Susan has spent over ten years teaching at MIT where she teaches practicum workshops and classes in arts and cultural planning, historic preservation as a revitalization tool, and placemaking.  Her practicum workshops focus on real world planning issues with real world clients. Students explore the nexus between urban design and economic development and address zoning, smart growth, transportation, urban design and other issues within local social, economic and political contexts.

Her planning research and academic endeavors at MIT have been supported by national foundations and competitive research grants.  Susan’s placemaking research was supported by a gift from Southwest Airlines and her public realm post 9/11 research was supported by a Research in Architecture grant from the Boston Society of Architects.

Susan’s expertise in affordable artist space and arts organizations grows out of her four-year role at MIT as Associate Director of the MetLife Innovative Space Awards where she worked with over 150 arts and cultural organizations nationwide to identify best practices for creating affordable space, supporting artists and engaging with community to effect positive change.  She also served as the Associate Director of the Northeast Regional Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors. The Mayors’ Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities. This three day event brought seven northeast mayors to MIT to discuss urban design challenges and explore opportunities for positive change.

Revitalizing Urban Main Streets

Urban Revitalization Project at MIT

The “Revitalizing Urban Main Streets” practicum workshop explores the integration of economic development and physical planning interventions to revitalize urban commercial districts. The class covers a range of issues including: an overview of the causes of urban business district decline, revitalization challenges, and the strategies to address them; the planning tools used to understand and assess urban Main Streets from both physical design and economic development perspectives; and the policies, interventions, and investments used to foster urban commercial revitalization. Students apply the theories, tools and interventions discussed in class to preparing a formal neighborhood commercial revitalization plan for a client business district. This award-winning class has produced professional planning strategies for seven Boston “Main Streets” districts and two New Orleans commercial corridors.

Community Growth and Land Use Planning

Land Use Planning at MIT

“Community Growth and Land Use Planning” is a practicum workshop that explores the techniques, processes, and professional skills required to effectively manage growth and land use change at the local, regional, and state level of government.  A major focus of the workshop involves student work on a client-based land use planning projects in Massachusetts’ communities. The projects enable students to draw upon and apply a variety of approaches and interventions.  For the past two years, the class has worked worked with the City of Somerville as the client. Students have explored the land use, smart growth, zoning, and urban design issues around the planned new Green Line extension through the city.