Oscar Schrag

Urban Echo

An exploration into sound and its relationship to stress, in cities, through design.

Urban Echo explores sound and its relationship to stress, in cities, through urban planning, architecture, design futuring, and sound research. The New York Police Department reports around 1 million sound complaints a year. Nationwide its estimated that 72 million people are exposed to sound over the EPA’s safe limit. This project explores how architects and urban planners think about sound. It also explores the complexity of urban sound. Sound lets us know we are alive, its a marker of culture and mechanisms.


The challenges of this project were primarily communicating sounds as an issue due to its abstractness. The scale of cityscapes was both an inhibitor and an opportunity.  Redesigning or altering a cityscape in a meaningful way takes coordination and agreement of multiple deciding bodies. This also presents an opportunity to imagine new complex paradigms and disrupt the current paradigm through activism.


The outcome of my research is the Urban Echo Podcast. Urban sound, in cities, is complex and warrants further discussion. For my final output, I decided to use sound as a medium to propel further discourse on sound, in cities. Guests include; architects, urban planners, and sound researchers. Urban Echo can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Sticher. 

Parsons School of Design has offered students innovative approaches to education since its founding in 1896.  Today we’re the only American art and design school within a comprehensive university, The New School, which also houses a rigorous liberal arts college and a progressive performing arts school. Our undergraduate and graduate programs, offered through Parsons’ five schools, immerse students in focused training, interdisciplinary inquiry, and practice-based collaborative learning. Here creators and scholars master established art and design fields and advance emerging ones while studying a range of university disciplines.

All Rights Reserved © 2020. Parsons School of Design.