This is a report of an experiment in interdisciplinary education of environmental planning recently carried out at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. It represents an attempt to use a studio course as a vehicle for synthesizing the analytical data and approaches of four different disciplines: Landscape Architecture, Engineering, City and Regional Planning, and Urban Design. Aims of the study were to develop a better method of exploration and of interdisciplinary teaching which would lead to greater understanding of urbanization complexities, and to develop techniques that could be used in actual planning and design processes. Students and professors began with a very loose program, making no attempt to cover the complete range of problems inherent in urban growth. In fact, the significance of their work lay in the exercise itself. The experimental approach used in the project required tolerance for ambiguity and the ability to innovate when old solutions failed.
The area chosen for study was the southwest sector of the Boston region for which basic data were collected in an earlier course. This facilitated the building and operation of allocation and evaluation models. Following introductory remarks on interdisciplinary education, a description of the course, and a section explaining systems analysis, the book presents the nine models developed during the course and concludes with two simulations technique. This process allowed them to link all nine models together in the coherent system that appears in the book. The report also includes edited tape recordings made at a public review of the class effort, and appendixes describing the (UTM) grid used as the basic spatial unit for data collection and analysis, and the computer program (GRID) used to organize data and analyses for graphic display.