Barcelona is one of the most exciting cities in southern Europe – filled with music, art, festivals and food. Plazas, parks, streets and markets hum with life as the people of Barcelona exercise their penchant for community in the streets. Public spaces, formed during two millennia of creative architecture and design, are at the very soul of this Mediterranean city. There is no better place to live and study the design of vibrant urban spaces for the twenty-first century than Barcelona, Spain.
The city of Barcelona is renowned as a global leader in design, architecture and urban planning. It is recognized as one of the world’s most successful cities where city planning and urban design provide high-quality opportunities to live and work. The spirit of innovation and humanism in design continues as the city grapples with twenty-first century challenges of sustainability, tourism, gentrification, immigration and conversion to a post-industrial economy. With a creative process of community participation and cutting-edge design, Barcelona strives to enhance existing neighborhoods with new public spaces and people-friendly streets, repurpose former industrial areas as incubators for art, science and innovation and create the conditions for a robust economy and vital cultural scenes. It is an ideal laboratory to study the design, planning and historic geography of a contemporary world-class urban center.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya Autonomous Region of Spain, is located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea on a plain framed by the Collserola Mountains to the west, the Llobregat River to the south and the Besòs River to the north. It has Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers. The Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), the medieval center of the old city, maintains the urban patterns of the Middle Ages with archaeological remnants of the ancient Roman city of Barcino. The L’Eixample (or Expansion) district, planned and designed by Ildefonse Cerda in 1856, was the first science-based city planning effort of the nineteenth century, still admired for its beauty and efficiency. Barcelona is famous for its Catalan modernist architecture, especially the work of architect Antonio Gaudí and contemporaries. Recent urban design projects such as the high-tech 22@ District and Diagonal Mar maintain Barcelona’s urban planning and design leadership. The municipality continues to invest in traditional neighborhoods to strengthen social capital by enhancing public spaces, services and regional parks. The city’s heritage of socially progressive and sustainable urban design continues into the twenty-first century as neighborhoods, parks and public spaces are redesigned or newly created with extensive community participation and management in order to satisfy emerging social and environmental goals.
Program activities will include: visits to architectural heritage sites in Barcelona; field excursions in Barcelona; visits to private practice architectural offices and public city planning agencies in Barcelona; study tours of nearby cities Girona and Valencia (two days); group meals and other organized group activities.
Valencia Study Tour
Students will participate in a two-day study tour of Valencia, Spain to explore the city's unique cultural landscapes and architectural history and the contemporary City of Arts and Sciences by native son Santiago Calatrava. During the study tour students will experience Valencia on foot, bicycle, boa and bus with the help of a local professional guide.
Barcelona Architecture Center
The Barcelona Architecture Center is an educational and research organization that was founded in 1999 and is currently chaired by Miguel Roldán. The Barcelona Architecture center will coordinate the faculty-led, Penn State Landscape Architecture Barcelona Summer Program on-site in Barcelona. The center offers custom designed programs in Barcelona to international architecture students and schools. The BAC works in collaboration with the ETSAB (Schoolof Architecture) at the UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia), the UPF (Pompeu Fabra University) and the COAC (Official Institute of Catalan Architects). The BAC was created with the aim of developing academic and research collaborations with other universities and higher education institutions across the globe. The BAC is continually building an international network between universities to develop architectural research projects in common from a variety of geographical areas, including the United States, Mexico, Australia and Japan. Over the years, the BAC has reached a number of over 1,500 students, from eight different countries and more than 20 home universities.
To view a list of other programs available in this region, visit our Education Abroad Regional Program Brochures.
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This is a 9 credit faculty-led program based at the Barcelona Architecture Center in the city’s L’Eixample District. Students must have successfully completed the prerequisite course LARCH 312 in order to participate. The program will focus upon the sustainable planning and design public urban spaces in Barcelona. It will immerse students in the local and European approach to urbanism and design. Students will study the history of the city and its dynamic and socially progressive approach to urban planning and design. The program will be led by faculty from Penn State’s Department of Landscape Architecture and and from the Barcelona Architecture Center. It is targeted for students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Geography and Recreation, Park and Tourism and Management. Local landscape architects, architects, planners, urban geographers and community leaders will participate in areas of their expertise. The design studio - a flexible, open-ended, problem-solving method of inquiry - will be the backbone of the program for all students. Seminars, lectures and field studies will engage students with the rich urban and design history of Barcelona and the municipal region. Studies will focus upon the exciting contemporary urbanism of the city.
While on the program undergraduate students will be enrolled in three courses:
LARCH 499.1 – Seminar: History of Urban Planning and Contemporary Design in Barcelona (3 credits)
LARCH 499.2 – Advanced Design Studio: Planning and design of public urban spaces and systems in Barcelona and the municipal region (5 credits) Prerequisite: LARCH 312
LARCH 499.3 - Orientation to the City of Barcelona (1 credit)
Students should note that the course numbers may change. Please note that students from all majors are welcome on the program as course projects can be designed to fit academic interests and local activities.
Students will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution and all grades will count toward the students’ cumulative GPA. Education Abroad courses may not be taken Pass/Fail. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State.
To understand how the credits earned in this program will work into your degree audit please meet with your academic advisor and the program leader.
Housing and Meals
Students will reside in dormitory style housing, in double rooms with basic cooking facilities and other services on-site, in the center of Barcelona near the program classrooms. Students will be able to choose their own meals from the city’s diverse culinary offerings.
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the Summer budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully. Please note that tuition rates vary depending on class standing.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Penn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
For More Information
For more information about programs and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative.
The Penn State faculty leader of this program is Neil Korostoff. To learn more about the specifics of the program, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.
For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the Student Spotlights of Penn State students currently studying abroad.
How to Apply
If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page.
You must complete the following materials in your application:
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.
Application deadline: February 1, 2018
- Education Abroad Questionnaire
- One academic recommendation
- Signature Documents
Studying Abroad with a Disability
Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.
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