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Blue Urban Studies Stanford University logo

The Urban Studies logo represents a Renaissance-era ideal city whose lessons remain relevant today. 

The Urban Studies logo is an adaptation of an ideal city plan developed by Venetian architect Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552 - 1616) in his influential treatise, L'Idea dell'Architettura Universale (1615).  Scamozzi's ideal city featured a gridded system of streets, a hierarchy of public squares, and an outer wall and fortification system.  Scamozzi designed Palmanova, perhaps the most geometrically rigorous Renaissance planned city, according to the principles reflected in this design. 

While Palmanova is a model of visual perfection, it is also a cautionary tale.  Built for defensive purposes, it was sited in a location of strategic importance but little economic activity, which prevented it from attracting sufficient population for its size.  Today it draws few tourists, in part because its symmetry is difficult to appreciate except from the air.  Like many utopian city plans, Palmanova reflects the divergence between abstract principles and the experience of urban life.

Scamozzi's design was proposed as the Urban Studies logo by Patti Walters, a lecturer and associate director, and adapted by Nina Farana, the Urban Studies Program Assistant from 1980 to 1992.