International and Domestic Labs and Study Tours

Two additional domestic and international labs and/or study tours totaling eight units are also required. Laboratory/workshops are an integral part of the USC Price curricular philosophy. They provide the essential clinical link between academic education and the world of professional practice. Since a majority of professional planning requires collaboration, the laboratory/workshops challenge students to work as a team by applying their respective capabilities and knowledge to a common problem. Typically, two different labs are held each semester, and the topics are rotated across the program’s various specializations.

Real-world Experience
Generally the laboratory/workshops work with real clients. Local agencies and firms often sponsor planning laboratory/workshops to obtain valued studies in research, design and analysis. Community groups seek assistance from laboratory/workshops as a means of informing themselves more thoroughly on community problems and issues, and for obtaining planning analysis otherwise unavailable to them. The products of laboratory/workshops are usually in the form of:

  • policy recommendations
  • a suggested plan or alternative plans
  • databases
  • background information
  • various maps and graphics


International Opportunities
Each summer the school offers one or more international laboratory/workshops. Recent international labs have been held in China, Germany, Morocco, Italy and Vietnam. All students are encouraged to take at least one international laboratory course. (Travel expenses are not included in tuition; however, every effort is made to keep the labs affordable.)

2003 Labs

International Labs
Berlin and Los Angeles, Spring 2003
Romania, Summer 2003

Los Angeles-Based Labs
General Plans Lab, Summer and Fall 2003
Transit-Oriented Corridor: Vermont Avenue, Fall 2003

Berlin and Los Angeles,Summer and Fall 2003
Instructor: Tridib Banerjee, Ph.D., Professor

This spring an international collaborative laboratory/workshop explored the role of media, arts, entertainment, and creative industries in local economic development focusing on two cities: Berlin and Los Angeles. The studio was conducted in collaboration with planning students from the Technical University of Berlin, under the guidance of Professor Klaus Kunzmann of the University of Dortmund and Tridib Banerjee from our school. The German students visited Los Angeles for two weeks in January. USC students went to Berlin for two weeks in March

The students participated in two charettes – one in Los Angeles, and the other in Berlin. The Los Angeles charette examined the future of the historic Hollywood Boulevard entertainment district. The Berlin charette explored the future reuse of the Nazi era Tempelhof Airport, which will be closed by the end of this decade. The charette process required the USC Price and German students work collaboratively in teams of six to eight people. The USC Price and German students presented their findings in a colloquium sponsored by the Goethe Institute in Los Angeles.

Romania, Summer 2003
Instructors: Niraj Virma, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Ileana Apostal, Ph.D. student

A group of fourteen master’s and doctoral students participated in an international lab in Bucharest, Romania this summer. The lab studied institutional reform efforts to move Romania to a meaningful democracy after a long period of communist rule. Collaborating in the lab were the urban planning faculty at the University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest as well as several Bucharest based NGOs, including the World Bank created Social Development Fund, the Civil Society Development Fund, and faith-based organizations, such as World Vision and Bethany Services.

Student interests spanned exploring and developing public participation and institutional cooperation among stakeholders, their link with open space and urban design issues, institutional reforms connected with EU membership, and the role of faith-based initiatives in development. While deeply interested in and influenced by their surroundings, participants were able to take advantage of their USC training in identifying institutional incentives and constraints and proposing some related urban planning and public management strategies. These findings and recommendations were the topic of presentations at the University of Architecture and Urbanism in the final days of the lab.

Some follow up activities are planned to study development initiatives in Romania and Armenia. Some of the students’ findings will also be published in a local English language publication in Bucharest.

General Plans Lab (City of Lakewood General Plan Program Environmental Impact Report), Summer and Fall 2003
Instructor: Frank Wein, FAICP, DPDS, Adjunct Professor

This lab provides students with hands-on experience preparing a document for a local agency, the City of Lakewood. The City of Lakewood is the lab’s “client” for the summer and fall 2003 semesters. The city has benefited over the past several years from a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the current General Plan to facilitate the preparation of environmental impact assessments for projects proposed to implement the General Plan. The city staff is currently preparing an update to the General Plan. The lab will prepare for the city a new updated Program EIR to ensure that the city will continue to benefit by having a current and accurate Program EIR to rely on for the assessment of impacts of projects proposed under the new updated General Plan

The lab will provide an opportunity for graduate students to prepare an EIR that will be used by the city to permit adoption of the updated General Plan. Students will gain an understanding of the requirements linking a General Plan with an EIR as well as experience in research, writing and presentation of an actual city-required and used report and plan.

Transit-Oriented Corridor: Vermont Avenue, Fall 2003
Instructor: Clara Irazabal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

This laboratory/workshop is set up to work with a real urban problem and real clients. It is expected that the local agencies, community groups, and key individuals gain assistance from the laboratory/workshop to obtain valued studies in research, design, and analysis. Today, when planners are searching for new and effective solutions to spatial, social, and environmental problems, the transit oriented development (TOD) concept offers a constructive way to develop a framework for community, city, and regional planning. A TOD is a moderate to higher density development, located within an easy walk of a major transit stop, generally with a mix of residential, employment and shopping opportunities designed for pedestrians without excluding the auto. TOD can be a new construction or redevelopment of one or more buildings whose design and orientation facilitates transit use. When transportation is multi-modal and people-oriented, it can help build places and restore public life. Our aim in this class is to study and examine these relationships between transportation and land use as well as the design solutions that encourage more livable and transit supportive environments.

Students, working in teams of three or four members, will prepare a project that will include planning evaluations and site investigations as well as complex design analyses and proposals for the selected sites. It will demonstrate students’ ability to identify, explore, and evaluate the linkage between transportation, environmental, land use planning, and urban design.