The City That Never Was
Urbanization after the Bubble
A symposium organized by Christopher Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa, in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York; speakers include Iñaki Abalos, Dominique Alba, Enric Batlle, William Braham, Rania Ghosn, Llàtzer Moix, Robin Nagle, Chris Reed, Willie van den Broek, James von Klemperer, Richard Weller and Daniel Zarza.
6.0 AIA and New York State CEUs
This event was postponed in response to Hurricane Sandy, and will now take place on Friday, February 22, 2013.
Click here for a complete schedule and information about the speakers.
The Architectural League invites you to “The City That Never Was,” a one-day symposium that uses the current economic and urban crisis in Spain as a lens through which to consider future patterns of urbanization and settlement.
In the twenty years following its accession to the European Union in 1986, Spain underwent unprecedented physical development that radically reshaped its major cities and metropolitan areas. From new housing to commercial and cultural facilities to infrastructure, the country experienced a building boom of such remarkable proportions that by 2005, 20% of Spain’s GDP was attributable to construction-related activities. The equivalent figure for the United States at that time was less than 5%. A year later, The New York Times celebrated Spain as “one of the great architectural success stories in modern history” when reviewing the Museum of Modern Art’s 2006 exhibition On Site: New Architecture in Spain.
Yet today Spain copes with an unemployment rate in excess of 26% and a GDP — according to the latest IMF forecast — expected to shrink by 1.5% this year. The country is littered with unfinished, partially completed or abandoned developments including housing complexes left unenclosed; empty museum buildings with no collections; hundreds of miles of unused roads; and airports without a single arrival or departure. This condition is most severe in Madrid, where over 25% of the urbanized land in and around the city consists of partly vacant or incomplete projects.
However extreme its outcome, this overdevelopment is not unique to Spain. Rather, episodes of failed speculative urbanization are a recurrent circumstance throughout history, taking place at a range of scales with varying degrees of long-term effect. Recent examples of this phenomenon can be found in the Sunbelt region of the United States, as well as in Ireland, Iceland, Panama, Angola, Kenya, and the Persian Gulf. China in particular has been under increased scrutiny of late as a growing number of media reports and images emerge of massive, unoccupied new settlement being built in the country’s interior western and southern provinces. This proliferation globally of unoccupied and incomplete settlement over the past 20 years illustrates broader trends in the processes of urbanization, trends in which presumptions of — and desires for — continuous economic growth instigate intense financial investment and real estate speculation, seemingly indifferent to considerations of local and regional capacities, or changing market demands.
This one-day symposium will use the situation in Spain as a point of departure for challenging the increasingly generic strategies upon which contemporary urban planning and design rely in both established and emerging economies. The event will be organized through four primary themes related to the City That Never Was phenomenon— infrastructure, waste, landscape, and instant urbanism — in order to explore new possibilities for how future formats of urbanization can be conceived, financed, planned, deployed and inhabited.
To read more about the questions and topics that frame the symposium, explore an extended feature on archleague.org, which includes an article and discussion with Christopher Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa.
“The City That Never Was” is organized by Christopher Marcinkoski, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Pennsylvania, and Javier Arpa, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles, in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York.
9:00-9:15 a.m.: Opening Remarks: Rosalie Genevro, executive director, Architectural League
The development of urban infrastructure is often held up as a kind of panacea for alleviating economic and social ills. Yet the permanence and singularity that characterizes many of these systems as traditionally conceived often leads to unintended consequences for urban growth. This panel will engage how rethinking these systems of infrastructure through notions of flexibility and synthesis might produce more nimble and resilient settlements capable of negotiating the instability that characterizes 21st century urbanization.
Dominique Alba, director of the Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme (APUR) in Paris
Enric Batlle, co-director of multi-disciplinary design studio Batlle i Roig Arquitectes in Barcelona
Rania Ghosn, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan
11:00-11:15 a.m.: Break
11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Landscape
Understanding landscape considerations as a passive response to urbanization is a reductionist approach to land occupation. On the contrary, landscape-driven principles have the capacity to become the fertile substratum of new urban form. This panel will consider the potentials of ecology-led strategies for urbanization in contexts where issues of reforestation, desertification, water scarcity, air quality, heat islands, and habitat erosion pose fundamental threats to urban form.
Willie van den Broek, program manager of Metropolitan Food Security in the Netherlands
Daniel Zarza, professor of urban planning at Universidad de Alcalá, in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid
Chris Reed, founding principal of Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Adjunct Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design
12:30-2:00 p.m.: Lunch
2:00-3:15 p.m.: Waste
Urbanization is a fundamentally disruptive act that will inevitably produce material waste and social change despite any aspirations otherwise. This is not to cast urbanization in the pejorative, but rather to acknowledge and embrace a known characteristic of contemporary urban growth. This panel will engage the possibilities of waste and disorder as potential points of departure for conceptualizing new urban formats, rather than an undesired by-product that must be efficiently designed away.
Iñaki Abalos, Spanish architect and professor in residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Design
William Braham, associate professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania
Robin Nagle, anthropologist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitaiton, and clinical associate professor of anthropology and urban studies at New York University
3:15-3:30 p.m.: Break
3:30-5:30 p.m.: Instant Urbanism
The demand for instant urbanism, or cities pursuing the “quick fix” to their economic woes has created a global condition in which replicable, pre-packaged formats of urbanization (SEZs, casinos, high speed rail, expos, airports, super-talls, waterfronts, signature parks, etc.) are presented as instruments of expediting access to limitless economic opportunity. This panel will contrast these commodified spatial products with the possibility of a more agile urbanism that anticipates the multiplicity of potential outcomes – including failure – in conceiving new urban form.
Keynote: Llàtzer Moix, journalist and architecture critic for Barcelona newspaper “La Vanguardia”
5:45-7:00 p.m.: Reception at the Architectural League of New York, 594 Broadway, Suite 607
Iñaki Abalos is a Spanish architect and professor in residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His work has sought to adapt the high rise so that it serves public as well as commercial functions, such as water purification for the city. He was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s “On Site: New Architecture in Spain” exhibition in 2006.
Dominique Alba is the director of the Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme (APUR) — the urban planning agency of Paris. Her expertise on urban infrastructure matured through her work in Europe and Africa, advising Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë on urban renewal and public space.
Enric Batlle explores the connection between architecture and landscape as co-director of multi-disciplinary design studio Batlle i Roig Arquitectes in Barcelona. His landscape design for Las Llamas Park is published in The Public Chance: New Urban Landscapes.
William Braham is Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches graduate courses on ecology, technology, and design. His most recent projects for Penn include the Sustainability Plan, the Carbon Footprint, and Climate Neutrality Action Plan.
Rania Ghosn is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan. Her research investigates the geographies of technological systems—such as energy, food, and trash—exploring their potential as they relate to architecture and urbanism. She is founding editor of the journal New Geographies and is editor-in-chief of the journal’s Landscapes of Energy (2010).
Llàtzer Moix is a cultural journalist, responsible for twenty years of cultural reporting in the Barcelona newspaper “La Vanguardia,” where he now serves as editorial writer, columnist and critic of architecture. He is the author of the books “La Ciudad de los Arquitectos” (The City of Architects — 1994), about the urban transformation of Barcelona before the 1992 Olympics, and “Arquitectura Milagrosa” (Miraculous Architecture — 2010), about the excesses of iconic architecture in Spain after the opening of the Guggenheim Bilbao.
Robin Nagle is the anthropologist-in-residence for the New York City Department of Sanitaiton, and is a clinical associate professor of anthropology and urban studies at New York University. Her research focuses on the category of material culture known variously as garbage, trash, or waste. She is particularly interested in the labor and infrastructure required by discards in urban contexts. Her book Picking Up, an ethnography of sanitation workers, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux next month.
Chris Reed is the founding principal of Stoss and Adjunct Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His research interests include the impact of ecological sciences on design thinking, and city-making strategies informed by landscape systems and dynamics; he is co-editor of an upcoming volume of research and drawing titled “Projective Ecologies.” His innovative, hybridized approach to public space has been recognized internationally, and he has been invited to participate in competitions and installations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, the Middle East, Taiwan, and China.
Willie van den Broek has worked for Wageningen UR in the Netherlands for over 15 years. He is Program Manager of Metropolitan Food Security (MFS) and operates as a business developer and project leader for large and complex assignments. In this role with MFS, he focuses on the design of integrated food chains that need to be embedded in the local metropolitan landscape.
James von Klemperer is a Design Principal at KPF, where he has worked as a designer since 1983. He has been responsible for a wide range of program typologies and project scales, from a house to a city. He has completed major mixed use projects in China, such as Hang Lung Plaza 66 (Shanghai), and Hua Mao China Central Place (Beijing). He also led the master plan for New Songdo City, a 1500-acre town in South Korea that received the first Green City Award from the Urban Land Institute in 2007.
Richard Weller is the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Formerly he was Director of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and the design firm Room 4.1.3. He was honored with an Australian National Teaching Award in 2012.
Daniel Zarza is Professor of Urban Planning at Universidad de Alcalá, in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid). His portfolio includes work on the Master Plans of Madrid, Seville, Granada, Bilbao, and Alhambra. He has worked as a consultant for the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Guatemala, and has received National Awards for several of his urban design, planning and landscape projects.
Christopher Marcinkoski is Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a licensed architect and a founding director of PORT Architecture + Urbanism, an award-winning urban research and design consultancy based in Chicago. Prior to his appointment at Penn, Mr. Marcinkoski was a Senior Associate at James Corner Field Operations in New York City where he led the office’s large-scale planning and urban design projects.
Javier Arpa is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles (France). He is a licensed architect and focuses his professional activity on architectural research, curatorship and publishing. He is the co-author of numerous internationally renowned publications on contemporary architecture and urban planning (Density, In Common, Civilities, Hybrids, Strategy and Reclaim Series by a+t architecture publishers). Prior to his editorial career, he worked for a number of architecture firms in Argentina, The Netherlands, Spain and France, and led several urban planning projects in China.
9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
557 Broadway, New York
Half-day — Morning (9:00am-12:30pm) or Afternoon (2:00pm-5:30pm) only — $10 for League members and students with a current ID; $20 for non-members. Individuals from Architectural League member firms may also purchase tickets at the $10 member level.
Advance tickets may be purchased here through 5:00 p.m. February 21st. Purchased tickets are available for pick-up at the venue check-in desk and are non-refundable. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the conference.
Additional support has been provided by the University of Pennsylvania Department of Landscape Architecture.
Architectural League programs are also made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.