally on ecology and design, and is currently working on a book about urban adaptation to sea level rise and flooding for Springer Publishers. She has been recognized as a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design, and as a Fulbright Scholar. Her research and consulting work has been funded by the US National Science Foundation and clients in the US and abroad. Her most recent professional project was the Water Management Strategy for Greater New Orleans, where she advised a team of designers and engineers on water-based site and system design. She received a Master of Landscape Architecture with distinction from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and a Doctor of Philosophy in landscape architecture, with a minor in ecology, from Harvard University.

Teaching Team:

The ETH teaching team is led by Prof. Brillembourg & Prof. Klumpner.  The program is coordinated by Katerina Kourkoula.

Tutors include:

Hannes Gutberlet, Architect from Prof. Brillembourg & Prof. Klumpner Chair of Architecture and Urban Design

Katerina Kourkoula, Architect from Prof. Brillembourg & Prof. Klumpner Chair of Architecture and Urban Design

Danny Wills, Architect from Prof. Brillembourg & Prof. Klumpner Chair of Architecture and Urban Design


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos