20 Episode results for "Harvard Graduate School of design"

Work-Life

Future of the American City

41:29 min | 1 year ago

Work-Life

"I think as a discipline we try to capture that perfect moments for me an interested in what happens when we're not there from the Harvard Graduate School of design this future of the American city conversations on on how we live where we live on Charles World. We're here with Chris. Read a landscape architect architect whose work focuses on dim ecology in public space. Chris joins me today to discuss his concept of work life. Welcome great to be here. Let's begin by just explaining. What do you mean by this concept of Work Life and how do you develop it through your research and practice work. Life is isn't idea that was initiated. Really reflecting on the various ways in which I've been working over the last couple of decades really As a teacher as somebody who does research and somebody Very much involved in practice in in very simple terms interested in the life of work and the life or after wives of the urban landscapes that typically were involved in in some ways the idea was initiated in part because of an interest in how we think about the design. Work that we we do no matter what a scale we're working at and quite interested not only in how we set up strategies how we set up physical Google forms how we designed a space for instance But equally interested in the afterlife. What happens in cities and in public spaces once we designers leave? How is it that our work capitalizes social activities? Social engagement in many ways that that really goes beyond the work that we've done it certainly set up by that work but it's something that has begins to have a life of its own. I would say there's an immediate interest in the social but you can begin to think about that too from an environmental Tori ecological standpoint. How is it? The physical constructions might inaugurate or tap into or amplify fi environmental dynamics That are already in play and so the idea that urban spaces cities have had lives and after lives that that are prompted certainly by the way in which we as designers and planners thinking work but that these things go on and begin to have a life of their own I think is really the Jerem of that idea. You mentioned your practice Stores Landscape Urbanism. You've been engaged with for now. Two decades tell us something thing about the work. You've been doing through practice. What kinds of projects? What scale in? which kinds of urban environments sure we typically are working in pretty tough urban urban environment so we're landscape architecture practice wholly committed to urban environments? My own entry point joint to landscape was through studying nineteenth century American cities it was not through Garden design and a love of plants. And so that I do love plants. It was really looking at the work. Of Frederick Law olmsted his parks and park systems the ways in which they really shaped and reshaped emerging developing cities in the nineteenth century these landscapes that own stead was designing functioned in many different ways. As of course they were open spaces and offered a reprieve at that time from the industrial city. They served recreational functions. They became habitat. Let oftentimes they integrated flood control. Often Times they set up. New Transit and mobility systems with parkways urban parkway in even then public transit systems like here in Boston said there were these multifunctional entities that really reshape the nature of the city. They were definitely definitely landscape projects but I would say they were projects of the urban projects of the city. That's my starting point. That's my entry point to landscape and so so many of the projects that we engage our urban there at the heart of cities. They're really tough. oftentimes their leftover spaces Sometimes Industrial Austrial spaces that have been contaminated in often. Many different ways. They're subject to social forces and economic economic forces that really competing sometimes So we're operating in a very sometimes contentious but vibrant let's say urban milieu and the scale of the work can vary anything from a small public plaza a quarter Acre in size on the waterfront in Milwaukee walkie all the way up to a five hundred Acre urban redevelopment reimagining strategies for the centers of cities like Dallas and Boston and some cities around the world. So it's really quite a varied practice really focused based on the urban and the social and the way in which we can begin to re inaugurate environmental ecological and social dynamics in those spaces. Would you say say that Your work is in some ways returning to that. Nineteenth Century origin of landscape architecture practice in which the landscape architect is responsible for synthesizing reconciling. Through these design projects a range of economic infrastructural in social tensions absolutely in fact that teams in which we now I'll have to work are really quite diverse in dynamic and multidisciplinary in can can range from having artists and public health experts to any a number of engineers to economic analysts and so forth but ultimately we're the ones that are synthesizing that work bringing it together in ways that any one of those disciplines can imagine but something about the way in which we're trained in the way in which we are engaging and multiple infrastructural social and urban systems of many kinds through the work. I think allows us to be that synthesizer while it it may be cliche to think of landscape as a A medium that deals with time with your formulation of work life. Are you suggesting that designers have not often enough returned to the lives and after lives The use the social lives of their projects in in some ways. Yeah I mean I think we are. All very interested did in that moment where when the project opens and we want the photographer on site and we want to capture that moment with landscape architects often comes a couple years later once a lot of the plant materials grown in but in some ways I think as a discipline we try to capture that perfect that moment and work with photographers Who who are practice and trained to do so? This project is different for me. The photographs are great. An interested in what happens when we're not there or what what happens when our architectural photographer isn't isn't trying to set up the perfect view with perfect lighting. What is it that takes place in these spaces beyond our control right? We think. Think heavily about the activities. The way space might be programmed the relationships the physical relationships were setting up But to have the the opportunity then to come back to live and relive to see what's happening in that space of its own accord is the thing that that is of most most interest to that end. We've engaged a photographer. Mike Bellamy from Asheville North Carolina. whose work it really is is more centered on photo journalism and portraiture? He's never done. An architectural project never worked with architects. And what he does do is capture people and social life and the relationship between people and their environment meant incredibly compelling ways so as an example he's documented life in an off the grid community in rural North Carolina where he himself lived for a period of time in order to document that life on the other hand he's documented various various urban cultures as well whether skateboarders or confederate culture in the south. He inserts himself insinuates himself into the environment really gets to understand the people non-judgmental and then develops a way to begin to depict hit what is going on in that particular community people's relationships to one another and people's relationships to their environment and it's this aspect of his work that I was really interested in so these Bellamy photographs are part of a larger book project that you're working on. That's right working with Mike and having him visit a number of the cities where we've been working over the last decade Maas Angeles Galveston Texas Saint Louis Milwaukee and Green Bay Detroit Ann Arbor Boston and Cambridge. Sometimes he's photographing the places. Were working sometimes. These photographing life in the projects that we've built and what he's capturing I think goes far beyond us in our work. It's really about the contemporary American city. The the issues the struggles. The tensions the triumphs the the ways in which people are engaging with each other and enjoy each other. It's very real. It's about real life but in some ways his photographs are able all to touch on the issues that ultimately we are dealing with as designers planners within the urban environment what of climate climate change and what the implications on people what of changing and shifting economies economies that are growing and strengthening but also economies that may be leaving others behind what of social and racial tensions issues of equity in many ways. These issues are at the heart of the challenges of the contemporary American city. He's capturing that through photos. The project will then have a series of writers writing in some ways in response to the photographs but within their own fields typically not designers curators a social activist and a college est and a few others who are really really using. Bellamy's photograph is prompt to begin to think about broader issues involved in cities today the rule of images and and the imagination of cities is something that's really central to the initiative the future of American city in that regard it strikes me compelling timely to think about images as not simply early instruments of persuasion so often you know designers. Herbalists are using images in a less than Disinterested way we have this long history gene our field as you know of images being used to persuade to sell Not always adequately representing alternative futures and so to return to to these projects after a period of time and to use images to describe a kind of urban life strikes me as timely. How do you reconcile that with the role of design So often in our history in the design fields a return to the societal a return to questions of Environment Ernment has come or seen to be perceived to be an opposition to design but your conception of work life seems to try to reconcile those two tensions. I can put it that way. That's right I think design has the ability to do so much more than just the physical artifact that results from the work. What is it that our work? Prompts what is it that our work engages as a landscape architect inevitably. You're engaging engaging things beyond your control. The Environment Rain Wind climate son people. You cannot control the way in which people people day to day are gonNA walk through or inhabit the particular environment that you've created and so in some ways from the start. I've been very interested in this idea of the interplay between those things which we have very detailed control role of the design work and those things that that design work engages or plays with plays in an end those sets super relationships to me. There's something I don't WanNa say it's it's a neutral both end situation but it's one in which it's highly specific in many ways very intentional but intentional with the acknowledgement that it will take on a life of its own and move beyond the control of the single designer to me. That's energizing so when you've returned to these projects through the lens ends of Bellamy's photographs. Have you come across. Have you witnessed. Have you seen these products in a new. In a new way have been revelatory. In that sense they changed the way that you'll understand even the work that your own practice of engaged in they do. They capture people in a way that I've never before seen in in in this kind of work fully engaged or fully distracted not always smiling not always relaxing. I mean so often designers or designing for the happy life for the good life and he see the full range of human emotion in these those moments and sometimes if the loneliness those moments of frustration those moments of tension those moments of pure play and relaxation. And freeing I mean it continues to inform interest in in human behavior that have had from the start that ties back to both the way in which I would watch my kids when they were little hop down the street and create games out of utility covers because they didn't know whether utility cover was it was just a shape on the ground that they were making up a game. Aim around on the other hand. You can tie that from a disciplinary perspective to the work of William White and his detailed study of the public spaces of New York the social life That's prompted in them oscillating between these two things for me has been a good set of starting points but it's in some ways inform the way that I'm thinking about the design work that we're doing now. Mike is taking it a couple steps further to capture that in her in a way that does offer new insight on human behavior but new insight into the ways in which people use public space oftentimes the living room. Sometimes it is the place of high emotion and the sheer range of emotion and expression activity that it you see there is something that's really quite powerful and I don't take credit for them. It's more the people themselves and the way in which he's capturing that you description exception of These images in the way that they documented describe The quotidian the everyday life of cities in it strikes me as a timely response to the kind of The ubiquity of Photoshop montage images and the ways in which images of future public realm or so often used to sell as you say the happy life the good life everyone's then enrich and somehow everyone's above average with true and and we made a very deliberate choice at the beginning that the work would be all black and white so it's not high gloss it's not glamorized it is the every day it is the real and that's that's the court the interest are there ways That are already evident to you. Or maybe you could speculate on in which these these images of your prior work might inform warm future design. Work that you engage in. Have you begun to think about how your practice might change. On the design side in response to this some of set of awareness or set of folks receives he has ways of capturing the fleeting in the ephemeral. which in some ways have been you know lingering behind my interest our interests as a practice and the idea that we can circle back to some of those things and really begin to think about how to better tune soon design in the work to prompt to amplify some of these ephemeral moments whether it's fog or steam or wind or some other aspect of social life? I think there's a there's the beginning of a sort of self reflection of things that may be were of interest at one point that I think we want to revisit and find new ways of opening up again I think the work is also very fresh. It's new two days ago. Oh I got the dropbox full of images from Los Angeles and again and seeing that place through a different Lens through a different prince set of eyes. Even though for part of the time I was walking with him through some of these environments and talking and all of a sudden he's captured pat in intriguingly different ways than than I was seeing some of those same environments his experience suggested to you in certain contexts simply designing less if I could put it that way or maybe there are aspects of projects that deserve a different kind of attention. That's a good question. If Designing Xining less means allowing the built form to really support another set of activities absolutely oftentimes that can be done with very minimal means at the Plaza Science Center at Harvard. It's really just a simple surface. A few benches some edge planting saying and a whole lot of hidden utilities and foundations that actually support potential activities in events that are ongoing and constantly changing in that place exp but when you move through it when it still an empty in there just a few people lingering. It's a very very simple space without a lot of bells and whistles and not much going on there I think with very simple means you can set this up carefully. Have to be a little bit more muscular muscular about that. But that doesn't mean garrison in your face. It's how is it that you can manipulate the basic elements of the public almond landscape earth. Plant massing to really set up physical and spatial conditions that then prompt and support these kinds. So Sean Environmental Activities. You're imagining quite a lot of your work. Especially in more complex. Larger urban projects has been before design thinking about program thinking about use activity engaging with communities engaging with folks around. Well what should the future of this place be administered to hear you say something about that experience especially as it informs the programming and the desire for event and activity in relationship to these images after the the fact and if if they can shed any light on how you might think about programming differently I think we approach a lot of our work starting with the question. What could Happen here. What should we be doing and by extension? What is the brief oftentimes? A client gives us a brief says we wantagh Santa Plaza Public Space Campus Quad. You know. Here's the acreage. Here's a program list. Go to town expecting that the designer will simply then and make forum. I think we like to dial that back a few steps and really interrogate that say well. Okay let's talk about that. Let's talk about what you really mean by some of these and let's talk about maybe some of the things you haven't been thinking about so the pause at Harvard. For instance the intent initially was to make it a destination event space that would attract certainly audiences from around the school and the University Administration Students Faculty Faculty to become a real center point of social life on campus but also to attract other audiences residents visitors to the school. And we said that's great great but what about the everyday what happens. When those activities aren't taking place it needs to be equally compelling equally vibrant brand if quiet at those moments and so how can we begin to kind of expand and and and rethink the way we're talking about the the public space and how it can be multifunctional In work in many different ways and that to me is is is really where the core of of our work is a disciplined should be helping clients to imagine futures that they can't yet imagine themselves they have a kernel of an idea. Yeah something to build on but to engage us as designers. Help really kind of think expansively about the wider range of issues that could be in play in project and then to craft the brief that becomes the new starting point for the work moving forward. I think think I think that's an energizing and really creative and productive. Starting point you your description of your research on work life and the return in a way. Hey to the societal. and to the temporal dimensions of landscape I think the perils quite clearly at least in my own mind. I wonder if you'd agree with your interest in ecology so on the one hand for the better part of Of the past two decades. You and your practice have been associated with the performance of turn in landscape returned. Learn to an interesting dynamic. Akal Jeez through design I mean you're of course Founder of affirm itself named Dos Landscape Urbanism in which ecological process has been and quite central to your practice. How should we think about your interest in returning to program and the life projects over time in relationship to for those ecological interests that you really founded your firm? It's it's one of those connections that I've discovered through the work itself. You're right when we started. You know I was interested in taking on this emerging field of landscape urbanism that you and James Corner Muslim must five e and many others were involved evolved in in in initiating beginning the conversation around and at that point from the standpoint of practice my agenda was two fold one one. How is it that we might start to put those ideas into play into action and what what would come of fat and on the other hand? How could we collectively really push the discipline of landscape architecture to move beyond the single site to move beyond an agenda of design decoration that was really inscribed and narrowed over the course of the twentieth century? To the point where are we were either garden designers and and this is not a slam against garden designers that is an art and craft in and of itself or are we were simply dressing up building projects or or covering over scars from construction of Twentieth Century Infrastructure. This idea of landscape urbanism really pushed and said no landscape can do many more things that can be tied to infrastructure it can recover its role engaging larger Roger scale environmental systems motorways etc.. It can take on really complex urban agendas but oftentimes haimes. The starting point on any particular number of sites was ecology. How do we re inaugurate ecological life ecological dynamics on sites that had been radically transformed through industrialization or some other urbanization process in those cases? The projects really were about setting up the physical conditions to allow those environmental dynamics to play themselves out to have presence but also not to give them life and to allow those things to begin to develop on their own over the course of Taiwo when you're starting up practice you don't just get the biggest. I media's project at the core of a dense downtown you start with often smaller scale projects and we found ourselves els in garden settings and small urban settings really thinking about beyond any environmental agenda. Our people going to use these spaces. We started focusing a lot on furniture design in the design if the surface so Really Project AT GRANDMA'S TIKA BACK BACK Garden Festival. That happens annually We did a project called safe zone which which used brummer porn place rubber. A typically used in in playgrounds constructed and undulating topography very abstract set within the woods. In simply let people Blinn to see what they would do to see how they would engage that space who's radically different kind of space. So many of the Gardens in the garden festival were meant to be tactic. They had a particular message that they wanted you to understand and learn about and they were beautiful but this one is the the one that allows people in and allowed them to shed their in addition and play and explore. oftentimes the construction supervisor iser would be. They're encouraging people to take their shoes and socks off so that they could feel the sponginess of the rubber on their feet. But what we found was that people would just begin to invent ways to use this very abstract space whether kids were great at it. Of course they'd set up games and they tumbled down in over the mountains. But you know adults for invited into to really engage in play. Sometimes they need a little push but once you got the in the site they started to just explore and be themselves and we benefited from having the construction manager. Continuously Asleep photo document the life of that space. That was really the starting point for a lot of the work. Life work but series a subsequent projects. We became involved in in the design of seating and started to think about some of the same things. How do people want to sit? And what do they want to do with an urban environment and oftentimes in the space were sitting in the same kind of chair often on comfortably were squirming but more often than not people are starting to adjust themselves to that environment. How is it that you begin to make a particular thing? A Wall a bench your own by the way in which she position your body we begin to explore the idea of redesigning furniture that from the start would recognize is people have different body types body shapes body sizes that sometimes they wanted to sit properly. Sometimes they wanted to slouch. Sometimes they wanted to sit cross legged. Sometimes uh-huh they wanted somebody in their lap Sometimes they wanted to be reclaiming. How is the design of a single bench could begin to accommodate this range of of human behavior and I think these things started to click that that there was this relationship between how we designed to prompt environmental dynamics I annex in how we designed to print social dynamics in human behavior so I know that you've been working recently in Miami? I know that your research has taking you to do some work in over town and I want to ask you about that experience and what your perception has been the contemporary conditions in Miami and over town specifically specifically. I've always been fascinated with Miami as a twentieth century city so whether it's Los Angeles Houston Dallas Miami. These these are cities built. Their heyday was really In the twentieth century they built around infrastructure typically transportation infrastructure typically at odds with whatever the natural environment was And I'm quite fascinated there. There is a heroic quality to some of these constructions but of course worse they have some serious social and environmental effects. That are not so good so being able to return to Miami. I taught a couple of studios there Eh. Decade ago was a great opportunity. The studio referred to was teaching. Was Sean Canty at Harvard. Graduate School of design Shawn Shawn Z young architects really talented guy and together we crafted An interdisciplinary studio. You're to take on questions of what it means. To conceive of public projects and redevelopment projects objects within the contemporary city over Townsend. Incredibly Interesting neighborhood immediately adjacent to downtown Miami Subject to immense development development pressures. Miami is a booming city right now with a lot of development through a but overtones history is one of African American culture and Afro Caribbean culture. It was initially designated colored town. It was the only place in Miami that people with Brown and black skin. Gin were allowed to live but as that community developed in probably developed with substandard housing. And all that it actually we had an incredible Social and vibrant cultural life One of the stories that we heard is that a lot of times black black musicians would play gigs at the hotels on the beaches. But they weren't allowed to stay there and there was a particular hotel in over town that they would come. I'm back to and then the after party would begin their incredible photographs to street scenes vibrant incredibly vibrant neighborhood but over time additional racist zoning policies interstate highway construction that deliberately obliterated. The neighborhood did his really ravaged that part of town. So that you right now you have a significantly high vacancy rates high unemployment Some crime crime issues a largely homogenous poor African American community but one of Miami's multiple `table distinct communities scattered around the city each of which has its own identity and even in this slightly tattered state over town hounds still has a cultural vibrancy to it with some amazing food in particular. The studio took on the issue of what does does it mean to think about the future of places like this is high-rise high end condo development the only way forward when when we begin to think of housing people are there other ways to rethink the pub the crown can we re imagine the city to be more inclusive to be more equitable and to begin to develop those ideas around simple proposals for affordability housing Transit ends at an infrastructure of adaptation to climate change of creating a robust and vibrant public realm of investing in different ways in a place. I like that that are better tune to the people that are there and that are better tuned to a wider spectrum of potential city dwellers shot an is spent a couple of months with an interdisciplinary body of students architects landscape architects designers to really explore some of these issues to the core. We benefited from lily songs. Parallel Planning Seminar to begin to Earth Hidden Stories and hidden cultures of the place and then to begin to speculate on on alternative futures for what that community could be alternative to what is typical of development in Miami and many other places but addresses many of the audiences issues that are really at play in our conversations about Miami. Miami's Miami's been characterized as much as any other city any other American city. I'm aware of as really a city in which community identity has been inscribed historically directly through architectural identity. You know Miami is of course home to little Havana and Little Haiti and the the little little all the communities in which not only kind of coherent cultural formation but equally a form of architectural identity is legible all and in that context. It's interesting that you refer to over town's history of course over town like Brownsville in Chicago or Harlem in New York has had this extraordinary Mary. Cultural Life and at the same moment over town seems to be quite central to many people's plans and it's interesting to hear your reflections on how over town might be thought about as representing its own identity going forward. Can you tell us more about the studio. You're engaged in and the role of architectural identity in the making of an urban neighborhood. Yes the starting point. This issue of coach Roy. Dundee is something that we encounter her in many different ways in almost every city that we're talking Working in how is it that we honor the culture identity and Memory Maria of a place. How is it that we on earth maybe buried identities identities in stories that have often been deliberately buried because of social or racial issues? How is it that those come into play in the work we do? These are deepen difficult questions that we confront on a daily really basis in practice and they're incredibly rich in Miami. The question was what are the cultural traditions food. Being one of them we could use as a starting point for thinking about the way in which we develop urban strategies. What are the various programmatic proposals? We could make for public space that would better serve communities that that are there but it also broadened the audience invite other people in that might divert further diversify the place in a good way and what are the other you know. In some cases says basic needs that we could address through some of the projects the issue of expression architectural expression or identities. One one that's Difficult and have been thinking a lot about relative to our work in Saint Louis in a number of places in. We've been having some interesting conversation in about that. On the one hand were working with a woman. D- Nichols Young african-american activist artists in Saint Louis. And she tells me reminds me. Look everybody's the same their set of social common denominators that are common to all of us food and water the need for a safe place to live breath safe walk to school social interaction that that's the foundation of of life. No matter who you're talking to on the other hand we work with a number of artists and others who are very interested in very specific expressions of particular cultures. There's identities and traditions to the end of making art with signs and symbols. That are recognizable to people bull from cultural traditions. whose traditions have typically not an represented? So you can imagine any city has its collection of love boasts of white men in the public realm. What did the other cultural traditions that could be represented? That would make a little. Oh Kid from any one of those communities or cultures feel like she too was part of this bigger civic community. I don't have an answer to this question and in thirteen weeks. Studio is something that was really tough for the students to engage into engage in a deep and meaningful way as opposed to simply proposing a mural on the side of a building. A lot of students Because they knew they couldn't go that deep decided not to fully engage us some of those issues and took the tack of of program and other ways that they could begin to address some of the issues. But I think the issue that you raise something that we think about on a daily basis and how do we design for that. How did we design in ways that signal to all people that they're welcome here you've been working on a host of American cities you mentioned the legacy cities you've been working in places like Detroit or Saint Louis you've also of course been active in Los Angeles and Houston looking more. Broadly at the future for the American city. And thinking about your work. What can we say? The central challenge is going forward in your in your mind and where do you see a reason for the greatest optimism. Environment and climate change. Change is first and foremost among these. I think in many ways it affects a much wider spectrum of urban dwellers even than we're already talking about climate change climate adaptation discussions within design are often focused on coastal environments sometimes sometimes on inland rivers that flood. I'm as interested in arid landscapes interested in the urban heat island condition the fact that the the inner city gets very very hot in disproportionately warmer than other places oftentimes within those environments. You have have poorer more disadvantaged populations who cannot react to those circumstances in the ways that wealthier communities can how is it that we you re work adapt the inner city to better address. Some of these issues. What we're finding more and more and that's a good case of it is how how? Climate adaptation initiatives are now being directly tied to equity issues. How is it that we're thinking about all of our populations relations in different ways? How is it that we think about that in terms of housing and basic services? But how is it that we think about that. In terms of quality of the urban environment this intersection of the social the equitable the environmental I think is is one. That's just bubbling to to the surface now and could push ten -cially really reshape the way in which we think about cities as we go forward. Thanks a lot Chris for joining US happy to be here. You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for urban at the Harvard. Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the Knight Foundation and the generous donors to the American city city. Spines produces these Barbara. Charlie Gillyard Mercedes put out. The music is by Kevin Graham and JEB recording the engineer toward more visit ever T._a._C. Dot G._S._T.. Dot Harvard that E._D._U..

Work Life Miami Harvard Graduate School of des Harvard Mike Bellamy Los Angeles Chris Google engineer North Carolina New York Frederick Law Milwaukee Charles World Santa Plaza Public Space Campu Knight Foundation Boston Asheville
Landscape architecture, a portrait

Monocle 24: Section D

27:39 min | 1 year ago

Landscape architecture, a portrait

"<music> this is monica designed molecules. Weekly show dedicated to the best in architecture industrial. You'll design graphics and fashion. Am josh bennett coming up today. Landscape architecture quite simply is an art and a science and it's a shaping of the the built natural world. We'll get the lie of the land as a major new prize for landscape architecture looks to make us aware of designs beneath our feet and between buildings. He's also ahead to see designs. As just a kind of decorative feature is is to underestimate morris's designer and a thinker and a campaigner will keep things natural not true with a look at a new book celebrating british print and textile designer william morris and his love of flowers blooming marvellous if you ask me and we'll be looking ahead to the designed zayn being allah in zurich to all that coming up right here on monocle on design on monocle twenty four do stay tuned at very warm welcome to monaco on design architecture may be flush with awards but it's outdoorsy sibling blink landscape architecture has long gone without now thanks to the washington-based cultural landscape foundation. The discipline is finally getting its first international award award with one hundred thousand dollar purse up for grabs. The new prize will be awarded every two years to a landscape of note. A five person jury will select the first win in twenty twenty one monaco's nick minnie's himself a trained landscape architect recently spoke to charles birnbaum founder of the cultural landscape foundation nation. He began by asking a very pertinent question indeed. What does a landscape architect actually do. I always begin by saying that landscape architects are perfect orchestrators. Here's to deal with the built environment and in dealing with the built environment there has to be. I understanding an analysis of site as well as its natural and in cultural conditions. I think that landscape architects can be a small garden. They can be a campus. It could be parker parkway or boulevard system or network work. It can be plazas. They could be dealing with toxic sites and so you can see immediately you've stopped listening to that answer and i think one of the challenges that landscape architecture quite simply is an art and a science and it's the shaping of the built and natural world. What's the background of the cultural landscape foundation. How did you guys come debate debate. I'm trained as a landscape architect and i worked in the private sector for about a decade in the beginning in the one thousand nine hundred eighty s and i had the good fortune at that time of working on many of the nation's most celebrated works of landscape architecture so for example prospect park in brooklyn the inbox masterpiece boston's emerald necklace designed by omb said and other proteges in his office over several decades the first urban greenway in the world. I would argue possible possible. World heritage sites andrew jackson downing's extent landscape spring side and a host of others and one of the things that i witnessed during that time in the private sector sector was that landscape architects by and large didn't value history and culture at the same level in which they were trained to to eat good stewards of nature and ecology so that was the first dilemma. The second thing was in one thousand nine hundred. I went to the national park service to the federal government to set policy policy for specifically historic and cultural landscapes so in the u._s. In a way that we have had standards and guidelines in place as a result the historic preservation act of nineteen sixty six for historic buildings. We did not have those for landscapes and so when i went to the government in ninety two i spent the the next five years as the author editor and then getting these guidelines ratified they're required by law if you're going to have state or federal funds and so it it provides a framework to be good stewards for america's landscape heritage now after completing that one of the things that i i realized is that i mean i. I realize this before then but landscapes are not buildings. People have emotional connections to landscape gardening golf are amongst amongst the nation's favourite pastimes and one of the things that i thought was kind of a bit wacky about that was this top down approach sticks not carrots and what we really needed to do is teach people how to see and had evalu- landscape more broadly beyond what often referred to as the bees and bunnies and so i had the good fortune in ninety seven ninety eight of being a loeb fellow at harvard graduate school of design with the goal of incubating creating the cultural landscape foundation which was to be a a non membership organization where everything was free and open available on our website and this is around the time that the web was just starting to take off and that's where we started started and it was the volunteer gig for nine years and today we're staff of ten international prize and landscape architecture is our forth programmatic leg in our table building on not you mentioned that it was a volunteer the first years how's the foundation funded now so the foundation is funded very diversely and whether it's funding from our board of directors and our stewardship council. We do a lot of programming about every eighteen months. We have a big conference. Our conference this year which is looking at the role that landscape architects play in shaping cities leases is focusing on dallas texas and that's october third through fifth of this year and it really shows in cities like dallas that landscape architects play a leadership role in shaping the future of the city but also was intriguing to me. Is we also see that. Many cases things have changed in one hundred years. There's one hundred years ago in dallas for example george kessler who was the planner landscape architect he's often referred to as the homestead of the midwest who laid out the kansas city park and boulevard system system among other places when kessler went to dallas in the early twentieth century. What he found was the city that had to deal with a river that was flooding. He was is challenged with connectivity. Although they wouldn't call it equity then they were dealing with people who lived in the high grounds and the low grounds and they were looking at the need for an increased amount of open in space and even then they were witnessing in that ten year period a three hundred percent growth in that city which sort of echoes the need for the price today. We've got seventy five percent of our culture who are going to be living in cities by twenty fifty looking at nine billion people people on earth so hardly a good enough number of landscape architects to <hes> address that at this point the interesting thing about it for me is that it's not for a particular landscape project which prizes seemed to be. It's rather for the body of work landscape architect. Why was honoring design his legacy more important than sight honoring one of landscape project before answer that question is this setup to that. I want to tell a personal story as we were crafting the need for the prize you know of of course the pritzker has been in place since nineteen seventy nine. It's forty years old today. It didn't start being known at the level that it is and that really is the gold standard today so you see r._f._p.'s that come out for cultural institutions that mandate for consideration that the architect is a pritzker prize winning architect so it's been enormously successful successful in the case of landscape architecture. There is the jellicoe prize which comes out of the u._k. It doesn't have a cash price and that has been around for some time there. There are a myriad other prizes but in the u._s. For example there is the national medal of arts. I think there's about three hundred fifty recipients. Today there have only been four landscape architects in the history of the program and the last to receive the national medal of arts from the president was laurie olin in two thousand twelve laurie of course worked on the docklands in in the u._k. And a panoply of projects in the us that change the way we deal with waterfront revitalization projects like bryant park over the last year. I renting to laurie at the national building museum by chance laurie is very upbeat person and one of the things that he said to me that day was quote. I'm going to outlive my legacy and so this was kind of a remarkable statement to here on on many levels also but if you think that landscape architecture is an art form which i believe shouldn't it be considered in the same way as stewards as we look at the future continuum of telling the story of our individual cultures and so with the prize. I think one of the things that became immediately immediately clear to us is in conceiving this that first and foremost the prize had to raise the visibility and value of both the profession but but it would also aim to honor and to fortify the legacy of the individual designer or designers that are being recognized so we have have a three legged stool that we approach everything with i would say that this applies to the prize program as well make visible instill value you and engage charles burn down the founder of the cultural landscape foundation speaking to monaco's nickname niece and you can find out more about their work at t._c. Al f. dot org. You're listening to monocle on design. In a moment we'll be reassessing design classic the work of print and textile designer william morris do stay with us in the nineteenth century many of the u._k. Cities were clouded in the literal and metaphorical smog of the industrial feel revolution one designer however was looking to the nation's crafty past and sunlit plans for inspiration. William morris is a cornerstone of the british design identity with his floral motifs for fabric paper and furniture that have found their way into locations ranging from st. James's palace in london to high street fashion retailers a man one of many talents morris's almost equally well known as a poet novelist and social activists who left us a phrase that i often personally ponder have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful wise words. I think you'll agree but i digress. There's a new book william morris's flowers which collect some of his most influential designs signs multiples. Tom hold recently met with the author rohan bain at the william morris gallery in walthamstow east london where she is all set the senior curator. Here's what they had to site so apart from seventeen the band william morris is probably the most famous person to come out of boredom stone east london so he was born hair at a time in in eighteen thirty four where more than stowe was a rural suburb of london so the people that lived in this area were generally quite wealthy okay so they had all the benefits of having countryside was so easily commutable into central london was he distinctly of the land or was e someone someone who also had an awareness of the city and urban urbane thinking yet sedately he was he was london born and bred rayleigh and he was well aware aware of the kind of rapid pace of change in industrial victorian britain and although you could see that his designs bringing in and bucolic idea of the english countryside he is by no means someone who's looking at nature in style gic way or in idealistic listed way he brings in the british countryside into people's homes and he's thinking about how people live in urban environments and i think you can see the way he uses his flowers and nature as actually a kind of statement against this rapid industrialization. Actually he seizes destroying the land so i think you can see that this comes through and he was a political person so to see the designs is just a decorative feature is to underestimate morris's designer anna thinker thinker and a campaigner. I think it's really easy for people to see anything that perhaps has floral motifs or something that feels in any way a little bit traditional and they completely remove it from the person themselves because he was at times quite radical leftist here is quite passionately about empowering the great republic and these threw ideas that probably didn't sit well with the partition establishment at the time. Yeah morris himself really became disillusioned when he became a designer. It was really to see how he could try and make people's lives better through good design. These are ideas that were picked up by the bow house for example in nature designers and i think we have morris to kind of credit for the way we think about how design can improve your life however the way he chose to make his patterns and his designs was quite expensive offensive so normal people can afford it and of course he then did get picked up by rich people in victorian britain became really the height of fashion. You know if you had money a had morris and co interiors in later life. He became kinda conflicted because he said his designs where picked up by the swine initial actuaries of the rich he said so quite damning against his clients and the people that made him wealthy brewer who was quite rhythm so he came from money. Didn't they came for money. You you could see that. Maybe that's hypocritical. Actually there aren't many people that come from that kind of wealth and then want to make the world a different place and they think about people that don't have money and his by no means am kind of champagne socialist. He really wants to host revolution. He wants revolutionary change. He wants to be in production in the hands of the workers that is what he wants and that's quite controversial to the people that you had the kind of circles his mixing in at that time so we're standing ending in front of one of morris's first designs for paper it's a trellis like a garden with rose growing up hit and in between the flowers and the roses these lovely birds and small little insects so this is morrison i i'm for paper and it's quite controlled in a way because as of the squares of the trellis going to control the pattern but this is shows morris's quintessential approach to design that he has this the way of using the rose which is climbing up the wallpaper but it's controlled by this trial s so morris thinks about nature industry using plant awesome flowers in a controlled way to see if they scuttled over the paper it means it's going to be a random pattern and not going to be enjoyable but by controlling it it brings a more harmonious pattern as you say we're looking at this trellis design a grit designed with the flowers threatening all the way through it and it's a real kind of almost like industrial heft heft to the heavy lines and things yep sedately. He uses definite line or the flowing off the vine. The rose flows into each other. There are no lines lines that just kind of trail off and go into nothing. He has definite outlines definite shapes. You can't always identify or the flowers immerses patten baton so when i was writing the book that was one of my main challenges. I'd be staring at her kind of basic flower shape thinking what is this. Is there some kind of meadow flower our icon identify but actually gave up on it because it's pointless because you know he's not trying to do direct representation is taking elements of air. Maybe he started with an idea of flour and then he thought you know what i want. Five petals not six so he chose the design over the reality or do wonder when you talk about he's really quite forward thinking methods did he see himself as of route c. Craftsy kind of designer or did he see himself as a bit of a fairly ruthless industrialists china's or push things well. I think it's maybe a mixture of both. It's not simple with morris so the great thing about morrison what makes him him. Such a good designer is that he learned how to do everything himself. He taught himself how to embroider for example when he was in his early. Twenties not many young men against be sitting at home doing embroidery sorry but he did that because he wanted to learn how to do it. So when you learned something you can then understand the limitations and potential and you can break the wolves or you can use those as was so that's what makes him a great designer. He knows how to make things by hand and he respects craftsmanship. He is a commercial businessman for example. He <music> decorated sent james's palace and he knew that that oil connection with lati- was the british public. We're gonna go mad for say he produced his own version russian of saint james's wallpaper for the general public and it was really popular because he knew it was going to be a commercial success and he had a factory and it was quite a beautiful factory he planted flowers around the edge of the factory and his work has had gardens and allotments however it wasn't vianney means a socialist utopia and he himself later wrote about how factory might bay and he talked about the idea of a factory but he actually didn't achieve in his lifetime. Where would we be seeing morris's designs kind of in the mainstream today. Do they still have that influence. Absolutely ic- morris is more. It's like a curse when you work okay because you see morris everywhere. I walk down the street and i can say someone's wearing a show. <hes> carrying an umbrella morris actually would probably objected to that because he was so specific pick about the way he wanted his patents to be used one. That's really popular at the moment is black thorn and it's a dark won't pay with lovely jeweled colors and it was made by morris is kind of disciple henry dell who worked for morris and was influenced by his style but i've seen it in really well in cocktail bars. It kind of creates a dark atmosphere. I swear another one is morris really early. Design is daisy and that's really baking scandinavia and it really fits with light. Would you might have a plane war but just one war with daisy wallpaper on it so he's constantly being adapted and we introduced to interiors and clothing as you say i find that trickle down of design that's now getting into century or a centuries old kind of interesting as in because at the time when people would have been buying william morris's stuff from room him directly. I guess they would have been an element of a statement about either. They were perhaps aligned with his politics and they found him in inspiring demand from that side or as you say i mean he trod this. He had a foot in both camps and he did things for the royal family as well so i guess it was very aspirational as well when people cool by say show from a high street chain and it's got a william morris design on a subconscious level. We're kind of statement is someone wearing a william william morris esque design saying that even aware of really yeah i think it's difficult because i see closing with morris patterns on a calm but i think of morris and how dismayed the workers that were exploited to make for example my mom's a lifelong labour supporter and she was campaigning for labor and she knocked on a door. The owner wasn't embassy could see that they had morris wallpaper say she thought i can gotta sympathetic person living in this housing and come back and give them thousand leaflets then she came back on the door and this man answered and she spiel about why he should vote labour and in no uncertain terms he basically told her to f. off and my mom was so affronted that someone kid have william morris will pay per in the house and not be socialist so you can definitely have william morris. Yes and you will have absolutely no affinity for his politics. I mean that is the power of designing in itself isn't it. It really shouldn't be about politics. Should it should be about whether he like what you see. Maybe i wouldn't have agreed with that by he say he was a commercial man. As soon as he opened a shop people did what they wanted to do with his patterns and he had no control asylum officer exactly rohan bay not speaking to tom hall at the william morris county in east london and ruins book william. Morris's sources flowers is out now published by thames and hudson. You're listening to monocle on design. We'll be getting a sneak preview of design biennale zurich in just a moment don't go anywhere they designed being all dessert is a growing event for the city which is now in its second installment and kicks off at this thursday. The twenty ninth of august that is monaco's man in switzerland colored silver schmidt met with the events wants co founder and curator gabriella. Keep carrio at our zurich. Bureau insee failed to learn a little more. I think swiss-designed scene is very international. This this could be because we are in the middle of europe not part of europe in the middle of it and it's very international and i think there are hardee's <hes> the design schools that are really good and they form a lot of talented designers so think swiss-designed is also known own the world. Especially graphic design with style is very famous. It's not very like crazy but i think it's functional. It's it's like well done. It's practic and there is still a little little bit of humor not too much not too. You know it's like it may be like swiss. People are a little bit and this design benalla. It's spread across the city of zurich. What are some of the key venues news or where can venture to to experience design benalla so like the first location. That is our center kind of. It's it's a at the former s._p. So the train company workshop in austin. This is also the main venue and the biggest one and then we have off at the museum freakish dull on we have the swiss game design lounge and the third venue is the old botanical garden in the city center later where you can like this cover outdoor installations so we have product. We have game interaction design. We have textile design design. If sinatra feel a little bit and the so it's like design installations you can test and discover and you launch conference two years years ago. What was the idea and this conference or design biennale. We miss that in switzerland is like designing designing went happening where you really talk about design and not final products so it's not a fair you cannot buy anything and it's really about explaining design process explaining what design can be entered different disciplines and as all people working for design biennale more or less old people we are all signers ourselves and so we really want to talk what we do. What is our job but designed can do and and not really like self thing that is done and the design biennale has a very vast program you mentioned it from interaction design but one particularly one that might be unexpected to some of our listeners is swiss game design lounge. What can visitors expect there. So we our guest curator mike it-it's she made a selection of like the most surprising games from switzerland so a really important part for the selection or aspect for the selection whilst today or experimental and they have a big part of design so there are projects that are handroll on or dad like workers wetter graphics and these are like unknown parts art in games normally and so we would like to invite people to discover like these new generation of game designer and also also the rest of shows very different or not very cliche picture of swiss design would you would you say makes desert designed zayn bin ali different than other design events in switzerland that we really focus on the process and that we tried to the not commercial so this is kind of hard to organize something without being commercial but we really go deeply the into the products and into the projects and lee search like designers who work in an interesting matter and there's also a conference where you have invited a number of speakers to talk about their processes and how they were. What can we expect that the conference so it's a conference we were thinking about what we would love to have as a conference and what we don't like or these long a long conferences with a lot of introduction and then you have the main speaker and you wait for hours to listen to him or to her so we wanted to shorten it for a maximum and to invite only the main speakers and with no like oldies yeah introduction part we just put it away and as our theme this year is play way we thought about the moderation and so we don't have a moderation now or we have moderation but it's not a person it's a moderation bought so it's a computer voice and then animators moderator her name is paula and she will guide through the whole whole conference and so this is also part of this like what can happen or how could a conference be to be like entertaining and playful awful and the very future and forward thinking experiment as well as as it sounds yeah we for us. It's really an experiment. We don't know exactly what happens happens but we are really happy to know that all these like boring parts also like this yup. It's important to say thank hugh to all the partners but on the other hand. It's always a little bit like you do. It and it's not comfortable for everyone. So this time it will be different as like aac paula. We'll do it in her way. So this could be done really funny. Gabriela kerio they're speaking to follow silber. Schmidt designed biennale zurich kicks off this week on the twenty ninth of august twenty nine thousand nine to head down. If you're in the city saudi that's all we have time for on today's show but don't forget if you need a few more design minded finds in your life you can subscribe to this show and assist podcast monaco undesired xtra which is available each thursday you go head to your local newsstand and seek out a copy of the monocle kasama weekly newspaper or at the latest issue of monocle magazine if that's your thing monocle on design was produced by tom fall is edited by may lee evans. I'm josh bennett. Thank you very much for listening goodbye.

william morris morris zurich william morris gallery william william morris josh bennett william morris switzerland london harvard graduate school of des charles birnbaum founder pritzker prize monaco dallas andrew jackson downing william morris county nick minnie monocle magazine
Elevating Landscapes

Future of the American City

42:33 min | 9 months ago

Elevating Landscapes

"I think our city is really on the verge of being completely adapted to living with an on water. I don't think it's going to be a horrible thing but the city of Miami and the county are not the theory from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future the American city conversations. On how how we live where we live on Charles Waldheim Linda Spear and Margarita Blanco landscape escape architects whose work focused on the building of ecologically performance of public spaces. Laurindo and Margarita. Join us that. He discussed their work in elevating landscape. In and Miami Laurindo Margarita. Welcome thank you. So you're both architects and you're both architect. Sue made a decision early on to be committed. Hated doing work. In the public realm and appoint mid-career you might say decided to to retool to ratify landscape architects. Tell me about that. Tell me about at that choice and the decision to train as a landscape architect when you had already established careers as architects working in the public realm of some prominence. I mean for me I it just felt it was. There was something unconscionable about the way we were going about architecture ignoring the site entirely and even thinking to ourselves is not even necessary to see see the site at times and so at some point maybe more than fifteen years ago. I said it's just not the right way of doing this. And I thought you know to do it right. You'd have to be a landscape architect as well and because we had worked in China for forty years we were one of the first firms over there and we had to familiarize ourselves with funkaway and I thought you know. They have the right idea even though they're not calling it landscape architecture effectively. It's what it is and what you really should be doing doing an so cousin of mine is the functionally neck romance or Gio Answer. WHATEVER THEY CA- and I thought well I could do that or I could could just be landscape architect so then I got kind of excited and interested in doing it and it also seems really a feminine in a way pursuit because you think mother earth and and you know being involved in landscape seems the right thing to do for women in a way? I had this Glib idea that since I had already been an architect it was like super super easy to be a landscape architect. Oh I had to do is call de PBR. Whatever they call themselves department of Business and professional regulation and just announced that okay? Could you kindly give me a license and I tried that. It did not work at all zero so you cannot get a license that way at all and they said none. Oh no you have to go go back to school. We're not going to accept anything. No experience no nothing. I couldn't I be kind of grandfather and grandmother then no not possible so there wasn't really a choice. 'cause I don't think just digging around with drawing and saying Oh this is the landscape architecture really that is not at all. You need to go through the process so when I realized that after trying the shortcut route Eh Said No. We just had to rigorously goes through this thing and so somehow Margarita was in town and we both decided to go back to school together because we just had the same urge and so he cited to go to. Fau It's to your credit to make that commitment and We'll we'll return to that but I want to go back a little bit to the kind of the origin origin story. You were you know at the at the foundation of architectonic producing extraordinary work over the course of decades at a moment in time really that I also associate with the with the growth of Miami. I I remember you know myself just my experience as a student in college in the mid nineteen eighties. Seeing the Atlanta's building published and thinking of revelation. This is that one one could actually imagine that as a project and seeing the cultural impact that that one project had so I wanted I wanted to go back and ask you a little bit about that origin. So you studied architecture you. You were a yearly where I steady academic Columbia and he went to Undergrad at Brown and then I did did a stint of urban planning mit but Through all of that. I think when we first came to Miami I think we were kind of form makers this more than anything and we got connected with Andreessen lives because undress and visit Bernardo had been not in the exact same classes but around each other's classes At Princeton Undergrad and so we kind of all reconnected. Here and so the way you were the four of us and then we'd brought in Irvine Romney because he had the license at the time mm-hmm and so is five and so it was really three people from Yale me from Columbia which is an and Bernardo from Harvard. And I think we felt L.. Like pioneers in the desert. 'cause we looked around this and all the other architects. We're really good like Al Parker Charles. Poly they were Morris Lapidus. They were good. They were just not thinking the way we were there was really no when our age. Who was really doing what we were doing? How is it that you all came to choose? Miami as a venue to strike upon Burnett a moment here by default casillas offered a job at. Um and he was an in Peru at that. Time was under kind of dictatorship. It was really impossible to live there and Andreessen Liz. I think came here by default because they were just kind of floating and raises. Nearest foothold was Miami. Otherwise it'd be Spain where he grew up and his grandmother lived here and his his parents were moving here from Spain so his family was centering. In Miami He he being accused exile. Liz just followed Andreas. She was from Philadelphia and her father was an architect actually. Liz speaks Polish fluently. She's Polish jokes so she was bringing a whole other cultural element the old world Europe and then my family had been here since I guess my grandfather came here in Nineteen nineteen or nineteen twenty as the first doctor in Hollywood and so I don't know why these people people want to tell him here. I was really godforsaken. I can't even imagine mother my mother growing up here in the things she do to go to school drive for ever and you know. It's like a pioneer place so this early days in practice the four the five of you this would have been in the mid late seventies. I mean certainly. There was a very strong kind of modernist tradition in south Florida. Florida generally The kind of Rudolph Sarasota School. The Miami modern the Lapidus material and I'm struck on the one hand by how different you know your practice was immediately in how legible it was. You know not just for a local audience but for a national audience right. I mean it was in the opening credits to Miami vice and it was everywhere on every magazine cover and as a you know a student of architecture in Florida at that time it was unmistakable. So you work together as before five for a relatively short period of the I really short and then they spun off with seaside in Robert Davis and we just this kept going. With finishing the Atlanta's the palace and the imperial with three buildings on brickell and then from there and kind of moving moment moment in time when the idea of making that part of brickell of a kind of city was quite radical. No yeah because there are people living in house there at the time and even like mayor for a had his this house. They're still at the time so Margarita. Let let's talk a little bit about your origin story. So you say your conduct. Sure you've got your license and you also had a notable career doing quite prominent network. I don't think that note of old but here I am Well I studied architecture in Cornell actually with Laurindo Sister Allison Eid after that I went to Study Economics in London so when I finished that I just stayed in London working for the Colombian Embassy for the trade and Coffee Federation and after like eight years in London I decided to go back to Columbia and with the Coffee Federation said up. A architectural studio with Ricardo will feel this Spanish architect architect and created the year that Tura Day last America which is his studio but for the Americas to do big urban low cost housing projects. And I guess I can say that I grew up. You know in the country in a way in the countryside so so I had a special connection to nature all my life and I always loved it and I didn't discover that there was a thing called landscape architecture until you know I lived in London actually and I was upset because having gone to cornell you know I would have thought that the school of architecture actor would be connected to the school of landscape architecture. But they're not you didn't even know they existed. The landscape architects didn't know we exist. That we didn't they existed. Things have changed now. Then it was a mystery so then. This situation in Colombia changed radically at at the end of the nineties tire was in the capital word was in bullet. Dont`a yeah we did five huge urban design projects like thirty thousand housing units with amazing urban spaces. That were very Nova tive for the mentality untalented of social housing in Latin America. But the situation got out of hand and Bofill said that he didn't want to go back to Colombia. Because they were gonNA GONNA shoot him more kidnap him or something was going to happen and we had to dissolve the dire so then my husband like Laurindo said worked in the music business. He had a recording studio in Bogota. He was offered some consulting job in Miami and he said all you WanNa come with me and I said okay fine so we came and eventually stayed and I went to school with Lorenza and here we are last story. I guess for me. The symmetry here is committed as an architect but you also had a sense that something was absent. Something was missing. This was a little bit of my experience in school was I was trained. Essentially did not talk to the landscape architects both at the undergraduate level in Gainesville Florida and in Graduate Agit School In Philadelphia that they were another species altogether and I think that our generational experience might be similar in that sense of a kind of opposition in between design culture or kind of environmental commitment. No when that's something I sense in both of your backstories as you're not thinking just two buildings as buildings per se cultural the objects or even just as instruments of commerce but they were addressing societal and urbanistic needs and so in that sense. I'm interested to understand more about how. Oh you identified the professional turn. So you encounter landscape architecture in London You have a sense from your cultural background your experience in Latin America of its potential as a the medium. And you have some sense from what you said about the limitations of architecture as an instrument. Let's say and yet like Linda. You made this astonishing commitment commitment again at the at the middle of a flourishing career to go into a new field new set of tools a new license That must have been a choice that you thought about a long time. Well No. I don't think I thought about it. I just sort of dipped into it. You know I think it sort of was a natural thing that happened after after going through all the public housing and Columbia. I think you know the transformation there in those specific projects was really astonishing. How you know these tiny little rooms because that's what they used to build? As public housing or social housing had no urban space or no public space no parks no green areas nothing and then all of a sudden they are in the midst of all this Green Gene Greenery. So that to me. Was You know something that I thought. Just needed to pursue or implement in a grander or scale right. I didn't know how it was going to happen after that I had no idea was GONNA end up in Miami. Had No idea that I was going to go to school. Would Lorraine dot nothing. I'm struck by the first of all the diversity of the conversation right. So we've we've we don't have like seven schools of architecture and landscape architecture in the next week that six six national origins. We've got different like that. Diversity I mean it it does speak to my experience of Miami as being a place that is on the one hand global city. A you could say but it's also maybe more specifically a place where a lot of cultures mix so you made these choices in the early two thousands to go back to school. That's yeah it was two thousand and three more than four thousand four. We went back to school and so as you went back to school as you both went on this parallel path was was it clear that you would immediately launched this new firm. or how does the transition from studying wanting to seek the license wanting to be serious about it and then the idea of forming this practice what how does how does that happen okay. Laurindo decided to create a landscape firm independent from architectonic. Okay okay it was her decision and then one day we went to take a course to take our licensing exam in Orlando and remember weekend we went there and it was like three quarters right and one of the persons teaching. The course was this elderly gentleman landscape architect architect. Who was at the time seventy years old? Whose name is George Fog? And he was an expert in park design. He had written mm several books on parks for the park and recreation entity of the of the nation. So George was there and we sort of became friends. France was George then. Lorenzo decided to create this new firm and asked me if I would be interested in. You know joining her to do it and so I said yes. I'd love to and then we had to find somebody that was licensed because it was the same case as architectonic tectonic. Both of us. We hadn't finished school. We still had one more year and so we said Oh Georgia's perfect one. We went on. We spoke to George and George became like our mentor and the three of US started together. Fantastic so you're committed to forming practice the idea of doing it separate from MHM but somehow affiliated with architect Tonka architectonic at this point in. Oh four or five is quite prominent internationally offices in a lot of places. He's doing quite a lot of work. Certain kind and so the idea to situate that within as a kind of boutique or salon firm within the bigger firm. How how does that? Ed emerge we sort of to get some of their drafts in there. You know like bike riders too so we took the name although we always had a little bit of misgiving about that. We're kind of we don't want to be in their shadow. And I felt that it was really easy to get sidelined or even to get in the situation -tuation where they architectonic. It was just sending US sketches to draft them up because they feel like they're better landscape architects than we are anyway all of them every single one of these guys and so it was a tricky little tight roping situation to try to stay independent and to clarify what we do. Luckily the city city of Miami and actually Miami Dade County required even at the time landscape architecture drawings be submitted for any project so that we were commodity that was like readily available. They needed us very badly. And there was some logic to it. We could stay ground just because it was a required element of all building permits thankfully awfully prior to that. I'm not so certain it had been actually required so as you started and you took on all this work. What kind of work were you doing in the first years I mean? What kind of projects were you engaged in? I would say mixed use and residential but then we struck lock. Because we were commissioned by Hertzog DOC and demure iron to do the art museum in Miami and Thou was basically the first project that was not with architectonic. So you know it was really. I think a turning point in our practice and we decided that we wanted to continue to pursue client's on a portfolio from other architects and not just architectonic. We've managed to do that. I think that today forty maybe be thirty five percent of the practice for architects other firms other architectural firms. That have you know hired us at some point and always come back you know and I think I'd say twenty percent of our practice so we're up to sixty is developers who come back to us without even their architect. The developer just says we y you so don't worry about the architect full just Get this thing so I'd say only thirty to forty percent of our which is now Donovan. Yeah interesting I mean you. You mentioned a pen. The Perez Art Museum Here which is it's an extraordinary cultural institution first of all say that second second of all its architectural aspirations of time when Miami was opening itself too much wider horizon natural talent but both in public work but also in commercial commercial and mixed use. Were the idea that ability and prominent building on that site hurt second would be clad or sheathed almost entirely in your work. It's quite a project to launch written Norman and this was only after a couple of years in practice that was exactly three years or two and a half years into practice so this would have been oh seven awaits awaits school and it was a competition really. I mean you know. We had to compete with other landscape architects. I don't remember who no I just remember ember that we spend a lot of time doing our presentation for them. You know thinking what we wanted to say and show on how we would actually may come alive their vision for the building and in the end they selected us and you know we loved doing the project. It was a fantastic past experience. You know we learned a lot from it as well because a lot of these things that we implemented in that project were done for the first time the hanging columns had never been done before the gravel parking Surface had never been done before. So there's the issues that have come through the years with all these but we're working with them to resolve them. We're working with Herzog and De Museum to find better ways of doing it but we also had a hurricane. Two years ago on everything worked perfectly as designed the building and you know the water went right through it percolated through the gravel which was the whole point of doing the garage because the whole building is completely Lee Let's porous right so what we didn't want was water gets to the garage and then where does the water go right. So that's why we you propose doing this at the time. The Code in Miami didn't allow it so you know we had to fight for it undid all sorts of mock-ups the architects supported us and so did the client and then the city you know and that's why it was done and I think that that's why I it turned out to be such a great building in the end. It's an extraordinary piece of work going for people that haven't seen it. They should do among the things that I'm struck by First and foremost most you mentioned the idea of the permeable under story right. So the idea that the building that's fronting directly onto Biscayne Bay credible once in a lifetime urban site looking across this incredible ecosystem the art lifted above but underneath everything absorbing water and you can see this in every decision about the surface of the ground downplaying the design of all the materials and the idea that that it works. You know another notable feature you mention these hanging gardens you know the kind of visual aspect of this Building is among other things especially on its public facing facade onto the bays incredible hanging columns of plant material that again to to. Have you know architects of of that caliber doing a work of that type and not only in the infrastructure accommodating sea level rise storm of it but also in the image of the building so so after the success of Pam you continue it done quite a lot of other work working directly with Development Community working directly with architects. And in that sense I think Arctic Hannukah Kajiado even in its first ten or fifteen years of of existence has really mirrored the development in landscape architecture. More broadly I think in that same two decades it's landscape architects have aspired. Many of them to move from being subcontracted to architects right toward being their own prime contractors actors in a way and sort of Mo- moving up the food chain in terms of the solicitation of public work and this kinds of things but in working directly with the Development Community have if you had better success than working with thinking about that and muggy tonight just recently had a conversation about return on investment or developers because two UN capitalized aspect of their project. They don't notice and they're only now. Starting to notice is the landscape because that makes all the difference in their projects for example. Just one around here brickell city centre without the landscape. If I don't know if you've looked at it or gone up there it would just be a very start concrete huge huge project but the landscape really makes it a desirable place to go I think. And as developers start to realize that landscape gives gives them return on investment that they hadn't even heretofore thought about or even considered they're more interested in contracting with us and engaging with us this is you say directly and you know the architecture is one thing but landscape architecture is really important for them. At this point I have this recollection at. I think it happened. It might have been a dream being at brickell sort of halfway up a building near a pool with an olive grove. It was I think it was probably silver button. Woods oh Maybe not a tree guy very similar to three. Yes correct. Yeah all our all our palate for brickell city centre all native. You know we have almost. I think five or almost six acres of green roofs. You know and that was is also I have to say a big leap that we took in our practice when we did brickell city centre because it's such a huge project. It was the the biggest in the United States at the time in the midst of a recession and the only green roof we had done at the time was at fau which was the largest green roof in Florida. Nine Thousand Square feet and it was also extremely hard because the code didn't allow it at the time gay believe it or not and that's two thousand six or seven you know they thought it was gonna fly away in a hurricane. There were all these issues about the hurricane. Gene Code in the end it turned out well and we changed. You know we we did the green roof and you know. It hasn't flown away any hurricane. CAIN and they're doing pretty well on the brought back a lot of birds and founder and BS and you know it's not only about the thermal the last weeks of it but also the you know environmental aspects. I mean it does speak to landscapes role in curing those kinds of environments which is among the things that's on offer in this part of the world. It's not just that it's not just a condominium unit or it's not just an address or a parking garage it's also the set of environments armaments. You're being invited into the people aspired to and murder. You mentioned the performance of measures right. So that's another thing again that your practice I know has been quite focused on is how how do we evaluate the performance of these places. How much groundwater how much seawater how much storm event? How many species You you know like has your firm Bidden finding ways to enumerate into evaluate that material for your for your collaborators. I mean we've started doing that. What we revisit? Our projects often to see how they're doing. We find that I think are most difficult. Challenge is really the condominiums because once they're turned over to the CONDO associations. It's a group of people that decide what happens in those amenities right so most of them want flowers you know so. They don't want native planting so they rip off our landscape to replace replace it for invasive plants. And so it's a lot what Laurindo says it's educating people you know and I think it's GonNa take take a while but you know the last fifteen years I think there's been a big change in mentality with the architects. At least and you know the quantifying that that you're asking about in the book for some reason we've been asked to quantify our results so that some of these book people can get a better grasp of of what we're doing and so at the beginning I was. I'm not quantifying type of person who you know. It's interesting because making the tables and figuring it out is enlightening joining for us and so we now see that. There's a big benefit in doing that and the book. Maybe we'll be a little tiny Nanno step forward in in in a quantifying landscape so say more about the book. What's the book is called the elevated landscape and it's called the elevated landscape for two reasons and won because our practice has really I wouldn't say specialized but a lot of what we have done? Our elevated landscape landscapes tapes above the ground guide on deck so that really tortoise a lot in terms of the integration of landscape and architecture sure and thou with something that Lorena was always interested in and you know cheap pioneered that with the ballet building the parking garage in Washington Avenue and so thou was vertical elevated landscape. But you know we sort of fell into this type of landscapes that almost every single landscape that we have done throughout ears is elevated trying to elevate the conversation in writing about landscape to get us. You know the equal footing with the architects too so the elevated landscape the publication is going to feature Mo- mostly work from Miami mostly worked from only work from Miami interesting. Because it's for the Miami National. We took that decision at the beginning. We were GONNA show you know other products abroad but we decided that we would focus just on Miami. 'cause we didn't want the book to be this thing that it could be like a portfolio online of project after project. That's what we did not want so we WANNA really laser focused book with a little bit of a message with a little bit of inspiration. which was a jumping off point? I'm for others to see and figure out an keep going forward and so we kept it kind of a slim book so yeah works. Works on a couple of different levels. I I I want to ask you about. Parking garages particular. If you'll indulge me on the one hand you've been working to think about the parking garage as more of a vertical surface than just sta a hollow. Shell you've been interested. Certainly in in Pam you've been interested to think about the barrages as not just a kind of container but as a central infrastructure for saving the art from the storm by sacrificing the parking level. But I think that even before that when Laurindo designed the La La it was already green infrastructure. Even though people didn't see it like that the the green facade is a filter to absorb orb all the carbon from the cars and you know take it out in clean oxygen and so I think that that concept of the green the infrastructure has been carried out through our practice since we started so thank you for that migrated. That's clearly articulate what I was trying to get at which his Miami generally has an interesting in the garage. I can identify. Maybe a half dozen that I think architectonic Certainly interesting and worthy of study just at the level of architecture the without going too deep but in your practice city of twinning autumn ability carbon around the edges with with the green services of landscape. That's unique no I. Yeah I know very few practices that are engaged in that combination of things. And you might say well. A part of that is the culture or the context here the climate. Yes but there are a lot of landscape architects working here and I don't see many of them that are engaged in that same set of conversations between a adaptation practices is green infrastructure and the performance of parking garage. No I agree totally with you Charles because I mean most of our competitors don't Designed with that in mind they have unique aspects of their practice as well but very few look at green infrastructure. You know I mean the farthest they goal is native planting. Maybe an I always personally I mean this is just me and this is very controversial. I find native finding a very slippery slope Ano- because I didn't even know where you. Where do you pick native date and things are really changing Mike Right now in my own yard which is tiny like a postage stamp? I have a breadfruit tree growing which Dr Rangan from the National Tropical Botanical Garden says as they shouldn't grow in Miami are they couldn't grow in Miami because Haiti was the farthest north. They could ever grow and she gave me when it is going perfectly. Well so I find the the question question of native of a fascinating topic. First of all the the idea that there's an appropriate cultural response to a certain region in architecture has largely been debunked thankfully over the course of the last century or sexual thought and and yet in landscape thought and in the garden arts still is pervasive this idea but as climate change and as the climate zones move north and as as species begin to migrate of. Course that's up for grabs. I mean the other thing is interesting to me. Is the origin of Miami Beach in itself as a kind of plantation. As a kind of you know the growing of plant crops as a part of the origin of of the site itself Miami Beach is quite a lot of fascinating material. Not there and I think landscape architects were struggling with that as you are in your practice dealing with that on on a regular basis so over the past two decades of the past fifteen years as you've built architectonic Kajiado you built an extraordinary built work but landscapes here in a city that's maturing so in addition to being the local landscape architects. Doing the good work. You're also global. You also work elsewhere. So where else are you doing work just now in Panama in the city of Panama. We're doing in the United States. We have several well. That's not abroad. It's here but we have in San Francisco in Nashville Tennessee in New York and then abroad our products abroad. Right now. Lima Lima. We have one. Yeah I'd one point. Most of our projects were abroad. I now most of our projects are in Miami. So it's sort of fluctuates. I think so and I want to talk more with you about about Miami so oh you know. It has a series of challenges that many American cities share but somehow in extremity somehow in large relief. We know that it's very expensive to live here. We know that a lot of people have a very hard time. Either immigrating here. Those that do arrive have a very hard time. Many of them affording pay for housing when you combine the the cost of housing with the Times of and cost of commuting miami-dade Metro moves to one of the first or second worst conditions in North America Africa. Even though the housing costs here may be lower than in my hometown in Cambridge Messier were in the bay area or in New York. If you add commuting time to housing affordability ability. It's very difficult for the working class. And at the same moment the the wealth of the city the boom of the city both the public institutions. But also certainly the condominium development seemed to be addressing very different population and so. I wonder if you've thought about that. I mean clearly practices dealing with a range of those issues from Kgo streetscape and Winwood community driven city client based work to also working in the districts that are building amenity and destination environments but from from your experiences landscape architects. You have thoughts about that. So how does Miami deal with those challenges in your experience. One thing I always find the immigrant. Population is really essential to Miami. Amy and so everything that's happening right now. vis-a-vis that situation is anathema to our city. Really I don't know how can go on. But one thing that's interesting to me is a a lot of these amenity driven condos that are inaccessible to the so-called immigrant. Population are actually financed by the immigrant population. And also they're great incentives here that if you visit threshold of a half million dollars I at which point you can get a green card if you have that type type of investment so that many investors want to do investment here in Miami for that Green Card and so that not only is there. Nimick population is finding it hard to get housing but there's an immigrant population that's financing the Empire City for the incentive of being able to stay here anyway and so I don't know how to articulate articulated but it's very ill seems like those condos don't You know relate to anything but they very much relate to the immigrant but I think that this bloom of super high end condominiums is probably going to last very long because there there is a sort of movement of building you know lower type you know more rentals apartments than condos. Oh so we have several affordable housing projects that we're working on not in downtown Miami. But you know not far. Either I think the the biggest challenge that Miami has now is mobility and if they would resolve that issue than a lot of the problems would disappear because they're enough built low income housing around Miami there is you know is just far. Yeah and the problem is that there's no public transportation in in theory. There is but in practice there. Isn't you know so you know. No the the the highways every time they're more congested. Everybody needs a car. Everybody needs a parking garage to park the car. I mean it's it's really a problem. Do you think in your experience in the city that we could be optimistic about a generational change with people moving to the city and changing and changing in their mobility habits. Where we're based in coconut grove? Different stratification of let's say income is very like everybody's living really close to each other and there are several free transportation elements that pick up from the one line thing that we train got and when is called the Freebie which I'm sure are even countered and when is the trolley both free and people use those to get to work and everything else and they're just really kind of easy to use Musa's especially the Freebie if you have a phone and so I think there's going to be a whole other network of transportation probably free. That's going to beast springing up because it's really serviceable is a range of experiments going on in American cities just now about that last mile and among them the trolleys and the free free connectors. Are I think interesting. So so we'd be remiss Without really talking about sea-level rise in storm event among the reasons to be here in Miami is it's among the US cities that's in the most extreme vulnerable condition. We know that's limestone geology. Mitigates against a lot of the clay and river based solutions. We've seen in the Netherlands or in other parts of North America. Miami beach has so-called nuisance flooding on a regular basis. The city's itself adapting to by elevating streets and and installing backflow preventers pumps and a range of other infrastructure improvements as landscape architects working in the public realm. Here for some time I. How do you think about your adaptation reputation? The adaptation of the city of Miami both in your own work but also more broadly as the city adapts to living with water and with storm event moral I mean we have the perfect example instills Phil and. I'm not sure the city Miami's is just not prepared to allow any building on the water but that is really very a very serviceable and very right. But we've always done also to allow housing as in Holland on houseboats would be really wise in them. They're not quite there yet. Although there lots of live aboard 's from where I live you can see and where we are in cut the grove. The Bay is full of live aboard people just living on their boats and they go up and down tight apple and they row into work. I think I said he is really on the verge of being completely adapted to living with an on water. And I think it's GonNa be a horrible thing but the city of Miami and the county are not quite there yet so clearly. There's a lot of work. Both for the designing classes. Architects landscape escape architects but also for the political leadership. I mean if you look at Biscayne Bay and both edges. Both the kind of island there are many many projects that really point toward a progressive and adaptable future. At the same moment it strikes me that there are many contexts where as new development imagines a new level of the city of floor or to above many of these projects have already built into their pro. Forma the expectation of either you know getting into and out of their development before the big storm hits or even building in a new level for the public brummel altogether. But I think your practice. The things is providing leadership through the built work. You're showing examples of how to how to manage hold storm water on site how to build resilient and sponge based aced kind of site plans and and how to do it not waiting for some catastrophic event in the future and not waiting for the city itself to fund these things but working within the The economy that the city enjoys today in that regard are are the projects you have right now in the office that you think of as interesting pointing away forward toward an adaptation of the city that you think other might WanNa want to benefit from learned from probably the park in Miami Beach K.. Were doing a park at the entrance of Miami Beach while we call call it five hundred Alton because it's in the cross you know. Road of Alton and fifth and the whole park has been designed signed for stormwater management and connections connections. You know both north South and east West so it's been designed and you know with the aid of the community with the city of Miami beach and also with the enthusiasm that we put in our practice to deal with all these issues especially storm water management which is critical in Miami beach particular. The community was very very strong. And and they they they created the whole program completely. Yeah it's interesting because originally decide which is three blocks was was coded for up to. I think a height of seven floors so there was a whole project designed for that site full density seven seven floors no urban space. You know just packed and at one point. I don't know how that happened. The developer came to Architectonic Bernardo. Actually suggested that what they should do was a tower and leave the rest of the land as a park for the community okay so it was very bold proposal it took a lot of work with the city and then with the community but when the community saw what they could get in return everybody jumped on the ship a now when they look back they say well. We can't even imagine what this could have been instead head of the park that we're GonNa have now. Margarita Blanco lowering the spear. Thanks very much. Thank you Charles You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for Organization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the Knight Foundation and the generous donors to the American city sparked. Our producers are Aziz Barber Charlie. The music is by Kevin to learn more visit every TAC dot gst G._S._T.. Dot Harvard that E._D._U..

Miami Laurindo US Miami Laurindo Margarita Miami Beach Columbia Al Parker Charles developer Harvard Graduate School of des Biscayne Bay Miami beach Miami Dade County brickell Florida fau Philadelphia Linda Spear Margarita Miami National The Bay
Redesigning the Dream

Future of the American City

33:25 min | 8 months ago

Redesigning the Dream

"I think that's another story to tap into. which is this idea of reinvention not just sort of fantasy but actual you know designed reinvention? Tom And I think we could think about updating that from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city in conversations on how we live. Where we live with Eric Howard howlers architect and educator were deals with technology and the public realm? Eric joins us today to discuss his work and redesigning the American dream. mm-hmm Eric Welcome. Thank you so you've been working most recently on a studio and research project focusing on Miami with respect to questions of of housing. Tell us about the studio so we're looking at. Miami is a city but also through the lens of Housing and specifically through lenses of climate adaptation mobility ability and to some extent affordability. Miami does seem to be on the kind of frontline of climate change. It is a city that will experience extreme weather extreme events and probably I. It's already happening in a way. It's happened for a long time but it does seem to be sort of entering into the kind of public consciousness of one of the cities that will experiences. I person must directly and so in terms of identify research areas. It does seem like a very productive place to focus some energy as you mentioned. You know Miami's as much in extremities as any American city you know. Miami beach has water in the streets on a regular basis. They're now spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elevate streets awesome pump and pipe and make themselves adaptable. How is it that you imagine housing the instrument or one instrument among many to address some of those challenges and one of the the things that the premise was that So much of the city fabric is at risk and so much of the city's Kinda sprawling in this sort of undifferentiated grid when we look at you. You know how to have a kind of systemic sort of impact. We can design individual buildings or we can designs for prototypical solutions so one of our premises. Let's let's focus on the fabric break cannot do not to figures started pedagogical. That's an interesting take so housing as the kind of basic sort of backdrop of the city. It seemed like a fruitful way to start uh-huh strikes me that what you're saying about work in Miami is a particular frame for the architect right. So it's it's not simply working through policy and zoning it's not simply through the the regulatory organisms or the Development Community which are all important but it has more to do with the idea of the role of the oxygen imagining housing something. That's a replicable or or prototypical or even vernacular is that fair Yeah I mean I think we have been looking at both the existing fabric. What's their what's what's sort of build sorta without the hand of the architect But also thinking about how the architect can influence that condition in the introduction to the studio made the differentiation between House and housing. You know in the states we talk about houses a lot and the houses seem tied up with the idea of what kind of American dream might be We don't talk too much about housing implies kind of activity that seems to run counter to this idea of individuality but I did borrow explicitly from rental Martin's sort of buell hypothesis that accompanied the foreclosed show at the Museum of Modern Art interferes ago where he says well if the dream is such a powerful motivator for cities. We could argue that so much of always see. The American certain urban landscape is a function of this aspirin. He says you know to redesign the city. You have to redesign the dream which is a kind of powerful way to think about it. So not only are we sort of trying to find sort of types and solutions but we're also trying to put forward alternative image of what might be especially. I kind of knew dream. And it might include questions of density and connectivity not just questions of territory and and privacy in some ways you know Mike Mike's Risen Miami has been that people are already already imagining different futures. I mean it's a different generation. First of all people moving to Miami. You know we just beginning. With the fact that in spite of the climate contingencies in spite the lack of affordable housing in spite of the mobility challenges they can't build it fast enough both for domestic and international audiences and you point I think quite rightly to the kind kind of contradiction and way the condition of the vast majority of Miami being single family homes in that Kind of prototypical. It's it's for the vast majority of people their single the biggest asset. It's also a part of their realization of a certain middle class lifestyle and at the same moment the coasts especially just soaring with these kind of vertical towers that are primarily primarily about occupancy by people who were living elsewhere in the world right so so is your transit dealing in with the discrepancy between those two conditions. Yeah we're hoping to develop a spectrum of prototypes that would be applicable in different scenarios. And we found that there's a kind of a cliff between the high rise coast and the kind of low rise is there's no mid rise to speak of so introducing amid rice type that could take hold seems productive. I do think you know to get to this question American dream. It's like a dream for whom you know. Miami as you know is such a immigrants city the city of people coming in waves. Not just you know the Cubans From the sixties and Seventies. But it's still kind of dream destination and I don't know if you know but I I grew up in Columbia and South America and so I often say like Miami. Emmy for me was America when I arrived in the states. That was American. And you can think about all of Latin America sort of coming to this point of entry of discovering you you know this is America you know the shopping mall sears. The Howard Johnson until very personally for me Miami represented America in a particular way. And I think for many people it does and so. What is that image? They're imagining what their longing for what they're aspiring to. I think it is not for to reframe that that dream is not on a typical American dream of particular one. You know maybe more tropical maybe more more verdant you know maybe more dense you know and as we can come up with something that offers an alternative to that sir. Low density can sprawl. We sort of know that'd be a real real findings will put so so you mentioned you know Miami's origin as one of the places in the Ven Diagram between the Tropics and American jurisprudence and economics and rule of law. And I think that's still a part of its identity. It's true as much as any other American city that I'm aware of Miami is built itself through neighborhoods maintain their kind of architectural legibility ability through ethnic identity or racial identity. And that you know the little Havana's little Haiti's you know the the idea that as much as any other city Miami has decided to preserve itself itself preserve its architectural identity as part of the cultural identity Does that produce any particular challenges in working in that context. Yeah I mean that's interesting. We I spend a lot of time into we'll have our transit is on K.. OCHO which cuts right through Havana all the way out to the everglades through the tammy trail that was a deliberate choice to to pick a a transept this famous for you know it's different neighborhoods. Different communities It also has kind of historic connection. You know that was the street that went through the everglades to connect him to Tampa so there are neighborhoods that are much lower neighborhoods that are on high ground so those subtleties. I think are very interesting certifying those. I think we'll be hard analysis. But when we were there we did spend time in domino park and different neighborhoods and then we went down to coral gables and tried to taste test. You know some of these different neighborhoods. I do think there's differences in the way people use space you know just watching people interacting and in the public realm. I think that's something the students were sort of clued into registering some of those Specificities of architecture and human behavior I think is part of it and so many of these things our cultural that is part of the calculus estimates are processing. You know some of this design questions but I think you know even as you drive you know some sometimes mystery goes up quite sadly and you start to pick up on some of those subtleties. It is true. It's a very subtle very horizontal landscape but ultimately reading that landscape income's an important set of skills. The number that always comes to my mind is the the crown of the main runways at Miami International. I WANNA say her. Plus eight feet feet above mean sea level based models like. Yeah I mean I think where's the ground is a is a good question. I was reading. Joan Dylan's book a Miami. And she's she makes a comment about the architecture. Become an unmonitored you know. And and this kind of Landscapes it sort of provisionally called ground or called solid making claims to solid ground. I think so much of of what you experience in. Miami's a kind of sense of the ground isn't really solid as as you might think it is and more provisional original And I think that could be lodge point for the students as well to think about. Is this the ground or do we need to build it or do we need to duplicate it in downtown areas we Swire Project Brickell city centre. Which I have a theory that it's basically an Asian sort of city Transplanted here but then. There's fought to learn from Asian types idea of sort of multi block connectivity on multiple grounds multiple data GMS connection to infrastructure high-density. There's there's many things that are appealing about that. Even question of ground I think is a good starting point as we think about the streets flooding and having alternate streets or duplicate streets. It doesn't seem completely wrong to me that we could plan for multiple levels. You look at the history of American city you know. Cities like Seattle or Chicago have radically transformed formed their relationship to ground over the course of generation or two and and in that context. I mean I've come to think of Miami not so much as An apocalyptic condition in but more so a a cultural choice and form a kind of empirical point of view. I wonder if you'd agree with this. It's not a rational choice to build their. It's a product of desire among other things and yet now having built it for a century I can't imagine a world without it. You know. Yeah anything of all those. All those dreams another's fantasies. I love thinking about like the you know the early days of Miami and sort of competing with with other destinations sounds for winter escapes. And you know how do you reinvent yourself. You know does have a tremendous appeal and the architecture sort of provides kind of backdrop. No this fantastic architecture Morris Lapidus these sort of grand stairs and things so I think that's another story to tap into this idea of reinvention. It's not just sort of fantasy but actual you know designed reinvention and I think we could think about updating that what what was like in the fifties what technologies ages were available in terms of conditioning environments creating artificial worlds. Okay what's available today. How do we speculate about this moment? And a kind of large scale reinvention invention of a city but we think about Venice and kind of importance of that and the the way that it's absorbing Aqua Alta into part of its culture. I think some people are saying well. Maybe we need to learn to live with this and designed for this way. Venice has these sort of multiple multiple grounds in different seasons of water. Yeah maybe it needs to become seasonal. I mean I think so much V.. Think about liquor booze as sort of Standard temperature standard conditions exported reported all over the world you know seventeen degrees respiratory on exact that attitude sort of taxes so much of the twentieth century. Now maybe we need to learn learned that answer I think about different states. Different thermal gradients different degrees of of humidity. And I think that would sort of ease in a way that kind of specification education for so much designed much architecture. I so what you're saying about the American dream and Miami's role historically in conjuring the good life or conjuring. The desire. I think is true. What you say that at various moments historically architectures been mobilized in Miami to illustrate that in a manifest that desire and and then it's been mediated right there in my in my era growing up? It was it was television broadcast. Jackie gleason and it was you know and in the moment it became film again now. Music video these kinds ends of Minnie's I wonder if there aren't ways in which the architectural imaginary can't be deployed in your work and your students were to motivate our desires. I grew up with advice. Ice from Columbia dubbed in Spanish So I mean television did contribute to that. It's sort of imaginary. I think. A lot of these super powerful broadcasts could be sort of updated could be updated for a new a new Miami. Yeah we were speaking with learning to spear and her work with their partners and architectonic in building Atlantis Atlantis. I don't know if you remember if received this in Columbia but I know as a student of architecture in Florida at the time. You couldn't escape that Atlantis. What it was possible through speculative realty real estate development to build a project that audacious and that was in the opening credits of Miami Vice Architecture was somehow playing a role? Madam Yeah I mean. We launched the our semester studios with research and precedence students sort of all selected housing projects that they were are interested in a whole spectrum of different typologies than I insisted that someone look at the Atlantis. Because I've always wondered. How did that courtyard get in there with two means of egress? Where are the of course like I want to know and so one of our students did find the plans in sort of do the analysis to show how you introduce a kind of opening into a bar building to produce that unique moment found but I do I do think as part of our research another point to say is like we often think of you know? We're encouraging students to be innovative. Live in concert novel solutions. It's so important to do the work and to look at what's been done. How was it done and look at the plans? I mean it's easy to Google image and SORTA speculate but I'm very interested in how those plans work. Where the fire stairs are you know? How does it actually function your instagram? Feed is filled with fire exit plans. Which I've come? I'm doing now look for everywhere I go. Yeah it's a great resource. Maybe like why did he post exit plans. But it's fundamentally he can understand the organizational logic of a building so I think students important for them to know what's possible and how to achieve those things you know it's the the precondition for design is understanding those parameters. So it's kind of. It's become kind of thing but started off as kind of this is useful. We need to know this stuff absolutely so so you're having you students draw plans. It's not just all models not all rhino time I want insists on plans. The other thing about housing. It's sort of collapses. The space the intimate space subdue welling with the kitchen in mill work and the relationship between the refrigerator and the stove and sink goes very quickly from the unit to the city. And there's almost no middle ground and and I think that's something that's unique about. The building type with soup is fine grain. It's intimate it is where people's lives are lived. I think that's important to recognize in addition. It's part of a multiple and so her replicates aggregates multiplies in a particular pattern. I mean one of the functions of that of that scaler. The difference is the ways in which individual people consumers purchase a commodity. And I think Miami is is not alone in this regard but it's specific specific in the ways that you engage with the real estate market. It's interesting yeah I mean we did visit some show flats you know so it was interesting to see how architecture as real estate is is bought and sold how it sort of positioned and everyone who's trying to imagine you know. How would I live in this condition which is just so foreign all right to some extent The other thing I should say half our students are from China their Ma Ud's half of our students are from all over this country. You know Korean students have student from Ghana one of the things. We did the first of meeting the studio was like what did you grow up in. It was incredible to hear stories from some of these. Chinese students grew up in the countryside in a farm I went student sort of moved to Shenzhen and lived in a in a warehouse and then some of our American students who grew up in suburbs in completely different ways of thinking about housing not type just experience extreme rural too extreme urban to you know to extreme suburban so I think it's important also for us to acknowledge those students working on these projects and what their memories are how they're coming to this and absolutely building on the diversity. The globality kind of worldliness of the cohort but also not taking for granted that the context is given right. I mean there's nothing about Miami. That's from generation to generation has remained completely stable in that regard. It's always changing new immigrant groups coming in and at the same moment Miami has been in some ways I kind of success story around preservation and conservation. uh-huh and I wonder if you have thought about this. I mean my experience on doing some work on Miami Beach. Was that the success of South Beach and the idea of an alliance between preservation and in design and the Development Community which is maybe unlike the way that played out in other cities night states has been received a successful And has now been generalized to the point that quite a number of neighborhoods are essentially preserved intact at the wrong elevation right. An and so I wonder if in your work in Miami with your group of students you'll be thinking about material assemblies and delivery systems as a part of that scope of work. Yeah I would love to There's only so much time in this semester but that's early you know. A A huge interest of mine is like the material of architecture. Nah I think those are some of the questions that I think. Miami's going to grapple with. Can you raise streets. And having incremental antle sort of raising of the city I was reading about Galveston which sort of jacked up. Its buildings the good exempt. Another of a different of a different building the entire of different construction type. But I'll be excited To work with students on thinking about a kind of provisional architecture you know something that might be able to be redeployed redeployed or my people to be displaced. We did meet with a developer Young Development Andrew Frame very interesting guy who spent five years working with the city to rewrite it does zoning to allow for small scale development to not provide off street parking. I spent five years to get that change for this particular type. Ten Thousand Square feet or less. It's not required parking which unlocked a tremendous amount of real estate sites that were under UN developable because of the parking requirements. And so I think he argued. I think that if we remove that requirement these sites could be developed a smaller sites. 'cause the Miami Twenty one seems to sort of gear itself towards larger parcels large developments were parking can be consolidated but he made a great case and he managed to build a series of projects. Very thoughtfully he made the second floor about fifteen and feet much higher than would be normal and his argument was one day. My groundfloor is GonNa have to come up. You know and so thinking like that. I think that's it's quite clever to imagine that the ground plan as we know it today I provisional and if we plan ahead they can allow for some room they're retaining the headroom clearances on the Rafael. I mean it's not uncommon in any American city. That are legal and policy frameworks lagging behind. We're fighting the last war often whether it's parking or density your height limits or relationships to transit or any number of other measures in that regard. The physics of elevating are not not trivial. We know not to mention the economics in the social disruption and questions of continuity of services and and the perverse incentives of the differential impacts of this on various Elements was in the community having said Bat. I think one thing that I've seen there is a sense. That will the deco fabric in making its decision to make its ground floor to certain dimension is already already adaptable in a certain way. The Lot of the Miami modern work simply is not so part of that is as you're referring to building in a kind of contingency thinking the we're going to be living with change for for time and that these things are not insoluble. We can adapt in fact. You know if we think about how difficult it is is it might be comments remarkable but we focus on certain things I think. We could develop innovative strategies for managing some aspects not a wholesale tair down and restart but a kind of agile approach to addressing questions of ground. Plan questions have clearance questions. materiality these timely I mean especially she given the geography of South Florida as the limestone geology. All of these things mitigate against the kinds of solutions we see in the Netherlands or we see a post Katrina Post Sandy and so I think for us for our purposes. There's maybe no more interesting Laboratory these questions right now than Miami given the specificity of its horizontality and its history that you're referencing of being built through a kind of American dream kind of immigrant experience but also through to private development as much as anything else. Yeah it does seem like when we ask. What's the mayor's position on this? Our mayor thinking about this. What's the government's Ron on? As it does seem like so much of the initiatives of private individuals now history history that part of the world is land development and tourism or the two prime drivers of the economy. And that's gotten more interesting and complicated with other economies now in the global marketplace and it status strikes me as a fascinating place to to do work so you grew up in Columbia as you mentioned. Yeah and you. At some point made a choice to to be engaged in the dark arts of architecture at what point was clear to you that cities were an interesting thing to think about our work group and Columbia in a very rural area and then In High School we moved to Bangkok Thailand. Sure of course suburban suburban and so from one you know in the sort of pastures to the kind of exploding kinda metropolis of Southeast Asia and it was exhilarating to live in Bangkok and see it sort of growing And then I came to the states to study architecture. I'm not sure what moment I thought the built environment is what I WANNA do but certainly does change your your frame of reference. Always you know I guess you know after graduate. I moved to New York City which is another kind of choice to to sort of be in the American Cantona metropolis and an experienced that so your childhood your growth. Your education was quite global to begin with and so for you. The practice of architecture itself being global came self-evident. Yeah I mean I guess I mean I was excited about the Asian building. You know in the nineties. I think everybody was and didn't seem odd to me that that you would work on projects in New York for for say Hong Kong My parents are still living in Bangkok so it was also very quick waiting to get back home regularly but yeah I think thinking about world cities and what we can learn from other cities I sent one of my other sort of topics. Topics is kind of American city. Not just export expertise but actually bring concepts bag. I do think learning from developments in in Hong Kong Cong in China can't help. American cities transform into a different paradigm. I think Hudson yards Asian sort of building type built on transit with a high density development. That would feel just at home. You know in Kowloon that's among the most favorable thing I've heard about Hudson yards or reading print recently recently. Yes and so so you for the past number of years you've been boston-based your practice. Howler Eunice Year? So how'd you come to be in Boston I was living in in New York and Megyn my partner said you better move here because I'm starting to practice. She's been very busy. You know without me and and then very well you you know her first projects are done. 'em Way Studio Julian Studio and I think she was very successful so I joined a an already sort of Launched Enterprise but I mean. We've we've had a very productive time here. She was at mit being at the GST were diversified. And I think we've tapped into both institutions productively for academics but also now into Boston for practice so in addition to your pedagogical commitments your election in addition to the research projects that you've referenced you're also building you're interested in housing Emergent or innovative technology. So so how does that. Span of interests manifests itself through architectural practice. Yeah that's that's tough. I mean I would say we're kind of or I'm never a you know in terms of our appetite for for design when we started Megyn designed defensible dress which is kind of Microcontroller actuated wearable that defined personal space intimate scale of the body with technology. We probably ended doing a master plan for Audi for five million square foot headquarters so from the microcontroller to the master plan. I think we've been sort of stretched a little bit that in our interests but I find like the concepts of the idea of kind of interactive. Where will or the concept of a kind of a strategy edgy for Mobility and development? I mean those concepts I think are not skill specific. So what binds this work together. Is I think a a kind of careful full study of the issues study of some potential solutions And finding innovative solutions other technical or or not our caller memorial it might he looks at at a vault. You know which is not a cutting edge. Technology is not state of the art but it took a kind of state of the art nece to execute. So yeah we're not specialized but were distributed. Image the caller memorial. There's a line of your work Heller Union. Which you've been engaged in Memorials installations in the public realm and projects that I think Hang together as kind of stimulating vanity. If I could put it that way was that a conscious choice or was that the the nature of the work that was available. Yeah I mean I think I think any young practice does the work that's available and sometimes you speculate and sometimes you launch launch individual research project so one research project in two thousand and eight. There was no work and we watched the greenway kind of emerging emerging And the rouge rose Kennedy Greenway lost over the big over the big day and so we. We launched a kind of self motivated research initiative. We wrote a grand foundation grant who produced a book. You wrote us a nice comment about the book but this is kind of self generated research work that produces a document and and actually that document we took to outy say we're qualified to think about cities and and Mobility and infrastructure And so that sort of bound lead wanting to the other practices now engaged in housing projects in Boston and elsewhere. Tell us about those. Yeah so I mean for a long time. We were living and and teaching in Boston but not doing much work in Boston. And so I think Boston has a robust architecture. Culture they're established firms. Doing a lot of work. It wasn't something that came along. You know very easily couple years ago. We did have an opportunity to make a proposal for some some projects in Boston discovered home. Sort of mechanism of approvals approvals and of entitlements. That seemed sort of daunting. And it is daunting in our can take two or three years to get kind of what's called article. Eighty a process completed So we're right now at the cost of building a few sort of multi families twenty twenty five storey buildings in Boston. One one at a kind of transit hub in Somerville which is essentially the Green Line in Union Square. So that's kind of exciting to spend so much time thinking talking about you. Know T. O.. D. and mobility as kind of concept and then have it sort of become a project kind of fantasy actually and then working with the city. You too to get the approvals for that So it's kind of theory practice sort of collapse in a productive way I think but we are. We are starting to think about you. You know how to work in the city and and I think for the students. I think it's important to understand that you know the stakeholders not just your will power. It's actually the developers. Investment Investment the proforma the city's sort of process in regulation and so we spent so much time thinking about design and the form and organization but yeah just to such a large extent is about the way that it engages the neighbors through the approval process how to engage the context. And so I'm learning in parallel. Arlo over the students about this process. which is you know it's it's fascinating and it requires a different set of skills? You could be a great you know Designer honor at terrible public speaker and not be able to get anything in kind of public community process. And so that's been incredible learning experience as well so the role of the architect the role of you know. How are you practice in? These projects is well beyond simply the additional role of design service construction documents and specifications Your work seems central to contributing to the viability of the project by enabling their permitting their public acceptance and so say more about that and you in that division of Labor between yourself and developers that you're working yeah it's interesting when we started Developers at right is a proposal. Okay Concept Design schematic design design development all the steps and He's like what about entitlements. Frank right we we need. We need a phase for entitlements. And you know we kind of naively thought that twenty thousand dollars should cover it whatever approvals we might need turns out the entitlements is the hardest part and you know it's a multi months process involving thirty forty public meetings. And so that was I opening. But it's true. I feel like you know. If you can articulate a design to community you know where there is there people that are afraid of being displaced they. They they're angry. They're union workers that are stand in the back of the room. You know. Ask if you're going to build at union nights out. This is the kind of the process of of building in Boston. It's it's not what I trained to do in school. But but it's it's essential to to get done. I think architects are great communicators and and being able to stand up and and listen to somebody who's concerned about this air pollution traffic. You know these are the things people worry about I know how are you doing work beyond Boston. Beyond the below Callo. So you're working internationally. And what could you say that those experiences share with your with your work in Boston. Not Much No I mean the the context of China's so It's so interesting now because You know clients are saying we want something really special. We want something really iconic and they can't be special enough you know and so everything has to be different yes that's kind of hyper articulation and even when we say you know this. It's the foreground building. These are going to be background buildings. And we're going to simplify those you know at that point. None of the client but the government officials say can we get more of a skyline now. And we're like well. This is our backdrop so there is a kind of desire for architecture do more in certain contexts. In China Damore place making do more icon making king instagram making instagram. Making yes and client said we need something instagram. -able now It was it was the brief so that is the desire for architecture there and the states you know sometimes people want something iconic and sometimes people want something just functional I think it's important to be able to know when is when what is required in each context and to be able to work with that so we're doing a lot of housing projects in Boston. That are that are fabric buildings six-storey fabric buildings to fit into the neighborhood. They have a couple of beautiful details but they're not calling attention to themselves. Maybe not maybe not break one. Break One break-building strange sort of attack attachments to different materials. I mean argued. Climate is culture but also material culture and so lawson has has certain materials that are native present. Eric thanks very much. Yeah thank you can fund You've been listening to the future of the American city. curated by the Office for Urbanization at the Harvard. Graduate School of design. This conversation nationw- supported by the knightfoundation and the generous donors to the American cities. Our producer Aziz Charlie Korea town music is by Kevin Visit Every TAC dot. JESTY DOT Carver Dot E._D._U..

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Curating Neighborhoods

Future of the American City

44:27 min | 10 months ago

Curating Neighborhoods

"When you have a really good vision that is for the betterment of society and business alliance with it then? That's very powerful from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city conversations on how we live where we live on Charles Waldheim. We're here with province develop WHO's worked folks arts culture. Her and the role of historic preservation prayed joins us today to discuss his work in creating neighborhoods. Craig welcome thank you. You've been over the course the last Decade or two building a district on the north side of Miami called design district. Tell us about your work through. The Miami design. District is is just really exciting. It's a neighborhood that embodies support and advocacy for culture through art architecture design also music and it's become a great commercial place. We've now completed a lot of the the retail component and a lot the cultural pieces. It's almost like an outdoor museum for architecture and design and we're thinking about adding other uses residential hotel and office so soon become a complete mixed use neighborhood so you began as I understand working now almost two decades ago the acquiring land and so why the design district is a formulation. Immunization will as I started my business I was in law school at the University of Miami and ahead the good fortune to acquire a couple of buildings in South Beach Asia and I learned about urban revitalization neighborhood building and through that process. I kept expanding in Miami beach and once you got got up to Lincoln wrote in Miami Beach. There's really no place to go other than over the bridge and a few islands along the way I understand. Yeah few wonderful islands long way so so you mentioned arguer. You know one of a handful of people very early days in the nineteen eighties betting on South Beach to put it that way. You know for audience that haven't experienced it like what was is the environment in the mid eighties. Miami beach was really hot. Tourist destination in the sixties and Seventies. It even goes before that. But by the mid seventies and certainly the early eighties. All of Miami had been pretty much in a decline and Miami beach had become sort of a relic there. There wasn't much happening so in nineteen eighty seven. I was looking for a place where I bring artists. I was looking for an art studio and through a friend of my father's I had the good fortune to meet someone who became like a mentor to me. A man named Tony Goldman Antonio had few months earlier. Acquired some buildings in south beach. It was south South Fifth Street. Sort of a a slum blade area glad of the Mariel refugees had come there and the city had prohibited any development. Because because they wanted to allow redevelopment so it became problematic and north of fifth street it was a dwindling retirement village. It was elderly Jewish population that had emigrated from Europe after World War Two first-generation people working in factories and so they were living in south beach on social social security living in those little art deco hotels and they were dying off. There wasn't really a generation to replace them because their kids become doctors and lawyers and they were more successful and living in other parts. Miami or other parts of the country. So it's A. It's really ironic thing that can happen sometimes. The first developed land in Miami was now sort of the worst Because new things were happening further and further away from the center and everybody had disregarded like the most central land on the Beach Front with unbelievably the largest collection of Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival Architecture in the world in one place. So would it be fair to say that the Development Unity broadly The leadership of the feel at that point didn't see the opportunity in south beach each that you did at that moment not at all the Conventional Wisdom in Miami was that South beach needed to be demolished and something new we needed to be built. Their most people thought it would never work. And there were a group three groups really of advocates for that area probably most importantly was the preservation movement there was also a group of people who were affiliated with them that were in favor favor of Economic Development Miami Beach Development Corporation it was called and then there were a handful of developers Tony Goldman who I mentioned Mel Schlesser saw gross than shoal and myself and we were the only ones that were interested. Dennis and I were from Miami not not big players in real estate by any means and And the other three were from New York. What was it in that experience that allowed you and your colleagues colleagues to see the architectural potential of the place? I mean given the history of preservation and development culture in other American cities. It's an extraordinary story here. Now that you have this curious to my alliance between advocates of preservation on the one hand and people that are interested in developing the future of the city all. What's what's amazing about? South beach is that we join forces. It wasn't preservationists against developers. We united and advocated together for the passage passage of legislation that protected the historical buildings. My own experience was I met Tony for a very small sum of money. He sold me half to buildings that he had acquired. And then I had to grab fix them up and turn them into income producing properties. The largest retail retail tenant. Those buildings at the time was the guy who had collect the cans from the homeless people. That was the one flourishing business in that area right on Fifth Street and Washington Avenue the street in ocean drive but miraculously I began to fix up the building. I also got my art studios so I was able to bring artist list to come and paint and the first retail tenant. I had was keith. Haring he built a variation of the pop shop and that from you is really early moment where where I felt the energy of what you can do in a neighborhood and how by collaborating with visionary creative people you can make an impact so from the very beginning of the of your working developer. The notion of the arts creativity culture as kind of tendency is a kind of community in the idea of rebuilding places. I think one of the more important influence on on me as a young developer was probably a DP was platters. I Burke and undressed Wani because they were advocates for new urbanism and and having a great historical neighborhood and and figuring out how to reposition it versus building a golf course and putting a bunch of houses around it that was incredibly impactful. You know the the legacy of Miami was In this generation was the beginning of architectonic which a lot of people don't realize there's a partnership between Andreas and Liz and Bernardo and Arinda Bernardo and. Linda went on to be more traditional but mazing architects and Liz on race founded the new urbanism movements and and both had an influence. The next thing that happened was I had the second third mentor in my life because the first is my dad my my dad's been amazing and really taught me a lot about business but then I met a man named Chris Blackwell and clobbered with him for quite a while. Chris was the founder violent records. Who's a filmmaker and what Chris taught me was how to produce creativity in real estate? His approach was totally different. We did this building called. The Marlin hotel is a twelve room. Hotel with a recording studio of course and a Jamaican restaurant Chris was Jamaican at the time. I'm South Beach was all these senior citizens that I'm talking about but also model agency so of course. We had a great model agency in the building and Chris built his apartment. Mine was next door and when the Marlin hotel opened that was like that was just an amazing moment in my career and also for for South Beach each so the biggest rock band in the world was U2 and they came to the opening of our twelve room hotel The biggest celebrities in the world at that time with a top models and Naomi Campbell Christy Turlington Cape boss also came and so it was the big international moment comet for South Beach and it put it on the map in a different kind of way the kind of way that only someone like Chris Blackwell could do and I think I was like twenty five years old. I thought I was really cool absolutely well I was gonna say I mean given given what we've said about the dark arts of development and it stayed in in Miami. You've gone a long long way in the course of your career to to make it more exciting interesting line of work for people. No I mean obviously of course you're reflecting on the the relationship with your father and with your mentors but you also saw -tunities that not everyone else saw so I'm interested in the building fabric itself so you had this experience in. Barcelona studied there for some time. And you you see something in the Deco buildings would you say that there's something about the nature of those buildings their configuration their geometry or materiality Ludi is it something in their architecture or was it simply their relationship to the beach. Is there a way to find in the DNA of that architecture. Something that allowed it to be developable developable. Something that's truly historical by definition is irreplaceable. And what we had that was really special all was we had this amazing collection. Some of the buildings are nicer than others is any one of them. The most important iconic example of our tech architecture texture in the world. I don't think so but The idea of having this collection really impact me and I have to say at first. I was not as convinced I. I was definitely an advocate for historic preservation. But there was this group called Art Deco hotels also had acquired ten or fifteen of the most important buildings and they wanted to develop. They needed a parking lot because there was no parking south beach and so they wanted to tear down the Senator Hotel and I was thinking like these preservationists around control. They're not being realistic and it was this whole saga where Barbara Capitaine. Pittman was standing in front of the building and she had to be removed. She was the sort of figure head of the preservation movement and when the Senator Hotel came down I realized realized that I would never support the demolition of another art deco building at transforming soon away My own error in judgment became something thing that I you could say repented from but it gave me a clear vision like this is wrong you can never replace them. And you can't invent these ideas that there some Short term business interests that needs to lead to that because the senator was really a brilliant building you know as it was one of the more important iconic on a beautiful art deco buildings and it was gone forever and we got a parking lot and was that realization. An immediate tiffany. As soon as the building went down. I I thought Oh my God I was wrong. This was wrong and it made me a much stronger advocate than I probably would have ever been for historic preservation preservation. What really save South Beach was the advocacy of people like Barbara Cap men and a group of people that were the preservation movement the people from Membathisi but also that there was a business interest that was aligned with it then? You don't have that conflict when you have a really good vision that that is for the betterment of society and business alliance with it then. That's very powerful. It took some time but the driver in my opinion hanging of most of the things that really than happened in south Florida in this reemergence of South Florida was was south beach. It put it on the map. We we opened the Marlins Hotel and dating myself. This was at a time where magazines were like the power structure of thought in a way the that that's how ideas were communicated and advocated and two most powerful travel magazines in the world were travel and Leisure and traveler. Conde Nast the moral and is the only hotel ever that was on the cover of both magazines in the same month. Somehow here on the beach you and your colleagues found this alliance between preservation arts and Culture and development that somehow has after the successive South beach been generalized elsewhere and in many cases that history has been received in New York or in in the bay area as a success right but it strikes me from what you've said in my own experience of it that it had really a lot to do with the media. It had a lot to do with playing outside side game whether it's through advertisements I remember the TV commercials and this was also a moment when music video was kind of bubbling up and and so it was from the outside. I'd consuming media. You couldn't escape South Beach. I don't know what it was like on the ground. At that point it was it was media but there is also another factor. That's very important and that is that we demonstrated that the economics were actually superior by preserving these buildings and tearing them down and so you you had to things that combined you had a business model that actually worked. There was no sacrificed business in exchange for doing public good. You actually could make more money and that shape my thinking so much about development because essentially I've dedicated myself to neighborhoods and the difference between the neighborhood developer and the developer of a piece of land. You buy a piece of land somewhere. You're thinking about how you can make the most profit off of that land but if you own in the same neighborhood thirty pieces of land and when you're figuring out what to do on that land it should be profitable but it also has the potential to make all other thirty sites worth more and so your your your profitability goes up you know if I'm building a thirty thousand square foot building and I can make a hundred dollars a foot of profit. That's great but then if I own another million square feet Ni- could increase the value of those properties by ten dollars a foot. That's a huge bonus and so it's a different way of thinking you know. I always think that whatever we're doing has to help make the neighborhood better. Be Profitable but make the rest of the neighborhood worth more given the number of personalization the history of the number of players. The number of development interests on the beach that it takes some time for the Development Community. Your your colleagues competitor's let's say to see that shared value. There were the small group that were advocating for it and then everybody else thought we were nuts but but they left us alone. They let us do we were doing wasn't worth the fight. They didn't have an interest there wasn't like they wanted to tear down five blocks and build a high-rise and there were areas where you could do that under twenty. I remember this is a long time ago. But he was speaking somewhere and he said it's very important for for cities to have areas. Where bad things can happen? Because and he meant bad development things. He was in timeout crime. So that you allow all those people to go to their area and do those things then the leave the other areas alone and there were plenty of opportunities in Miami beach and the rest of Miami and I wouldn't describe it. Described them as bad things. But where you could build these you know. Unremarkable high rises the EC- sophistry which by the way is a huge driver to making South beach work. Because you've got this beautiful Art Deco district and you can house a lot of people and beautiful condominiums and then they can walk to South Beach and and I don't look at it as a bad thing. I look at different things so yeah in in the future city we you know we spoke with with Liz. We were talking with learn to spear and of course the the architectonic tectonic story is a fascinating. One you know as a student of architecture in the eighties you you couldn't escape. The Atlantis building again a building that was as mediated as any you know for all of the lived experience appearance of that building. Of course it was on every magazine cover. It was in the kind of Intro to Miami Vice. It was everywhere and that you could do that. You could build a kind of city you could to build that kind of work through Through form of commercial development is another thing to say and that legacy is incredible for Miami. You go to the art deco period and look at what happened. And then Morris Lapidus and the Fountain Blue Era and then the architectonic The era and those buildings on brickell avenue and the creation of EPZ Miami has actually a bigger contribution then is recognized and which really exciting is being part of Miami now carrying that forward and being you know getting to participate tate and little ways of being a spoke in that wheel? Well it's and you can see the this generation yourself included in the colleagues mentioned. Who really like? You can't write the history. Have you know recent urbanism without whether it's The new urbanism and the idea of Walkability and the idea of compactness and that kind of concentration kind of pro pink quickey relationship ship between things on the one hand that you found in the beach by virtue of its geographic constraints and its architectural neglect. But also the idea that one could make a future city that was kind of fashion for progressive even at a moment when that fell out of favor and other parts of the country one of the things I learned in south beach was while while we were by far the largest property holder in the art deco district we still owned a small percentage of it and so our ability woody to really influence it was less complete and people that wanted to do more commercial things than we would have. We would have wanted to do. They had a bigger say in it. And that's part of what really inspired me to work in the design district because it too was a historical neighborhood not As benefited and as encumbered with historical buildings a South beach or some great historical buildings there but there is a bigger opportunity for new architecture and it was small enough where we could have a much bigger stake so we owned seventy percent of the privately held property in the design district and that is is really exciting. Because we're we we've been able to be bigger driver in the direction of that neighborhood and less impaired by different visions And so it gave me the opportunity to kind of do what I'd been doing south beach but in a more comprehensive way and also in a more contemporary way and it's nice to have that opportunity to we did do some contemporary buildings in south beach but the opportunities were are more limited because it is an incredible historical district which I wouldn't change it strikes me that Beginning in the beach and then in the design district district the idea of curated urban environment might be a way to describe your activities because you're from the very beginning bringing in artists interested in culture working a a little bit like a music producer not simply interested in the sausage making of development But at the same moment thinking about the mix cd in the relationship between things things so in formulating the design district. Why the near North Side of Miami at why that neighborhood so first of all geographically if you look at it Once once you get up to Lincoln Road in Miami Beach There's no place else to go. I mean there's a one St Collins Avenue that goes north and everything else is essentially residential. There's little pockets of commercial so the next logical place to carry this movement. Because I really thought it was. A movement was across the bridge geographically and it was this amazing contained historical neighborhood in Miami was also like South Beach Super Central. But the great thing about the design district district was it became this opportunity to. I honor what it was a place that had a lot of furniture showrooms oh rooms and by engaging and bringing back life to the neighborhood with furniture showrooms it brought me to Celona and if you go you know back doc. In time to nineteen ninety seven there was no such thing in the World Art Basel and of course the Basel Fair existed but we think think of as art Basel today didn't exist. A global cultural happening were an entire city is celebrating culture. The only place that I had ever seen that actually did that was Milano during celona. Because what happened was all of Milan was celebrating design. You could go to the fair. But what was the thing was that there were exhibitions parties and everybody that week was celebrating design. Fine and that had a big impact on me and my thinking so a couple years after that when Sam Keller then Director Director of Art Basel started to talk to me about bringing art Basel to Miami. I was very excited about it. I knew that it could be a big thing for Miami any but I also knew that if we could convince them to make it like Celona that that would be an even bigger thing and I'm really proud proud of the fact that our city Miami was the place that really took the furniture industry model in Celona but turned it into this global cultural happening. That you now see in cities you see it in London and New York and Basel has changed and I feel like not me but our community we invented that you know and we took an existing idea and transformed it into something. That's amazing. The Ted had a big impact on the world. Were there any challenges around the geography of the city. Was the city prepared to receive something like Violence were prepared now. It's it's a crazy thing where there's a lot more traffic a lot more people. It's a great event but what it did was. It gave us the ability to really showcase the the design district as a place for culture and when people don't really remember this but when art Basel I came to Miami because we'd been so helpful in in procuring it. We had such a strong relationship. We had an exclusive agreement with art Basel that they would also only promote cultural vents in the design district so the marketing marketing power of art. Basel was actually advocating for the design district and then Sam Keller came to me in two two thousand and five and said why. Don't you do a design show in the designed district and there was really no collecting show in the world that was advocating contemporary limited edition design and the historical kind of mid-century material. And so I thought Sam's audio is brilliant and right in the heart of the design district. We launched design Miami in two thousand and five which is another like thing that I I just love that the first major design show arguably the most important collecting design show in the world. It's branded Miami. Who was born in Miami because everybody thinks Miami and I did too in south beach is like fun in the sun and a place to go and party and beautiful models and famous people? And that's that's good. I'm not complaining about it. But you know art Basel really gave us this brand in Miami of being a global city of cultural substance since and the design district is central in that and design Miami. It's not art Basel. Its Design Miami. I think your assessment is completely the Akron my experience. I mean where else can you go over the course of a week in the United States and find a collection that level of design attention both contemporary but also of some history that combination is extraordinary design. Miami and so in a way it comes out of the experience of the design district A little bit after the formation of of the land itself. Also I'm interested in your role In the designed districts in collecting architects for lack of a better formulation eve now become among the most important people North America in the curation of a group of emerging younger design talent. Well one of the things that I learned from Andre and Liz is that if you have the right urban design then the architecture will be somewhere between contributory and incredible. If you don't have the right urban design it could end up being a mess you know like and so unlike most people we really focus first on master planning and urban in design and what we want to achieve and that gives us this platform and then within that platform my theory about architecture is it is. I always want to find the best creative person I can. Who will be inspired by the project project? So it's not just a question of talent but it's also a question of talent that will be inspired and of course with the kind of projects Jackson were doing that tends to be younger people mid-career people and so I just like to work with artists designers architects x and offer them opportunities that I think will get the best out of them at that point in their career and we've collaborated very closely with an affiliate affiliate LVMH in the design district called a real estate. They've been are equal partner and it's been a great process of brainstorming and looking at architects architects. They would come up with some. We would come up with others. We'd all like argue about it in a in a family sense and and reach a consensus and I love of what we've done so far with architecture but it all started with master plan while I mean this is again one of the strengths of your collaboration with DP Z.. In a part part of their legacy is the idea that in fact having a spatial plan first of all and then curate in urban experience within that Is this incredible multidisciplinary work. It's not simply about the built. It's not simply about planning per se but ultimately curate the venues the restaurants shops the mix of cultural and and the the range of Public Program you've been doing quite rats the next piece because you know we're really talking about the physical plant but then you need the content and and content is is complex. We unusually invest probably fifty percent of our resources and culture sometimes more. And there's lots of manifestations of that now you've got the delacruz collection is in the design district next to it. You've got the Institute of Contemporary Art now. The whole neighborhood is like a museum. I mean you can see Buckminster Fuller's flies I- dome or mural by John Walton. Sorry or bus. Stop by Earth's Fisher. I mean and then I think an element of events things that other people do and things that will advocate art. Basel is the Big One but we do a beautiful concert series with Emilio Estefan. All of it are like little ingredients that make a neighborhood a place and then when you throw in these global flagship spike creative companies whether it's fashion or luxury or design a amazing restaurants like the restaurants that are opening there it just becomes like a vital place ace where people want to go in one of the characteristics. I I've experienced in the district is it doesn't feel like just a destination if I could put it that way and then maybe this also comes from experience on the beach but certainly it's not as though I'm simply you've meant to be there as a consumer but that's available but there is a I don't know precisely the language there's a kind of American in formality. Maybe there's something about the history of the fabric you can park on the street. There are people that still live there that is similarly Eberhard neighborhood. That's the word right. It's so funny that the most simple word is like it but making a neighborhood or revitalizing the neighborhood. It is transcendent. You know like we don't we don't necessarily value it as our first thought when we think about real estate and that is why urban design is so important. That really is the reason why you start there. And build from there as opposed to an architectural all design on the piece of land. So we know that You know Miami by virtue of your good works in the work of many other. People is really at the center of attention for herbalists around the world. For the reasons since that we've been discussing and in in your work in neighborhood building here and the work of others clearly Miami has this incredible prosperity the last decade or more. It's the place that everyone wants to move to. Its under incredible in some ways pressure and so I wanNA talk a little bit about the challenges that you see ahead of me for my point of view among a range of other cities. It's perhaps at the crossroads of these pressures on the one hand the desire for Development and growth people around the world one move here live here and experience this place and then there's Ongoing concern around the difference between the haves and the have nots and economic inequity and the combination of affordability of housing and mobility costs. st-cyr make it a very tough especially for the for the working class How do you as a neighborhood builder Think about those challenges. I think that's the most important thing thing and you know I've always had a vision about it which I haven't really dedicated my business career to 'cause there's so much government mint entanglement in it and we've really stayed more much more on the private side. I mean we work well with the city on the you know getting them to support our zoning and letting letting us pay for a streets but we haven't had huge interactions in public private projects. We've done some. I think that first of all the the biggest mistake about affordable housing is that it's not an ownership program most of it is rental and I think that's bad. I think that if you give people ownership of something their own feelings towards where they live is different and it produces different results. I also think that it gives them a chance to have equity if you really want to help them. Part of it is to give them equity. You need to balance it. Like they can't go and sell L. at a fair market value in a year. Or you create a speculative thing but fact that someone may own an affordable house for fifteen years or twenty years and then they can sell it at fair market value. I think think that's a good thing. And so that's a big problem in our system and the second thing is that we always tend to do you those projects in the bad neighborhoods which isn't going to help those people as much as if they were in a neighborhood that was going up. I just the economic benefits that they would get but then you have. People that are sharing communities are integrated and and so I think fed they should be more in the neighborhoods that are clearly and transition because if you create the affordable housing in the neighborhoods that are in transition and you give the people it need it ownership that that's what would be transformative it in your experience. Do you think that the you know the American experience of single family home ownership you know in my parents experience of having you know post wars a small suburban home and owning it over thirty years and benefiting from it economically do you believe that the the format of the single family only houses is itself problematic in a city like Miami. Well not in certain parts but it doesn't make sense in the heart of Miami. No we need to do is take these areas and create a vehicle where people were affordable housing will also built in the center where a good group of people would like to live so they don't have to drive for an hour to work and be stuck on the expressway or take a train eventually and live in these areas and it's actually easier to do than people realize that the inertia is about in my opinion the lack of vision and the political process. You know we have an area in Miami partially it's referred to his over town. Why not develop zoning? In that. Area which inspires developers is to build whatever they want with a certain percentage of it to be four ownership affordable housing create a financing system. So that there's very low interest loans that are available for the low and moderate income population. That will take that housing and make it so at work. I mean next to Jackson. Do you know how many people work in in that place and have to commute there and could be living two or three blocks away and walking to work. It's just absurd to me that we're not doing that now. I know it's easy easy for me to sit here and advocate for all this stuff because we have a system. That's unenlightened and we need to move towards one that's enlightened every time I've ever seen an affordable portable housing project where the people own their units. It's been cleaner nicer. They take care of it more they take pride in it. They don't WanNA criminal living Americans. There's they don't want their neighborhood to go down. It's like their stakeholders and to make someone just because they're not qualified to buy by a middle income home disenfranchised from becoming a stakeholder in a neighborhood is a huge mistake that we make over and over again in the United States in twelve point. I mean it corroborates my my reading into the history of Public Housing in America edited a book on Lafayette Park One of public subsidized housing developments. In Detroit Troy and the evidence. There was quite clear on the one. Hand the mix of tenancy if you have people who own and some people who rent at market rates and some people who were there on public. Subsidy that mix it pertains to this day after decades and decades And then the other thing that this corroborates for me is that in history of US public housing as long as one could be in publicly subsidized housing and be working poor. This was quite successful. All the literature suggests this but it was precisely win public housing projects. And I'm thinking more or of the Industrial Midwest. Detroit Chicago Saint Louis when these places made it impossible for people that were really working class to live there and so again it's the it's the mix of incomes it's the mic city of class the mix of races. Frankly we see in in that literature that you're also suggestion every every business in Miami. Has someone someone who's doing the cleaning someone who's doing the the most simple physical work. Someone who is an assistant natve executives. They should all live or have the option to live in proximity to that business. And then I really really think it's also important port and that if they can sustain that and make that happen for fifteen years twenty years whatever the the benchmark is that then they can sell it at fair market value and they can have part of this American dream you know they can have a retirement fund that goes beyond social security because basically for for people who are middle class and below its equity in your home. It's a pension and social security. That's your future and we deny with with the way we allocate resources into into public housing. We deny the third component and a lot of those people. Don't get yet the second. They're not getting pensions because they're not in those kind of jobs or they're not meaningful pensions and so the seat drives me. Crazy is only two things you need to change the method of financing because we are subsidizing these rental buildings turn it into very low interest long term mortgages so it becomes affordable and and the second thing is like zoning you know so all right tell the developer he can get one hundred and fifty percent of his current. Zoning rights writes if twenty percent of it is affordable housing. And when you couple that with these lower interest mortgages than its business opportunity turn it into a business opportunity for the developers where they can they can make a reasonable profit. They're incentivized to do it and it happens. It's an inspiring vision. Asian Craig you also with your record of Reaching across the aisle working with even preservationists. I can imagine that you'll have as good a chance as anyone in the city of of accomplishing us. The neighborhood you're mentioning are also neighbors in the city that have access to transportation right. I mean they're served by the highways are served by metrorail. They're served by by the trolley. Are Are you optimistic. That there might be a generational change coming in inhabits of mobility or transportation. I mean. There's some evidence we talked with some people here. Think as kids moved to town they want a different. What kind of life? Maybe a more urban life Setting aside a conversation of scooters for another day what are your thoughts about that mobility pattern for the next. It's look the the world's going to change range and anybody who doesn't realize it is living in their own dream of the past the thought that in twenty years anybody's going to be driving a car the way we think of it today is impossible just from a safety point of view once machines can actually do the driving. There'll be no more traffic accidents accidents. It'll be traffic accidents. But they'll go down by ninety nine percent. Once you get to that most transportation I think is going to become quasi-public anyway and so I think the world's GonNa go that way no doubt given the prominence at Automobile culture a parking. The parking garages played in Miami streaming. It's one of the more notable building types types in the city over the past several decades. Are you thinking about that building. Changing over this medium-term I mean as as things change our ability. I mean we already made need less parking by the way the I don't know if it's true I heard Joe Stone. Crabs parks forty percent. Less people valet now than they did five years ago. I know Oh that my wife who's was affiliate with found blue hotel like valet parking his way down. It's not because people are self parking. It's because they're not driving big I mean now there's just so many opportunities to be able to move around and only one of them is driving your own car and so I think you know it's it's changing pretty quickly and I think less parking is needed now in the design district. We were panicked about having having enough parking because if you look at the normal metrics were experienced fifty percent growth in parked cars and the design district every month year on year. It's it's a fifty percent annual increase and we are not at all worried at the moment about parking because so many people take alternative forms of Transportation Tation so in addition to spatial issue. Is this a revenue stream issue for people to think about neighborhood building. I mean clearly. The design district has had a legacy of street parking and other UH of other forms. Well don't get me started You know our philosophy which is unparalleled to my knowledge. Is We charge charge a fraction of what we could charge for parking. Because I want everybody to be able to afford to come to the design district. I don't just want an elitist luxury ghetto and I don't want that to be a consideration. So let's such briefly on the you know the kind of environmental condition so It's the best of times at the worst of times right. I mean we. We can't make space fast enough. Miami continues to be a very desirable global destination. You're ten years into this business cycle and at the same moment. Of course there is Quite a lot of work being done on the beach side to raise roads concerns around nuisance flooding native pumps and pipes and building a new public realm another level as Somebody who's been invested in building the city of several decades. How do you think about those questions on? I'm very concerned rightfully. So I think that global warming earnings occurring I also think that we are contributing to it at the very least we have such a short existence in places and we don't think in geological time to to understand it. I mean the question which is unresolved is a city like Miami going to find a way to to cope with sea level. Rise or is Miami GonNa go away first of all. We've got to change the way. Were acting on the plan. You know like there's no question about that and it's so irresponsible of us not to and it goes to a lot of things you know that people don't consider his animals domesticated animals or a huge contributor to it so that isn't a factory or a car or whether it's a fossil fuel or not. I mean it's ridiculous us that we haven't really developed renewable energy anyway. That energy is all built in these very remote plants and then transported where we should have more much smaller mahler energy creation around but but having said that the real question for Miami is whether there's going to be a technological solution because I don't I think that if we stop burning fossil fuels and get rid of all the domesticate animals that that's necessarily going to resolve the problem and I'm I'm optimistic about it. I think that that you know there'll be a solution. I think that anybody. That doesn't get proactive and try to help make a solution is really foolish. Twelve point I mean so much of ecological knowledge so much of the relationship between ecology urban design urban planning has been built on a Malthusian line of thought riot a kind of a zero sum game and ultimately of course as you speak about domesticated animals. And you know I eat beef. I don't know about you these days As if we get out of our cars if he can even switch to renewable energy in a place like this that has such abundant sunshine and and other forms of energy. They're still in the global system so much change happening. It will require really adaptation and in that respect I I suppose my observations is that Miami Miami beach or not here by products of geology. They're not the result of rational choices. We chose to be here. And then you know as a as a floridian somebody to spend at some time here and I care deeply about the place I would say if we're not going to persist in Miami. What down here and the rest of South Florida will will we save while Putt? Thanks for China's pleasure. You've been listening to future of the American city. Jim Aided by the office. Bourbon Ization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This compensation was supported by the Knight Foundation. And the generous donors to the American cities spoke our producers Barbara. 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Responsive Technologies and the Public Realm

Future of the American City

43:53 min | 9 months ago

Responsive Technologies and the Public Realm

"We are not inventing anything. We're not developing new technology. We have no patent or anything. We are a designer so we fly or presenter then deployed this technology in new way by means of design from the Harvard Graduate School of design. The future of the American city conversations on how we live where we live. I'm Charles Waldheim words with Rodolfo. Gory architect educator and urban est whose work focuses on smart cities and embedded technologies rudy joins us today to discuss his work in technology and the public realm. Welcome Rudy. Thank you so you. After you know the The notable international crew that you've had as an architect and practice krill at Fong hadn't taught at a range of world-class leading institutions in architecture. Urbanism you made a choice. Five years ago to move oof to to Miami full-time and ticklish. Approval University of Miami. Why was that the right choice for you? And why was Miami the right place. The I mean it's not like one day I woke up reports said I would like to move to Miami because this is the right move. It just happens that I was aggressively. Recruited given an offer I I couldn't refuse and now. In retrospect it does seem like this was the right move for me but it wasn't really calculated it was more the Buzzer Michio of seizing. That opportunity well you know of course. The University of Miami School of Architecture has disproportionate role in the history of our fields in the last several decades last half century arguably and so of course it's an important and significant institutional role but it was presumably also the city itself that was in part attractive. It was both really because I'm very interested in the history of the school. In the role it has played in the evolution of the discourse and the practice but the interest of the school. It was surprising because I'm not the most obvious candidate. Given my investment in emerging technology so to be involved volved in these processes that are transforming the feel is very important but also I am interested in all the scales at which we see this transformation transformation from the scale of the object to actually also the the city and in terms of how I relate to the trajectory of the the University of Miami School of architecture. It's basically at the scale of the city. And how will you engage faculty and students in that workout. How does that? Ah Get organized at the Miami. So when I arrived five years ago a broad the that lab that I had in Toronto onto with my colleagues Kalama hiber and the Smart Coppola's so there was a extension of that effort in Miami so Gerrad lab so that was called the red U M. And what do you mean by Rad in rat lab read. I'm GONNA be honest. He used to stand for responsive architecture at Daniels. which is the Dave task but now it has been transformed to responsive architecture and design? That's read that's right so responsive architecture and undesired. Um Yes yeah so help me understand so the idea is with you know the kind of coming Internet of things you know. Every component every element of the built environment comment will be communicating in some way. We'll we'll have information for us right. So like we know how technology transforming everything the way we design CETERA. But in this case case it's technology's not only in instrument for Construction Design Management workflows term with with think of it as a an ingredient to building materials. We're embedding that can -nology like we have the seraphic. Mateo was show a break close. A microcontroller equals question. Shumar so the idea is to think of the possibility of embedding this kind of intelligence or connectivity into every building material and to see what happens you you have this formulation telling you this right. Every brick is communicating right. Yeah sounds terrifying. Every week has an IP be address. There it's you can. We can pin it down on the has the presence on the Web I mean there's something about the idea of the juxtaposition of the brick right. I mean in some ways. The most ancient the most archaic the most Foundational Building Material. But part of what your research suggests is that not only bricks and buildings but also urban environments landscapes could be communicate so as they communicate. Like what kinds of if things might we be learning from these environments. Like what kinds of information might we be gathering right. I mean much of the discussion on the Internet of things and sponsored. It has to do with the bus of collecting data digitizing and deploying big data as an instrument for a more informed decision making or management of the city and architecture. But the of course there's much more than that. So for instance one of the lines of research that we are in how we can start to think about customization for the city for the large scale like we tend to customize our private environments. They are multi billion dollar industries devoted to this but was we step out in the public we all. There's no such thing as customization right. It's almost sounds like a contradiction on Oxymoron. Because by the Phoenicians supposedly sadly the public realm is the common denominator that has to accommodate everyone and it tends toward in certain contexts the lowest common denominator or at least the most generic right but because of the technology and the possibility to in Mesh all of these building components of the environment into this web of communication. We can start to orchestrate besides responses to individuals and the built advice. I can give you example the smart city we designing and the Yucatan. It's good sensiti. It's right outside of Marietta there. Is this kind of digital platform from that. The served as an interface between the citizens and the city where they can find to calibrate the wistful manatee so for instance they can go online and specify what kind of public light the wish to have so the the preferred I very bright so because they feel safer for something more discreet. In what kind of color temperature. So if they happen to be walking alone than the municipal lighting public infrastructure accommodates to their user profile. And then will will deliver the light that they prefer of. Course if there's more than one person then there's some kind of averaging what are quite like about the example is that you could imagine in a situation in which this is something that is at based in which the individual citizen has some agency individually or through some collective or political process assis. One could also imagine some kind of you know algorithm or machine learning over time to interpret human behavior respond and this seems like a very different scenario scenario than the kinds of Surveillance and data kind of privacy concerns that we see around the topic in so many places right but of course the the lighting is going to respond to you. It means that you are being watched and tracked. And so this the idea. The problems of sedans privacy. I always you know very challenging when we're working in that territory but whenever it comes up sometimes I've went present something like this. And there's a reaction from the audience. I remind them that our notion of privacy's is constantly transforming for instance. The Kodak cameras were prohibited waited on public beaches in the US for quite a while. I think it's not until the forty s that they were allowed. Those very interesting story. I don't know if it's true story but it's fascinating. Apparently in the nineteenth century in Paris Windy hosman assignments started. You know the transformation the Vars were introduced and most importantly for the discussion artificial lighting was introduced. There were some protests because it was seen as a invasion of privacy this soda privacy eroding due to this kind of technological intrusion intrusion. It's interesting because sore remotes like this idea. But that does you how understanding of fiber see has evolved. Since and. I suspect that we will. Well see this kind of evolution in relation to those new technologies. It's well put the history. Science Technology is littered with those kinds of negotiations. So I guess one of the questions I've got has to do with the role of sponsorship so this experimental city in the Oklahoma City. Who are your partners in it? And does that in any way give you a greater confidence. So the private project project and the site is adjacent to science and Technology Park which is funded by the federal government. So it's capitalizing on that. The Adjacency is entity is conceived as a tech transfer hub. So it's a group of private investors and developers but as the project evolves as thick. It will get more and more government support. It's a great group of people who are really visionaries reason. They are very optimistic about technology and they have like the. The sauce is very much like a silicon valley since ability. Not to use the same jargon talk about disruptive technology they think of the the city they they think of it as a startup that has the capacity you to imagine a completely different lifestyle. I mean given the kind of the beauty and the kind of environmental quality of the Yucatan. It reminds me that a quite a lot of your interest in in smart cities technology responsive environments has not simply been about built environments but also about natural environments in the landscape. and I wonder if you could say more about the role. All of these technologies in thinking about questions of Sustainability Orion. The the kind of building healthier natural in Ryan's should this of course there's a big part of it. We have three big teams for density. That's one of the new Unity Yucatan famous for this sin notice. You know they are these. You're right caves that you're meant to dive in them and yellow water by the beautiful under ground environments water ended ended our part of the cultural imaginary. So we have this kind of system of reservoirs for collecting stormwater you're actually under deployed under the main abyss squares so it has that sin not quality in the sense that it is shaped in a particular. Okay but also it's accessible to the public and actually also include some amenities like a small library resources. It's a public underground bound public space with water. Psych assistant reminds me a bit of those that fame system in Istanbul. non-roman reservoir isn't war so it's a piece of infrastructure for remediating collecting stormwater. That's also oblique space. The present as was the public cultural imaginary around this notice Cetera so fascinating so this is on kind of a new kind of innovative urban tight. But it's also drawing on the history of the the Indian step world the regional kind of geology so in in those kinds of examples. You're interested in not just the Internet if things is or wired responsive environments but the ways in which design can play a role and I take it from you know from your writings your your your public comments in your Ted Talk Doc that you you think that in some ways maybe the conversation about smart cities and the conversation around the Internet of things hasn't really benefited yet from being thought through from the point of view of design is is that et Cetera. I know absolutely also repeatedly insists that we are not inventing anything. We're not developing new technology. We have no patents or anything anything. We are designer so we Li- or present or deployed technology in a new way by means of design. It is that killer way in which is used and presented that we think of our contribution to the field for instance one known nonni example from the Toronto red days is the smart blankets. That search too busy track sleeping patterns was interesting about it as easy due to just attach sensors to blanket and then collect the data in this particular case the itself is the decorative pattern. Turn the through it. Looks like a floral pattern on the blankets and we invented the Lancashire and it's decorative motifs leaves to perform as a they're collecting vies with student just glued technology on it and this is what we tried to do in all these projects his to land the technology and then interesting way in order to allow familiar objects to perform in this new way. I mean AH parts of that project remind me very favorably of the work of Just off with each artist. Who's done quite a lot of interesting installation work around accommodating you know people people that are sleeping raw for sleeping in the in the open and at the same time as you accommodate them? His work is most often also making them more legible in a way in the in the space the city in addition to responsive landscapes. I know that you've had an interest in questions of health. Public Health unhealthy facilities. Healthcare facilities is also a part of your research here. So what are we speak week of embedded technology responsive environments etcetera is one area where they are most likely to flourish is in the healthcare. Oh care space because this is where you want space to perform optimally and the way we can actually justify the cost because it it it yields feels safer environments better equipped with handling the task Tan. So yes many of the projects have this healthcare application vacation which led me to become more and more interested in this field and my commitment to starting a healthcare design program The the school of Architecture of Miami so we are have been working on this for a while. We've had the soft launch so to speak for a Master's program focused on healthcare designed is now one of the areas of concentration in our massive science and architecture. Eventually it will become a standalone on professional master's dedicated to healthcare. There are a number of these now emerging. Because there's a great need for them but what will be particular about hours at University of Miami is that it will address also the large scale at the. Um disqualified that sure even when we're talk about the individual building we are always thinking of the urban context because of the DNA of the school so we will be addressing these issues at the scale up the individual building also the individual room in healthcare facility but also at the scale of the neighborhood the district Cetera. There's of course a growing now. Actually entire field emerging around wellbeing health at the scale of the of the cities are very exciting. The emerging discourse and we are the forefront of discussion and in linking that idea of the the medical environment hospital title environment thinking about you know from the scale of the patient and the kind of data rich environment of patient care to the kind of nested scales in which these complexes grow grow. It strikes me that you are proposing kind of continuity across scales. I mean from the very beginning of the conversation about public health and the western city. The the beginning inning of the mapping of pump handles in London there has been this aspiration to bring a more empirically based or evidence based approach to thinking about health in the city. It strikes me that your interest your proposition around information in the city is really a continuation of that rather than something completely now. That's a very interesting. I think insights because it touches also on this idea of customization but frames it in different ways. So it's not so much about the individual projecting their desires his onto the public realm. But the possibility of being able to have a sense of ownership individual ownership over the public aquarium or the P. pieces of infrastructure for that. Give you an example. So we developed this project where it's an photovoltaic array to power the some some of the municipal services but in this case each panel in this Ray is actually assigned by means of an APP to individual citizen so the APP response to the actions the behavior of the panels and it moves only when the the owner is moving is active and the panel has to move because it has to catch up with the trajectory of the sun has to optimize its orientation tation to become more efficient. But if the if it's assigned owner is not moving then it falls behind and it's less efficient so this Out there in that piece of infrastructure has assigned to you and that is rotating trying to keep up with the sun and you are keeping it. It's powerful image. So the in the same way the fitbit or the SMARTWATCH gamified your own healthcare regime you can somehow Gamma Phi and engage age. Human curiosity the obsessive -ness of individuals to have gamified public infrastructure. But what's interesting is that you have a sense of ownership you can. There's this piece Out there you can point to it. It's yours and you are responsible for this kind of building. This relationship with public infrastructure at the individual level is is part of that vision of the city not as this indifferent platform. But something that can be talking to individually and that you are responsible responsible for but this kind of Gamification of health speaks to what you were saying earlier about the the whole discontinuing between spots city big data health wellbeing there was a conference at the Radcliffe Institute. You're a half ago on this question of data and decision making aching and in that. What one that we saw was that while? There's a a robust discourse for several decades now around behavioral economics this is now now established body of economic thought That humans are not rational actors and we still carry around these kind of pre pre human brain lobes and make choices. That are not optimal that simile. There's a group of people engaged in. What's putatively being called behavioral policy right and so it strikes me that this game indication the engagement agent of the human brain with how to harvest energy in the most optimal way and also have a sense of personal individual investment in a in a public utility that strikes me is is a good example of this idea of a kind of behavioral policy understanding how to engage citizens rate inside? I never link this idea with this behavior of policy discussion. That's interesting I mean. One of the maybe optimistic takeaways from that conversation so far has been that and while we know that more information has not historically produced better decision making for humans the distribution the decentralization of decision. Making your product is proposing is one way to work around that and it it strikes me that this simultaneously does too very interesting things. One thing that does is it decentralizes centralizers in defuses the role of the single profess oriole or managerial class person. In the lab coat who's making all the decisions who's increasingly inundated dated with information but not necessarily increasingly able to make better decisions because of the amount of information and at the same time. This product of yours proposes to more fully engage individuals citizens in the work of the city. It's life it's infrastructure life. It's metabolism does the fiction of the Big Data in those nefarious terms. You know a certain terms of civilians manipulation etc really. Don't take into consideration the dialectical opposites of how citizens maybe empowered also by those technologies and big data access to information and the data and how that may prompt participatory citizenship. And actually we have seen how this is playing out. It is very much so like the disease increased participation and engagement because of the link that is being made between the the citizen and UH infrastructure. That is more tune and responsive to their actions so not only collecting database. Actually be offering the possibility of of their participation. In it's shaping it. Is it your sense that the slider accessibility of information could be thought of as a kind of Democratization John I mean in the context that many are concerned with four or five very large monopolistic firms in one culture having all that data To do with what they will. Yes when we talk about facebook Google Cetera. Yes there are these big firms monopolizing this kind of information. We're talking about cities. Public Infrastructure at ticket is mine. I eve in the swimming that actually no we can still think of Open source US accessible data civic hacking and avenues of participation and access to data. So the interesting question. So we've talked about your research Your interest in the development of the RAD lab at the Miami and Your interest in healthcare. Can you tell us more more. Broadly the direction that you see the school of Architecture University Miami taking your leadership and and with the advice and consent of your colleagues so interesting. What University of Miami in general and the School of Also in particular is that the university is very much you know heart of the city. It doesn't have this kind of adversarial relation that you find sometimes sometimes and you know what I think it has to do with the football team. Football is big and hold region. The community identify was this team and by By association I think is was the university so the university community is not only condemning community It's the entire city so to speak because of I think it has largely to do with the love for the batch leading teams and especially the football team so this kind of favorable favorable kind of sympathy sets the ground for a very interesting productive collaboration relationship. We have was the city so for instance the Squaw architecture has historically always been involved in their fares of the city. Does Zoning Code for Miami. Miami Twenty one which was actually developed by the the office of the former Andean Liz better cyborg was also incubated tested the explored also in the context of the school of architecture. So everybody who you participated in this very important project many many things that characterize like for instance there is a consensus dances forming. Now to kind of mobilization is I think I think it is exciting around the issues of adaptation to sea level rise Serban resilience so we have a new president reuse ago. As you know with the new president comes this important. Effort is the strategic plan and actually Poleo Frank up as lexical the roadmap which is a better way to think about it so we have been engaged in this pal process at the Slovak next for a Trying to establish our roadmap and urban resilience has emerged as the focus like this. It's very exciting to think of a school having one one single dedication everything focused on this problem and I think it's only possible in Miami because there is an existential threat. It's the sea level rise. You know it's very serious problem. We we cannot afford not to invest all of our resources thinking efforts into to this issue so there is this problem solving ethos that has developed. And there is a shared that dictation or focus on at application and sea level rise which is energizing the school. So yes it is still is this very heterogeneous place but we are all all the united in this. Shared Mission Nausea think is exciting and you mentioned the schools Legacy its history of being engaged in the future of the city. Eh and in some ways using Miami as kind of test bed to then impact disciplined impact the profession more broadly. Because of course you know you you mentioned your predecessor thirteen for decades Sylla's platters who were speaking with in this series as well offering through DP Z.? Miami Twenty one. The planning guy but also a spatial planning guide not one which is just about policy regulatory. But in fact the commitment to kind of urban design right characterizes Miami in its history and the University of Miami School Architecture's contribution to that in that history. Can you share with us one of the projects that you can imagine going forward Around this question of resilience adaptation nation and your engagement with the city right so given this dedication the new focus which is really the result of our reflection the strategizing strategizing. We are not trying to Orient. Most if not all of our upper level sponsor. Joe's is it towards that goal. For instance like excited about this new partnership we have with the Perkins in wheel would be funding to Joe's the deal. Was this problem for this. One example. But it's dramatic of this effort now that we will spend on investing being all of these two draws in this particular arena and in real world problems so we will have supporters from the industry but also will have interlocutors doc actors from the city in real world problem solving situations in addition to sea level rise among the effects of anthropogenic climate. I'm a change or increase storm event changing loss of loss of species but also changing by oems and the statistical inevitability of another big storm event. I recall in one thousand nine hundred to the impact of hurricane. Andrew and the response of faculty the Miami and the city and the region responding with what is now I think viewed widely as among the most progressive and resilient hurricane building codes in the world by the way tend to focus on the gradual long delay of the sea level rise. Actually think more decisive in its impact on Miami is going to be the occasional big storm. That's going to be devastating and then actually have consequences. So yes you're right about the Andrew and it's actually very very important moment for the school because it is Andrew and the consequences of Andrew that created our center for or that urban and community designed cd which emerged or almost organically from the hold efforts that the school was involved old in aftermath of Andrew they had shreds projects participated in various citywide efforts et CETERA. They extremely active and engage and To such an extent that finally all of these efforts accumulated and four formalized lies into what is now our UCD but the emerged as a response to that the storm so this UCD is our consultation. TATUM arms with to speak takes on. Projects has been very active for instance in Haiti after the earthquake but continues to have projects their the an all over the Caribbean the interesting to know. Actually how emerge in a moment of crisis as a response to Andrew so the Center for urban and community design fine in school of architecture. University of Miami is a good example of institutional response to a set of social environmental crises. And we know that Miami was founded in this place. which was this then diagram between Kind of Semitropical Environments Access the Tropics in the context of the legal and economic and Cultural System United States. It's not a place that would be built on. Geological terms the limestone geology of this part of the world is utterly different than the the river clay based systems of New Orleans or New York or Rotterdam for that matter. The solutions that you're developing here here will be different than would be developed elsewhere. But it's true. I mean we see in our work in Miami Beach. There's so-called nuisance flooding and the allegation of streets in the city of Miami is already eighty beginning to deal with the effects of anthropogenic climate. Change Sea level rise and storm event in that regard. What roles can the School of Architecture Miami play as the city Takes these challenges on. I mean you're right. Change especially mitigation and to certain extent adaptation. Also but Miami Hammy is a very different situation and this is why you can have as cool completely mobilizing focused on this issue. It's because yes. This is a global challenge challenge but it is particularly acute in Miami because of the conditions. You describe. Solutions are not obvious. It's actually exists existential threat to the city in this really tragic so At the same time we don't get depressed about about it. We we are making a big effort in trying to see opportunity and so given the circumstances that tragic outlook we recognized that that we have a big important role to play. We recognize that we are The clearly a major player of considering all the resources we abidine versity and was especially in our capacity to collaborate with other units we are already positioned as is one of the he disciplines in this big ambitious project to deal with this threat and we are just getting ready to do it. We are already doing it but I think this is going to escalate especially when we start to see the the first signs signs there is no uncertainty about the fact that the sea level is going to rise to the extent that it's going to be devastating dating a condition for Miami. So we I said earlier this is also yes tragic. But it's an unfortunate in which it in the the sense that we will have the resources we will have all the concentration the dedication the attention and in And the right positioning for dealing with this so it's also it's also exciting. I I tell this to students who are actually joining us now. And why the beginning of their academic careers and rational careers that actually this is a great moment. Meant for them because they will they. Are they'll be participating in this Very big and important project. I wonder what you make of this. I mean given the what you describe crab is an existential threat and the change. That will come on the one hand. I sense your optimism about the future and the opportunities here as well of course school of architecture. Miami has historically it's faculty leadership of played a disproportionate role in the city's past its formation. Its its growth and I understand from your comments that they will continue to. What do you make the fact that In the course of the last nine or ten years the city seems to be booming. I mean You know every time I'm here a new range of buildings while it's always been of a of a certain echo architectural prominence increasingly the city. The skyline is likely to buy buildings by signature architects of international reputation and increasingly. The the city's seems to be in part seem to be desirable by people from all around the world. Who Won't be here now at this moment and as you say the season will rise how do you you think about that? Is that a contradiction in your mind. Yes very interesting question a little if it can be say something that made at some light so five years ago our supporters which are mainly developers sponsors to. They're very much engaged with school. Our our we have multiple boards dedicated to the FIN programs. We have and most of them are populated by developers as you know the developers are a big presence in the city and then the school also although they were supportive in many ways I think they were always reluctant. Hesitant to support initiatives that dealers sea level arise. Because I think the for the word that it would like spook the market or something I just drink too much. Attention to this issue may actually not be favorable wall to their horror businesses but that has changed very within just a few years that attitude has changed and many of these developers are actually blushing leading the discussion around sea level. Rise an adaptation and. They don't seem to be so worried about how this May being be the end of their business here. Actually they are confident. They know that they should raise awareness around his shoes. They want want to address it head on the leading the charge. They embracing that future in in very optimistic vigorous way. So I'm sound optimistic. Domestic is because I have faith in that could have been injured uti of Miami and its leaders its citizens in dealing with. Is this problem. It's true what you say about the Development Community broadly and its role in building city strikes me that there are a generation or more of Developers who really have had a hand in building modern Miami and I I've come to share some sense of your optimism for their ability to address the challenges. That do you share that optimism when you think about civil society the public discourse in the preparedness for these challenges. I'm attuned to the the thinking of Public officials government officials academic community my colleagues but also the developers leading the charge now was regarded as issues. I am not entirely sure how aware of the general public is with regard to this question ethic. We need to do a lot of work. Year in in terms of communication and education bringing greater awareness around these issues. Because I haven't seen yet very robust public blake discussion brown those questions so a major research university in a city facing an essential crisis identifies from the lenses of Public Health Medicine Law Engineering Architecture to mobilize a university wide response. What other disciplines around campus purpose should I be including an atlas? I in my mind. The fact ship so to speak is the Rosen. Steel School of Marine at Atmospheric Eric Science and they are a major player and partner in all of our interdisciplinary activities. Also does it in frank also has is very much determined to break the silos and encourage into disciplinary research DAB. Many incentives including very generous research grants funding university it to fund the into disciplinary teams. Sa- great program that has already yielded very interesting results and for the school of architecture. Sure you've been in long standing training architects urban assists to now have programs that engage with the medical school to engage with public health to engage with Marine Sciences. This this strike me as both progressive and an interesting as a catalyst to effect some change. It wasn't interesting shift. I mean I never discussed. It was my faculty. There's been ruminating about this. Is the language used in our promotion materials etc referred to architecture as a civic art. It was a lot of emphasis on art. So that if you think about your as some discipline that spectrum art and sciences I think we were more comfortable being in the more a bit more towards the arts I think we have shifted now towards the Science and Engineering Bandini being the art part but I think the the this kind of problem solving ethos that I see emerging at the school has shifted left the kind of the center of gravity in that spectrum. Interesting the moment perhaps that schools are backed extra so also in the sixties as the simulated the social sciences. Also that moment and in some ways I mean what you're suggesting. Is that this kind of return to the tech. Nee and return to the societal title engagement of architecture in a way comes after several decades of architecture benefiting from its own cultural autonomy its own position in the arts. Let's say of course and and And in some ways suggests both opportunity as you say like a newfound relevance a kind of a relevance for our knowledge and a relationship to addressing societal and environmental concerns. Does that come at a cost in your in your view. Is there a downside to being engaged being more instrumental in the world and addressing these societal and environmental challenges to the fuel of Arkin. No none of of going to say without any hesitation is actually. There's no downside. There's later relevance there is an expanded field of operation more possibilities or colonizing so to speak. Jason feels and in claiming some veterans those but also most importantly is the social and economic benefits In becoming a problem solver that is grappling and was very urgent problems. So does this suggest to you Changes in the education of the architect right although oh I don't hesitate to say that. We can only gain though by having to adapt or slightly retool our architectural pedagogy so my colleagues sometimes frustrated with me because I have no patience for purely theoretical speculative explorations and treaty trying to anchor pedagogy in real world problems. So that's very different. Different mentality when we think of the architectural pedagogy and you know how we teach the conne-tann and concerned with problem solving than we may lose something about the free opens spirited Expiration that used to do perhaps be characteristic of architectural schools especially during that moments when that actual autonomy was Affirmed and would I be right in taking your comments to suggest a kind of really long dialectic between those issues I mean apart from the Peyser really AH disciplinary professional formation on the one hand and then you know being relevant to societal environmental issues. Of course this is a long array problematic in our feel. Will your simply returning to engagement in the world Right yes you're right actually when I arrive here. In order to quickly engage the school cool was a core preoccupation. I suggested that the theme of the call to order for a series of exhibitions lectures to basically position the school and its commitment to fundamentals in relation to what I observed as a wider international reinvestment in typology history etc especially in Europe like Belgium. Switzerland it's lead Cetera but in the introduction to the book that follow follow that I made this game about this dialectical process. And I say yes we we can talk about their return order and to reaffirm the fundamentals. But what's interesting about this moment. Is that. It's not an a claim for autonomy but actually for an expanded fields for architecture embracing consigns this social sciences engineering ecology etcetera so back to fundamentals. But not without a claim for autonomy EMME Rodeo Corey Dean school artistry interest in Miami. Thanks very much. Thank you for the Great Discussion You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for Organization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the Knight Foundation and the generous donors to the American city sparked. Our producers are as Charley. The League is Jeffrey S. Nesbitt music is by Kevin to learn more visit every TAC dot Atiyah St Dot. Harvard that E._D._U..

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Relaxation of Boundaries

Future of the American City

47:01 min | 3 months ago

Relaxation of Boundaries

"To do architecture always require some combination of power and money beyond your own and that's then the condition and if you simply serve that power and money somehow architecture disappears but if you just reject it it also disappears from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city conversations on how we live where we I'm here with Andrew Saga Architecture Educator based in Los Angeles and rejoins us today to discuss his interest in architecture as a form of Urbanism Andrew. Welcome thank you. Thank you for having me. So you spent the better part of the last. Several decades here at various institutional affiliations various roles. You're clearly an architect and educator with an international reputation and one for whom Los Angeles has been more of a home than a subject of study. Is that a fair opening. Yes although at at different times it has been an area of study early on fairly some fairly intensive studies actually for for downtown Los Angeles. Something that my partner is. I stumbled into his young architects hanging our shingle in fact Maybe that's a little interesting to talk about. You know about this West Coast Gateway. We had set up after coming to Los Angeles and working briefly for for Tom. Main putting together a set of drawings for Sixth Street House I had went into a partnership. The mysteriously named Ocsar no and it was with my partner's sperm Trudell who I'd met when he was teaching at the. Gst This was under. Under Henry cobs Jared Architecture and later with Jeff kipness but not at that time we had gotten ourselves into a newspaper. The Los Angeles Herald which doesn't even exist Leon Whiteson Easter right along and we suddenly got a phone call from a guy named Tournus now if you're if you take the fly away bus to downtown. La. He'll go to put sores plaza. One of his brainchild was the L. A. subway system. He is a Greek immigrant. And you'd love this idea of Los Angeles City of Immigrants. We're going to do a west coast gateway the West Coast version of the Statue of Liberty in New York. We need an urban plan for it. Can you do it for us? Which was shocking for us and and I think he just thought it was a young firm and it was just to kind of provoke some idea that having a chance to meet with the Mayor Bradley with Richard. Kosher like a lot of people I got to know who is the head of of At the time a number of other important people in the city and so his idea was to bridge over a large portion of the La Freeways goes through downtown between Chinatown. And let's say a little Tokyo and City Hall in this would have been late eighties early. This would've been nine thousand nine hundred eighty seven eighty eight and then to be a company to do an urban plan and enter be competition and so we did that and we help them organize a competition. It was one actually by liaison couture and Hani Rashid and it was. His project called a steel cloud that made very much under his under the influence. Still of of Daniel leader skinned whom he had studied and worked with it. Got A lot of actually international. Press and nothing. Nothing didn't get built of course but at that time we spent quite a long time looking at Los Angeles and term for the project was metropolis beyond city That Los Angeles was a city. That was no longer about appearance of the city that the city understand and experience is quite powerful but doesn't reflect itself necessarily in the boulevards in the streets and the buildings and the monuments and so made this this urban plan out of a series of of sort of Strange discreet islands that would float amongst all of these other existing buildings and and including over the freeway. And so I. I don't think any certainly not anything that was about to get built But for us it was a that was an important project and our first sort of reflection on the city. I think at that time we were. We were working certainly on L. A. Were you aware at that? Point of the La School Geographers Soja and the people in other context of disciplines that were really describing the city and poly nucleated. This kind of you know. All periphery no center. Not at that time eventually of course and and probably somewhere along the line. I'm sure Rainer bantams architecture. The for colleges Again we we we when we started on that project. I don't think we knew anything about Los Angeles Barometer. Just arrived is just arrived We didn't know the city And and it's funny. The reason the reason I came was after I'm from Detroit As you know and after three and a half years in Boston I realize that when you're in Los Angeles Honolulu closer than Boston. I thought this is as far as I can get from from New England and still stay in the continental us but but other than that new nothing new nothing about it and so at that time in the mid to late nineteen eighties. You're beginning you're teaching at SEI ARC. That's right would you characterize the city of Los Angeles as still being the gateway to the future at that point? I mean of course so much of the literature so much of the imaginary around the city is that it it portend the future. The horizon always expansion. Was that still something you were seeking. There was a collection of essays about Los Angeles. I used to own and it started with a quote. I think it was Theodore Roosevelt as when I'm in California I am not west. I'm west of the West and so there was this idea that the San Andreas fault runs up and down the coast. But Actually San Francisco is on the American plate on the other side of the fault and Los Angeles is on the Pacific Plate. And so it seems like it's some sort of you know geographic Global sense that the tectonic sense that we were not longer really part of the US anymore but sort of part of this not just the Pacific Rim in terms of how that's talked about but also Part of this the space of Pacific which always seemed quite interesting quite enigmatic so it felt like Los Angeles was there. There were other things as well certainly the way it was being talked about and thought about maybe less. What what I thought about it was. I think it was eighty. Two Blade runner comes out and of course a lot of people thought not just that it was a city of the future in a positive sense but it was going to be this complicated distort. Pick multi-cultural future and it. It felt like that at the time it certainly is. It's a fantastic city now but there was kind of you know the looming new millennia in Los Angeles all seem to be pointing to some new kind of urban model. So I mean I've detected at least in in my understanding of your work from from a distance a kind of an interesting question about what what is the role of the architect order the role of the architecture in a city like Los Angeles where you know my images of the city. My memories of the city is outsider and and and so many of the conversations. We're having with people. The imaginary Los Angeles doesn't doesn't really attached to particular buildings in the same way it's a cultural landscape. You know we were talking with Christ Rossler in the space about the those views down the La River and setting aside whether you prefer the kind of core of engineers mid century kind of modern or whether you WanNa see it somehow greener. It's not really an architectural project in that sense right. That's right that's right Even hired Frank Carey to take a look at it. No I think this is right and I don't see it as a discouragement. You know the kind of European model of the Piazza and the monument and the significant urban buildings shaping. The identity of the city is I love that I truly love that I don't think I don't know if it's because of a scale if it's because of the ad hoc nature of the city it it. It's difficult to imagine anyone project having that kind of role in the city which is not to say there are. It is impossible to make extremely fine and important architecture here but that and that architecture can have an urban role of course but certainly there there are buildings that have a keen urban awareness. I I don't know maybe it's still possible. And maybe it's it's just a matter of scale but it doesn't seem like the buildings of the things that are shaping Los Angeles. The landscape features right the mountains on the beach continue along with the highway structures. Continue to be the primary spatial reference. No right that's right and it it. The only thing is so so sidewalk. They started in Santa Monica. Technically and then they moved to the far west side Near who were frank. Aries office now is and I taught when they made that move. I left for a number of years When I came back this was when Neil was the director. He figured out a way for them to move downtown into a building and they weren't able to own it for a long time now we do And they moved into the middle of the Arts district which was had been sleepy for decades and nothing was happening down there at all. I would come back and visit before I return. Things started happening Los Angeles discovers. It has a downtown further into downtown proper. You have Tom Gilmore. Who's a piece actually? Just stepped down as the head of the board at Sei? Arc Board of trustees. He's very active on the board. Buying up the old bank district and doing that but this was really a nothing area coming to Los Angeles. Seen All these articles about downtown Los Angeles they would always list proof of why it was turning around and one of the proofs was Sirkka was there and I thought how when they were on the west side they could fall into the ocean. I don't think the school would have known and now we had. We had mayor Garcetti as our keynote speaker at graduation a couple of years ago where suddenly regardless of how much urbanism is handled is taught at the school. Let's say our presence is urban and it's important to the city and it's important sire that were there. I'm the same too. Because of the downtown thing is a strange phenomenon it. It's very exciting. The area now that Cyrus even in the last five years it's turned into an extremely active chunk of the city and there's developments within blocks by blue chip architects and blue chip developers for millions of square feet. At a time. It's strange I don't know how to describe this exactly. I love all of that. But I don't like downtown Los Angeles Urbanism. I'll go to New York. I'll go to like it's not. It's okay it's okay but it's not I think it's kind of have at least a couple of trees in a place to park also is as dense as la is and as you probably know it is it is. Actually you know far denser of a city than than people give it credit for but there's a kind of flow almost a kind of sloppy ad hoc. This is after this. This is after this quality to it that is its unique contribution to urban form. Let me put it that way. Which doesn't take anything away from these downtown developments. Just my cup of tea. Let's say is all this other stuff that is uniquely Los Angeles not showing that we can also do lofts and we also Do all of these other things that frankly lots of other cities do just as well. Would you make a distinction? Is there a distinction? That's at between The urbanism of Los Angeles and it's or vanity. I think so if I understand the way you're using the the terms properly. It hasn't her bandity that is broader than its downtown urbanism. I would say that I mean as a as a native Floridian I can tell you in this space that features Michigan city. We spent quite a lot of time in Miami looking at South Florida. Talking about South Florida I can say You know the idea that you know traditional or kind of conservative. Urban Forms Accrue to abandon Has always struck me as specious reasoning. When I what I'm here I find it of course like any other politician You know the the the reason we study cities right extraordinary. The kind of fecundity of the place. The the immigrant experience the life the quality of culture people here seemed to be well educated. Their challenges around that people seem to have access to quality of life. They seem to have access to to a choice. They WANNA make about their future right. And in that sense the pope inquity in space the rubbing bodies the density. That you describe there is a kind of abandoning to Los Angeles that we can characterize that has its qualities has its charms. I find it utterly much of it. Utterly charming irrespective of the fact that it doesn't really take the form of these traditional kind urbanistic projects that's right and in fact in a lot of these other areas not to downtown pieces and I you know I do also love that. The Grand Avenue sort of composition of buildings and and all of that. But but I wouldn't live there. It continues to get denser and denser the rambling parts of Los Angeles so I think it can argue for a fairly aggressive density without losing that quality. The thing that that bothers me and you start to see more and more in the planning department and other kinds of pressures is the city trying to clean up. Its Act There's a lot of a lot of times when you're trying to do projects in the city's I'll ask you to look at surrounding buildings and look at materials and get clues from those materials and see where they're sitting and things happen in every city and also What is the thing that a planning department always tell us? You know big uninterrupted service surfaces. You have to break every building up so it looks like a lot of small buildings one after another a the brave exception to that is actually Michael Mountains. Santa Fe apartments right across the street from Sire Which is unapologetically singular and relatively unbroken along its length. But it's this idea that Los Angeles as it gets older. It ought to behave nicely and be a little. Can't we be a little more like if not San Francisco maybe a little like Pasadena on him? Thinking Heaven forbid the greatness of the city is you can do one stupid thing after another and there's no problem with that and we have to instead embrace that as again saying are are kind of gift to urbanism. I WanNa return to your experience hierarchy believer in various roles for many decades. But I WANNA return to your your formulation. But how even though surrogate merged and became quite an important institution in the building of downtown Los Angeles. It wasn't always that the urban arts were central to the pedagogy sadder absolutely and of course. It's a plural institution with many voices any histories. But I wanna I wanna hear from you more about what role has the city or thinking about Los Angeles in particular played in the education of the architect. It's in your in your experience. I think a few things I I sometimes go around and present the school at at other schools because of this name recognition problem. People don't necessarily know where it is unless the what it is unless they're already involved in architecture and I do mention that one of the great assets is that you study in the middle of Los Angeles and so all regardless of what any particular studio might be doing. You can't help but be in the city and involved with the city did a major school wide Sharad on homelessness where everything was suspended for the better part of a week maybe longer to address this year. I jokingly say well we solved it all done but I think realistically. I don't think that was ever the goal so much to get new ideas but I think it really had to do with allowing all the students and frankly the faculty as well to understand much more deeply all of the reasons why some of Los Angeles and some of the areas extremely close to sire. Look the way they do so I think there is a kind of urban consciousness there. It's interesting sire has the reputation it hasn't in some of its. Its We joke. Sometimes about some of its formal excesses and eccentricities but one thing that is true is we stand alone architecture. School there's virtually none in the world. Five hundred students roughly broken down between graduates and undergrads in equal measures and all these two accredited programs do is teach architecture not landscape urbanism etc. We have a post Grad programs that have been growing but they're quite small handful of of students in each one about technologies about fictions and Media and Technology in Urbanism Are Urbanism Program. In fact Has just been taken over by Tom. Main he's left he's one of the founders of the school he'd left. Ucla in this now running this this urban post grab program at Shark but I in its earlier iterations. I was involved with it from time to time and what I always said. Mrs May be more about Cy. Harkin Urbanism Rather Than Los Angeles per se is that were not very good at being urban specialists. And for us to try to pretend like where urban economists or infrastructural experts or anything like that does a lot of other schools with deep benches of expertise in this We're experts in architectural form. And while it may be difficult to gauge. Exactly what that does in terms of transforming a city we understand it's not zero and in fact we're great at that and so when I would always do a studio in that it would always be about architecture as urbanism as opposed to architects pretending that were herbalists. It's a helpful formulation. I know that in those institutions that are you know kind of multi Gary that have all of cognate disciplines that have as the landscape architecture. Urban Design Urban Planning. I think among the challenges that we face as a as an institution always how do these disciplines as they mature and grow and evolve? How do they communicate with one another? I mean I mean broadly my view is that an until the nineteen sixties you know institutions like ours or maybe Colombia or other incisions that gathered these disciplines together. They tended to do so acknowledging the disciplinary professional differences but with a sense of shared commitment to some kind of a project Cultural or otherwise. And I think in the wake of the nineteen sixties. My perception certainly in the United States is that many of these disciplines were radicalized in toward different ends planning was radicalized toward Social Science and policy and politics and landscape was radicalized. Environmental issues and architecture has had a tendency is very broad brush obviously but occupies at Tennessee kind of withdraw into its own cultural autonomy for periods of time. I joke that my friend my friend. Scott Cohen He- part of his job when he was chair of the department if the GST was protect architecture from people like me and my interest and landscape and we we joke about this but there is something about. The idea of architecture is an autonomous cultural form That I think Sarah has played quite important. Role in maintaining inculcating and in some ways is too strong to say. This is in some way at odds with the role of the architect in shaping the city. No I'm GONNA in fact. This is an important question in going to go broader than the discussion of Los Angeles when we were first brought out to all the events leading up to this handled at. Ps one for this moment project. Very Bergdahl who was the curator at Moma? It was describing about this being a real project. Real solutions not a Occasion for exotic formal excesses. Etcetera we were all up to speak and I said well as representative of exotic formal excesses. Let me make an argument for police and it was that what happens is there's there's two sides and this is something that. I find myself arguing often at Sei arc. Which is that I take very seriously our seemingly over internalized and trivial disciplinary. Obsessions should be like this. What if it's crooked that happen all of the all of these things that occur? Now say well if we spend all of our time on this and it's serious and we're reasonably intelligent creative people than it must have a reason why this is coming up so when we're faced with a real project don't be ashamed of our own diagrams and think. Oh my God this is a real project. We have to pretend like. We're the economist or the sociologist or the Ecologist and and instead to imagine that if what we're doing makes sense than it can translate out into the world and this is what. I told him we would do. I said I don't know we're going to do what we're going to do it. We thought about a lot of things one of the odd things that we'd been working on again not to get into the to an too complicated away but I spent a lot of my architectural life nature of objects and buildings when you go about making a building very good at becoming an object and I thought that there is a certain nefarious quality to that the head Gemini that an object exerts in the world to shiny skyscraper and so a whole series of studies that I did and my former partners had to do with how to weaken that autonomy. An entire era called weak. Form that something that we worked on and Peter. Heisman was working on at the same time came out of that one of the things that I always. I was thinking about the question of the coincidence of material definitions and geometry. And that's very simple. We can look at any room which is the one wherein the floor is wood and the walls are painted and where the two materials change is always worth the geometry changes so there's a ninety degree break. That's what the material changes the sound. Silly I know but when you start I started noticing. This always happens. I would've just poorly printed comic books or Andy. Warhol's a Marilyn Monroe. You have mis registration that you have the bad printing. It's almost the same object but things start to liberate and become free of one another ever so slightly. We looked at the suburb that had failed. It was well underway the infrastructure. They're the party. Was there and I talked to David. Bergman are economist. I talked to Alex. Felsen who are ecologists than others and say look? This is a a mono ecology there's one kind of income here there's one kind of landscaping there's one kind of ownership modeled it's utter etcetera etcetera. You take this wild wilderness and you put one thing on there so then we went in there and began to literally began missa. Registering these qualities. So you would have slippages so between the suburban lawns. You could have these wilderness corridors. That would slide in between things that were owned. Outright by single families you'd have overlapping properties that became networks of land banks We we we did it with the architectural form as well breaking down the indoor and outdoor outdoor space and so we found that I think that was proof that there is this kind of interest in breaking down the lockstep autonomy of qualities within an object. And that when we projected onto the suburban development it turns out that that did kind of resonate it wasn't just a it wasn't a random observation and it's relaxing. I think this was A. We're working with Bob Somali. The time in his his term for it was property with properties which we talked about as a disciplined relaxation of boundaries. So this mystery generation. This kind of slippage impart attributed in some ways to an interest in weak form. Yup and in some ways one can see a world that is urbanizing without us right without without design without architecture. And at the same moment I hear in your in your characterization that something about the actual project persists oh I think that's right. I think it's more that what we wanted to do with. The idea of Miss Registration was to set up the fundamental framework around which we would understand the project and that we we started realizing it did unspools into a kind of logic in these other fields as well otherwise wouldn't have gone very far. There's other things that were interested in. Which would have been appropriate in that in that context. How would you characterize the relationship between Sarkis Institution and thinking about these Let's call them extra analyses. Societal condition is that we're in the midst of whether it be affordability and access and equity to housing or questions of you've financial economic equity questions of identity politics in the city today. These are the things that are really at the at the four of the conversations. Were having students today. I think students come into the design school to expecting their work to be political to effect. Change through design are these among the considerations A. Yeah of course and just generally in the school I would say there among the considerations and and I say that because historically that's been kind of blindspot at the school but I think it's it is something that is coming in increasingly to CR. It was an interesting thing Henry Cobb came in and and did a number of things that Sciacca few years ago including an installation and the gallery is. I like art installation. Who's very happy with it? And a brilliant lecturer and part of it was reflecting on what Sei arc would mean observing the fact. That of course will what we don't have is obvious that we don't have the Brett's of other disciplines to be able to interact with and drama. We can you know in other ways but not just within the institution but will we have on the other. Hand is the ability to focus very intensively on certain technical formal aesthetic questions of architecture. We're more equipped to work with that than almost any school in the world. I think you're describing a very in a way classical cultural project right kind of maintenance of a cultural project. And and in that regard I think many disciplines certainly architecture exists in this stylistic long d'auray where if we never engage with any of those social economic political environmental considerations we ended up by. I don't know where we end up. Something like opera. I drive thing wrong with that. Seems just fine but having said that if we purely define ourselves in the in in in service terms to those other challenges I think you're describing a condition where it's not clear why this cultural project would wanna be persisted with you know that's right and there's also a possibility as telling these same thesis students. I said I don't I'm pretty sure in. All of our lives is still going to be a lot of buildings and we understand that. There's things one can do that. Turns into not only a a thing of great evocative beauty but also saying of progressive cultural development. And so we're okay. You know that'll happen. Maybe less important than it had been at other times. I said it's very possible that there's things that are more interesting than architecture right now and things that are more important than architecture right now but it doesn't mean that we can do all of those things you know I understand. They're certainly things as a conscientious Professional that I do and think about a lot in terms of the climate in terms of ecology in terms of equity. That doesn't necessarily tell me that the wall is going to go. This Angler that angle which I think is an incredibly important project. But it's not the tool you know work on this other stuff but an architecture isn't always the tool to to work on every problem and that's okay a painting is not gonNA solve world hunger. You know there's other things you can do and you don't want people to stop painting just because it can't directly solve These problems architectures more engaged. Obviously than these these fields. But I think it it needs to have at some point be conscious of its engagement and also thank well. We may become opera. I mean one of the things that I think is interesting in these times. We we seem to be a know if this is the case here in southern California at Sark but we seem to be at a moment in American life were were on the cusp of the kind of new progressive era of but at the same moment. I think when we look at the history of you know whether it's the the new deal in the nineteen thirties. Or whether we look at the wake of the nineteen sixties. These progressive eras have often produced a a real question on the status of the actual project and I think very often. It was the case that one could look at architectures really enmeshed in power structures of Israeli instrument of power relationships as an expression of power and therefore I think for for generations at certain moments in in our history We you know we've architecture has been seen to be really allied with the forces that produced the conditions on the other hand. While you're a part of what I hear you saying is that it's not clear that Los Angeles is housing. Crisis is stemming from too much architecture I right. It's not clear to me that economic crisis that you were working with the Moma project in own nine ten that the the financial crisis was the product of too much architecture. That attack is one of the things I tell. My students to do. Architecture always require some combination of power and money beyond your own and that's the condition and if you simply serve that power and money somehow architecture disappears but if you just reject it it also disappears because we are this is this is what this is what it is an art form But it's it is the most engaged and I think the most dangerous art form I wanNA pivot and talk a little bit more about you. So you mentioned Detroit and at various moments in time you've return you mentioned return to Detroit for practice at and so tell us about growing up in. Your father was an architect. Yeah I technically is an Italian immigrant. Gio Mathilde which it was in a small town in in Novato which would be Kinda like country Dr do land. Dc would do accessory buildings. He would do some infrastructure work And came to the United States and we always worked for firms. That did some of the deal Italian Guy who knew how do all the details. The always worked on on A lot of the giant shopping malls actually for Taubman all around the country. So but that was Yeah my background. Though was in was in fine arts Growing up at some point when I was in in high school MC parents moved out to the suburbs. Part of the white flight that characterized the the seventies in the Detroit area and a lot of other cities and But but for the rest of it was a product of the Detroit public schools starting from Highschool College on. I never it was like a dead zone. I didn't think anything about the city whatsoever and laughed. I didn't have any plans to go back there. Whatsoever. I left Originally was ninety three because I was offered a position at Cornell's visitor for ended up being a couple of years on my way back. Someone asked me if I could do a visiting thing at at the University of Michigan while it was started poking around in the city of Detroit and I thought wow I don't so this would have been ninety five ninety six when you could still just take your car and drive it into the train station in the lobby and drive around the lobby of the of the old train station and come out and I thought well this is. I could go back to Los Angeles But I thought I this was the most amazing urban tableau I had ever seen in my life and I thought I just need to spend some time here and think about the city and and work on the city a little bit and so I hung my shingle there and was there for for a number of years in fact at some point than I got. I went to New York. I started the form the graduate program at the City College of New York and did that and was not having been that level of of administrator and then I moved to the side but that whole time I still had the Detroit practice and I was going back and forth until maybe six years ago or seven years ago. I joke like Sciatic Detroit and I have a love hate relationship the two places my family. Detroit and say you keep you keep going back so so moving there in the mid nineties you saw something in Detroit in part that I also saw. I was teaching Michigan. Which was it's relative. Unstudied Nature like as a fellow at the nineteen nineties. I was struck by how little was being done. Of course that's now changed and of course it's Labor's right his back and it's been over reported but I think you're among the first people that I saw the corroborated my sense that as it as a laboratory for thinking about the city architecture. It's also struck me. This pavilion on the lower east side is among the first pieces of your work that I saw. I was just struck by. It's it's It's hard really to characterize people that haven't seen the work. I mean it's a it's you you described as a modest thing but it is ab somehow on the one hand and occupies the role that architecture used to but also speaks to architecture absence in a way. Yeah and we were happy with it. It's funny I had this conversation with a Walter Hood. A landscape architect Recently talking about Detroit these other kind of working with these kinds of marginal communities. That was this Little Tree Planting nonprofit and I always thought that well you know the the everyday urbanism which is just colleagues who who would embrace that term. And I always thought when it doesn't matter who the client is or who the goes back to our urban question what the situation is said condescending of me not to exercise what. I think of this my most important disciplinary obsessions on that project like. We always tried to imagine that somehow in that situation that architecture architecture capital a would be a good a civic good and not simply a surrogate for other political failings or surrogate for absent economies. A stand in our lemon of a community. That's that suffered quite a lie which it has. It gets plenty of that now. You know very well about the numbers there is maybe a slight slowdown in the depopulation of Detroit but still it is an physically enormous city. It is lost an enormous number of people and at some point after they were talking about after white flight. Bright flight anybody who was making over thirty thousand a year would move out of the city and so it is enormous city to maintain with very few people in the people that are there. Don't have a lot of money so it it takes more than a few neighborhoods of artists. Doing Good God. Bless them There's deep deep structural problems with the city. I was there at my officer at one at the end it was near Wayne State University. Everyone in that neighborhood knew that if there was something serious going on and you call the police. They'll come the next day call. The Wayne State University police that they acted as the de facto police for that neighborhood. We go to downtown Detroit. And we have some very wealthy landowners that have their own police force. This is like Mogadishu. This is like that That's not a city and so you make these little pockets of this little pockets of that and I think there's a different kind of structural transformation that needs to that needs to take place there and you know. I'm I haven't been very active there in the last few years and so I don't feel like I can speak too much about it. I know you've expressed interest both in your teaching and research in the question of color. Yes not just in the urban environments but also with respect to talk text. You're you're trained in the fine arts. He studied painting painting lithography Tell us about that interest where it comes from and how you work with your shootout. Well it it's funny. It's easy to describe. It's difficult technical undertaking. And what it is is it goes back to the the the breakdown in painting between these annual and Collado so this is the sorry and that you either have these annual which is a painting primarily about line and the draftsmanship and color is there to fill it in or you've quota where you construct the painting itself out of color and this would be let's say frescoes in Florence would be these annual and this would be oil painting wet. Transparent slow drying painting in Venice and the architecture for a lot of very practical reasons is always found itself more closely aligned with these annual and not with colonic. That's because if you want to do a building you need to delineate it very clearly because built by others and it's a large construction and stable and so there's always been this idea that the form and the volume Corbu. She talks about the interest in color but he makes it very clear that it's to make them look clear. The clarity of the form needs to be underlined This is not unrelated to miss registration by the way but I was always interested. Maybe from coming out of my painting background with the idea of let's say a Mark Rothko painting where the entire the entire structure of the painting made through these atmospheric effects of color. It doesn't translate architecture doesn't do soft edges. Well maybe it comes out of the fact that I was into lithography as well. I got very interested in techniques of printing every magazine. If you get a loop and look up close. It doesn't matter what the photograph is. It looks identical half tone pattern of dots but from a distance. Of course it's completely different between that spending a lot of time in Chicago looking at Surat paintings with and the fact that there is a almost limitless complexity that's possible execute with digital technology. Started to work on these very complicated layers and sub layers of color in order to be able to produce something that's tectonically stable but would produce these atmospheric effects turns up that was a a sub project and it seemed like within a city to have suddenly you know a giant atmospheric painting instead of the clear edge of a building goes back to the question of buildings as as exercising a kind of object like hegemony in the city. That was It could be both beautiful and politically subversive. I'm reminded of the the presence of media in Los Angeles on the one hand You know there's a sense that the city is you know promoting itself to itself for the industry's communicating with itself life. But I I wonder. Are there examples either in your work or the work of others in city of Los Angeles where you you see moments of the kind of mediation of the actual surface being productive in that in that? That's interesting and it's part of the the Arts district of Los Angeles is they have all these murals and as as few things. I adored the Diego Rivera. Murals in the Art Institute of in the Detroit Institute of Arts But as a rule I really dislike murals and graffiti art and All of these other things and so I always worry that it could slip into that but yes somehow it sounds incorrect for me to say. I don't think of these as media surfaces because it seems close enough to that but I I would think they're not I know that you've also been interested in accident and error worth Is this related to Miss? Registration and destruction rid. I guess they're they're related at at some level And and it's interesting. I I did think about this through Detroit as well in terms of kind of urbanism and Anders. Two or three different scales which it happens and it really came about from seeing this exhibition unknown quantities at the Cartier Foundation. That Paul had put together. Maybe twenty years ago And it was quite interesting and his accident. Thesis is brilliant. And and I so I I don't I don't claim any any Authorship of that but when I would look through it I realise that there was this amazing formal qualities to accidents and that. There's a kind of formal history to them. That is not the same as the formal history of the thing the objects that are involved in the accident. But it's a kind of corollary to it so you know. I suppose in Ancient Greece. You get a rock and you turn it into a column and then there's an earthquake and it kind of turns into a rock again you know so. We started looking through these kinds of automobile accidents train accidents and spills and realizing that it's it's horrible. It's not it's not a pleasant subject. But there's a kind of a beautiful kind of unraveling of technological systems. The did we do is along a lot of talk a number of years ago about bottom up assemblies self organizing systems etc which is what matter does and let's say the airplane is the opposite of that. It's a top down but somehow it's composed of matter and so I always joke. It's like we have a technological assembly and then matter behaves badly and whether it's a gust whether it's a short circuit whether it's a stress failure. Whatever that would be that when this is Vora. Leo's thesis the men who invents. The automobile invents the automobile accident. You don't know where and when it's going to happen what is GonNa look like but it's built within that and so I just. I've always been interested in this idea between complete instrumental control and then the complexity. Whether it's material or world systems and events coming back unraveling that and the two together making in arrangement. It seems like a lot of cities are exactly like that. So Chicago is not the Burnham plan but it's not not the Burnham plan it accidents happen and Detroit in a different way that's not because of counter development forces and but you have this entire mechanism for generating the city. That's put into place. And then the system breaks down. Framing that as Contingency accident error A kind of a recognition of someone else's intention when Awry right it strikes me as a really helpful formulation to understand a city like los well and it also feel so few. It was an attempt to not to get rid of the picturesque the picturesque ruin. Let's say but to say that's a tiny little subset that gets quite fascinating and complicated. In sometimes gruesome sometimes unexpected. The whole way in which the world is put together and the world is unraveled. And those two things always have to interact with one another that. Sometimes we frame it as a horrible thing you want to turn away from otherwise other times in an English garden you will actually reconstruct the ruin so that it would appear in a certain way and so Trying to imagine a general theory of an inescapable formal category. The idea that one would educate an architect to be self aware that their best intentions will be someone else's accident strikes me as a really powerful pedagogical Andrew Saga. Thanks so much thank you. It's been a pleasure you've been listening to future of the American city curated by the Office for Urban Station at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the knightfoundation and the generous donors to the American cities. Our Producers Barbara Charlie. Jeffrey a Nesbit music is by Kevin Visit Every TAC dot jesty dot Harvard Dot Edu.

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Future of the American City

Future of the American City

21:43 min | 1 year ago

Future of the American City

"Today we're living in a world where there's more and more antagonism there's more and more division there's more and more idea of my differences with the other and so part of the responsibility of our engagement with urban development and urban is Asian is to say that space and the spaces of our cities or spaces of the Arab must make a contribution to a level of social betterment a level of healing and the provision of the kinds of spaces that we can call spatially democratic from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city conversations on how we live where we live. It's weird today with voices architect educator whose work is focused focused on questions of the urban for the past several decades moist and joins us today to discuss his conception of the future of the American city. Most and welcome. Thanks for joining us. Thank you Charles. Great to be here most under your leadership. The Harvard Graduate School of Design has recently launched the future of the American City Initiative Initiative the research project looking at cities across the United States and beginning with Miami. I'm interested to know why the American city as a particular focus. Why is this an important topic for research jesty as you know at the GST we've been working on seize on questions of urbanize ation for quite quite some time and one of the things? That's being the center of our attention. Specially for the last few years is how do we focus our work. Our energies As much on the American city as we've been doing around the world and one of the exciting things is that We didn't think about the American city because we wanted to. Only you come back to the. US and be more local we came to the US and focused on the American city precisely because we wanted to be more worldly and we saw the future of the American city as being very much linked to questions of urban development and urbanization across the globe. Therefore I think there's something very exciting to really think about the future of the American City in the context of this worldliness so wise now the time to focus on the study of the American city. There are lots of reasons. One of the things with the American city is that it seems to be in many instances without certain central bodies central organizations that can take responsibility for the way in which they're shaped We're used is to seeing our CDs evolve primarily as a result of real estate development and That has ended up producing sometimes very exciting projects but to really think about the American city in a more holistic fashion that combines private development with with public development development joining the thought leaders of different CDs with developers and to try and really think in a more integrated on holistic way. I think that this is this is very important. But of course we've also been very concerned about questions of inequality issues of climate change The importance of of infrastructure and add mobility as elements of different kinds of special democracy. And I think the combination of all of these issues gives our project kind of urgency Z.. To really try to make a different kind of a contribution to the future of the American city and the way in which it can be shaped ape the way that it can be better the way that it can really produce much more equitable spaces for the citizens of of our cities. This suggests in in your mind that there are certain commonalities. There's certain characteristics about the American city that are coherent enough and generalizable enough to be able to be spoken spoken of you mentioned on the one hand policy and private capital as among them. You talk about questions of identity and authority within that it. What are the central challenges that you see relative to questions of governance? I think one of the key things that I've discovered is that it's often very difficult to actually find a situation where you can bring all the people responsible for governance together. When we're dealing with urban territories often the boundaries are not so clear the boundaries of of our CDs are becoming more and more porous the concept of bringing governance and modes of decision making as a key critical component of of planning Seems to to be absolutely crucial as important as these integrated or common visions or plans are Israeli finding ways in which you could deal with questions of implementation so part of the challenge is both to understand the needs of the local community to be able to respond to those needs to have the vision to then produce projects that are not all centrally funded that they can be a combination of support from central government agencies as well as private developers. So you're suggesting that simply governance or policy are insufficient to you relate local needs to private capital and in your own work. You've clearly articulated that imagining the future of the city is really a work that depends upon image-making fundamentally and so much to know in your mind thinking about the future of the American city in particular who's authorized to make those images Whose images are they who who authorized that work? I think when you talk about images it's important that but we don't think about them purely as images individual you all sense for me. It's always very important to have in a way this story. The history of difference CDs understood also Oh as a multiplicity of forms of narration. Images of CDs are also reflections that we might encounter her in our minds. I and therefore those those images can be constructed in the form of storytelling What kind of life one imagines in Los Angeles? What kind of life one imagines in Boston? What kind of life one imagines in Detroit? These are also part of the way in which we we think in more protective way we think in terms of what if what if we could do this. What if this condition Could occur and I think that. Then these speculative Forms of imagining things speculative forms of narration. Also have their equivalence in images in construction of potential places that could then be The possibility for a particular neighborhood or particular part of the city or a particular Element of infrastructure that could Could contribute to the betterment of connections between different parts sore new kinds of public space. I mean you're reminding me that of course we're we're in a culture that's In some ways you know inundated with images of the city eighty and what you're suggesting is that those images are not neutral. Speak on our behalf absolutely and I think if you if I mean maybe this will sound on a little bit too philosophical in some sense but I think it's it's important to for us to be able to think equally on behalf half of a plurality of inhabitants of this city not on es a particular sector or or or group by really the multiplicity the of the citizens of a city. So I think the question of what our expectations. What are the sort of value systems that we have on? If those things within reason they have to be part of this debate on. I would argue that. We need to attend much more to the aesthetics of our CDs to the way that they appear to the quality of life that our cities are are constructing as well as to the kind of overall wellbeing Gar or economic model for development as well a part of what you're pointing to is the uneven distribution of resources but also the uneven distribution of incentives as well the relationship between risk and incentive in our particular political economy is one that's challenging in terms of thinking about the city more are collectively in that sense strikes. Me and I wonder if you'd agree with this Sentiment that when we talk about the future of the city it seems these days that were either immediately talking about Political Economy Governance policy if we had the right reform if we had the right mayor if we could overturn our particular paradigm on the one hand or it's immediately every urban project is a singularity. It's the Olympic bid. It's Hudson yards. It's this developer is attached. This architect architect is associated and it strikes me that there there's a kind of void kind of of acuity in our ability to talk about the city as a space of collective outcomes it. I think that that's a very important observation. Because in a way it also talks about the necessity of pragmatism of simultaneously having having a vision but at the same time being able to be pragmatic in terms of realizing that you actually need this support and participation of developers. You need this support and engagement of the local community. You need to political leaders to be part of this and therefore therefore part of the role of the designer in this new environment is not simply to be the service provider of the plan but to be both the visionary As well as the person in some ways that brings the different parties to the table and tries to create essentially much more integrated collaborative endeavor which is really the the necessary basis for realizing doing some of these projects that we are discussing. So we really need to be thinking Much more holistically and I think in terms of sort of larger visions Sion's for the transformation of our cities Rather than dealing it solely to piecemeal development so I think there is a fundamental challenge also. How'd you combine? Basically bigger visions with methods or systems of of Implementation. And I think combining unbinding essentially design with The economics of implementation with the political realities of public spaces these kinds of commentary Ways of thinking are very important for the future of the American city where there seems to be such a key reliance purely early on private investment so in announcing this future the American city initiative. You've mentioned Miami as the first city to focus. KASAN WH-WHY MIAMI. I think Mommy's super exciting for a variety of reasons. You know there are a number of people who are really committed to the city. They wanted to do do things. And it's being really incredible privilege for us to get to know some of these people Like Craig Robins and Jackie so for for and Stuart Miller David Martin and a number of others So it's a very long list and we've all been together trying to do a number borough of exercises where we've really learned about the city and feel confident that then we know enough about Some of the specifics and some of the opportunities that that exist so I think this experience of ct that has been growing very fast but also the emphasis has seen seen a lot on high end types of development especially in south beach and all of all places that have been very important to kind of tourist economy. And I think a key part of what As being important for us is to really focus much more on the local economy and to really address the kind of inequalities that exist I four the people who live in Miami Twelve months of the year who really contribute to the life of Miami and therefore for we are really concentrating on areas with the price of land has not escalated and of course everywhere has but at least we try eight to find certain level of affordability in terms of the housing market. It also is a city that exemplifies in some ways the extremity of our exposure to climate. Right I mean Miami's am is arguably the city. The United States that's the most vulnerable to anthropogenic climate. Change storm events level rise. There's water in the streets on a regular basis The combination of Housing prices and commuting times is amongst the worst in North America. Right and I think in that sense you see there's a similarity in out to la even though the conditions are very different just the time that he takes So part of Thinking about the future of Miami is not only thinking thinking about local environments local neighborhoods that enable affordability but to actually figure out mobility as a means of accessibility. Not and therefore mobility's also An absolutely necessary condition for creating more affordable housing for example in the future but in addition to these just affordability housing and infrastructure. DAUNTE also make city. Don't make a a really vibrant and urban environment part of the way in which we work across the various disciplines Israeli to think about new forms of public space the way in which citizens does interact. And where are their jobs. And what is the proximity between spaces. Oh workspaces of leisure spaces of habitation and Miami has been really fruitful foil Place for us to explore these ideas onto also find very receptive community and hopefully in the next few years will be able to have a a significant impact in relation to future developments because surely if we are also doing these projects and twenty or thirty local developers. This are also aware of the work that we're doing. We're very much hopeful that we will also be able to inspire and influence as well. It's a consistent theme across plus your work on the on the city certainly over the course of the last decade that we have to in some ways become comfortable with the fact that we won't all agree and in spite of that disagreement make a space for discussion and debate in which collective outcomes might be possible so in the context the future of the American city in this new initiative. Well how do you imagine disagreement or debate informing that work today. We're living in a world where there's more and more antagonism antagonism. There's more and more division is more and more idea of my differences with the other and saw so part of the responsibility of our engagement with urban development and urbanize ation is to stay that space and the space is of our cities or the spaces of the era. Ben Must Make contribution to a level of social betterment a level of healing and the provision of the kinds of spaces that we can call spatially democratic so all of that means the question of our differences are are not simply economic but they're also manifested in terms of the kind of spaces that we inhabit at the same time. We should not kid get ourselves that we are going to create a completely smooth space or environment of of consensus. It's very important for the built. Environment is very important for our cities to actually enable the possibility she of people presenting occupying different positions but also to do it in a way that doesn't simply exclude the other therefore when we think about our cities we mustn't really create this homogeneous environments where everything looks the same and I think parts of the work is to come up with a different way of thinking about urbanism that is of course still trying to create Images of construct places but it's not producing a singular image of a community not of consensus but actually it's much more pluralistic in terms of its Its aspirations and that is really a key. Part of whatever we do with urban development in the heirs to come so in thinking of this new role for the designer the convener of conversation who has the capacity eighty two both imagine and produce spaces of debate disagreement disag- just a different way to think about the education of the architect absolutely because the education one of the architects has been either based on the understanding of the discipline in terms of its formal methods or the understanding of its social ideals. We a half to accept the responsibility that our role as designers. He's deeply connected to politics to the political and therefore what we are doing In terms of our projects with a public park or whether it's a planning project or whether it's a housing scheme they have put it consequences quences than the output. It's called manifestations. In this model I think architects and landscape architects and planners and urban dare actually simultaneously Lee citizens simultaneously clients and the the people who are imagining projects. That are not just simply plans. They're also projects that involve involve interactions with local communities participation in meetings participation in conversations with people responsible for these cities and therefore the role of the designer is very different than how we have been imagining the role of the designer in the past. We need to be much more proactive. It's really activists is project of engaging with cities and I think that makes it really vital that the school is not just in the business of off imagining but also dealing with the ways in which implementation can occur this Work that you describe as activist on on behalf of the designer is that a new role for the academy. Is that a new rule for the stadium. Imagine historically in many instances the academy has been focused on on on education and in a way It's being often very internalized. Of course the GST has a reputation of being an international school. You'll reap brought many people to the school but I think it is It is more recent for the academy to not only be producing you sing Visions images but to actually participate more proactively in the way in which visions can be realized. So so what does that suggest. For the relationship between the design disciplines that have traditionally been professionally represented at the school. I think it means that the design and disciplines need to be much more collaborative. They need to work across different disciplines. They need to talk to each other. They need to recognize that the urban built environment is not properties not Doesn't belong to only one discipline but actually it requires the multiplicity of disciplines disciplines to work together and utilize the knowledge that. He's there to try and bring all these different Expertise he's and the different kinds of imagination that exists in order to respond to the conditions that are facing our CDs and built environment armament. Thanks very much for joining us. Thank you thank you Charles. You've been listening to future. Sure of the American city. curated by the Office for urbanization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the Knightfoundation Dacian and the generous dangerous to the American city. Spent produces ours is Barbara Charlie. Gillyard Mercedes music is by Kevin Kevin Graham and Jeffrey recording engineer to learn more visit the GST dot Harvard that Edu

Miami United States Harvard Graduate School of des American City Initiative Initi Charles developer Political Economy Governance Boston North America Knightfoundation Dacian la Kevin Kevin Graham Los Angeles Detroit Barbara Charlie Mommy DAUNTE
Race and Place

Future of the American City

38:03 min | 1 year ago

Race and Place

"What I'm saying is that the racial unevenness of urban redevelopment and its gains results in the perpetuation of an unsustainable sort of urban are men environment and settlement patterns in lifestyles from the Harvard Graduate School of design? This is future of the American city city conversations on how we live where we live. I'm Charles World. We're here today. With Lily Song urban planner whose work centers on experiences of marginalized groups in policy and urban development joins us today to discuss her concept of race and place. Welcome thank you. So Lily your work on race and place has focused on among other things American American cities. Can you just begin by explaining for audiences What do you mean by race in place well by race and place? I really try to who attend to the history of racial stratification and environmental injustice at the heart of American urban formations and building on that history. I simultaneously attend to present efforts by cities and city. Leadership to institutionalize urban sustainability the inability and sort of the racial An uneven sort of dimensions of that. When you say racial stratification what do you mean by that? So I mean the spatial is ation of racial inequality and really by recent place. I mean how. Racism has fundamentally shaped urban formations and governance and the United States. Starting with land takings from racial is raised indigenous people to settlement patterns that were largely segregated by race As well as class of course urban renewal you will and redevelopment that Unevenly appropriated land from different racialist groups as well well as sort of the uneven infrastructure investments that have gone into and through out metropolitan regions in the United States. Why does race come to the fore for you? In relationship to other forms of identity I would say that raise comes to the fore because it has really driven a lot. AWW spatial development patterns if you look at sprawl which is particularly accentuated in the American context. A lot of that was driven by sort of speculative real estate markets but also federal housing policy right red lining signing and sort of the systematic refusal to lend in certain neighborhoods to certain groups and The private sector right and by that right I mean sort of the real estate boards that were formed in cities like Cleveland and the United States. They used racial lies. Marketing techniques. As well you know to new blockbusting and kind of Make a lot of profits and selling new neighborhoods on this notion or identity of racial homogeneous entity and so I see that as really implicated. Racism is really implicated in urban sprawl. And the very carbon intensive Environment I meant that we live in today. And you're suggesting this is not simply an historic formulation suggesting in your work. That race is still primarily in which we should understand the American city. Today I would say that mostly because we are seeing Trends wear many communities of color that have have historically been in the urban core are now sort of feeling rising cost of living And they are moving out and so there's growing research kind of showing that they're moving into areas less served by transit where you know they have more utility bills and they have a greater sort of energy burden to just keep up their lifestyles in these new environments when there are higher income groups or or why it's oftentimes in some cities it's Asians who move in with greater resources. They're not always using transit and they're not always walking and so they may live in these he's walkable neighborhoods And Very amenity rich neighborhoods. But they're not necessarily reducing their carbon footprint. What I'm saying is that the racial unevenness evenness of urban redevelopment and its gains results in the perpetuation of an unsustainable sort of urban environment and settlement patterns and lifestyles? Both so in in your work. You're you're connecting race spatial infrastructural development to questions of sustainability and energy efficiency. See can you explain what the set of relationships is about part of it is about sort of disrupting dominant narratives about sustainability where it's often often about technical solutions Geo engineering or kind of best practices And you know kind of asking who who is sustainable. You know who has been sustainable. Who is a leader in the space and also showing that the solutions are not as technical? I mean we. We have a a lot of technical solutions. We don't use them because of political problems because of social problems so kind of showing that to actually create a more sustainable environment actually actually requires us to also deal with issues of racism injustice that have long sort of separated society and caused people to live in different neighborhoods leads in energy intensive ways. Would it be fair to say that. In that regard your research is interested to use contemporary concerns to address a very long-standing getting sort of Questions around racial equity and spatial distribution. Yes which is why. I'm very interested in transit. Invesments Smith and transit oriented development as well as energy efficiency food planning. So I'm really interested in these urgent but intractable bowl policy planning and design dilemmas. Much of your research is focused on the examples of Los Angeles and Cleveland. Can you tell us something something more about why Los Angeles and Cleveland exemplify those conditions. Absolutely so L. A.. Of course it was taken by those who were acting acting in the name of the Spanish throne From indigenous people it was part of Mexico which was then taken by American settlers and so race is very much A part of the early settlement of Los Angeles but also the role of tourism and real estate from the earliest sort of period of urban growth race was really key to identity formation so this sort of pastoral mission era with the docile natives and you know the very benevolent fathers authors of the missions to the cowboys and Indians Hollywood and so L. as a very interesting space real estate development also played a huge role and much of that was goes along racial lines and so Through my dissertation research I found that in nineteen twenty. I think African Americans could only by five percent of the housing stock because of racial covenants and lending practices and things so An as well as the labor market market and L. A. It has been segregated from the early days if you look at the unions to. They were very racially Exclusive Cleveland join to. It's it's different from La and that industrial manufacturing played moral and yet even in the early days of industrialized urbanization European immigrants were stratified by ethnicity. So the northern Europeans lived in certain the areas later the southern eastern Europeans lived in other areas but they're sort of identities and this is before I guess they kind of became white but especially especially many of the Jewish central and eastern European residents. They were very militant oftentimes and they agitated and they organized is and they joined forces with Actually rarely with African American workers but with other Europeans and so race identity. It did play a role. And how Cleveland evolved as industrial city. Interesting how you describe Los Angeles in its historic development in that each era in its colonial. History in its colonization in its erasure of previous modes selects a kind of the identity for itself and often as you're suggesting that entities expressed in architectural terms. It's a question of architectural style. The becomes almost a kind of marketing image. which for the city? And as you suggest in in choosing those images were also choosing certain winners and losers of history and certain people whose histories have been erased so in in that context is that history in a place like Los Angeles still evident to you spatially still evident in the communities that are there I think the built environment airman has really been changing. A lot of it is driven. By very high end development there are some residents and community groups who are contesting transit investments because they often exacerbate sort of the upscaling effects of urban redevelopment and and so The built environment. You know it's intensified it's gotten higher it's gotten fancier for lack of a better word. It's I'm mean some even argue that its law sort of the identity of la or are these neighborhoods though. That is arguable. Because much of that kind of architecture at that many are nostalgic four are really kind of these colonial types of Spanish colonial or two door kind of right. So the the landscape of urban development that you're you're describing in your work is I think in many ways Legible familiar to many of US uneven. Even a structural inequality distribution of resources unequal access to fundamental rights education and healthcare and at the same moment rent a very challenging history of urban interventions. A part of what your work suggests to me and I. I wonder if you'd agree with this assessment is that in fact Each era of urban development has used urban space in some ways to reinforce questions of racial ethnic identity. I think there've been some particular sort of movements and policies that have been key and reinforcing racial inequality over time the conservative movement especially from the fifties freising in southern California. And so here. I think we have to. You acknowledge that racism isn't just about the racial other but also much of the white working class that identifies as white eight and through. That sort of bargain is than less resistant. I this is sort of the critique that black radical scholars have brought is is that there are less resistant to plutocracy this sort of governing of the United States Bhai Economic and political elites and so they are more inclined to be an allegiance with other whites than with their class based kind of counterparts. Who are of different races and so going back to the conservative Revolution as we call it that politics of racial resentment right co Nixon and Reagan kind of stoking these insecurities. He's I guess because this was also a time. When the United States was slowing down economically in terms of growth and and so they they were stoking these fears fears and insecurities and resentments and using race following on the heels of the civil rights movement and the gains and then the sort of protests against Vietnam and women's rights and identity politics? And so you know using working class or white identity to then then kind of undo a lot of these gains but also the Keynesian state you know the whole social welfare system as we knew it and so that that has really entrenched inequality not just racially but along class lines. So I think that there's nothing inherent about these things that doesn't have to be and yet there have been these trends and moments that have really reinforced and solidify these overtime. In a part of what you're describing in this conversation but also is evident in your work. It is kind of paralleled or dual system that on the one hand we have a political economy in which private capital really expresses itself and reproduces itself and the shape of the city as often the resultant of set of relationships about capital as much as anything else and we have You know increasingly vibrant and active civil will discourse around questions of race ethnicity identity and it kind of increasingly vibrant. I think kind of political conversation but they seem so often Disconnected are there examples or cases of from your research that We might be more optimistic about other examples of either resistance to or a progressive models around these challenges. Yes and that is precisely the question. That much of my research has focused on is sort of these alternative templates of urban and economic development within highly unequal and segregated metropolitan areas. But I would push back a bit on the characterization. Dr Isolation of these do allergies between sort of capital driven urban development on one hand and then racially aligned groups and civil society activism. I think these things are very much related. The reason that capital. Aw in the last thirty forty years in particular so private capital has been able to play such a role in driving urban redevelopment and urban in pathways has been in large part because of federal retrenchment and sort of pulling the peeling back of the state and its role and its regulations -regulation of environmentally speaking market wise and socially and that goes back to the conservative revolution which built on a the politics of racial resentment. So I see these. Things is really interpolated. Clearly there are aspects of Period Ization of economy in your work and in the most present president most recent We might call neoliberal economic formation. We see this withering of the state apparatus in the state of the state's ability to intervene much less to regulate regulate in certain contexts as an active project. And at the same moment. Of course your your work touches also on a history of Urban Renewal and race and ethnicity in which the the most robust welfare state in the twentieth century was itself using questions of race and identity as a as a way to organize itself and its thinking about the urban. So are you suggesting that these challenges are simply intractable to American culture or their or their models are examples. We can look at so. I really appreciate that question. I think there are oh absolutely moments and models that we can look at crisis. Moments are especially key so a moment of recent history that I I was particularly excited about was an and this may be kind of sinister but it was after the great recession and so when the financial market crash the housing market crashed people were searching for different development models very much desperate for new ideas think. This was a real period of reckoning among Those interested in urban economic development in particular and this was also a time when was Obama's first first term when we had the stimulus Economic Stimulus package so there was a bigger role at the federal government following the crisis. There was also rethinking of templates right for growth And then I think also the institutionalization of sustainability by cities over over the last twenty years. I think that has also seated an opportunity to think in more sort of systemic or inter disciplinary almost ways and and from this sort of agitation this movement for green collar jobs for sustainable sort of urban development templates. It's I think that sort of impetus was created and we see that continuing today with the green new deal right that Akhazia Cortez just introduced quite recently. You're reminding me in the wake of the great recession. Oh eight Oh nine we've seen In other parts of the certainly across Western Europe many many cooperative you've forms of housing projects so of course we've seen in recent years. A range of artists Cooperatives Labor in Union activists and organizers and other forms arms of Let's say you know differently. Capitalized formations to monetize housing Have you found examples like that in your work in the United States. We don't really think of. The United States is being rich in examples of worker democracy or economic democracy and and yet the Midwest is has an overrepresentation Asiana large representation but there have also been more recent iterations and coming out of the great recession and the institutionalization Zeeshan of sustainability principles by cities. There's been you know new models like Evergreen Cooperative Network in Cleveland Ohio and and that's really interesting because it's not just the worker cooperative model but it's very much tied to place in a place that's been under an investing instead. I think one of the challenges for the Cooperative Movement in the United States has been that they tend to be born among people who know each other very well. They're often of of Scandinavian descent in the mid West and so There's at the same time. been a tradition of cooperatives in the American south among African American communities. But it hasn't really been You know sort of in the mainstream or gained much attention from planners and so- Evergreen. It has been an exciting model because it's about anchor based community development as much as worker cooperatives so the model is really how to assemble the procurement capacities of these wealthy institutions and then point them to adjacent communities spur business opportunities -tunities or business development opportunities which then help support the creation of worker cooperatives. So that's a really interesting and exciting model. That's that's since been I wouldn't say replicated but inspired aligned efforts. There's one in the Bronx called the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative also also an anchor based cooperative development strategy. So they're worker caught and I find these to be very Contemporary and American because they are a thou- The unevenness of American urban development as much as serving irving racial lies underrepresented groups. You know in the worker. Our worker cooperative space. So you've been involved in the future of the American consider initiative at the GST and you've been working as a part of that initiative in an on The city of Miami. Can you tell us a little bit of why Miami comes to the fore as a venue for extending the research you've been doing. Miami is such a fascinating place for me because it reminds reminds me a lot of Los Angeles but it's also very distinct. I think the role of tourism from its early days and the role of speculative real estate development and driving urban growth as opposed to the kind of traditional industrial manufacturing has posed similar challenges. Because with that type of urban formation in urban growth the allocation of space becomes very important because on one hand in the American context. They're very dependent on racial is Labor for services and for construction and kind of that speculative building and Boom mm-hmm and bust cycles but at the same time they are very careful to manage. And it's not to say there is one city and there has been an intention or you know sort of brain behind it but what has happened has been that that is kind of reinforced segregation because of the value of urban space when an economy is based on real estate development and Toryism and so who who is wear seems to have been in be very important. Are there particular communities or declare initiatives in Miami me that you focused on that you think are interesting or exemplary in someway. We really focused on over town and an over town. We learned about different community initiatives and it was almost a microcosm of American racial politics the community development development field the continuing sort of growth of cities the current moment globally of an urban based economic development. And and. You're in over town you you kind of feel the spatial encroachment. The high rises kind of coming in from all sides You see all this massive infrastructure investment there's three CDC's community development corporations There seems to be quite a competition for resources breath and so there's definitely a lot of the dilemmas that we see in a lot of American cities and cities like Los Angeles. But I think some some of the more interesting models were actually dare I say traditional in a radical sense because okay so I think of Adrian Madrid's who is the executive director of smash like smashes and smashed the landlords and they're trying to set up a community land trust In in Liberty Liberty City but part of what they do also just organize to improve tenant. Living Conditions in the organizing component is really great. Because has what I think. Many neighborhoods like over town are finding is that despite affordable housing development despite Miami doesn't have inclusionary zoning as has a policy but even if when there is inclusionary zoning if there's twenty percent thirty percent it's great but typically if they're at eighty percent area median Indian and come you know the the way that these affordable units are priced. The existing residents typically can't afford to live in these new units because has the existing residents are often at twenty percent of area median income. And so given that situation if you develop you know a lot of affordable affordable housing and they were all at sixty or eighty forty even the existing residents can't really afford to stay in these neighborhoods so it becomes a matter of preservation John and upgrading. The places where existing residents are. And that's why the Tynan organizing and holding landlords accountable is essential. And and that's the part that I found exciting so in over town. You're working in a historic african-american community that's had Had quite the history it's had of course the effects of massive urban infrastructure highways And also a history of I think it's fair to characterize which is a a lack of trust in relationship to the planning efforts of the city more. Broadly is is that fair. That seems to be what we found as well well. We found also that there's a lot of dance relationships and the neighborhood people have been living in over town for generations. Some of them are of Bahamian descent. Their ancestors built like literally built the city people who work in over town. They don't necessarily live there anymore. Some comeback to go to church or you know to get a haircut or see somebody buddy. We found that there's much more than what is immediately visible and that it has an enormous value at a regional level beyond Over the town itself and that there seems to be a lot of relationships of trust within the neighborhood but that given the sort of overwhelming amount of infrastructure sure burdens that overground has had to bear and now the sort of spatial encroachment from a lot of the new redevelopment projects That people are skeptical. Skeptical that new development will necessarily benefit them. What's one of the great Tragedies of twentieth century urban planning that in fact the infrastructure infrastructure that bisected places like over town rarely serve those communities actually And look at whether it's automobile transit or other forms of mobility we have communities cities Lake over town in every city across the country in this context based on your work In Miami and over town what are your recommendations. What do we do going forward with? Some context like overtime. There is now new. Invesment there's new investment in transit. There's upgrades of these neighborhoods leads and people WANNA stay and it may be that. Historically people were forced to live in places but now they've been there for generations rations and they have lives and relationships built around these places and so to me the most important thing is for them to have a choice to stay options and the fact that many of these neighborhoods. That were overwhelmed. By highway. Construction like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles over town and Miami. They're also near transit new transit and so the sort of geography of access right is is changing changing and so if we could ensure that people can stay whether it's through affordable housing which is insufficient. But you know sort of strengthening tenants rights rights to stay on improving existing housing stock but also the security of tenants to remain these places they improve. That's where my recommendations would really emphasize in our work In Miami we've worked closely with. Jimmy Morales the the city manager of the city. Miami beach and Jimmy Melissa ordinary public servant t someone who grew up in this community of Miami Beach He went to Miami Beach High School and his parents worked. Working Class. Worked in Miami beach as part of that tourist economy that you describe and yet today Which Jimmy tells me is? It's almost impossible for that. Set of service jobs to be supported by people that live in and around that community and the combination in Miami of housing zinc prices. With Commute Times makes it among the worst metro areas for affordability in equity in the United States so in that context given over town's centrality it's relative density but its historic significance. Can you give us some idea about the role that over town might play play in enabling a denser more walkable more transit based future for the center of Miami. It seems like there is an appetite for redevelopment of overtone. It's also been zoned for more intense development and so I I wouldn't throw my support behind any project in particular but it just seems like intensification of these land uses will happen over time it's visible and this sort of skyline. Just you know behind over town right. I think the question is if people can stay and how will people stay so are there. Measures is to ensure that people are able to stay or is it just a matter of upscaling and displacement and further redevelopment and further upscaling in displacement placement. And so that's where the sort of organizing efforts to hold landowners accountable and preserve affordable housing in the meantime even when when land transactions occur. The lots are vacant and we. We walked through over town many times. We thought they were parks. And they were just these vacant parcels and so being able to ensure that people in the meantime in the longer term have access to affordable living options within over town even as it intensifies is on that land use and land development. I think that's sort of the pivotal piece. That's very clear. It's very hopeful I think it paints a potentially optimistic future future in which there's obviously many challenges ahead a lot of work to be done but given the relative you know they can see Of So many parcels missiles and given the relative modesty of that claim that can we simply allow people to make the choice to remain as members of this community and in an affordable way there is so much untapped potential there strikes me this now becomes a question for us of What are the mechanisms for implementing such a thing? There there is a lot of untapped potential and I think this is where there's inspirations from places like Evergreen and so the fact that over town so close close to the agglomeration of hospitals right that there are a lot of resources in that cluster there's procurement capacities this and that they could perhaps be redirected or even directed toward places. Like over town. I think would create more business development employment opportunities potentially spawning worker cooperatives but also kind of worker cooperatives that enable enable people to enter with the skills that they have and then develop their skill sets and their career sort of opportunities within in these organizations So I think there's there are hopeful opportunities. The other thing is that Miami's growing city right and there is investment S. men and there is development and so there's energy and the question of there there is enough and so how do you redistributed. Or how do you create value. That is more inclusive in terms of redistribution you know whether it's through linkage fees or inclusionary zoning or land value you capture are there instruments that would allow some of the growth in some of the surplus in real estate profits. That result oftentimes partly from enlarge part from public investment. Not just private investment could that also benefit people who have been living in these neighborhoods for a long time in this space. We've spoke Jesse Keenan And we've discussed his concept of climate gentrification in which place like Like over town in is in his his view quite vulnerable given both its elevation and centrality in the context of changing land values. So Willy from your perspective move on the American City or Miami particular. What's this relationship between climate change sea level rise and storm event? How do you see that folding into your thinking about the development of a place like over town well I see more of the same? Actually I feel like communities of color. In the United States have long occupied environments of Great Vulnerability. They've often shouldered disproportionate environmental risks. And so there's a lot of research on the bottoms and many cities and over town is sort of the opposite of that but this volmer ability to environmental trends and that vulnerability is created by markets and social structures pictures that people have created. I don't think that that's new. We've talked with the Motion Musavi whose formulation of the future in American city city and in in motions view this is not simply a project of describing the conditions as found but suggests a new role for the academy really the in convening these kinds of conversations He also suggests maybe a new role for the education of the architect and so in in that context might my question. The idea of the architect planner the urban est being engaged convenient these conversations to such suggest to you a new model or a new paradigm for educating the planner. This challenge of a new sort of pedagogy new education education of design and planning professionals. That's a very timely one. If I were to sort of comment on what should happen in the education of breath designers and planners in a way that really looks forward I think part of it is about disrupting or coming up with new ways to understand and places like over town in the future of the American city really challenging sort of these dominant narratives about poverty or victimization Russian and also this the sort of logics of urban development and redevelopment of growth necessarily sort of resulting resulting in shared gains for the public. The other thing I think that is central is interrogating the position. -ality of the academic academic institution. What does it mean for us to comment to neighborhoods into communities to me? It means that designers here's and planners need to learn to listen better and learn from what people are doing but also step in and tap into the resources and the skills that they have so that they can design and propose with these partners on the ground And the third thing I think think which is really important is being bold and really kind of forward looking so as much as you know were saddled by history and a lot of challenges. How might we really rethink the relationships of people and how they ah interact with the built environment and sort of lifestyles? And so what can we do. And how can we create disruptive ideas and put them into motion. Ah I mean this points to hybridize role for the designer planner Neither of which is purely being professional not purely purely bringing technical competence and deferring the political economy its own self organization nor simply of the designer planner as simply advocate. You're arguing. There is a role for the designers capacity for imagining in kind of CO creation with community. And that's a new form. I mean that's a model that we've seen glimpses of it certain moments but certainly this configuration of the architect planner. That's embedded and engaged with community ongoing sense. That seems that seems quite clear. Heroes a new paradigm. I think we've learned about the failings of modernist design planning interventions and sort of the lack of engaging with political economies and so that ideas that were quite radical were often implemented by more sort of private or you know market based interest and so we've learned that and I feared that planners and designers sometimes come into position of self-flagellation flagellation almost and kind of a reluctance or paralysis of intervening. And so I think that that intervention is very important but an intervention that's built on listening and understanding not just the context the history but also the capacities of people who are already there and doing the work. Uh thanks very much for joining us. Thanks you've been listening. Listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for Urban Ization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the knightfoundation and the generous Stiller's the American city spot Abdul Aziz Barbara Charlie Gillyard and Mercedes Peralta music by Kevin Durant and Jerry related recording engineer to learn more visit. TAC DOT GST dot Harvard that Edu Edna.

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Street Economies

Future of the American City

39:42 min | 2 months ago

Street Economies

"Not only is there a tremendous push for new mobility and logistics but street. It's also a place. It's not just a corridor for movement from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city conversations on how we live where we live. Charles Walden today with under substance urban planner educator whose work combines her been designed spatial analysis unders today to discuss his work on the streets of Los Angeles. Andre Welcome thank you for having me so under. You have had an interest in streets for a long time. How'd you first get interested? The idea so at one point I became interested at looking at cities as networks. They're in very obvious ways. Cities are places where social interaction occurs very fundamental reason? Why people prepare to be in cities is they augment access opportunities of all sorts including social -tunities educational meeting getting exposed to specialized information and so on and when we look at the city as spatial network then street serve the fundamental links that connect everything up there also augmented these days by other communication. Means that we don't necessarily only rely on physical interaction where we traveled through the city along. Its streets we can also call and connect electronically but streets remain. I think fundamental to defining how urban communications really unfold and I have been fascinated by this for for a while. I think somewhere during my graduate studies I started looking at this more seriously and and started representing cities special networks and kind of discovered this whole world of how that opens up various kinds of analytics that we can apply so long as we have different representation. I think so. I was trained as an architect and urban designer. And so if we if we draw a built environment just think of traditional figure. Ground mapping or other forms of thematic mapping 's of cities than our tool to analyze and process. These maps are really our eyes and our brain so we look at a compelling map and we can see a million things and we discover things through our is the more trained. We are the more trained. Our students are the better. They become an analyzing urban complexities just by looking at maps but graphs or networks exposed a whole other possibility beyond that which is where the analysis doesn't depend on my training or my eyes but there are certain calculations we we can apply on urban environments. And we can do that without knowing even a place to well. We can compute certain characteristics of access ability or certain critics of where where are we bound to find Most people traveling on which streets are going to be the main streets of a city or wherever we're GONNA have street commerce and grown for retailers and services and restaurant businesses these are predictable phenomena because we can analyze city as a network and understand how the land use Urban Forum and transport all interact with each other and for me this sort of depiction of these networks for really opened up this world of going beyond my subjective and maybe qualitatively richer analysis that I can do with my is towards more systemic investigations of the built environment. So just you've more recently the GST been engaged a Research Studio looking at the the future streets Focusing on Los Angeles which of those topics in your work came first or Houston streets in Los Angeles was good venue for that or was it. La First and then the topic came after the top became i. I have been interested in streets for quite a while now from various angles and I Have been seeking opportunities to engage more with La. I've been going there fairly regularly over the last ten years and I find it extremely interesting one of the most dynamic American cities I would say it's growing and it's doing a lot so they sort of naturally merged the couldn't find a better venue in the US to talk about the future streets. They certainly have a lot of them. Let's start there And so you're interested in La has been a decade-long now professionally and in that regard you know. In addition to being one of the major metropolitan areas one of the major media markets also Los Angeles has been one of the key venues for thinking about the city. You know I mean I'm thinking about you know Bantams for ecology and the idea of the non plan and the idea of a city that in some ways is of course plan but in some ways also represents a kind of American idea about autonomy. Yes indeed I think somewhat ironically. Nobody's really posited away. As a model of urbanism per se yet I would argue. It's probably being the most influential in the United States for exporting urbanism around the World But why do you think that is the car oriented and expansive models predicated on a dream of a single family home with a yard? I think has been adopted by the world more than any other idea you. You might argue that. Maybe it's not the American maybe would have emerged elsewhere because of how technology evolved et Cetera et probably would have emerged in Europe but la At least in the second half of the twentieth century really became the poster child of this sort of urbanism that unlike any other city it's really Metropolitan Region and L. Highways are what subways are to New York. And it ties together. Vaster urban area with extremely diverse conditions ranging from very high density mixed use downtown too small urban villages. Almost that are walkable inherently places like Pasadena or culver city or Santa Monica and all the way out to Riverside or Long Beach. It's all functional working as a single Functional Metropolitan area more so than any other place. I've seen and I think if you look at the vast metropolitan areas of Asia that have grown somewhat contemporaneously with La many of them only century-old. Some of them will only half-century-old that model of what fundamental spatial ideas and technologies enable city to grow that fast over such a large territory integrating industry and housing in almost One could say unplanned way but in in enabled way because of those typologies of access and housing and infrastructure I think is what enabled places like Shanzen or Shanghai and others to also grow and even Jakarta and places that are basically grown around as set of ideas using. I'm interested in in your work about the the role of the street as venue right so when we think of Los Angeles we have to think about the the mediated image right the kind of the the export of certain images of desire nationally and globally but ultimately the image of the freeway the image of the beach. You know the the the the images that come to us through the history of Los Angeles don't necessarily describe themselves through the the street which tends to be a more a more traditional metric of of city building so I think it is instructive to look at La historically and I'll borrow for a moment. The analogy Proposed by Hawthorne the Chief Design Officer now formerly times architecture critic were. Chris would argue that. La is actually in its third phase of city development. A third ideology if you wish the first delay was somewhere from eighteen eighty s till nineteen thirty nineteen forties and that L. A. Was very much premise. On the street. It was actually not so different from other American cities like Chicago. New York the time where It had the largest streetcar system of any city in the world in the Nineteen Twenty S. It had a lot of midrise. Multi-storey construction Mixed use developments downtown was similar to many other vibrant downtowns of the country at the time. But that all gave way to this postwar. La which really started with the introduction of very large industries in. La that brought along a shift in transportation also to more much more motorization and private automobile. Lot of the former rail connections slowly vanished And the city redefined itself really around the automobile it exploded laterally and it was enabled A housing model. That was Mr on the car but he was also enabled by strong federal programs to construct the highways out and La adopted highway network unlike any other city in the US. There's no other city in the US that literally has a grid of highways. Boston has two or three coming together is ninety three ninety five. Maybe the Turnpike New York has a few but la literally has a grid and people referred to their home addresses these days. As where do you live? I'm offered a six. Oh five one. Ten and ten or at the Four zero five or five etc so it has redefined the geography of this troop. I mean one could almost imagine You know I guess the The Jersey turnpike might have this kind of scale or geography to coast but not the gritted network that you're describing is which which exit So in that of course Los Angeles has also been home to any number of urban theories. Any number of you know kind of key concepts in geography. It's been a place that has studied the city as well. That your work built upon historic. Yeah so what I was trying to get to with a this concept of three. La's is that Many would argue that the second delay the automobile. La started to give away two very different notion of the future city somewhere in the nineteen ninety s some might say later but essentially Nineteen ninety was a turning point. Where the first rail line was reopened. That was the Blue Line going to To Long Beach from downtown and in the course of just a decade and a half away had five new subway lines. They're not all subways. They're also on ground. And because of this shifts it also brought along concepts of translation development again new multi-storey typology started emerging new housing models. There's been a tremendous amount of innovation in housing largely because the nature of the city itself was changing multi story building again became possible and Chris Hawthorne argued there were basically entering this the third delay. And which is being defined and so we've positioned the studio to investigate the possible futures of the third delay through the lens of the street and the premise was basically a dichotomy that La's facing today on the one hand it is making the largest ever investment into public transport which brings along all of these possibilities for new urban visions and urban typologies at the same time. We're witnessing a tremendous change in transportation technology and the private sector has discovered a massive opportunity to engage in urban transportation for Prophet so services like lift Uber into scooters shared in ductless bicycles in docked. By because all of that not so far from now we will have basically automated Uber's automated lifts which are being tested in places like Arizona Pretty steadily for over a year. Now and so those two forces. The transit oriented push with lots of public backing and voter support and the private initiatives to engage with private technologies and privatise attensition market. They don't necessarily align in terms of the vision of the future. They sometimes conflict head on because transit and lift for instance in transit. An Uber Compete for the same writers. And they have a very different impact on open form. And so we positioned to studio to investigate those two forces shaping or influencing the street and the streets seemed like a great Opportunity because that's where they will play out most visibly most palpably when I say street. I don't necessarily just mean the public right away. I mean ecosystem of the street along with its edges and with the kind of areas behind the streets both built and unbuilt And so that was very much A timely question. I think for La because of what's happening. I mean it's it's true What you mentioned about the the sheer volume. The extensively of public transit built over the last decades. I think for many audiences that's been lost on them if you if you spent time in that system. It's a an incredible investment. Yes but at the at the same time across an enormous geography and is now in a situation where you can't imagine the La Transit Ecosystem without it. Yeah it's true though. Ridership remains A. They'll challenge so la voters I adopted measure s and then it became measure M. it's essentially sales tax increment funding so everybody. Who's purchasing anything in La County Is charged any additional tax. All of which is funneled to fund transportation public transportation largely but also some improvements and other transportation issues combined this level of funding guarantees around two hundred billion dollars up until to two thousand and forty much of which will go to Trains Some of it to buses and some to other areas too. That's as a single investment. I believe the largest single sort of transit project in American history. There of course have been more extensive systems in New York etc but not envisioned as a whole network with one sort of big development process around it have been more gradual flying by line and so it is phenomenal. What's happening and it's redefining. The city in many ways but culture and ridership culture in particular. Haven't quite tha kept pace so. La For instance is facing an issue where transit riders are generally people with no other options the average household income of transit writer and La's Twenty thousand dollars this household not individual income so you can imagine what the economic state of a lot of the transit. Riders is which has been a strong. Why now there's a lively conversation about making transit free altogether so far. A single ride costs the metro. The regional authority who operates transit for lay roughly twelve dollars a ride. The ticket is one seventy five so there's already Something like ten dollars subsidy per every ride of course much of its because there's a lot of capital investment to system is growing and that's where the huge funding is disappearing right now but it has been put the Metro in the conundrum. Where if so much of the ridership is people from the very low income brackets. Then why even bother with 175 charge? Why is bothered with with Policing people who can't afford the fare but in the long term the city is banking on a vision that the middle class will start writing transit. That it's not just For very low income households but As in most of America Transit Ridership has actually been decreasing despite such Gargantuan investments. Is it racing? Would you characterize it? Still stigmatized. I mean are. We saw this in Miami where the Metrorail. Miami's the transit system is inconceivable without it overall. But it's still stigmatized with with the working classes and the working poor. I think by and large Certainly so in part because the actual backbone of transit in delays boss about eighty percent of all transit trips occur on buses and buses are much more metabolized than the rail is in in fact There's a peanut very contentious Quarrel between the public authorities like Metro in the city and many of the advocates from the NGOs or civil society organizations who have been saying that we should be investing these two hundred billion dollars. Much more improving the buses rather than rail but I think the Metro and other stories also see rail investment as a way to attract everybody else to transit till To make sure that the middle class and people who have white collar jobs etcetera. We'll start using Translate to get around La. It is very tough. I have lots of friends uninvolved with this body of work just friends in La and They probably haven't used transit in. Maybe some of them never and some of them may be over in ten years so it really remains a cultural challenge. We've seen this incredible change in the space of the street in terms of its forms of occupation. Well we can also talk about the increase shipping going on in the space of the street break increasingly the space of the site of the pushing of material through ups Amazon Fedex and that logistics network. You know our streets are awash with this material especially these days combined with all these other modalities and so in that regard. You've mentioned street for a long time. But is it fair to say the the street is a subject of new pressures at new conditions? Now in a way that it hadn't been for a number of decades oh absolutely Really a battleground not only. Is there a tremendous push for new mobility and logistics but street? It's also a place. It's not just a corridor for movement and in La in particular. Oftentimes it's a place where people live It's the place where people have livelihoods street vending in La. There's and it's also a political arena. It's where protests happens. It's where certain holidays or parades happening. I think all of that is being contested. So on the hand. I think there has been a tremendous shift in a lot of large American cities over the last ten years with organizations like knack though the the North American city transportation officials association of city transportation officials pushing for more humane street designs. That are not just predicated on. Throughput of automobiles have better pedestrian and bicycle in and other conditions are safer kids and so on and I think a lot of cities have genuinely adopted and developed their own guys. New York. Has ONE BOSTON CHICAGO. La has won the all have developed their own new templates. What STREET OUGHT TO BE But a lot of that is Contested by these technologies. They haven't provisioned for for instance the scooters worst the scooter exists presumably in the bike lane. But the bike lanes have not necessarily dimensioned as such and the sudden arrival of those scooters and shared bikes. Actually put to question a lot of these templates and also with goober and lift It's been very clear that despite cities trying to reduce the imprint of the automobile in the city through these templates guides uber is increasing traffic in the city. Why that's one of the reasons why a lot of cities have now started taxiing over and pushing back against Uber left because they're apparently shifting writers over from public transit to again automobile transit. And because of that. We are witnessing Higher levels of traffic on city streets and that with the advent of automation is bound to explode. I mean the the cost per mile of taking an uber with or without a driver will be Haft If it costs about two dollars per mile today will cost about dollar per miles of this enormous Inefficient subsidy that Hoover's and lifts provide now to enable that kind of autumn ability setting aside for minute whether it's automated or or whether it's whether it's piloted in the space that's really competing with with transit. Is as you suggesting putting much more volume on the street at the same moment. Though I think Los Angeles like many cities and states have been trying to take space back from the automobile in favor of the pedestrian. How would you characterize the status of the the bike infrastructure in Los Angeles? I I haven't spent any time on a bike in La in recent memory. But maybe this is something you've given some thought to it's varied there are parts of La Greater L. A. Very good if you go to places like Santa Monica or Venice Quite excellent put a lot of the bike infrastructure. That's been built. Doubt has been really geared towards relational biking rather than commuting on a daily basis but la has also tried hard to implement infrastructure largely because of the shared bike systems themselves so as one of the few cities where bikes are operated by the city or actually by the Metro Transit Authority do so therefore very carefully coordinate bikes with public transit in stations and so on and because of their own provision of the service. They've collaborated with not to paint more lanes and make sure that you can actually safely bike around the city. It's been fairly well adopted. There's quite a impressive use of here by In La largely because of the Metro coordination. I believe but it's true that the entire system of biking in L. A. Leaves a lot to desire in fact it's one of the best climates for biking. I would say it's really well-suited. It hardly ever rains. Most of the year. The weather is very pleasant. It gets a little bit too hot in some parts of the year but it really could be a very by city if properly provisioned. What do you imagine to be the future of the of the Los Angeles Street going forward? It's space it's contested. There's a lot of negotiation on the one hand at the site of intense homelessness often increasing volumes of people in different modes of transit. But as that street evolves over the near-term. How do you think it might? It might change well. That is the question now because I could imagine two very different futures and likely we're GONNA end up with some some cocktail compromise. I see tremendous interest in la to try to be very progressive about the technology and even push it into places like public transport to ensure that all automated vehicles that hit the streets L. A. will carry multiple passengers and they'll likely redefined what a bus is. A bus doesn't necessarily have to be a fifty seater And and have a very fixed design. It could be all sorts of vehicles that vary from six to twelve to eighteen and and fifty and maybe even articulated buses that can take two hundred and fifty people on them. And I I think we're GONNA see some of that occur but the answer to what impacts or what the future of transportation and city building will look like very much depend on how forcefully the public authorities will intervene if we let things to be defined by the market we will largely See just rise of a second wave of private out mobility and every essentially if you're in the business of selling rides it's in your interest to sell as many individual rights as you can possibly do and yes. It has some accessibility benefits to the city. You it's it's a scenario that could bring us back to really clogged roads Very easily because of the price dropping so fast so I think that the the just sort of Heaven Hell of versions of the future. That held version would probably mean An explosion in traffic again on small cars and the best case scenario could be a scenario. Where all of these transportation offerings that come to the market with technology are heavily coordinated with public transit operations and try to increase the trunk feeder services so that people largely ride along ride on. Metro train and then maybe get a feeder to their final destination rather than taking the whole in a car again. It'll depend very much. On how forcefully the will intervene and. I think we'll have some sort of a hybrid at the end of this but we shouldn't also maybe leave out the role of urban development transportation mode choice of how we choose to move whether we drive or walk or take a bike or bus is most determined by the environment that built environment really sets up traveled man. If you have destinations you can walk to. If there's plenty of density I said are you will. And if you have convenient long trip Again your job or your Aaron. The Tetra are inconvenient distances. From the stations you can get off and that's really building questions so if L. A. Also pushes forward with its Land use reform and zoning reform and and ensures that future growth. The city is really concentrated around transit than I think it will create that demand so we need to be wary of. It's not just a policy question of how forcefully CD controls the private transportation companies. But it's really also what kind of a built environment it pushes out and that built environment. They need self will determine what the transportation market will be. I mean you know Bam's formulation of non plan also suggested that in fact there there was planning at various scales but there was a sensibility in southern California the Banham observed where planning would be disaggregated. That is transit or the building of highways was department transportation. That was a state issue at the scale of the county. Another set of choices were made then at the scale of the Neighborhood Association and set of choices were made and that these things were some help distributed in such a way so as to avoid the sense of top down planning. It's true because maybe more so than any other city it grown grown the car and it leapfrogged municipal boundaries essentially. It's it's an of turn of the exact number by probably sixty seventy municipalities that surround la and so each one could have their own regulations for urban growth is really hard to have a coherent plan. A such over. So many jurisdictions Maybe the only unifying bond is the highway that ties it all together within Let's say hour time limit but it's more driven by disbursed individual developer interests but instead of a plan. I think they're typologies that persists. There's a certain glue that holds la together a certain logic. That has something to do with how you arrive in a district. But there's the subdivision rules the decising of blocks even if you go far out to the suburbs you have this sort of one. Kilometer or eight hundred beater wanted kilometer grid of blocks that is very much designed around inefficiency of driving. So that you don't hit green lights are red lights every two seconds but get through it and certain hierarchical subdivision where the arterial roads generally don't have any entrances facing them. It's just a thoroughfare. And then you go into the block and then in the block stairs hierarchy of distributor roads etc so there is despite not having a large metropolitan plan there are type logical elements that I think hold away together in in some sort of a coherent way Southern California has also been in some ways among the industries that fueled the second phase of Los Angeles has growth was the aviation industry. I mean I is a product of the military industrial complex and then civil aviation knowing that you know. La Metro Southern California has dozens and dozens of facilities. And knowing that the you know the ride sharing companies and alphabet and others are now engaged in thinking about how to think about aerial aerial mobility aerial. Connectivity have you thought about this is part of the scope of thought for your study it is a topic that even L. A. Dot has to deal with. They are working with the likes of Uber to write regulations about aerial transport drones and Cetera in La because of And other historic legislation that required that all high rises have helipads on them for fire. Safety reasons has the highest density of helipads. Virtually every building downtown is covered with a helipad that said in my own of it. Is that my work? Doesn't really engaged with drones and aerial transportation. For the reason that I I don't believe that it'll be a significant piece of urban transportation marketplace we already have aerial transportation offerings in cities like Sao Paulo or in New York. It might cost you maybe five hundred or two thousand dollars to get around even if we get that price down from thousand to maybe two hundred or one hundred. It still bound to remain a very tiny fraction of all urban mobility. And that's the reason why I don't worry about that very much. I mean that's another thing that's intriguing to me about. Your work. Is the again seeming dialectic between going back to something as ancient as the street as fundamental topic in your work but at the same time being absolutely contemporary At what point did your work become so intensively digital? I know that you're interested in computation mathematical modeling both looking at empirically observed patterns but also projecting from them outcomes in cities going forward. Probably the biggest impact was mit. The process Up until MIT. I was trained in more general urban design and architecture areas and I think when I joined by almost immediately started collaborating with Bill Mitchell who was at the media lab at the time he ran a group called smart cities before smart cities was a term he helped define that term I guess and it was maybe somewhat perverse ways coopted by a lot of corporate interests when he thought of smart cities he truly meant smart from a public perspective. Not Smart in a in a in a way to sell them sell goods or services but I think that kind of opened me up. I sort of discovered I guess this world of looking at cities as emergent phenomena that are defined by so many different forces yet. We see the outcome of this forces in their form and land use pattern so some of the influences that beyond transportation technology. We've been talking about that shape. Our city obviously our geography climate demographics technology in construction. So looking at the city as this really complex object that we study in its own right and understand how it comes and grows and develops and what are the forces that shape it that interest really peaked at Mit and nine thousand technology played a pretty key role in in both analyzing the city using various statistical data driven methods but also looking at technology as fundamental shaper of the city itself to and so you you've built the the city form lab beginning with your appointment at Singapore and then more recently the GST and now back home at Mit. What's the work that you're engaged in In the lap so we have a couple of interesting projects underway one of the sort of long lasting projects that I've personally been devoting a lot of time to his investigation of St Commerce. It's a question of urban forum. But it's really a question of how to urban stop centers form. It's an old question That has been investigated by many like Chris Dollar and and so on but I think we with contemporary data and analytic tools. We have much greater ability to really Invested understand the logic of how all cities have a system of centers that former surgeon hierarchy. And I'm particularly looking at it through Not Just Job. Centers or all kinds of but particularly The madd clusters Where you have retail food and services that people can walk into in which to me very much defines the daily experience of so many urbanites we are. Interface is the public space and its streets question. It's but it's also you know. Where do we get things done? And I think St Commerce plays a really big role in in being that environment. Where we we got things done interface to not just functionally Getting things done and running errands. But also encountering otherness encountering other people where we learned what's happening in the city where we learn societies at. I think so much of that occurs on the street in clusters of St Commerce. I've been very keen to analyze that. That's my book coming out called St Commerce in the next couple of months. So that's been a project that's been unfolding for awhile. It's an empirical study of St Commerce in cities around the world. Many of the city's I've lived in personally. I have a second project On going right now where we finally are able to truly understand how pedestrians move in cities through big data. And there's been a great deal of interest in really studying how people behave in an urban environment. What makes choose one route over another? What are the factors that urban designers can leverage to more pedestrians to choose those streets? So that's been an exciting Endeavor right now to take sort of pedestrian route choice and and walkability analysis to a whole other quantitative level. So both of those projects that you mentioned. Our data intensive computational they benefit from having quite a lot of information but they also they seem to have this potential which is quite projected right for shape environments anticipating behavior. Yes so with the lab typically try to bring some of this research into studios and when we work on projects on both fronts for instance on the question of sub centers and St Commerce as well as questions of one billion Mo- choice and pedestrian behavior. It's it's very interesting to me to having found. Certain empirical findings to put them into use in design so for instance in the spring semester. I'm teaching W- A class of which is called the workshop on city form where the intent is very much to reverse engineer. How design of an environment actually produces certain mobility outcomes in this case particularly walkability and St Commerce outcomes. So what we plan to do is to look at gateway cities around Boston where embassies at least verbally committed to a major upgrade in the commuter rail supposed to be seeing a tremendous injection funding and and Sort of this transit suburbs is maybe going to prosper again in Massachusetts. If that goes through we want to look at the urban environments that need to be there in order to first of all sustain that level of transit ridership around the stations but also to create a certain character of the street in the neighborhoods themselves. So the question is what configurations? What land use patterns were densities? Do we need in order to achieve certain types of St Characteristic? Certain for instance if we WANNA have a street that has a certain density of amenities available that cannot simply be designed by the stroke of a finger that has to be sustained economically by The environment around it and we we want to tie these research interests that I described earlier to a objective to design project and design environments. That produce these outcomes if we think about the embodiment of urban environments urban experiences. As you've said when can't simply you know design or Vanity? One has to also think of. It's you know the the ingredients people that develop urban environments Many of them for for a long time have thought about the curation urban environments clothing retail and St Character and street life. In this space we had a conversation with Craig. Robins a thinking about the the design district In Miami and the role of not just built environment not just density not just transit but also the mix of retail hospitality the quality of that experience. And and we've seen it in many many environments you know the the the ingredients can transcend the sum of their individual parts. And I think also here of of of You know the legacy of Of of Boston the Fan Dorka Faneuil Hall. And you know Ben Thompson. And there's a there's a long history of the idea of curing urban environments that your work also contributes to yes well And I maybe would just emphasize my work positions itself more towards investing conditions that produce such environments in a more pluralistic way or in a way that the public sector is the orchestrator the municipality not developer. I think in America there has been a tremendous amount of innovation through the private sector to create vanity In part it's because if you compare Asian European American context America in the postwar era in the liberal era It has really sort of shrunk the government into shrunk public sector services and decision making powers and handed over to the private sector. So we've ended up having private developers try to essentially orchestrate or eighty in quite at scale Sometimes entire district If you think of places like Hudson yards in New York right now or some of the Boston historical environments. I mean there are clearly something that is not evolved through very many complex pluralistic actors. But it's it's a project IT'S A. It's a real estate project with the problem with that is oftentimes the same problem as with the mall. Not everyone is welcome. It's it's a place that has certain profit targets in mind. It has certain mission at the end of the day. A place like Assembly row which performs incredibly well. I'm sure it's very lucrative. For the re to WHO runs the main goal is to create as many purchases as you can possibly do. That's why they're going to car in formula of mixed housing on top and cinemas and JP lakes on the sidewalk Is IN VOGUE. And that's what creates the purchases today. But I'm very interested in not just kind of profitability of retail clusters or restrict commerce. I'm more interested in St Commerce as a public venue that does much more than enables people to do purchases and run errands to in that regard interested in St Commerce. As as more of this Venue were more complex. Urban Processes Play Out. Now that we have this what Allen. Air Caused Great Inversion where we've getting people from the suburbs coming back to inner cities and there's a great deal of in property visor going up in great deal of interest in urban lifestyle in with a new generation. How do we deliver environments? That do have these amenities and things but also offer other qualities of life that are more social and cultural in nature. And I personally believe that. For this Kerr We can't just rely on a on a benevolent developer. We have to have capable city governments. Who Take it upon themselves to help this happen and we also need more civil society efforts to shape that under suspect. Thanks very much. Thank you spent player. You've been listening to future of the American city. Curated by the Office for urbanization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the knightfoundation and generous donors to the American cities sparked our producers Barbara Charlie. Nesbitt music is by Kevin to learn more visit every TAC dot gst dot Harvard Dot Edu.

Los Angeles New York Boston St Commerce United States Harvard Graduate School of des La Transit Ecosystem Metro La County Miami Chris Hawthorne Long Beach L. A. America developer Charles Walden Chicago Metro Transit Authority
Urban air mobility

Monocle 24: The Urbanist

30:52 min | 1 year ago

Urban air mobility

"Hello and welcome to Monaco twenty fours. The urban est. A show all about a cities we live in sending in for Andrew talk this week. I'm Carlotta rebelo coming up on the program the urban air, mobility is shiny new ball. Right. It is the dream of the Jetsons that everyone just wants to see leap in technology. It used to be the stuff of science fiction. But that future is looking ever-closer urban air, mobility, or you AM covers everything from airborne cargo to short haul flying taxes, and has technology continues to advance could one day see autonomous electrified aircraft buzzing around our metropolises over two days last week a public event and closed-door think-tank held him Camridge across the river from Boston at the Harvard graduate school of design and Massachusetts Institute of technology respectively. Looked at the difficulties of its implementation and the business opportunities. We dispatched our America's editor. At large at Stocker to find out more. That's all ahead on the urban est right now. Every two days last week a public event and closed door think-tank heading Cambridge across the river from Boston at Harvard graduate school of design and the Massachusetts Institute of technology respectively. Looked at the conundrums of its implementation and the business opportunities. The today about the third dimension was organized by area. Futures a nonprofit founded in two thousand seventeen to focuses on aerial infrastructure and its interdependencies in association with Swiss science and tech network Swiss nex the Cambridge program. So everyone from aircraft designers to Awka Tech's regulators pond that how you AMA one day, look, and whether we really wanted I went too long to find out more. I started off by talking to David rob Blatt business development director at Embraer axe. The business innovations hub Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, its aim fun. New products platforms and technologies for the next generation of transportation. And that of course, includes you A M ember X building what's referred to as an easy tall. The acronym. Stands for electric vertical takeoff and landing and an easy way. To think about this is it's an electrically powered version of a conventional helicopter that operates very similarly to how you would imagine a helicopter to operate for the significant exception that because it is electrically powered it is also going to be significantly quieter the benefit of that is those cost savings will be passed onto the consumer. So more people will be able to afford rides on this aircraft. And the second is, of course, that the noise reduction. We -ticipant will allow for more individuals and communities to want to adopt this aircraft as a motive transportation from their community to rever their place of work is the at the airport or any other kind of transportation hub. So it sounds to me that really this is simply in a way an extension of types of transportation have rarely existed for decades. That's correct. An interesting way to think about this is conventional helicopters or rotorcraft have been providing short haul trips for decades, we've been taking vantage of these aircraft in cities all around the world. And so the infrastructure that was created to support. These types of flights has also as a result existed for decades. And so what we're talking about when we speak about the bickering and the future spread of urban mobility is really taking advantage of the existing infrastructure that has already been built and pulling from the heritage of rotorcraft manufacturing aviation, which has really been in its existence for more than eighty years to learn from what we've been developing and we've been using and how do you prepare that for the next generation of travelers so that their needs are incorporated into this type of travel as well as the needs and the concerns of communities that may be hosting these aircraft landing and departing from local neighborhood landing zones. You know, we spoke about how you building an coughed who is the intended user who you hoping once oversee gone through a whole minefield of testing and regulation down the road. Who would you hope to sell this to and we talking about Kaga or we talking about people? So there are many potential use cases of this type of aircraft that we're building ember X in our peers in this space are building piloted passenger transport aircraft that will be used on urban mobility platforms. Some of those include organizations like Uber. There are other platforms that Airbus has built for example, called zoom. There's another platform that operates in New York City called blade, and so there are many platforms out there that host a wide range of aircraft from conventional helicopters all the way up to and what we anticipate will be these electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which again are electrically powered aircraft that take advantage of. Advancements in battery technology in order to power these aircraft in so ember X is building this aircraft. And we hope to demo it within the next few years in an experimental prototype version so that we can demonstrate how it works value that could provide too many communities and then from there move onto a commercially appropriate vehicle and many people in the industry are working on a four passenger, plus one pilot configuration, and we look forward to sharing our vision for what this aircraft can do. And how many passengers that Kim support very soon, and is the hope that this will move from piloted to tournaments in the future. I think that's one outcome that we're certainly looking at one thing that is interesting to keep in mind as there are just so many pilots that exist in the world. And there is just so many aircraft that can fly within a given air traffic controllers airspace before that controller ought not to be responsible for that, many more aircraft. And so if we envision a future where the cost reduction will allow for more people to afford, this type of service, and we certainly hope that would be the case more demand will be added to this environment and more operators one in meet that demand with more supply, and therefore more aircraft may be operating more and more each year entering the airspace. As a result of this increase in excess ability and so as more aircraft enter the airspace. We may see that. There are not enough pilots to support those aircraft as well as controllers using conventional voice based air, traffic, control technology to communicate with those aircraft. And so as aircraft evolve. In their intelligence autonomous capabilities. Autonomous software Thomas avionics, which aircraft have also been using for decades. We anticipate there being a future where regulators and communities come together to collectively decide that as a country, and as a community, we are ready to accept autonomously flown aircraft that will carry passengers now that will ultimately be in my opinion city by city country by country decision based on how communities and regulators feel the technologies able to perform at a dependable level that is acceptable and ember envisions that that may be a future that we are prepared to fulfil in terms of how the aircraft will be designed, however for the foreseeable future. We are building piloted aircraft. Maybe we should take a quick step back now, and look the viability of this new breed of of an ability for the industry inside is assembled in Massachusetts that also as you might. Expect academics a former Boeing employee and member of the Swiss FOX, alleviate a wack, his professor of avenue, ticks, astronautics and engineering systems MIT he's been plotting potential routes in costings for you. I am the viability of future urban air mobility services depends on several factors the vehicles themselves. Of course, they have to be very safe. They have to be clean probably will use some form of electric propulsion than the networks. What are the rights that we should fly which routes are popular which routes are feasible? The noise, of course, so the network and the vehicles, and then the third big factor to me is the economics behind it. Can you actually make money with urban mobility as an operator or does it have to be heavily subsidized? And I think what we're seeing from our initial analyses is that the answer is can be quite different in different cities around the world. You have to remind me about oh, the cities that you serve. But I do remember the some were much more profitable than others. Maybe you can just explain why there is style of aginst between one of been sent an another in terms of the viability of flying these new forms of Achraf te that's true. So we have a library of different vehicles, and you can fly these virtually in different cities, and then C which comb nation works best, and there's not a single vehicle that's best for different cities. So we looked at four cities in detail. We looked at San Francisco, we looked at Paris. We looked at Beijing. And we also looked at cell Paolo, which is actually Sao Paulo is I think the best example, we have today of a functioning urban mobility system, lots of private helicopters are used in Sao Paulo for transportation. And so among those four cities, it appears that Paris in particular is very attractive for mobility. And so in part it's related to the apology. The. City which is very favorable. But also, what's very very important is the congestion. So the value proposition of urban air mobility, is that it's faster appar more convenient than ground based alternatives. And so if you have a challenging topology as a city and lots of ground congestion that combination seems to be very favorable for urban mobility. And so think of you A M urban mobility as like wireless for transportation. And I think if we think of it that way, maybe some nonconventional routes will become more interesting. And we have some examples in Boston here where we are today. I lands harbor islands places that are really difficult to reach from the ground or by boat by ferry could be acceptable within minutes. And so that would open up entirely new communities new recreation opportunities, and so that could actually offer a of benef-. The other idea, which I recently was thinking about is there could be energetic advantages in the future, very vertical cities as you're wear organization is progressing and cities getting denser, and they're getting more vertical particularly in Asia. So I was visiting the should of the Shenzhen right across from Hong Kong last year and looking out from the fortieth floor from my hotel room at this very large number of skyscrapers. And imagine you're on the fortieth floor of one of these skyscrapers. And you have a meeting or you want to go to another skyscraper. You can see it out your window, maybe a mile kilometer away. So it's too far for a skybridge. But if you could fly with a drone from rooftop to rooftop or from cantilevered platform fortieth floor of the building you're in now to the thirty fifth floor of a skyscraper. That's just a mile away. That's very easy for a drone. Do and it's actually energetically very efficient. And you could be there in two minutes or three minutes versus doing this the conventional way which is taking an elevator down horizontally walking biking or taking a taxi and then taking the elevator backup which could easily take thirty to forty five minutes or longer. It's kind of new way of thinking about urban mobility between toll buildings in kind of hopper mode. Why not take a one to into the wonderful world of Monaco with an annual print subscription you'll receive ten issues of the magazine year. Plus our seasonal specials the full cost and the escapist subscribers to one year plus and premium package is also receive our new annual the Monaco drinking and dining directory, and that's not old age of our plans comes with a free tote bag to live at your door. We invite all fans of the urban est describes today and receive a special ten percent discount on any of our year long. Subscriptions simply visit Monaco dot com. Forward slash of next. That's never been a better time to sign up Monaco, keeping an eye on the air on the wall. Hey, Dr a backup. We don't have enough road to get up to eighty eight. Well, we're going we don't need. Wrote roads him needs them that famous scene at the end of the back to the future movie is at st- into most people's brains of a certain age, anyway, the Cote film, starring Mike who Jay FOX feet to famous flying car. Just one of the many instances that predicting the way we might travel by in the future that's been represented in coach. Flying. Police cars and taxis into stope. Ian, New York, the fifth element is another classic. The future of flight has long captivated us. But what happens when academics and industry insiders get together to discuss its future as it pertains to the world's metropolises proof that there is a veritable minefield of issues and days to be worked out more of that later, but first some history urban mobility, actually, isn't anything new just look at Sao Paulo where helicopter traffic is the gnome the same could be said for the Big Apple while hoping from rooftops was once rigor exactly twelve minutes. Pottenger will land up the New York international airport at Idyllwild based in thirty five miles on the ground thirty five of the most congested. Commercial travel miles again the world, but by helicopter, along the skyline route unforgettable experience until a New York Airways accident that tees in nineteen seventy seven that killed five people, but to stoke to that, of course, a current perception of mobility is different. And it's changing forced to listen to this very recent development alphabets drone delivery business is getting approval from the FAA. It's the first drone operators to receive government approval as an airline unimportant stuff that gives the legal authority to begin dropping products to actual customers. The problem is that ROY now if the think tank was anything to go by people on on the precise direction old if this will go, well, call go delivery and drones clearly already here. What of a new breed of passenger transportation? There's no. Sensus about roots business motives, and whether electrified flights will be acceptable to and that's before mentioning the regulation headache. Uber's move into taxis in Dallas and Vegas with demonstrated flights by twenty twenty may not be the greatest Haub injure of maybe to come. We simply trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist for the one percent. It's clear as one thing tank invitee pointed out that we're in the very early stages of discussing this fledgling form of an ability just like with the autonomous vehicle compensations decade ago. How we discussed you in ten years time will likely have matured greatly. But the divergent voices were able to sit around the table and listen to each other in Cambridge without losing that Tempus is proof that an industry in fasted in the future. Of an ability who ready exists, and it will probably be with us in one foam with the other before we know it more events like these are clearly needed an urgent conversations to be had because it's not just about transportation. But the sort of societies we want to be. Now, a host of new across in skies presents plenty of challenges. None more so than how today with all that traffic management based in Boston and draft has to follow is product manager at Aero's pontiff GE aviation and focused on putting away towards a future of unmanned aircraft traffic management as explains this plenty to work out. So if anyone's heard of the marshmallow challenge, it is this engineering focus challenge where users are asked to create a tower out of twenty sticks of dried spaghetti a yard of tape and a yard of string and they're supposed to with the marshmallow on top. And actually, we've found that the best completer of this challenge are actually recent graduates of kindergarten and not recent graduates of MIT or Harvard. And so what we learn from this is that the reason the kindergarten students succeed in this challenge is because they. The marshmallow on top of their tower at the very beginning. Not at the very end most engineers, the sit down, and they designed something, and they think about it, and they work on the pieces of spaghetti and the foundation and everything and they don't put the marshmallow on top into the last five seconds. And then it comes crashing down. And so what we've learned from this that we need to really start putting that marshmallow on top at the very beginning. We need to start with complete solutions complete ecosystems now. So that we can find the holes we can find the gaps and learn from that as we go on which suggests in this brave new world of of an ability simply sort of adding the marshmallow as it were to an existing apple to try and find a solution may not be as easy as initially sounds, right. It isn't as easy as it sounds because airports actually are their own ecosystem themselves, and they are very very complicated ecosystem with a lot of safety concerns. So the simplest tower that you could put your marshmallow on top of would be some kind of. Rural very simple ecosystem with few moving parts. The airport itself is really the tallest tower. We'd be putting a marshmallow on. So it's not actually a good idea to start their amongst other things you're working on a new management system for these new crafts that will at some point come into being in sleight. Layman's terms for our listeners. Explain just how sort of complicated, a minefield that isn't a way, and I guess the competing sort of structures that are already in place that it will have to deal with. Well, if you think about the current air traffic management system, it is all one hundred percent manual. It is human beings talking to human beings over a radio and making decisions and that works because at any given time you have a couple of thousand aircraft in the skies. Now today there have been over one million drones soul just in the United States. And if you think about all of those drones being in the air at the same time, it would be. Infeasible to think that a human being are set of human beings could manage that kind of traffic. So the only option that is to go to a digital solution. And if you think about the digital solution of drone traffic management with the manned traffic management. It is difficult to combine both man and digital solutions. So we need to come up with a way to advance to the next generation of traffic management for all of the airspace, which is going to be a digital solution. Augmented with the human making decisions of the current air traffic management organization, presumably to sort of make this new management system. What USA need to know the usages of these new cross a going to be in judging by this thing tank. The seemed to be pretty divergent opinions about how it's going to work that is the million dollar question. Our drones or urban air mobility transports are they going to fly in corridors along pre specified routes like. A train or a bus or are they going to be on demand. Like an Uber or lift those two scenarios point two, very different traffic management styles. And we actually could have a combination of those things there could be some business models and some companies that want predefined routes and some like specific companies that are doing package delivery that may want to specifically have undetermined stick routes to avoid noise issue. So there may be a combination of all these things, and it's very difficult technical problem to solve by soon. San Francisco originally from on and Jerry Tenney is associates principal and mobility lab, co director at architecture and design from Polk ins, and will an avid study of the future of mobility. He confesses to being skeptical about a banana, but it's usage for now. But it will sign knows the compensation will mature as it continues. We're making allowances for the new forms of transportation. But not. Specifically area. At this point. We start off with the premise that the most basic form of mobility is walking. And the first thing we got to be doing is improving basically, the walking environment just the sidewalk public realm environment in North America, most sidewalks most streets are almost gonna use their hostile. And it's no surprise that people really choose not to walk. I mean, you go to somewhere like LA and you see what's leftover for sidewalks? If there are sidewalks on the streets, and you wonder them, no wonder, nobody walks in the city like that yet people here in North America. They go on their holidays to Barcelona or pirates and Roman they'll spend that entire day walking around those cities and joyfully. So because it's a very of public realm. So our first order of business is really to create a very attractive walkable public realm second, then is if it's not going to be the walking realm Chevy say is to go to micro, mobility, which is a fancy way of. Saying bikes scooters say e bikes east scooters hell, it's can be skateboards. It can be anything with wheels. And kind of looking at that as our second here of mobility. And then Thirdly, we have to recognize the role of transit. And then finally there's the private automobile, but we need to be setting up our public realm. So that it's the pedestrian first active mobility, second transit third and then in fourth place becomes the private automobile. Now, this point we have not gotten into aerial mobility because we are frankly within an urban realm where quite skeptical about this. We cannot yet identify the problem that it's trying to solve other than allowing. How should I say well people to get from point eight point we without dealing with the riffraff at the street level. So we have not gone into that yet. It would be interesting for listeners if you could expand on a little talk you gave earlier today when you ost three I guess probing questions. About an ability which was essentially what who and why can you just explain more details. Those allude to the here is really what are we solving for? I mean, are we trying to relieve street level congestion? And if so we know what the idea of induced amount is whereby you build more roadways, you build more freeways and traffic comes and fills it up, and you really haven't solved that problem. So by simply opening up lanes in the sky have we simply move the congestion from the ground plane now into the aerial plane. And really is that an advance where city is that of benefit to us. All so that was our what our who comes down to who. Are we trying to serve here? Is there a pressing demand? I mean, we do not hear a demand from the mass of people saying, oh, my life will be a whole lot better if I had aerial taxis. And I could whiz around town. Now, we do hear from certain people in certain segments of society. But I'm not sure if we need to turn our cities inside out to satisfy those particular individuals, and then the why I think we have to go back and ask why are we doing this? We've had about everything from regulation to management, but what is this new transportation future actually going to look like Samantha floor is director of research and innovations incubator Hugo by in Dallas has been studying just that alongside touching on the plethora of aircraft currently being tested shakes planes. How the built environment of urban landscapes might transform from repurposing existing structures as landing strips to building news, so so-called sky. Puts sounds like a massive infrastructure undertaking. She's confident it can happen on the less when we think about Skype, we think about them in four different piece. Of structure. So we think I the connection plaza, which is what connects passengers to their cities, and what connects them to these sky ports. They also integrate seamlessly into the highway infrastructure so that passengers can be dropped off right at the touch point of the sky port. They will then elevate into what we call the station level. And this is really the heart of the sky port. It's the amenities level for the sky port for the neighborhood. It's a true amenity to give the neighborhood a feel of their culture to kind of ground them to give them spaces. That are flexible spaces that provide concerts, fountains, retail shopping, food and beverage spaces that really kind of give back to the communities that we haven't been able to see because we've had these huge highway divides, and it really connects communities to communities across the highways. The third piece that we see is the structure that bridges over these highways. And then the fourth piece is obviously the flight deck and these flight decks are where. Passengers will board and get out of the aircraft and take off into their next destination. It sounds like a sort of airport two point zero is in a much nicer experienced apple like how an apple it should be is that right? Well, we are aviation designers, and we design airports for a living. So these really are many airports within the city, and you think about it if you were to ever to bring the airport into the city, you would really just sit there, and I could have brunch with my friends, and I'll just catch the next flight, and that's not how an airport operates. But that's how these sky ports will operate. They work into the lifestyle of the people using the facility, but these new builds or they kind of Repub as existing -struction if it is the latter. What would they be repurposing? They will be both. We will look at underutilized land and under utilize airspace and try to design these buildings to facilitate movement within those locations will also look at how different garages or different facilities are being underutilized. Because of the difference in societal behaviors. And technology trends that are allowing Thomas movement, and we'll start to repurpose them of this facility to be fleet operations within the garage and sky port operations on the flight deck at the top of the garage. I mean, America's struggled with infrastructure building infrastructure, especially in public transport. So what's to say that this is gonna happen, given how I guess lethargic many cities that being in sort of establishing that sort of transportation, why Skype ports could come into being seamlessly? I think there is definitely a demand for this in our cities, some of our largest cities are plagued by congestion on the ground and getting from one point to another can mean one hour or two hour trip on the ground and a seven minute flight in the air. That's not to say that there isn't a little bit of time loss when you're transferring from certain modalities because there is a last mile modality that we will have to meet. But regardless when we're looking at a ninety minute drive versus a twenty minute door to door flight an last mile modality. I think that there's a benefit there. And there are definitely cities like New York which last year about ninety hours added to that transportation. Congestion, we definitely see this need. And that's all for this week's episode of the urban this show was edited by David Stevens and our tanks to Ed stalker. For reports. I'm Carlotta Rabelo to play out of this episode of the urban here's MIA with paper planes. Thank you for listening city lovers. Catch me. Zippy catch me. We want to win.

Boston urban air New York MIT New York City apple Monaco Cambridge Paris America Sao Paulo Harvard graduate school of des San Francisco Embraer Dallas United States North America Carlotta rebelo AMA
Imagining Retreat

Future of the American City

38:21 min | 1 year ago

Imagining Retreat

"If it is swampy maybe the insistence on pouring deeper foundation is is not a resilient move. They're more resilient thing into do. Might be to adapt to that newland condition from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American considering conversations on how we live where we live. Charles walked hunt were here with Rosetta. Elkin landscape architect to works with risk and instability brought on by climate change presented joins us today to discuss her concept concept of imagining retreats Zada. Welcome thank you see. Research recently has focused on imagining retreat. And I want to just begin by asking you to unpack that. A little bit for us would would. We mean by imagining retreat. I'll start with retreat It's very important to me in in my research and in my experiences to differentiate between relocation and retreat It's too often conflicted. Did people don't really find that there's enough of a difference but when you're on the ground when you own a home when you're paying insurance rates The the difference is is very real. Relocation attention is institutionalized. It's top down if you will their relocation schemes. People are moved willingly or unwillingly For different infrastructure projects is or incentives whereas retreat is the kind of word that comes out at a community meeting. It's when people say you know I think we should move. Let's let's retreat to higher ground and that is a very important distinction because you will never have a community meeting where someone says. Let's relocate. It's just not not the terminology and so if we want under climate change Rhetoric to be precise about the future in any way in any possible possible details that we can graph to as designers than this is one that that actually offers us very different spatial implications. So I've been trying to define retreat through the eyes of people who make those decisions and that is individuals and so- imagining retreat is the concept that perhaps we can imagine not building back and that that takes imagination it takes guts and usually it takes a very motivated And very close knit community. So what are we retreating from a range of environmental conditions. One can retreat from salt spray and one can retreat after soon Nami. So there's a very wide range of scales but if you're a farmer with too much salt spray you can't grow. Oh crops anymore. That's still a form of retreats. I spoke with an incredible Team in Jakarta. WHO's working with early flood? Warning and in their case retreat is is the movement from the first floor to the second floor but knowing when to do it and putting that in the hands of the community instead of a loudspeaker or an officiated Document is what actually gives agency back to the ground back to the materiality of of our practices so would you say in the in the context of climate change that retreated is primarily or solely coastal concern. No on the contrary I just came back from Nepal It's of course earthquakes To create new ground as opposed to the rhetoric around Climate Change. Where somehow we're we're losing ground? There are a lot of different conditions the ground shakes. It's slides it. It moves it heaves it floods and the decision about whether or not that precarity is close enough to home or not is one of the most important details we need to be looking at so in that context. Retreat is is distinct in your work from the Study of Migration Russian. More broadly it is and although you know their twin effects because as people start to move quantity and scale starts starts to implicate the term migration but a lot of interesting studies now particular are thinking of Matt Hauer and his study on and redistribution in in the United States. His Study of course was just coastal. twenty-one million coastal migrants by twenty thirty is that kind of dustbowl migration gratien were looking at but no on the contrary his research shows that the tax basis within each state. Remain the same. And it's essentially a re shuffling so we're talking about moving from a planning to more elevation scenario. People want to know the height of where they live perhaps and not necessarily the view. So so if you're at plus one or plus two or plus three feet matter in many parts of the country but inches matter in in others so your work on imagining retreat. This suggests a broad set of environmental conditions whole host of issues around anthropogenic climate. Change increased storm event And therefore suggests that this is not simply an urban concern is this just about cities and city dwellers no it grows in complexity and cities Of course due to density but it is absolutely a global concern whether it's in cities or cities in fact most of the communities that are are robust and cohesive enough tend to be non urban. And that's when they can get together and say. Hey you know I know my neighbor. I know my neighbor abor enough to talk about the land. We share and the flooding issue. We share and this saltwater intrusion concerns that we have together a lot of the cases do you tend to be In smaller towns villages townships provinces outside cities but typically dependent upon them one way of framing. That what is that for retreat And for the conversations had around retreat there is an infrastructure that exists for relocation location. We know what that looks like. We know how it unfolds. We know who to contact where to get funding But there is a missing infrastructure of retreat in in other words when a when a township comes together and says let's move they don't know what to do next and there is no infrastructure there. Institutionally or economically took create a trajectory to support them so in the distinction between retreat and relocation it implies scaler difference and there's also a question of agency retreat suggests strategy whereas relocation seems at least in my reading of it to be much more individual and aggregated. So when you say there's an infrastructure in place to support relocation what what do you mean by that give us an example from your research on how retreat is enabled or supported boarded or how relocations enabled and supported and with retreat is not well for instance the building of the Boko Damn in Ghana relocated relocated thousands of villages to create a damn. It is the largest man-made water body in the World Thou and many many thousands of villages villages were forced to move from Riverine condition to the mountains. So you're talking about thousands of years of evolution an at the proximity of fishing and and lifestyles that are Riverina to mountains and so that is a forced move that relocation. The government knows just how to do that and the infrastructure is there you. It's a playbook you have Let's say by Contrast Post Sandy New Jersey where a community immunity of about twelve people got together and said we don't want to move back. We don't want your money for a house here. We want your FEMA money for a house elsewhere and it was impossible basically. They either took the FEMA money to rebuild in place or they weren't legible for the the funding that means that we have a missing infrastructure in terms outlining. So you've broached the context of New York New Jersey Post Sandy. We could include New Orleans Post Katrina in both of those examples in literature around them. The what I'll call in this context a facto right of return exists certainly in this culture in which it's very difficult for any public official to to prevent communities from rebuilding in situ in spite of their vulnerability and in that context. How does retreat figure into those conditions? First well would you agree with that assessment and second of all how does retreat or the study of retreat figure into that the two examples you give are specifically Coastal United States and One of the reasons my research has spun further and further away from the United States to despite An interest in very and local concerns is because it's very difficult to precedent retreat here under our current legislations and institutions so I'm inspired by going around the world. I'm going to Japan in May. I've just come back from Nepal him going to Chile even Alaska because of the permafrost. Ross there are so many incredible communities that have taken matters into their own hands so to speak and we could use a little bit of that type type of optimism and intent in our environmental policy. I believe and so I'm learning more and more from other parts of the world in order to to bring that. That's that's sort of implication closer to home if you will In this global examples Nepal Ghana The Pacific Rim him. Clearly you've encountered in your work and you've described a whole range of vulnerabilities populations at risk environmental conditions additions. That are unstable or somehow reproducing conditions of risk. Do you have examples or precedents of retreat. That you think of as interesting case studies. These are examples for us to learn from absolutely and before I get to the example perhaps missing in the definition of retreat. As we've discussed gusted so far is that retreat is truly the land that's left behind if relocation is the the rebuild. Let's say a community pretty comes together and says let's not rebuild than when they move from that land let's say when those twelve individuals in New Jersey move What happens to that land right? There is an assumption under climate. Change Terminology that somehow it's back to nature or it's gone or it's underwater or it's somehow completely outside of our scope as a landscape architect. I see it very differently. I think that the land of retreat is is the space of public engagement. It is public land again. And if you think just of coastal United States all the PIXELS pixels of ownership that might not wanNA rebuild may actually yield a public waterfront again that that one can access as opposed to privatize privatize. The question then is what are you design in the space of retreat. How can you imagine retreat in the imagining retreat? This is implicit implicit as a title is how do we as designers offer a visual and optimistic. Image that is the outcome of that move and so many of the cases I'm studying is not just for the community to share the experiences of getting together and figuring out that missing missing infrastructure of retreat. But it's what the community actually wants to see in that space of retreat and so you see coastal forests and you see public parks with very different programming and UC kindergartens. Even it's it's really interesting to see what people decide should be on public. Land and and how they accumulate knowledge to at times the case in Japan for instance to memorialize the space but there is optimism. I'm there as a as opposed to a kind of hands up sense. A failure that a lot of people associate with moving so in that context Your work is framing being retreat as a set of strategic options in which of course there is a vulnerability and risk but at the same moment. There there seems to be potential for a kind of post retreat Commons poetry landscapes absolutely. It's like revealing the comments to people That that it that it can be there again. And adding retreat to the list of possible alternatives after an event or more likely through through chronic risk episodic risk is very difficult for designers to address usually with episodic risky really do just want to provide the basic basic needs of people that have been through a trauma. Chronic risk on the other hand is slow and steady and We can keep pace with it in a way that we can outline what the risks are over time and make decisions accordingly. How do you deal with the Emotional or negative connotations of retreat and so many cultural context. It's I feel that it might not be the right word on the other hand. Despite my hesitations a lot of people have very positive connotations. Sion's with it like that. One goes on a retreat to heal. Or you know that there there. Is this other tone to two terms. So I think it's a pity that it's it's a dichotomy between relocation retreat at I really just want to be able to offer more opportunities for people that are thinking of of moving moving and and sometimes a a word helps mobilize that I like putting imagining retreat with it because it allows people to sort of close their eyes eyes and imagine what their options instead of. Just assuming that there's an operative force that's telling them what to do in the example you use of the community eight community meeting the conversation or conversations. This suggests a certain scale of response to these conditions and it also presumes or may be you built upon a certain expectation of kind of civility. You know kind of identity. First of all and second of all a scale of civil discourse how do we reconcile all that with the enormity. Just the sheer scale of these challenges. The numbers of people the numbers of coastal kilometers and miles not to mention other conditions And what are the political structures through which these choices might be discussed if I take an example again because it to ground it always helps helps with the abstraction even of the term retreat. Let's say Rhode Island very small state with a very very long coastline second only after Hawaii. I've learned recently. Providence has a hurricane barrier. It's not really a problem for providence. But what happens to the rest of the state so this also addresses your earlier question about cities he's versus well or cities or density of population. Providence and the population of Providence is not under threat in a storm but the entire your coastal estuary of Rhode Island is and the many many towns and livelihood set that are along them so politically. That's very difficult. Because has the political energy is in Providence. Of course but when you think of the size of Rhode Island and how much bedrock there is you know on a on a geophysical level very close to the shoreline it is again a restructuring. It's being able to say will your houses at worth more because it's on the water. It's actually worth less now. And if it's worth less than if it is destroyed or you have chronic flooding in the basement do you. You choose to rebuild or do you then have an option or an infrastructure that allows you to choose to build on bedrock higher ground but it retained your Rhode Island identity on your coastal identity. I think that these are really really confounding topics and politically very difficult to solve. But unfortunately many of our political decisions are hinged on things like two year mayoral cycles. That are again right. They're just stuck in providence and and nod addressing a longer term chronic risk like the thirty years of of creeping Sea level rise there so one of the reasons I like to talk about retreat as a community driven ribbon exercise as well as The land that's left behind being public again is actually because the more people learn about their options shins and understand that their plot of land has value when it amalgamates with other plots of land. Means that there may be enough pressure coming from actual homeowners homeowner's actual landowners people that work the land in listening to the land that they're on And pushing back toward the political Azer result of that Energy and association. So in your definition of retreat does an individual landowner individual citizen. Listen making a choice. Does that constitute retreat at a certain scale or is it necessarily a collective choice. I I mean I think that it's very interesting to you. Think of it on the individual level. Mike Experience is that it is rarely individual. Because it's just very difficult financially and on a livelihood had level to move as an individual and to abandon your home even if you're a second homeowner we as we see in Florida but I think that the terms the defining finding terms on a scholarly level or absolutely singular and they amalgamate from there but as soon as you start to bundle risk which is exactly what the insurance agencies know too. Well then there are great advantages to working with your neighbor. You know. Hopefully that there are a lot of ways to slither into the system. Once people understand that they do have an option. And it's about making sure that those options stay in in the hands of those micro efforts in your work. You've been critical of you've raised questions about the discourse around resilience earliest in its limitations. What you mean by that? What what what? What is the challenge around thinking about resilience As an intellectual framework or as a set of responses the issue with resilience is understanding it's actual definition as a term and then how it gets applied and misunderstood by people that aren't studying the topic and are just receiving memos or notes or emails or cautionary Weather reports and resilience is actually a term that was is brought into ecology by a fantastic Canadian scholar named buzz hauling and he brought it out of material science. Now that has been changed in many unfortunate ways to mean that it's a bouncing back. Now we're back. That's really problematic. But because in hollings terms of course because he's an ecologist you're bouncing foreword you're bouncing into new territory. You're but you're never never bouncing back. There's no back back to what ecologically you're on a successive trajectory not a restorative one the beginning of his the articles actually fantastic it just says populations die and go extinct another way of saying that is that people are either being born dying or moving. That's demography that's basically how we understand the statistics of settlement. And if as Aigner's we certainly do not are not challenged by the resilience of the medical field of whether we're dying or being born certainly moving has a lot of potential and people will move and have after move and the question is to what extent is moving a resilient or non resilient opportunity and too often the urge to you balanced back get back build back is linked with resilience. But what if the land itself is not resilient resilient enough to take a new foundation or to take on higher development to increase density the landscape is not real realestate it is biotic formation and if it is swampy maybe the insistence on pouring deeper foundation. Is this is not a resilient move. Maybe the more resilient thing to do is to say this land is swampy water. We shouldn't build back here. The the resilient thing to do might be to move more resilient thing to do might be to adapt to that new land condition or that evolving landscape condition so when the term resilience is used ecologically. I think it's fantastic and incredibly applicable to these issues news when it is challenged and twisted and transformed into a way to encourage more development than I think. It's extremely gramley problematic. So as a landscape architect giving your literacy about hauling you read hollings resilience to be about the ability the capacity for an organism rich environment to respond to stress to respond to and to arrive at some form of functionality. That's not the same thing thing as rebuilding it's closer in the kind of But biological sense to APP tation and really the question. Often I think think that gets kind of Underappreciated is questionable. What level of functionality which aspects of that organism which aspects of that environment are we really focusing on and as you say I think quite rightly in your work? Resilience has too often. Come to invoke a kind of were simply going to rebuild. It may be at a slightly higher elevation in a way that is slightly lightly stronger and that level of simply repeating the past. I think your work suggests We need a level of investigation well beyond simple understandings of resilience as bouncing back hauling Used his studies in the boreal forest To to discuss and to unpack the term resilient because he had to really explain why he was taking it out of material sciences and bringing it into ecology and at the time he was studying the spruce. Bud Worm this. You might remember the spruce bedroom but anyone who grew up near boreal forest in the. Let's say eighty s saw it. Just completely -pletely get wiped out right so all of the evergreen visually just went brown and you could all of a sudden see the oaks for the spruce Now this happened across Western United States across northern Quebec. I mean just rampant across the boreal system. He saw in his his work that the younger the forest the more quickly. It bounced to use these resilient terms but bounced forward right so so it was a young forest that could recover its functionality to use your term but the old growth forests that we always saw in human geography especially as somehow a climax condition could not recover from the spruce bud worm so he used the term to really talk about this this idea functionality being in your ability to be diverse and and successive in your yeah your I say your but I am also just picturing a tree I mean if you have young roots in the ground and more sunlight above your canopy you have more room to grow because plants are indeterminate right the soon as they're given more of There needs they continue to grow and they grow and they change shape so the forests completely transformed As a result of the spruce bud worm arm and his argumentation was really about valuing very very young forests as opposed to very very old forests. which is what we tend to to do? And the only reason we actually value old forests is for the timber so He really changed the paradigm with using the term resilience. And I I like going back to that essay At his examples for for that reason so in your work you're placing a question around resilience and its interpretation relative Tiv- to Sea Level Rise and storm event And in that context your argument has been to increasingly think of resilience as a temporal condition. And this suggests that we're going to be thinking about resilience when we think about retreat for a very long period of time Are there other implications for this coming coming from your reading and landscape ecology for thinking about cities going forward. I think we have to recognize the landscape under our feet more. Yeah I think we've become I don't know if this is a term I think of disembodied and now I think of discipline landscaped you know do you know the ground your house is built on. Do you do understand the quality of the geologic condition do you. Do you know what your city looked like Not that it's a restorative condition. Asian where you WANNA go back in any way but it does help us find clues about what it will successively be come and so things like barrier islands. I mean the barrier island is only only ten thousand years old as a formation. There's a planetary formation. It's about as old as bus right. So we know the planet is much much older than that. So these this pile of sand you know around coastal conditions that we've concretize. They're young and they're still developing so that presents a condition of stability do we want to stabilize biophysical conditions. That are actually unstable. We've settled coastlines and we love faultlines. Is there a certain point where we do say. After a couple of centuries of urbanizing those really wickedly beautiful beautiful landscape conditions which is one of the reasons we want to live in them. At what point do we look at that kind of risk and say okay. Maybe this isn't the right place place for this kind of development. It's a reshuffling and I think that that has great opportunity. We've we've done it before or is a species and certainly will do it again so you speaking of barrier islands have spent A bit of time with less several years doing work on in South South Florida Miami Miami Beach. What can you say based on your interested in retreat about the conditions in Miami Both the kind of biophysical conditions Sion's but also the kind of conditions for Urban Asian there and why is Miami Interesting or relevant venue for you and your global study. Miami is on the front right lines so being in the northeast. It's very interesting to continue to study Miami In terms of its range. It's let's say Across the Atlantic and toward the North Atlantic. So whatever Miami's experiencing now we will certainly be experiencing here in in in the northeast so to study it is like having a model. Almost of how a municipality manages these issues when it is unprecedented precedent it so it provides precedent if you will That means that there is also wide open. The Municipality is incredibly enlightened lightened and aware of the challenges. Let's say but moreover I think the conversation between Miami beach as a barrier island island and Miami proper is very interesting because it raises that same issue of elevation that we were talking about earlier and also of of zoning in that doesn't take into consideration the landscape itself. So you could argue. That Miami beach has more in common with barrier islands. All the way up to the northeast than it does with its adjacent mainland right. Why don't we have zoning that has barrier islands specific instead of it being hinged to kind of municipal outline if we did then we could share more in common with sandy soils the okay? So you have sandy soils to so do we. We could talk about that whether you're you're in North Carolina or Miami instead. I think it's very challenging for Miami Beach to work directly with Miami because the ground the landscape itself is different. Aren't what is exciting on the other hand is that because I mean beaches its own municipality. which doesn't happen for most barrier islands? were any that I can think of. Actually it has its own agency It has its own power to make decisions that aren't hinged on the mainland policy. So we see there. An example sample of how the barrier condition might operate if it was freed from that zoning and developmental hinge on the mainland. And it's doing a lot. It has its own tax space. It's it's That is is brilliant. For how it's applying it in terms of minor infrastructural changes it's definitely in it's first generation of doing so but at least it's trying and it is trying to improve each time so now it's you know the the municipalities were on the the second generation and that obviously means it'll be third even if it's by the eighth That we start to make sense of the patterning of the ground. They're the ones doing it. I find a lot of excitement in talking to individuals down there because they're so lucid about the issues and aware of the the bio physical condition. Because again Miami is chronic not episodic there will be damaged in hurricane or but. That's not the issue. The issue is slow and unpredictable. And that's made it easier to ignore and his response with Jesse Keenan. We've already begun to see evidence evidence of this in economic terms And a whole variety of both civil in a private but also public actors or responding in a whole variety of ways. I mean it strikes me what you say about the extremity on the one hand the kind of legibility of the case of Miami beach is barrier island but also the extent to which it was not built built a century ago for stability. You know I mean there's something in my own work on south Florida. I've suggested that whatever you think of Miami beach as a cultural form. It's a city whose identity has been in some ways bound up in architectural preservation conservation and whose economy today Both the land development side and the hospitality tourism side. They both the crew from the original extremity of being in that particular position that location that barrier island that environmental extremity and so. It's not simply coincidental that it ends up being so vulnerable today. So in that context. How does the study of retreat? Play into a place like Miami were clearly people have made a choice to be there over the course of the the last century as opposed to it being purely a result of some kind of biophysical processes. There's also a set of cultural social economic choices that have been made and so. How do you reconcile that in your work looking at South Florida I think Miami is really tremendous precisely for that transformative aspect that you just outlined so at the turn of the century? It was a mangrove swamp so twenty years later it became Miami beach and now here we are with the Miami beach that we culturally culturally value now that transformation over the century is remarkable and so it also indicates to me that we can transform. It's form again. What will Miami look like in another hundred years will won't look the same as it does? Whether it's through treat or not imagining Miami. In one hundred hundred years it will look different. We definitely do not want it to go back to mangrove swamp that that is again. That's exactly not resilience in in hauling terms. You know we've transformed already. It will never be a mangrove swamp again but what will it be and what will it be under the terms of culture and nature that we live have with the landscape that we don't we don't live on it right we we pacify it we. We have some understanding and then we work with those dynamics. What does does it mean to have more poorest streets? What does it mean to just accept that it's sad not concrete? I think Miami will transform incredibly and I look forward to seeing its ongoing in transformation contributing where I can it will have to to some extent though densify I believe the sheer number of people living on in a small piece of land is is a very difficult Scenario for such a sandywell place given what you said about the in feasibility of returning to some prior or kind of original landscape condition And what we know about Miami beach at its preservation at elevation Shen is untenable for many observers. you're suggesting that the cultural image and the architectonic form the look and mm feel of Miami beach will change. It already has done as part of what your work is suggesting to in that work. You're seeing people already making individual individual choices individual decisions vis-a-vis their own conditions. But in a way the urbanization the pace of organization is in some ways. Accelerating celebrating and so in this in this interim phase or in this period of time when you as you say individuals or making individual choices and the island is actually moving moving toward higher elevation but also greater density. What does that suggest for the ultimate Future of people living on the island. I hope it suggests much more engagement. H Man with physical environment if the city of Miami beach is in control of the infrastructure which we know it is Raising roads raising intersections raising sidewalks. It's at this point the role of the developer or the homeowner to meet those standards to meet the foot of egress. It's that kind of complicates how you get out your front door now and that puts you as a homeowner or condo owner or a visitor in a very a precarious position because it's not being designed with the the longer term outcomes in mind and so things are continued to be silent great and what happens through retreat or the conversations. I've been in around retreat. That that really inspired me is that. Let's say in the context of Miami Beach when a Condo Association gets together and they want to change the way they're building meets the land the way they're sidewalk meets their coffee shop shop front door Then get involved and as soon as we start to have more people getting involved with these climate based issues than we have a more more knowledgeable public and what we really need is a public. That isn't sitting around and waiting for the municipality. Make a decision but public that comes forward to start to contribute contribute to decision making processes. What is the study of Miami Miami beach suggests when we think about other American cities? Are there lessons learned or case study examples from your work in south Florida that you think suggest Away forward in thinking about the American city. More broadly I think the American city more broadly is is becoming tougher and tougher to define sort of as a unit or as an individual aided kind of municipal condition What climate issues are are are doing which we should really take hand is starting to blur those boundaries so that no longer do live in a city and not know what your watershed it is or where you're drinking water comes from but you're implicitly located in a biomass that feeds you and and nurtures as you for this capacity for liveability and that allows you to hopefully have more responsibility landscape ecological level especially so I hope that as the American city has to adapt to more extremes hotter ecology and different different winters? I mean Montreal. We all just had. It's a record snowstorm. Colder cold warmer warms the American city the North American city and cities globally have to brace themselves yourselves within a larger context physically in order to support the cultures that they engender. Thanks very much my pleasure. Thanks for having me here You've been listening to future of the American city curated by the Office for Urban Ization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the Knight Foundation and the Generous Bluestone is to the American cities. Produces these arbor. Charlie Gilliardi better stays out. The music is by Kevin. Grand and Jeffrey delayed is a recording engineer to learn more visit Bethematch. TAC DOT st dot. Harvard that Edu

Miami beach Miami United States Rhode Island Miami Miami beach Harvard Graduate School of des Providence South South Florida Miami Miam Japan FEMA Sion Charles Jakarta Ghana Energy and association New Jersey Study of Migration Russian New Orleans
Urban Typologies

Future of the American City

37:50 min | 8 months ago

Urban Typologies

"I don't think that architecture alone can solve some of these things I think landscape alone can solve some of these things. I don't think policy can solve some of these things into series of hybrid strategies that leverages the strengths of each discipline to kind of put a proposal on the table was very exciting From the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city conversations on how we live where we live. It controls Waldheim twitter. Today with Sean canty and architect whose work focused questions of geometry and building type. Sean joins US today. The discuss his work on emergent. Urban typologies Sean. Welcome so Shawn you've been among other things. Recently League engaged in some research design work in Miami. Tell us about As recently as part of a studio called Multiple Miami saw talked with Chris read and the only song on myself each one of us from different disciplinary backgrounds. Me With the focus on architecture Chris Read and Folks Landscape and Urbanism and Lily Song and in planning policy so in the context of multiple Miami Studio. You're interested in working on over town. Why is it that architecture is a relevant instrument to think about the challenges in a place like over town? Miami has a strong kind of cultural identity. There's images of Miami's urban environment proliferate Fredin former movies in terms of its each culture it's nightlife so it has a very strong image of its built environment that we all that we all know certainly like other cities in America like New York or San Francisco or even Chicago and so in terms of innovation of over town part of the interest so the studios maybe how to respect some of this history. How respect some of his existing types and how to leverage them in order to to think about other ways to address questions of equity than city and an infrastructure? I mean as much as any other city in America I think of Miami is is a city where the the sexual imaginary has played a key role. And in fact you know Mo- Miami has both built itself but also made itself available through certain images and so you suggesting that in that regard you're interested in architecture as among other disciplines equally relevant absolutely absolutely. I'm one of the exercises. We have the students students studio what's called a mash up which we allowed them to kind of look at the kind of Canon of architecture landscape and Urbanism Awesome and find precedents from each one of these different disciplines and to essentially produce a kind of new hybrid paradigm that was then kind of speculatively cited than the kind of site and context of over town but if forced to students kind produced. Double Imaginary of reconciling with Jeff type logical baggage from the president but also baggage from the context. And also it's the image of its built environment. We'd strikes me that among the reasons that might be interesting as a tool in that kind of a context is already in implies it invokes history immediately absolutely and given that you're interested in innovation or could I say mutations is that a fair assessment within typology you have the ability to look at the history of the place through an architectural Arcand Lynn's but then equally imagine alternative alternative futures absolutely type logical baggage in the context of Miami and then even over town. It's it's good in some areas so Miami beach the art deco the the story Art Deco hotels and houses. There is very positive image. And one that we're all familiar with the shotgun houses and over town. The history is a little bit more faults on the one hand. It is very much a part of the identity of that neighborhood that community. But it's also a type that was kind of necessary in the only form of housing possible. I mean over town area. Miami has predominantly African American. This an area that was redlined and the construction of two important highways. So on the one hand. There's this interesting contradiction of trying to connect greater Miami me but also disconnecting severing this neighborhood from the city at Lars like many American cities. Miami suffered this racist redlining regime. That was really really a product of the new deal era and modernise planning and it's also it shows the evidence of institutionalized racism segregation around access to housing at the same time over over town built a culture deep culture over many decades as a place. Where where we're both Friedman but also other kind of a kind of black middle class emerged at a point in time so like a bronze in Chicago or other? Parts of American cities over town came to stand as a kind of cultural symbol for a certain form of African American experience on the one hand over town is formed by ex extreme segregation policies on the other hand and those policies have now led to its current state and also led to the kind of vibrant culture of over town. And so there's another way contradiction prediction here on the one hand. There is a very present culture that has been a byproduct of this poor active policy and planning and now it's currently under threat from forces affiliation. So it's kind of in some ways a bit of a Beasley situation. I think the studio tried to address how to mitigate that so among the threats as you described them first and foremost would be given over towns of geographic centrality in the context of Miami's continued growth and wealth ex kind of expansion increasing development pressures among other pressures to kind of reposition overtime to make it available at the same moment. Of course we have to reference a changing climate in this part of the world. What are the threats should should characterize our understanding of our town right now? Climate gentrification the housing crisis in transportation accessibility. Those three things are really critical Cohn to both the city man also to over town and so political forces are are seeing its value in terms of his centrality on being in in terms of high ground and also as a potential kind of nexus transportation access for development opportunities and this area that has been largely ignored and neglected for some time as formed a very strong African American culture And it's now under under threat and you were able to With your colleagues and with your students spend some time with the folks there and get to know a little bit of that community how would you characterize their their aspirations if you could. This is a story that has happened all across America for over town. Everyone knows history very well. And I think we spoke with Kamini constituents. They're from different generations and they all know it's history. They all know over town was like before the five nine hundred ninety five. They all know what happened. Happened after. And they all know what's about to come And so it's a weird scenario and most cities this kind of history is buried. Or maybe I'm overlooked but am is very present very much in the consciousness of those people that live in that community and I've been struck in in my experience in over town the incongruity congruity of the contrast between this community. That's really is at the center of this incredible ongoing growth around it and in some ways the kind of spatial spatial and in some ways social disconnect from neighborhoods that are not so far away. You know a mile in any direction and you can't build the condominium towers fast enough off and in some ways I think. Part of the challenge in overtime is on the one hand you know for a whole number of reason. People have been working very hard to maintain its identity and that's community and knowing that changes in the offing. Not so clear as to how to think about that change or in some ways maybe not so clear as to how imagine change. That's not just wholesale redevelopment and I think that's where it kind of type logical innovation comes in. I think a few the projects in the studio really one in particular on the this question of scale. What's the appropriate scale for development in the neighbourhood like this hour our luxury apartment and condo towers encroaching from the East and West but also trying to maintain its identity trying to keep his history present? It's the shotguns they are very colorful very vibrant. And there's a kind of an interesting situation of frontally that they set up towards the street And one project in particular event enrich project looked at a way of maintaining the shotgun typology but kind of rethinking about zoning re parcells ation. In such a way that eighty units or accessory dwelling units could be added to the back of a shotgun on the kind of produce a new kind of urban block interior and in some ways this is on the one hand allows for greater density of inhabitants occupations for the community but also might be means or step to give me equity for those that are already in the community who struck by a number of projects in in the studio that you and your colleagues worked with students on that many of them in spite of enabled by you're interested in and focus on typology and technological innovation. How many of the projects were a combination of architectural type logical innovation with some other policy or environmental or social drivers? Is that something that you've had experience with before. Is this unique in that regard. Or is that something that characterizes you broadly. I think this is a very unique opportunity in situation where I was actually able to kind kind of look outside of my own discipline and collaborate with my colleagues and students on a variety of strategies that could address these kind of pressing issues at over towns facing. I don't think that architecture alone can solve some of these things. I don't think landscape alone can solve some of these things. I don't think policy can solve some of these things so series of hybrid strategies that leverages the strengths of each discipline. To kinda put a proposal on the table was very exciting. Actually in here you describe of it that way. It strikes me that this approach type logical innovation seems quite timely in my experience of architectures interest and fascination with type I think it can be viewed or has been viewed in certain contexts as really a retreat away from the externalities a withdrawal into disciplinary Canary History or professional knowledge and infecting in your work suggesting that type of innovation in fact happens adaptation type allegedly happens wins in response to those extra conditions. Absolutely I mean types aren't aren't fixed are in constant Even though we like to think that they are they are kind of baselines baselines and they they develop and change over time And so I think there should be renewed attention to to this area of inquiry and research the discipline of architecture. Because it's something that we Deep Knowledge History of I mean you you reference the Shotgun House. We've talked about the point. Tower is among to dominant types in. Miami's history. I mean a couple of things. I think that you've suggested to me there. That are notable here. As much as any other American city I know of Miami has built itself through communities that identify themselves architectonic right so in the logic of the multiple. Miami's studio you brief. As I read it was a sense of little Havana. Little Haiti over town as much as any other American city they in some ways maintained their architectonic identity entity as a part of their Their social identity in their history are there limits to stretching The Single Family House Shotgun House type two two new densities new climate threats new conditions of abandoning. Yes I would say I mean the question of scale resources density and so I think a lot of projects in his studio tried to find the kind of trying to find the sweet spot in terms of thinking about the limits of of type and dilemmas of a particular type gives way to thinking through the way in which the ideas based based on type could have some continuity or some conversation with landscape or with an urban policy strategy. Recently I've been thinking about the way in which which most of the American housing stock is single family homes and most cities that's legal so a Saint California eighty percent of the housing stock is single family homes and has to be that way and actually they just fell that I'm producing I think. SBA fifty which which was trying to make single family development illegal to kind of force other modes of development and density. This thing about how do we maintain the ICONOGRAPHY. They have a neighborhood context. And how to imagine if I'd imagine how the hell can we acquire more density with the net framework and and so it's been working on a few speculative proposals that really tries to maintain the image of of a kind of suburban Her bandini or or of an vanity but tries to think about subdivision and the transformation of typology to increase density Eh and other ways so inverting the curtain or in terms of policy development. And thinking about the other side of it. I mean you. You're quite right. Identifying generations decades and decades a half century or more of Bo both policy but also kind of business models built around around the idea delivering was single family home as a kind of commodity and then the kind of environments that get that get construction at you mentioned legislation California and of course California has played a role historically in our fields in offering a progressive new legislative forms in a way out ahead of the kind of the general consensus in North America. About these these topics you went to school in California. How did you tell us how you chose to study in California? What was that? What was that choice about? Deeply personal Exit growing up a originally from Philadelphia. I grew up there but My mother my grandmother actually lived in Pasadena. Um when my grandmother was Finishing a college degree and so growing up I just heard tons of stories about California and how great it was and the regrets on leaving so growing up in Philly like wind. Did you have an appetite for thinking about cities thinking about Architecture as a way forward like like what How did you get interested in a topic in the first place so I was always interested in the in the arts I studied piano. Took fine art courses voices and I wanted to be creative school for high school. My mother found a charter school. Actually that is called the Charter High School for Architecture. Turn design which was a legacy project by the AA started in nineteen ninety seven which truly tried to address. I kind of disparity within the discipline of designers of color and so the school was a very great experience. We had add all of our normal high school courses but we had Studio Nile turned over the summers at a practice. A local practice this kind of exposed to other than the architecture but other design disciplines industrial design graphic design media arts so so in this chair of High School in Philadelphia. What kinds of studio work redoing his high school and I went to? CCA At art school but in kind of marriage your first fear of of college and art school so you had your Tutti chorus yet your three course Um you had more focus. Course spatial design so it was kind of a kind of the baseline skills and techniques and methods that you need to know and also to to develop a portfolio in order to get into a kind of design oriented artistic artistic or answered a higher education university and so from that experience. How did you identify California College of the Arts in Cisco is the is the right venue soon? Certain by the time I finished high school of whether or not I want to be a graphic designer industrial designer in architects. All look good. It all looked good and I was just inspired by by each discipline. What they had to offer and so on one hand I wanted to be an institution that even if I chose one discipline I could? I could take courses in the other side actually. My major upon entering was industrial design and then on the first day I switched architecture fantastic and then I realized I had no other time to take courses discipline but you it sounds as though you know based based on your your your education philly. You felt quite comfortable day. One in the context of the arts and designs absolutely different media. And that's A. That's a fantastic story. I mean so when and where where did your interest in articial typology emerged. Quick winded that interest in type of innovation emerge view as a primary focus of Luke during my graduate studies here at the GST I think I studied with an under professors. That that really at the forefront in terms of their pedagogy and teaching and became a kind of the Lens through which I can understand the the things that are deeply embedded within the discipline but also house help types are formed by outside forces the ways in which they socialize space Organiz space And then also the aesthetics that come along with that strikes me when we talk about in this series in our culture we we seem to have reached a point where we can either talk about policy and electing the right director of planning or the right mayor or if we if we had the right federal federal system or if we had the right revolutionary onyx system we could imagine some better alternative urban futures or on the other hand each project is immediately a singularity. Celerity it's that parcel of land. It's Hudson yards. It's the Olympic bid. It's the sports stadium and we seem to have lost The capacity for the collective outcomes in cities and and it strikes me that you're you're formulation of type logical innovation and the way that you're describing. typology is almost a kind of the cruel over time the kind of layering up above whole set of social and economic and political contexts as a kind of residue of that almost half Salami and so in that formulation that view of type innovation also so strikes me as being particularly relevant today in letting us think about collectively but maybe in a less top down way I think also the contemporary building in practice in developments kind of radical but it is agency in terms of the mixed. Use typology where anything. We're anything goes right. And so I think some of the residues of of singular types are kind of lost in these kind of new conglomerate conglomerate buildings. I'm I'm just thinking just simply wrinkle houses analysis of the downtown Athletic Club even though that's a singular building in a similar tower when you cut the section when you cut the floor plate we still get residues of other distinct types that are found throughout the city of New York kind of inside the interior of a the building and they're that kind of level of legibility. I think Gets gets lost in contemporary development. It's it's well put and you're even referencing. You know delirious New York of course we. We've seen a couple of decades now of an interest in pro pink woody proximity the density of vanity. But by returning now to questions of artificial type in the way that you're characterizing at educating foreign away the kind of mixed city of us in the kind of complexity of combination of kind I never vanity. I mean it strikes me that neither simply a kind of policy response nor simply a an environmental response will deliver that level of her bandy in part you're you're advocating for the rule of the architects the relevance of architecture in engaging societal environmental challenging. Yeah absolutely I think zinc and a lot of my work and research is actually maybe trying to coming at it from the design perspective and leveraging by skill sets knowledge of the discipline but also looking at its application or trying to find avenues for application. I guess some ways this is a little but bottom up rates to think maybe within a singular project that kids get other actors other players To kind of come to the table and kind of at least think differently about that problem or set of circumstances that they had not considered if they the resorted to the norm so just imagining kind of future. That single family home is not okay to develop on a property where we have to kind of think about cohabitation OR CO ownership Opens up puts pressure on existing types but puts pressure on developers puts pressure on architects. To kind of to think creatively. About how you. Let's say simply to acquire more density within a lot size that was made for you know the nuclear family rights to think about getting more occupants Slots maintain the image image of the city of neighborhood of the context. And that's something that's the falls particularly on the on the architects lap. Frank like a like we have a kind of deep-rooted knowledge of how do we subdivide space. How do we how do we get access to light air? How do we provide opportunities ice for collectively with greater density of occupants than building envelope or homicide report of? What's appealing in that? In that image of the rule of the architect to me is is that it it acknowledges the relative durability of things like property boundaries and policy frameworks because so often as we think about the future of cities we find that the the regulatory and policy frameworks actually lag as many legal structures. New Societal. Change another thing. That's appealing to to me about this return to type if I put it that way. That's timely for me in your formulation of it is acknowledging that we can get on with it in an incremental way something about a type of logical framework in the way that you're describing it to me that suggests we could think about working at the scale of the project will being mindful of in aggregate larger larger Changed absolutely I think. That's maybe out of the Miami Studio that was a bit of a revelation for me. His is that even as an architect. We tend to kind of work in a silo of project not always forced to think about those. Larger implications are the large implication. That project may have on his context neighborhood head or and so I think that kind of awareness is productive and it also allows you to be also critical of some of those structures that veteran place. It's true what you're saying that many of the neighborhoods that characterized Miami's identity are the the little little is right. So little little Havana Little Haiti over town. It's is true that they're type logical identities. Their identities were the result of planning but came as the kind of more direct expression of architects working through problems. Reconcile ing both kind of technical and kind of innovations in building materials and assemblies with questions of racial racial ethnic identity over a long period of time and as a result they kinda crew meaning over time through the work of individual architects. Yeah I mean absolutely I. I can't say that in the case of over town in shock in house was just at the time what the community members could afford a bit of a a means the cheapest means but it crude meaning and value in the community over time and has become something quite quite special and that they will like the hold onto. We live in a culture in which I told and I believe it to be true that the majority of buildings built in this country thinks the majority of single family homes Don't have the benefit of an architect for better for worse than so. How does how does typology in Arctic interest in typology fit into that history and the one types socialized space in a very particular way and Dan? We know them well. We know how they do that. And I think to be sensitive to that and the community that you're operating in to to be sensitive of its history the the good and bad but to to figure out what to to keep and maintain and then What the kind of strategically insert tend to that type to kind of push it forward and move forward in new ways? I missed should also in the way that you're thinking about type logical innovation were reading type or let's call call it deep structure in a place like over town as it provides a form of resistance to the immediately superficial image In a place like over town could we also so ed things like humidity inside outside relationship the relationship to the street and the porch. These are things that transcend a kind of facade. ISM absolutely really. I think the types organization. There's crude knowledge over time that has dealt in baked in dealing with issues of climate of that particular region inside outside conditions the threshold between the interior of the building and the exterior on the street. Front that might do a better job than Forced air running through a high rise condo. So let's talk about your current work. I know that Through STU SEAN canty. You're engaged in a range of projects looking at the future and in various places across the US. So tell us about what you're working on just now at the moment I I've looked at a series of projects that dealt with misalignments between geometry and type in terms of single family homes which were mostly to kind of the quotidian that kind of architecture. That's somehow between attentive contemplation and backdrop. Right like not trying to be to present but president no one pays attention into it and also allowing for the quotidian happen within. And then I've tennis shifted to the about a research that looks at cohabitation tation and Co ownership but spoken about earlier of trying to get higher density within a given typology through certain transformations and maintain a kind of urbanistic image of housing family homes situated within urban context. So there's a kind of intentional mismatching in between the appearance of what it looks like from the outside versus this organization the end cy was largely inspired by product by Barbara Bester and she did protocol blackbirds in southern California Which dealt with this kind of misalignment or or misfit between higher density and the architectural sexual container and I've been trying to kind of permeate that ideal number of types from the Shotgun House to other single-family vernaculars and and in that process also trying to integrate something and thinking about cohabitation and Co ownership thinking about how let's say three families live in one architecture container how do we think about New spaces emerge for socialization so trying to insert somewhat of kind of interior comments for all the parties to us in a different way. The more recent project is looking at infill lots very urban looking at home in Philadelphia Philadelphia has recently created a Land Bank. Think it's trying to purchase land and disadvantage areas and try and steer development more strategically and I've been trying to get head. landbank to Community Land Trust Pipelines and having quite sussed out I think somewhere in there there is a way that an architect can and develop a motive practice within this pipeline to perhaps help community land trusts think about modes of development that are particular particular to their needs and addressing them and bring this kind of knowledge attention of of typology to Philadelphia. Of course many parts of it in in spite of the the city's kind of renewal and in some ways kind of resurgence as a kind of vibrant kind of dense or bain place many parts the Philadelphia have been of course shrinking. Many parts have been as you say kind of abandoned been parts have been thrown into various regimes of land banking and in my in working country making cities of course parts of Philadelphia have been quite central as case studies. So in your work. Do you often begin. in context like working in a city or working in a jurisdiction and then derive type logical interest from that or do you begin typing logically and then look for venues where that research might be applicable a little a little bit of both but I would say mostly looking type logically and then finding the appropriate scenario situated but it does work both ways in in this case. It's really looking at the house staying with the row house. Typology and trying to think about irregular infill conditions so finding Zayn opportunities in sites sites that have been overlooked or neglected and in the city like Philadelphia vacancy blatant certain areas that you can get five or six irregular contiguous lots and to think about how you aggregate these lots in such a way that allows you to to rethink a kind of design strategy for them. And somebody's. I've been aggravating the lots these irregular loss together and and instead of starting completely anew like a kind of Tableau Rossa it's more Re inscribing kind of dimensions and metrics of the row. Home back onto two new envelope container so even though it it allows for a greater mass or a greater architectural figure to occupy those sites the subdivision the vision and the reintroduction of the row home becomes important of bringing kind of urban typology back into the back into the picture. Well that's interesting so so in this version in your studio typologies doing it at least two things on the one hand. It's unlocking revealing the potential of things that were somehow overlooked look because of the irregularity but then in Rian striving kind re reading of type. You're also then. Somehow invoking some sense of memory while you're changing that history as as well yes in invoking some kind of dimensional memory of the row home and again the Boston Philadelphia's about for the single family in most cases and so thinking talking about new strategies of subdivision that allow density but then that constrained lot dimension is about the series is after we deported the the through line. Find from what you've said about your work in over town in Miami. The work on the row house in Philadelphia is a a sense almost of bodily memory sensitive. You know kind kind of spatial memory. Theory inscription certain dimensions and certain relationships. That one you know whether consciously or subconsciously would produce meaningful experiences to what extent. What does that in your work depend or build upon material memory so you've referenced certain Mitchell assemblies as part of that but I also tend to think of typology as often abstracted acted out of material? That's part of its utility but you've also invoked materiality so tell us about the role of material assemblies or material in that since of memory yeah may say all the work just the way it operates as a form of abstraction and so I think that she closer to the type versus falling into As we talked about earlier kind of stylistic tropes our baggage that comes with the types I think can still carry on the kind of material legacy of the police but but maybe leave away some of it's more superficial trimmings and such so but an interesting question because I explored multiple options in which is the brick or I is it not brick cons looking over my shoulders and say he's with us all there should be brick but sesame aside what the brick wants to be. I mean it's not that valence of reading meaning into the brightness of it it's it's actually the potential of communicating with people either consciously or subconsciously through material experience absolutely. Yeah I'm interested in this concept of cohabitation Apart what's appealing to me in in your formulation of it is it's clear clear and timely and it speaks to an immediate question of socialization that then invokes implies a set of architectural problems. Right so I I would happen to spend some time in Toronto. During a moment of intense debate about lane way housing I know in various contexts. Chicago for example has gone on through process to think through identification of its alleyways near the of the granny flat. I knew these conversations are quite often very local. Different Policy Framework Different Built morphology tell us more about your conception of cohabitation and the forms that work takes and how that might give you away into thinking about the future of the city with cohabitation. I think in my own work trying to think about how an idea about a collective space kind of Interior Commons could be integrated raided or added necessity and this new mattress world of cohabitation that doesn't force but maybe provides opportunities either visually or or spatially for people to kind of get together in to socialize a case of a home sometimes. It's as simple as a shared kitchen or allowing for for a courtyard to be kind of flex space between occupants that are cohabiting or or co owning a space. Sure comments that is not public so it's not a backyard is not a front yards pits somewhere in between and I think that's where kind of type logical innovation comes comes in terms of thinking about the thinking about new forms of residential types thinking about the block thing about the urban block Thinking about the ways in which alleyways backyards porches can be essential assets to producing a more kind of mixed collective integrated society. The spaces that you're speaking of the alley way the porch the backyard. These are in some ways it kind of American informal vernacular these spaces but they are so also spaces of encounter. I mean you're you're suggesting that I think it's true that the buildings and certainly homes have historically been among the ways we distance ourselves from each other but at the same time. We're well aware that all the social science research suggests were happier when we live with each other and that the architecture suggesting plays a key role in providing spaces of encounter spaces in which we can live both in Greater Peter Density in greater proximity but also encounter each other in live with each other as opposed to using architecture as a tool of Distancing absolutely I think it's maybe maybe some of our responsibility to maybe undo some of the best policy in developmental practices. I mean our government is very complicit in and in segregating America and in many ways even neighborhoods that were very integrated or affordable housing. In them it has to be black or white and so this kind of segregation has happened over time has really done a disservice to the American residential landscape and so I think finding these opportunities herb mystically type logically to undo that at all cost is of great interest to me. Thanks Rita thank you. You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office Organization at the Harvard. Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the knightfoundation and the generous donors to the American cities sparked and produces these charleen. Jeffrey S Nesbitt said. His music is by Kevin area to learn more visit ever T._A._C. G._S._T.. Dot Harvard Dot E._D._U..

Miami Philadelphia America Shotgun House Chicago Harvard Graduate School of des High School Miami Studio Haiti Mo- Miami Folks Landscape and Urbanism president Chris Read Havana Sean canty Philly US Sean Shawn
Billy Almon

Revision Path

57:58 min | 4 months ago

Billy Almon

"You're listening to the revision. Pat podcast a weekly showcase of the world's black graphic designers web designers and Web Davila put through in-depth interviews. You'll learn about their work. Their goals and what inspires them as creative individuals? Here's your host Maurice Cherry. Hello everybody welcome to revision path. I'm Ariz Cherry. And before we jump into this week's interview. I wanted to remind you about recognize which is our design thalji featuring essays and commentary from Indigenous People and people of Color Now the theme for this year is fresh and the deadline for submissions is April thirtieth for more details including how to submit your essay. Visit recognized design. Now let's talk about our sponsors. Facebook design and abstract. This design is a proud sponsor of efficient path to learn more about how the facebook designed community designing for human needs at unprecedented scale. Please visit facebook dot design. This episode is also brought to you by abstract design. Workflow management for modern design teams spend less time searching for design thousand tracking down feedback and spend more time focusing on innovation and collaboration like glitch but for designers abstract is your version control source of truth design work with abstract you. Conversion sketch design files present. Work requests reviews collect feedback and give developers direct access to all specs. All from one place. Sign your team up for free. Fourteen Day trial today by heading over to www dot abstract dot com. Now for this week's interview. I'm talking with biology. Inspired storyteller and designer billy allman. Let's start the show all right so tell us who you are and what you do. My name is billy allman and I am a biology inspired storyteller and designer so I look at organisms in nature I get an understanding of how they innovate how they have an innovative and I look for opportunities to apply that to challenges at the human scale. Wow now I regret to say I I heard about you last year at the blackened design conference that goes on at Harvard Graduate School of design. You are on this panel with actually with two other people who've been on the show are Emelin Ciano and Jim Rome Harris. Yes so I know that the panel was about like equity and justice in technology and media. Remember you gave this example about a slime mold that I thought I was sitting in the back. Like wow that is really dope. How would you heard about the event before you spoke there? I've been trying to go to the event trying to attend the event since the first conference and my wife. Actually told me about opportunity when they started looking for speakers for the last conference so she actually reached out to them and said. Hey check out this guy named Billy Allman. You might be good for your conference and then they reach out to me with an inquiry about participating. Nice. Yeah I I mentioned before we saw record how your wife had. She reached out to me to like years and years ago about starting podcast. So that's dope that. She's been proactive in helping out like that. She's the most self actualized person I've ever met. It does wonders for my career. So I read where you refer to yourself as a bio mimicry advocate and practitioner. So of course I have to ask I feel like you probably get asked this on every podcast but what is bio mimicry? And how do you use it in your life? So bio mimicry comes from this term called biomet nieces which translates to imitate life and essentially. It's the idea of turning to nature for inspiration on how to solve problems if you think about the world in which we live in every single organism on this planet whether human or bacteria or mammals all of us have to deal with the same conditions of sunlight cyclical processes ebbs and flows in in resources competition. Environmental Factors that. Play into how we live our lives. And so when you think about the fact that we all experience these things and we think about the fact that a lot of these organisms have been around longer than we have. You start to see that. There's all of these existing methods and strategies for solving problems that exist in the natural world. And so what bio mimicry does is we study these organisms and then we find kind of the underlying tactic or strategy or function. That's at play at how these organisms are solving their problems. And then we apply that to parallel problems that humans face to give you an example. Velcro is an example of the Bio mimetic process at play the designer of Velcro. He was a Swiss gentleman who would take his dog for walks right and every time that he would come home he would find these little spherical seeds attached to the furthest dog so he took the seeds under his microscope and saw that there was these curly little hooks on the end of of each strand of the seed and he realized that this is a great way that this seed attached to animals curly little hooks and that became the inspiration for Velcro. So if you think about how velcro looks when you look at it up close. It's all of these little strands and curly strings on one side with I wish counterpart on the other so velcro came from the strategy of the C. Which is called a bird seed to attach to animals? In order to have the animals carry the seeds to locations where they might potentially grow. Oh interesting yeah. I've heard I've heard something about that with velcro now. Now there's I guess there's different types of Velcro. Now where the I guess the matting isn't as plush or the hooks aren't as deep but it is still based off of that same premise. Of of what you've seen in nature you're able to recreate that in like an industrial setting exactly so given that example like I feel like that's something we probably as kids just running around and field and stuff have like kind of instinctively picked up. You know you run around and you've got grass and all kinds of stuff stuck to your pants and your shirt and your hair or anything like that. When did you sort of I learn about bio mimicry? When did you? I know this was something that you were into. I actually came across by mimicry as result of Hurricane Katrina and by that I mean after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I was architecture student at Howard University at the time and after the storm hit and after the manmade disaster that followed there was a lot of students. Obviously not only at Howard but around the world but at Howard. There are a lot of students who wanted to do something. Just how can we help about five hundred students from how university drove down to New Orleans and to the Gulf coast to just find ways to volunteer to help during our spring break and singing? What took place up. Close had like the most transformative experience. It was the most transformative experience I've ever had. Just witnessing you know people who look like you people who look like me in the conditions that that that disaster left that community and so as an architecture student I was just curious like how do we avoid this from happening. How do we create spaces and communities where this event is not taking place and especially knowing that climate change is not going away that you know especially coastal cities and people In low income neighborhoods are going to be? The most affected are the most affected by climate change. How do we prevent these kinds of things from happening again? And in in trying to find answers to that question I came across this book called Bio Mimicry. Innovation inspired by nature which was written by a woman named Janine Banias and after I read that like everything for me change. It became my my design philosophy. Nice so once you learn the well hold on. Let me switch gears a little bit because you mentioned climate change and here in Atlanta. We have a Museum of design here and twenty twenty. The theme that they have for this year is the Year of climate change. Actually by the time this episode airs there will actually be an exhibit there about bio mimicry is titled Learning From Nature. The future of design was developed in collaboration with the Bio Mimicry Institute. I'm really interested in checking that out because I heard about that right around the same time that I was at blackened design and I was like I need to learn more about this because the examples that you were giving during that panel talk really kind of inspired me to think about what are ways. That designers could possibly use nature for design for technology for creating more equitable futures. Which will get to you know later on in the conversation but I wanted to to mention that. So let's switch gears here a bit because you talked about Howard University so I wanna go back a little bit further than that. Where did you grow up? I was a military Brat. Growing up my dad was in the army and my mom worked for the Department of Defense and so I was born in Germany. I think we move back to the states when I was gonNA say like one. Maybe two bounced around several states. Texas lived in Georgia. A little bit lived in Maryland before I went to Howard lived in South Korea and then back to Germany. So just all over the place which was a fun experience especially when you get to come across kids who have like friends that they've known since they were like in diapers. And you know I have a new best friend every two years so that was always a fun experience growing up with all of that travelling in like seeing the country seeing the world. How did that shape you creatively? Oh man made everything possible. It told me that there's more options than I think right away. And and it kind of had all these different flavors to you know the mix of how you can create something new by just introducing a new or different perspective on what you're trying to do. Does that make sense now? That makes sense because it's sort of like that added. You can't be what you don't see. Yeah so like the fact that you're able to see all of these different experiences different people different cultures etc like that all feeds into. You know just kind of who you are. Yeah and I gotTa tell you if there was one thing that really stuck out to me about the experience of all that travelling as a as a young kid was just the value of exposure. I mean like you say you don't know what you don't know once you're exposed to something it just reintroduce you to another level of possibilities right so I can't emphasize enough. How much exposure even in a lot of the work that I'm doing now. How big of a role that place. When did YOU KINDA? I know that design in general. Was something that you were really interested in. Would you kind of like just prone to it as a kid? Or how did you find out about it when I was a kid? And these these are stories. My Momma tell me about me being in my room building contraptions building booby traps in my room and building. No cities out of construction paper in Lagos and so my mom would always tell me when I was a kid that I was going to be a either an engineer or a or an inventor when I when I grew up so just her telling me that as I okay. That's the name of it and I just go back to like playing in my room. Finding ways to explore my imagination. I think that was really it and then her kind of just feeding. That was a big part of it. I remember when I was a kid. They used to have this. I think it was like a contest called in America. Do you remember this. No what am I bet. I might be showing my age but what I what I was at school in the eighties. Jesus Christ there was this nationwide competition call invent America and it was for like K. Through eight students to basically like like creative thinking skills critical thinking skills etc and you just basically like made stuff and it was like a nationwide competition. They judged it. I don't know if invents America's is still a thing anymore. I WANNA say the state that America is now not to be political but like. I don't know if there's still a thing that kids do was that at a public school yes. It was a public school. Yeah Oh man. Maybe this is the Public School in Rural Alabama. So like Oh man yes. I didn't know this. I figured it was a nationwide thing. I thought it was nationwide. I'M GONNA have to look into that but yeah it's funny when you said when you said invent for America my mind went to US re chance. Yeah I need to see if he's been America's still a thing. 'cause it's funny. I think about like the stuff that I did when I was younger in school. And how completely unorthodox I think it is right now. We had a a critical thinking class really but they would give us like these critical thinking exercises like they'd give us maybe at odds scrap of construction paper or something and everyone gets the same shape of construction paper and you have to basically make something out of it so like some people would glue it to a piece of paper and draw around it. You know like to make it make art around it or someone would take it and folded into something or or things like that like I duNNo. Kids have that kind of stuff. Now you know it was crazy about that now to do that. You'd have to pay like twenty thousand a semester at college excess piece of paper. I remember one of our projects was we had to take one piece of cardboard and turn it into a chair and be able to sit in the chair. And you know it's basically a thicker piece of paper. I could've just went to public school in Alabama. So you have this sort of I guess. Childhood curiosity for creating these traps and buildings and everything so your parents saw that s something that clearly you were into was that sort of what influenced you to go into architecture. Yes when it came time for me to Start looking at schools and start thinking about my major. The closest thing at that time that I came across was architecture and obsolete like what is something that has to deal with psychology. Has to deal with. Politics has to deal with science and art. And when I you know this is you know two thousand four so this is you know before like everyone was googling stuff up for that was a trend. It was like it was a was it hotmail and and you know look at stuff up on that Internet so architecture was the first thing that I came across and you know understanding researching about Egyptian architecture and how the architects was treated in society during that time period. Really kind of romanticized in way whereas okay like this feels like it feels like the right thing and so how was your time at Howard? I wouldn't trade my our experience for anything I mean. It was the best in so many different ways one because like that was my first taste of will Kanda. And if you call from the talk but you know I'm just loved Black Panther in part because there's you know you can see biometric elements in the design. It was the first time I remember stepping on campus like it was yesterday seven on campus and just seeing beautiful intelligent people having diverse conversations. And they all look like you right. Just not getting that flavor again. Having traveled the world and primarily being the minority everywhere. I went it was just such a unique and special experience that I just yeah. Was it your choice to go through an H. B. C? Or the south of your parents were were pushing. No it's interesting. I had actually planned to go to the University of Maryland. And then I I got accepted into Howard and I remember you know. I don't know how not political or spiritual to not get but this literally will happen. You know praying about the decision. Like what do I do and like literally like I heard the clearest as clear as I'm talking to you like someone was just telling me go to Howard and now literally talking to you. I can totally see how just follow. We met voice just turned into the beautiful life that I have now especially because I got to meet my wife there. I think that's probably the main reason anyone should go to. Howard is you know so. Many great blessings came out of that. I'll always cherish it. We've had several Howard alums here on the show up. Sure they would all agree as well. It's a great school. Yeah I'm curious about this connection between architecture and like what you're doing now so you you go through Howard. You're studying architecture. You graduate with your degree and now you know. This is ten plus years later. The work that you're doing is in like biology and design like quite a path to take. Yes so coming out of out of school. I got an opportunity to participate in a competition that that Disney has called the imaginations competition and out of that. I got an internship so myself and four other Howard Students. We enter this competition submitted. A design proposal for something we thought Disney should create a something without would be a cool Disney experience. An out of that. I got an internship and my first internship was literally. We were given a stack of things that were being worked on in the aren't department and they said come up with new experiences for the future based on these cool cutting edge were working on and that was literally my first internship so long story short after that for ten years after that at Work Disney in a lot of different capacities and my roles and responsibilities kind of changed to more not just architectural design but design of experiences and products and and kind of a lot of really kind of Ford Future Thinking. And so when we are studying these things when you're looking at the future and all of that you're very often looking at the past and again for me. The natural world was full of all of these an amazing innovative strategies. So it'd be naturally became something that I kind of just applied to everything that I I was working on. The other thing was like my mother growing up. She loved animals. And you know my mom. Is God rest her soul my hero and so you know she'd always have like animals stuffed animals on her desk at work and we always love to be outdoors. And so that's another thing that Kinda just really stuck with me over time and then when I got the chance to kind of dive deeper into biology and kind of studying how all these amazing creatures do things it just blew my mind and really opened up this whole new avenue of resources for looking at innovation and design so then later on you end up going to Grad school you went to Arizona State to study this kind of further studied by limiting their. Yeah Yeah I was like man as much as I love Howard. I'm never doing college again I am. I'm good and then you know over time is Kinda thinking like okay if I wanted to do continue education it either be an NBA. Or It'd be something else. And then I realized that there was an opportunity to get a masters of science degree in Bio Mimicry and I was like okay. I have to keep going with this. Imagine further you know blew my mind and and really kind of just opened up the natural world to me. So what was your time like? They're studying this now professionally like out. Imagine there probably was a big shock in the way right. Yes oh I mean one of the cool things about the program was I was. I was also I was also participating in an an additional smaller cohort program where we traveled around the world to six different locations where we were immersed for a week in all these different ecosystems so we were literally in these amazing environments. Costa Rica Hawaii the Sonoran desert in Arizona the Colorado rockies were in these environments. We're you know we're camping out. We're looking at slug and you know like in and mushrooms and and we're understanding. How not only do they solve problems within their context and within the the kind of operating conditions that they have to thrive within? But we're also seeing how they relate to each other and how there's so much cooperation in the natural world when most people think it's all about competition Guess Survival of the fittest. Yeah so the interesting thing about that to me is how like how out of context that that phrases is thrown around when that whole idea of survival of the fittest is really not necessarily the strongest organism or animal but the one that's most fit to the conditions to really thrive within that niche it just completely refrains in a different way. So it makes them more like relational and environmental and not not necessarily strength based store. Or you know some sort of adversarial kind of concept. Yeah Yeah it makes it more about you know everyone. There's a place where everything has. Its most optimal self. You don't have to be the strongest. Sometimes you need to be the weakest and the smallest because in this environment to be small is to be optimal right so it's more about context than it is some sense of bravado for lack of a better word. Yeah how did billy biology come about? Oh man so it's funny. It started kind of. I don't WanNa say as a joke but so my background wasn't in biology. But I would be around a lot of biologists and so for me. You know again a brother in an environment where I'm the only one when we're hearing our teachers and our professors talk about these big biological complex terms. I would kind of break it down for myself to understand but kind of just blurted out to a class so basically that's where the poop comes out right. Have all these like really really complex terms about stuff and just kind of like break it down like that and so it made it that much more digestible for my classmates? So one day we were in British Columbia and I had time to to talk to my nephew. Who's he was ten at the time? And I you know I was just asking him like so. What do you want to do when you when you grow up? And you know his answer. Was You know? Oh I'm still thinking about it but either you know a basketball player or or rapper. And you know for me. I'm like okay as your uncle. I support you. That's really what you WANNA do. But as a person who had the opportunity to work among the most creative talented people at Disney and then travel the world and see all these amazing places that showed me that this is more about me exposing him to the world that I get to have access to than it is about that potentially really being what he wanted to do what I would start to do is every time that we would travel to these different places. I would shoot a little video of what I was learning and kind of in that vernacular that I use my classmates of of kind of understanding these biological principles and I would just upload it to facebook so that he could see it in other people could see it and I got so much great feedback from not only from him but also from other people who saw the videos about how they were sharing it with their and and how much meant for them to see you know a person of color talking about science and technology and design and so it became a thing where I say okay. There's something here and it's resonating with people and there's a need for it so let me just keep going and it's just kind of blossomed into other opportunities and one of those opportunities being a television show. You have a show called little giants talk about that. Yeah so so. That's crazy. It's crazy how it happened A good friend of mine named Bradley Trevor Grieve who had opportunity to work with at Disney. He saw a lot of the videos in and he and I we you know every now and then we get together and you know we'd go watch bad movies and kind of complain about how bad they were. Kind of. Put Our sinophile hats on. He's Wildlife author and just a a really dope human being and so he hit me up one day and he's like hey so I'm pitching the show to animal planet and I think it would be hilarious if you and I were. The host of this thing is like so. I want to see if you're interested in meat. Throwing your name into the mix like you know. Just want to be honest. It's it's a long shot. We don't know what happened but I just wanted to see if you're interested and so I'm like Oh you know it's a long shot which means it'll never happen so like yeah go ahead tell them all about me so you hit me up. Maybe six months later and he's like. Hey so yeah. We're doing this thing man. The the show got picked up. Are you still interested in you know? I jumped at the opportunity. So the the show little giants is is myself in Bradley. Going out into remote places in the world around the world and finding tiny little creatures and highlighting some of the amazing adaptations and the amazing abilities. Amazing superpowers of these little creatures and then exploring if we were to scale up this frog to the size of a beetle car ricard's called a VW bug. Yeah Yeah we we scale this frog up to the size of a bug of VW bug. How strong would actually be then? Or how high could leave and you get to see us. You get to see that that transformation. So it's it's really fun. It was an amazing opportunity and experience. I was GONNA say that's also like a huge platform to be able to talk about bio mimicry and about your love for biology and everything. That's truly something the show is still they're still episodes on and everything like yeah so. I think six episodes have aired so far you can find it on animal planet. Go more supposed to be rolling out. I can't say the date but I'm sure I think there's more on the way when we shot more so he doesn't get a chance to see that soon. Yeah make sure that we link to those episodes that you mentioned linked to them in the show notes. That's really something I mean to be able to take this love that you have to television that way. I mean I feel like sort of like what you're saying about exposure television feels like the ultimate exposure mechanism for people when they see like. Oh you gotta show all the other work that you've done leading up to that of course is great but you have a TV. Show people what. That's you know that means really spread your message far and wide. That's great yeah. It was amazing I consider myself a science communicator. And it's one thing to think that you're doing a good job of like briefly communicating a scientific or biological process. It's completely different thing when you're doing it for television again with my background in in storytelling in in other words that we did for for Disney. I see myself as a storyteller to but TV is so it's such a different medium. The have any exposure to tell stories in that way was just another really cool thing that I'm I'm hoping to expand on going forward so I want to kind of change the topic here a little bit. I WanNa talk more about Bio Mimicry. Kind of as it relates to design and creativity because you mentioned being you know biology inspired storyteller and designer for those that are are listening that are you know kind of interested in these examples that you're mentioning? Can you talk about what the benefit is of using bio mimicry? Yes so if you think about it there's nothing that's actually wasted in the natural world the way that humans the way our design creates waste. The thing I love about the natural world and why I love studying by memories like nature is very entrepreneurial meaning that things that live in nature. Their goal is to thrive grow develop their community protect their families while also expanding as little energy as possible and so energy in the natural world is a primary resource right so organisms whether it's a vulture eating you know the scraps left from another animal hunting it things are you know they're very entrepreneurial they're very much about how can I be as opportunistic as possible and because of that there's no waste right like you have decompose. Irs You have producers. You have this kind of cycle of organisms that find their niche and are also very resource efficient and so because of that you have a lot of sustainable strategies that you see in the natural world so I can give you a couple of examples. There's this one company called Shark lit a May. They produce even vintage this kind of film that mimics the texture of shark skin. The reason that they do that is because shark. Skin is covered in these kind of these very tiny sharp little triangular looking teeth and these teeth on the surface of of a shark actually prevent microbes from collecting on the skin. And the sharks getting like bacteria and infections and and it's anti microbial and so this company developed film that replicates an imitates that pattern and it's an anti microbial surface so now you have an invention that doesn't require harsh chemicals for cleaning and I think that's the the real appeal of bio-industries. There's so many ways to derive inspiration from nature when you look at the process. Because you're you're studying the functions right so you're studying. Why does this form allow this beetle to fly at this rate and be that aero dynamic but not only just the forms you're also studying the process of how how these organisms solve problems and you're also looking at how from systems level how all of these different organisms might be interacting with each other to develop more efficient and innovative processes? So just to give you another example. One of the things that I'm studying now is how super organisms things like ants colonies of ants or bees or you know schools of fish. How these individual? He's individual organisms. Worked together as a collective to accomplish a task and how what their strategy and how. They approach accomplishing tasks can be applied to like a business organisation. So there's all these really really cool amazing things that when you break down nature to it's kind of it's most kind of basic principles. There's design principles at play in the tactics and strategies that animals use 'em at their biology us that we can apply as designers to architecture to engineering to manufacturing to sustainability. And with the with the talk that I was giving even to social challenges. I believe there's potential for that as well. Yeah we're definitely hearing a lot about sustainability in the design world. I mean I feel like it's more so from a like a conservation slash climate change kind of angle but you hear about like plant inspired materials or even. I think I was reading something about how they're trying to like change. How computer storage is more like? Dna storage or something like that. Like like looking at DNA and seeing how it stores data to see how they could do it for like hard drives or something like that which I thought was really interesting. Yeah I mean th all of that stuff. I mean the more that you look at nature from an and I'm not saying like from like into the conversation around design versus evolution. Not that kind of design but when you look at like what is actually the underlying mechanism that is allowing this organism to accomplish this task. Where the the dynamics at play right like we down to almost like a physics level you really start to see all of these patterns and connections that just show you like there's some innovation at play right. Yeah so how can designers I would even say probably developers that are listening to how can they start to use bio mimicry and biology in their work? Like the how would you tell someone to go about doing that? So there's several different resources that you can tap into the organization bio mimicry. Three Point Eight. That's actually the organization that Janine the author of the book on Bio Mimicry. She started and they do a lot of training and classes and workshops no shameless plug or shameless. Plug workshops are a great way to understand how mimicry works and how I might even be overcomplicating. Like how approachable it is to get into this but one of the things that I always recommend is talking to a biologist about a challenge that you have because they have the understanding of the biology. And that's one thing that we always advocate or is this idea of having a biologist at the design table. 'cause they can serve as kind of a translator of the phenomenon that's happening with the organism. And how that might actually translate to the challenge that you as a designer are trying to solve a biologist at the design table. I'm actually GONNA use that because my mother is a biologist. She's a biologist. Grew up in labs and around all kind of biological stuff like that. So you mentioned that. It's funny because I mean I went to school for math and I graduated with a math degree. And that was like selling tickets at the symphony. Like for a few years after college I had like no plan at all. Like what are you doing with your life would be like? What do you do it and I ended up. I was always doing design as a hobby and then I sort of fell into doing design as a job. I started my studio but I always feel like I mean I know. She's proud of me but I feel like in the back in her head. She was like what are you doing like this? This isn't science. This isn't Matt. This is what you went to school for. It would blow her away to let her know that there are like these biological like connections to design. I'm definitely GONNA use that. You think I'm joking. I'm definitely GONNA use them when I talked to her this week. No Yeah Way. She should be proud of you. Because you're looking to expand your horizons as a problem solver which is what we are as designers right And you're using the natural world that she exposed you to do that. Yeah that's a good upsell and I mean. I grew up in the stick so lake all kinds of animals and running around and fields. And all that stuff. So what? You're mentioning that about like the little birds sticking things I'm just thinking of. I'm thinking now of things that I've seen as a kid that would remind me of like applications that people could use now like for example. The Little Roly poly bugs. I'm pretty sure there's a way someone is using a similar type of technology now for like armor or something. That's all that stuff is being used. But that's that's amazing. You mentioned these workshops you have your own workshop beasts lab. Talk to me about that. So there's two components to it one is more professionally design oriented for older kids and adults and then there's a second component which is more younger kid oriented that is really around kind of looking at nature through the lens of of stem and kind of having a fun exploration of the outdoors through kind of an inventor's perspective. Interesting thing about about stem. I feel like it's something when I was growing up. It wasn't a big huge deal. Well let me take that back. It was a huge deal in that. They wanted to make sure that black people were going into these fields. Like I remember. Starting College. I started in a dual degree program. I got into that program because I had high scores in math and stuff when I was in school and so I really wanted to do computer engineering because I wanted to be Dwayne. That didn't work out like after first semester. This is not gonNa work and I switched over to math but it's been interesting. I'd say within the past ten years seeing how stem is represented. I think particularly in black culture. I might be stepping on a hot potato here but now I hear a lot about stem but I feel like the focus is more so on the T. And the E instagram not so much the s definitely. Not The M. Let me tell you nobody. Everybody hates math. Nobody wants to touch football. You are not wrong. Do you find that like with what you're doing. With this sort of stem education that people are trying to steer it towards more technical or more engineering disciplines. I think part of that is like if you think about where like our society is right like the IPHONE is still sexy mobile device like I I think that whole like Steve. Jobs era of like introducing the iphone and programs and APPS. I think that with that. You have a better Sales pitch of four four technology and engineering. The you do science and math riots and I think that's part of it. I think you know those are things that like. You can easily point to and they get the most buzz they get the most shine all of this stuff that underlies that like the math behind all of that the physics of that. You know the science like those are the two really the two pillars behind the technology and the engineering part. Which is kind of ironic about that whole thing right. Yeah I think you're totally right. Like they definitely get a lot more of the shine but it just taking it back to bio mimicry. That's also another reason why I love it because you get the opportunity to go outside and then just completely kind of deconstruct a leaf right and you get to see a leaf as this power plant. You know what I mean. It's this chemical. There's all these kind of chemical exchanges and dynamics at play their structural integrity. There's fluid dynamics. There's all of these things built into a leaf. Yeah you know what I mean and so just kind of taking it back to bio mimicry. That's why I love using it as as a platform to talk about stem because I think the natural world is such an easy way to conceptualize some concepts in science and math in a very kind of present way. Yeah because then you can just sell people like just go outside like look at the world around you and see how that inspired you. I've mentioned recently being La and one of the things that struck me as interesting was how it was how plants were used as divisions in certain parts of the city. So like if you go into like Hancock Park or even further north to like Beverly Hills or right around in that area. You'll see a lot of houses that have these sort of protective hedges and topiary but then like if I went downtown I just saw nothing but like iron gates like Iron Gates iron bars on windows and it's interesting because like you see a gate like that and you think okay. I need to stay out like this is clearly for staying out whereas the hedges felt more. I don't know like almost like a privacy screen in a way. That was really interesting thing. I noticed a lot of interesting kind of architectural stuff in La like all the arches and even a lot of the older buildings. Although I heard that. La doesn't really have that great of a culture for conserving. Old Buildings which was kind of sad going down Broadway and seeing all the like burnt-out marquees and stuff like it reminds me of New York. I guess that's my Bro. Yeah I I get that like. That's one of the things you know. La's I think part of it's cultural right. Which is a huge part of architecture? Right like architecture and a lot of ways is kind of preservation of cultural philosophies and ideas of a certain time writing and so when you have a place like l. a. where it's by and large lot of it's about like what's the latest and greatest hottest thing. What's the latest trend in all that kind of stuff? I can see how they're not necessarily is a great affinity for preserving the history even though there's a lot of really great history Have a friend of mine. Who has his company called Mojo and what they do is they. Essentially take you on these a tour through throughout La and kind of tell you the stories in this really kind of compelling way of the history of these places so you really get like this really immersive flavor for for the city and it's it's kind of culture throughout time but yeah. I'm with you like La's such A. It's such an interesting place. Do you feel like it's a good place for what you do. Aside from like I mentioned earlier the proximity to television studios and stuff but being around the nature. That's in and around. The city is a good for you. Oh absolutely I mean one of the great things about living here. You hear people say this all the time. It's like having the opportunity to go to the beach and then go skiing in the same day is one of those unique things about this place and so for me that also means that there's all these different ecosystems that I get to explore. The weather's awesome but it's such a great place to kind of just understand like again going back to what we were first talking about with niches and kind of this diversity of life that you find here not only like just in terms of the people that live here but also the biota. The the natural life of this place like. That's one of the things I love you. I can go to the aquarium and I can talk about octopus with my daughter and then we can go to discount gardens and get all of these different flavors for different ecosystems of our local area. It's awesome for for a lot of the stuff that I'm doing now. Speaking of your daughter. Do you find the she kind of wants to follow in your footsteps. Yeah Yeah I I'm I'm GonNa say she's got the bug so it's funny. She's she'll be should be turning five soon. And I'm a comic book Nerd and I didn't force this honor but she took a liking to spiderman so like her whole room is decked out in spider-man stuff. It's like our favorite movie and she loves spiders Like she she has no fear of bugs or we were on vacation recently. And we saw GECKO. I picked the Gecko up and I had in my hand and I gave it to her and she was handling gently she was telling me how to handle it gently So I was just like. Oh what baby. She's got great Nice. That's nice. What advice would you give to people that are listening that they're inspired by your story? They're hearing about your work. What advice would you give to any designer ZERTEC? He's out there that want to do what you do. I would say this is kind of a big theme in Ra. Sorry so so for me. It goes back again to exposure right the more that you expose yourself to new things things that maybe even make you uncomfortable to explore the more resilient the more versatile you become as a designer the more innovative you become so it's you know it's going left when you know you usually make a right right. It's simple things like that. Like challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new and so for me. It starts take a walk outside. Take a walk outside and as a designer breakdown when you see a squirrel climbing up a tree like what is actually happening right or again. Like when you see a leaf falling to the ground go and Google anthocyanins and understand how chlorophyll plays a huge role in in you know the cyclical process of trees. I think getting to two out there. But there's not very. I remember my mom's biologist. I got you know. There's there's this poetry to the way that life works and actually that's a great book to the way that life works. It's kind of like a biology one kind of book but just go outside start there. That's the first and go outside. Take your curiosity with you and just look around in your backyard and just try to find some connections that you didn't see before just sit there. It's funny I'm thinking back now like my old days in science class to stuff and I used to be obsessed with the Krebs Cycle. I was obsessed with it. Oh several for people that are listening the Krebs Cycle. It's basically I mean to dumb it down very very dumbly. Basically like we breathe in oxygen. We consume oxygen and then like we exhale carbon dioxide and water like that is converted into energy like ourselves converted energy so we can get what we need for energy just by breathing and I don't know if that's like the whole concept behind like breath. -Tarian BERTHIER WHATEVER. Those people are the breached any or whatever but I used to be obsessed with that in high school because I was into comic books and stuff too and I'm like that's like some mutant power shit. Yeah we just breathe in oxygen and get energy from it like oxygen everywhere. It's full supply. How is this possible? So that's that's the thing right like going back to your last question. I WANNA I WANNA share people yes my background is in bio mimicry. And yes I studied biology. But I don't know everything about biology and as a designer that was one of the things that made bio mimicry approachable for me was. I didn't have to ride away. Know everything about biology. So like when you when you brought a better term. I didn't know the term but I understand the process. You know the fact that like that's a chemical process you know what I mean like. There's Alchemy at play in the natural world and our bodies are part of that Alchemy Absolutely so where do you see yourself in the next five years? I mean with the work. You're doing with the television show and billy biology and be slab like it's twenty twenty five. What do you want to be working on Man There's there's so many different things one thing that I'm working on as a long term thing is I really WanNa. I WANNA do more workshops in different locations so I'm currently writing a proposal to different aquariums or it kind of being a designer in residence Biometric designer and residents in having workshops at aquariums. That's something that I'm I'm hoping to do especially getting a chance to go back to the aquarium in Atlanta. I love that place yeah. That's I remember when they broke ground on that too. I was working downtown at the time and initially they were doing it because honestly they're trying to keep tourism dollars in the city but they also were competing with Chattanooga Chattanooga has a really great aquarium and we wanted to have something that was like a similar draw in the city but I I mean. I've been several times since its open. I mean for someone that lives in the city. It feels like a hidden retreat. It's right downtown in the middle of the city like I don't know it's a really great aquarium. It's a great. It's a great place to just go and just spend an afternoon. It is man. It's so magical like seeing that whale shark fly over your head and and and just that huge wall I mean I just I I love getting lost just Kinda just Kinda just fade away in a way. You know what I mean. Yeah staring into the into the aquarium's that's one thing that I'm hoping to do. More of and then yeah would love to do another TV show. There's a couple of now that I I kind of understand the way that you know. Wildlife filmmaking kind of works from this perspective of been working on a couple of different additional show pitches for ways to extend that than I'm hoping will be picked up in the next couple of years as I work on them. I'm curious what what did you think about the? So there's like these. How would call them up and coming? But there are these sort of. We'll call him aficionados because I don't know necessarily how professional they are but like there are these nature aficionados on like Youtube and social media. Like do you see yourself kind of in the same realm as dam or is the work that you're doing kind of on a different level depends on which they talking about. I was thinking of people's on the first person I was thinking of was brother. Nature and the second person is this guy named. I think his name is Coyote Peterson. Yeah Yeah I. I saw some video. He was getting stung by like a bullet and and I was just like why. He's he's next level he's the cool thing about him. Was He started on Youtube? And he wound up actually getting his own show on animal planet as well. Okay so you know props to him. I couldn't do it he does. I like to tell people. My perspective is as an African American male coming into the world of of biology but my primary Lynn's and my primary approach that of a of a designer right so for me. My design. Philosophy is where nature science and design intersect when I'm communicating biology the bio. Mimicry background and my background as a designer and storyteller is is what I think is my distinction. Yeah you know brother nature shout out to him and Real Tarzan and all those guys who are bringing people and making nature less intimidating. I think that's great that they do that. I think depending on your understanding of some of the more technical and an academic debates around how you interact with with wild animals. That's that's a separate topic but again for me exposing Latino Kids and Lat next kids an African American kids to nature in a way that they wouldn't before because of them like I'm all for it. Yeah I don't know about coyote getting bit by the bullet. I got the chance to Costa Rica and see bullet ants up close and Nah yeah. That's where yeah that's what I say when I come across as like I'm not there in my biology yet. Gotcha Gotcha I hear you all right. Well just to kind of wrap things up here. Where can our audience find out more about you about your work on line so billy biology DOT COM is website? Where I have everything and can also find me primarily on instagram at billy underscore biology is the handle and hit me up and look out for a podcast called nature be wiling nature be wild and I like the name a good name man billy allman. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It's very clear to me just based on the conversation. We've had in the work that you've done that you sit at this really interesting intersection of like nature and design technology in a way to kind of sit at this this intersection and it's something that we need to see. I think on multiple levels one. Because there's always talk about you know down the black people and tag black people are underrepresented in technology and design. So it's good to see someone doing that but then also there's all these stereotypes around black people in nature you like black people. Don't hike black Friday camp and granted. There's I'm pretty sure there's probably some well. I know that there's racial bias in it because there's laws that say we couldn't you know back in the day that we couldn't camp out of national parks or things of that nature so. I think some of that is certainly Inherited kind of trauma. I guess in a way but you're also bucking that stereotype in bucking that trend too. It's like I'm a black man in nature showing you how nature works and how you can use it to like have a more sustainable future or to to use it for greater things and so. I mean you're visionary you really are. I mean I'm really glad to to be able to talk to you and talk about the work that you're doing and I'm really excited to see what you do next. So thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate it big big. Thanks to Billy Allman and of course thanks to you for listening. Can find out more about billy and his work with the leaks in the show notes at revision path dot com and of course thanks to our sponsors for this episode. Facebook design and abstract. Facebook design is a proud sponsor a proficient path to learn more about how the facebook designed communities designing for human needs unprecedented scale. Please visit facebook. That design this episode is also brought to you by abstract design. Workflow management for modern design teams. Spend much time searching for design files and tracking down feedback. It's been more time focusing on innovation and collaboration like glitch but for designers abstract is your team's version control source of truth for design work with abstract conversion sketch design files present work request reviews collect feedback and give developers direct access to all specs. All from one place signed your team up for a free fourteen day trial today by heading over to. Www ABSTRACT DOT com provision path is brought to you by lunch a multidisciplinary creative studio in Atlanta Georgia looking for some creative consulting for your next project. Then let's do lunch. Visit US steady. Yep IS LUNCH DOT COM. I'll put a link in the show. Notes this podcast is created hosted and produced by me Maris Cherry with engineering editing by RJ. Basilio our intro voiceovers by music man dray with enjoy tra- music by yellow speaker. Our transcript provided by glitch. So what did you think of this episode? Hit US up on twitter or instagram or even better by leaving a rating and review on Apple podcasts. I'll even read your review right here on the show as always thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next time.

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The Idiosyncratic and the Irregular

Future of the American City

55:43 min | 6 months ago

The Idiosyncratic and the Irregular

"I became interested in very early on America's social worker in prioritizing the using graddick and challenging the the systematic and fascinated with accident chance behavior happenstance. And I somehow connect that to a basis of the huma character from the Harvard Graduate School of design this future of the American city conversations nations on how we live where we live on Charles Waldheim with Tom. Name an architect whose work has been informed formed by in tributed to the vanity of Los Angeles over the past five decades. Tom Joins US today to discuss his interest in performance. An irregularity eh in the shape of the city. Tom Welcome pleasure beer. So you've recently returned to CR and soon that you helped to co found A long time ago You've returned to post graduate program focusing on the shape of the city. Tell us about that. Well it seems that it was the time they make a change and that I I've been initiated the project at Ucla. And we've been working through twelve years and I think when we started. We had no idea India what the potential was and the type of work we'd be investigating and it was much broader than anticipated in a soup to nuts and it was literally construction project of building a float house in New Orleans where we literally built a prototype constructed and reconstructed the sun the site to more prototypical. large-scale urban projects which more suit the traditional academic world. And it's Sira come. Its organizational structure accommodates very hands on. Let's say kind of approach to the work where we can construct full. Scale prototypes in that kind of thing. One of the goals of of the now institute was to find a new model that was closer to our research model. You would find biology or medicine or engineering. which was straddling straddling? The Professional Studio and the academic and with that came a different thumb structure monetary and the the pragmatics. Few referencing her now institute that you lead for dozen years or so in the course of twenty five years at Ucla. That's in the context of a research. University announced wants to formulate it as a kind of lab is GONNA Research Lab. That would bridge as you say to kind of practical and applied world with the research university and that was remarkably productive first decade. Or more. It'd be time to push that model a bit right and Inci arc makes it makes sense to do that and with that expands the kind of the the options we have and and the kind of work we could do and in deathly is pushing us towards a hybrid is model. They were now working on real competitions. It is a bridge program Ram. They're literally we set it up like a like a professional studio. I never critique of the academic world lack of engagement is isolation and and I'm interested in and not giving up my conceptual the what people think. I am in terms of architect because I'm certainly not located in the business business end of the model but I may just taking those ideas and engage them in the real world and I find students. Today are just a little bit too isolated from that world that they're we're gonna about the enter a year after they leave by Sudan. Yeah Tom and if I have correctly in spite of those concerns about the academy in its remove its distance. You've been parental engaged. I mean over the course of your entire Agri- California helping to found a co found Sirkka itself and then quarter century. Ucla in addition to other visiting appointments events and other institutions. What draws you back to the research environment? What what can the Russian violent of a UCLA or Sira provide view that your own firm? -morphosis can't can't do in terms of the experiments in the arts. That's interesting because I it's a conversation. My my wife I have is. He keeps asking me time way. To keep teaching. The you did very dramatic practices CETERA. And you might say you kind of overextended rundown is I'm also doing things all over the country in a jury of schools It seems means that It's a personal need and I am a curator that needs a certain kind of optimism that comes out of experiment experiment which is very much connected to cut of where you are at Nineteen to twenty five and I feed on that energy of young people pull and asking questions that are very principle. The what why the sky blue kind of questions and at the same time That isn't enough for me that my practice allows me be engagement. which I I see is just I can't live without the connection? In the night can't understand architecture that isn't isn't connected to real social economic problems as et CETERA and Finally I would have said. Architecture design is literally defined is ah least as an art form as a culture for it is literally defined by that engagement right. I could be a sculptor. I could do any of various art forms and be absolutely isolated delated and I actually. I'm part of that world too. I can feed myself at that level. But it's the connection that I'm so interested in and expanding handing what I see is a again critique of the university and it's in isolation I started when I was quite young I was twenty six started teaching but I reminded myself itself At that time I wanted to be an architect taught in that a teacher. The practices and I've kept. That model is clear as I could my life life in returning to Saric and leading this postgraduate program on the design of cities. What do you imagine? The challenges in Los Angeles might be that helped feed that work. Will the work be in part at least focusing on Los Angeles while the Urbanism This is a seventeen million population suburb out. One hundred and thirty thirty four said. He's leaving work if I'm working with local people there a notion that public space As part of a shopping mall parking lot of target I have no idea. But there's a very limited notion in fact I would say in with the model of the Education of the last twenty years even and with its preoccupation with kind of highly formal kind of object stuff. It's disappeared as a discipline and I'm on interested in. Let's say expanding the view of the University of into that and then and then with that of course as you know architects have given away. Hey let's say the urban infrastructural stuff in seems as the landscape people have taken that in. That's you tell me that's your world at Sei two decades now somewhere in there and it seems odd to me that our profession can gave. That up is out said the most compelling problem today it would be urbanistic and not object. Being one of the things I've been struck by Tomlin. My conversations here in Los Angeles has been the extent to which the city is really a city in which architecture comes comes to the fore at architecture in which the single family home predominates and in which the architect many architects produced some of their most experimental. Some of their most interesting certainly only some of the early work through residential work and at the same moment. I think one of the questions you've touched on just now is the sense of well who speaks for the design of the city in in some contexts. That's been landscaper landscape urbanism as you mentioned Landscape architecture has been a relatively recent flourishing in the context of Los Angeles. It's not a city that I think many of my guests of associated with a strong urban design or a strong urban planning tradition. That's interesting because it so why why adult life I've spent in Los Angeles. I'm actually promoting actually breaks additional notions of connectivity and commonality finding connective glue represents urban environment. And I'm a highly aware that I'm in a city that absolutely makes an argument counter to that got my beginning teachers and undergraduate were Gregory Ain and Craig Ellwood are will Harris and Sarah Yano and there were the people that were part of the case study group which of course came from Notre and Schindler. And you have to remember that Notre did the level house a year before Villa Savoia in nineteen twenty eight this amazing city for modern architecture. But is you're saying at the residential level in its very seldom this escape that and has produced an incredibly vibrant place which authorizes a somewhat radical difference and you could argue is very appropriate for the kind of heterogeneity alien pluralism. The city represents hundred some different languages and we ran and all of that. And I'm aware of that. But a single model that made within this molecules it now. The conversation gets more complicated. You'd have to go back now and even define a model for a city. What city today? And of course that's a more broader Meta narratives. 'CAUSE again we call. Los Angeles is the metropolitan. La would be the one hundred thirty before townships. So I'm on a plane going to Europe and I'm sitting next to somebody that's from Sweden and they're saying how was your trip. Mega city socks didn't like a- at all. And where did you go there. They Arcadia there. That's where you're gonNA place else no when I got home. That's a bit of a problem because that's kind of one of these differentiated places. In his vast vast thing. We call it Los Angeles which is of course. A country is the size of Holland and it's twice the size of Austrian. It said they kind of argument so again. It's it's GonNa be a really complicated conversation because we're going to talk about the various townships of the thing that we call Angeles in it seems that there's maybe a dinner broader a room that there was places that require some sort of agreement that allows us to make certain connections with an urban environment that would start art with public place and again here. I am at a very conventional in the city of the automobile. It has no one interested in the public. Even right that's part of a broader Democratic Attic Institution that we make an agreements of how to live with an difference. And if I have one. Single interest is the fine that common tissue that network that connects and celebrates difference in. It's what leads me to just an looking. At new architectural models organizational spatial models that are derived from the radical any of the difference of forces and cultures and the nature that make them and the art attempting to find either. Either neutral frameworks was Heimer game. We have clear kind of places. Go On our history in the twentieth century. But are trying to somehow mound neutralize specificity to find a commonality and I made you sit and trying to maximize unique this and yet is critic and specificity to find find a new notion of connective makes. It's interesting I mean you you're describing a on the one hand your connection to a broader tradition of experimentation in the arts in across media but an interest that I see in your research in your work of kind of loading up or charging the extremity of those conditions to arrive at something like a new term third term. Let's say so neither. The total izing cut modern existence minimum. We all have the same condition we all. We all have the same forward or the same lot of the same levittown house but at the same moment not the good taste of Bush joie city beautiful nor any kind of other kind of taste layered over but in fact accelerating the conditions for an urban project to reveal some new potential. I think you remain committed to this idea of the enlightenment as an incomplete project in that sense the idea that we can produce new cultural conditions that can be an emancipatory can reveal both connection but also open up space for new forms of human. Experience has had some quite separate from. If you think that's one of the problems we have. People work focused on the look of something and I'm interested in the structure the organization and it's resolve in physical terms. I can't imagine not connected to the the Heterogeneity of the cultures that make it and that that's a hopeless bliss enterprise. They may think look like is an archetype. I'm interested in specializing in organizing at a larger scale and it seems like it. Offers incredible opportunities entities starting with your residential model that to be able to operate at a very high level spatially et Cetera to be able to take that and operate at the urban level. Does that does that simple that. I'm interested in that kind of ability. meaning that seems like a planning and urban design is also very loaded up with data outta people information people social people. And I'm still the architect. I need just the physical organizational. I'm concretizing those ideas. It is and I'm also looking at experimenting. What is you work with within physical parameters? How does that challenge and kind of reorient the notion of how you structure a city right and historically the line or a grid or an axis is a disease be so few tools we have when it comes to actually translating the complexity complexity of social cultural political environmental data that resonates with my experience? I mean certainly in Los Angeles I think in many American cities. We've never had better data we've never had more or maps. We've never had more information. It's not clear in our conversations with architects and urban assists that More information necessarily produce better decision. Making thing we've been rereading recently heard Simon. Simon was a political scientists in economist. Who wrote a book called the Sciences of the artificial in the sixties? He's and his argument was that surplus of information doesn't produce better decision-making surplus of information drains us of our primary faculty which is attention attention. So as you as you say I think I've seen it in your work both in researching academy but also Through -morphosis a commitment to the idea of not not simple empirical observation information but finding the threads finding those ingredients. I mean you do reference. This tradition in Los Angeles has come up in our conversations. Nations with many of our guests here in which the the legibility of the work of the architect stands in whether it's the scale of the house or at the scale of the block or the where the the larger project the legibility of the architectural form is is quite palpable in the city and stands in for kind of civic aspiration for many people. Oh and I know from what you've just said but also in your work your interest in deep structure and finding kind of structural conditions that you might unlock of course things in Anina arrive at form they look like something there's a legibility to that to a couple things you said there. I want to go back to the this city that if you look at an icon actually be a building and it would not be an object and it would never be a connected space applause or whatever but the thing about information completely agree as as you increase information but what I think will take place in deathly. It's been a trajectory Juban. Part of over several reviews of the now institute is that the whole Tom Role of data and it's objectivity and it's supposed neutrality is been something we've been working with now for for years and it's moving more and more towards the The specificity of particular permission that's connected to a particular idea and it's becoming more evident that fact we just this last two years and both my studios Pen We've reversed the kind of sequencing putzing. They were restarting with data collection etc.. We're starting with ideas. And now rethinking what information we need to support a series if ideas which are somewhat hunches and they operate on subjective kind of notions. And now we're GONNA Kinda test them but we're GONNA Approach Information Asian data of all types from a very particular perspective and it's not neutral it is going to be supporting or challenging a particular premise. The process we're still really an embedded in and at some the complete changes the notion of how you approaching problems and definitely you get very different answers. So in addition to making that research perhaps more efficient more focused at certain ways does it also changed the nature of the urban projection outcome of our work. We of course the the critique will start on the premise of the project and not on the information right it starts on premise. And this could be humanistic. It's going to have something to do with a Aw a direction. That has a beginning premise. That you can make an argument for the information is useful supports Oregon. If a change is that it helps you in the process of developing the idea and making the kind of changes necessary in terms of that feedback. Loop I want to dry out on at least one one element one thread that I've seen evident in your research your teaching but also in your practice in the work of -morphosis over many many years. which is your interest in Climate Climate Carbon Energy broadly and the extent to which one might begin to organize urban research urban propositions project making from a fairly radical point of view of of the decarbonisation of our energy systems. The decarbonisation of our economy. I mean among many things we could say about your work. Your Research Church in your practice with more emphasis has been been at the forefront of fairly radical very aggressive zero carbon a net zero energy proposals that are many which are now built the scale of buildings and blocks. How is it that you're able to reconcile that interest in the environmental extra analogy conditions of climate and societal? Need need with what already articulated in this conversation which is an interesting architecture anyway. The kind of maintenance of the sexual autonomy sexual said before it's just a given I don't have any really you wouldn't ask that about seismic and you could look at the work that you think it's radical or whatever but it would be that somehow affect the nature of how you ever see. This is promoting some sort of experimental architecture. And it's just is an additional demand a set of performances that I take for granted as the more less responsibility as is an architect operating within a global climate condition. That we all understand is something if anything it just. It's interesting in that it adds potential to looking at various ways of solving that problem. That are not quite so literal and then in some cases mm-hmm you realize that it's not. The science part of the project is not the performance in in scientific or engineering terms. It's part of an educational process. So that the Shanghai project which is we developed a kind of a hybrid is building landscape. And it's it's finding a new typology slash. Morphology I'm interested in. The role is a communication device of the problem. And it's about education and and it's purposely tactic I had done the same thing solving technologically. But that wasn't the part that was interesting. Interesting was actually communicating or finding overlaps connecting dots between the solving of the problem within within clear pragmatic terms and its relationship to its various performances. Introduces us in human activity right. But I think now on his more more embedded in our world today. This conversation would have been very different ten years ago. tweeted certainly invested in your work in your practice. Have you found Tom that. All if you were projects all of your clients all of the institutions that you work with are they all equally really receptive or or does it vary on okay. You're seeing that I was I drive discard. The end must developed. It seemed like he single handedly. Reinvented reinvented the complete auto industry. And nobody can now not deal with this thing. Invented and his his high performance comfortable thing that solves all the human days cetera that it doesn't use carbon fuel and you also save time and I go to gas. Asia's it all kinds of other stuff right on the answers. I can't figure it out. Everybody should have the car. It's completely logical. Okay it's a little the little ones a little less expensive but those questions because most people know ooh don't in fact in fact we've had clients that demand energy neutral buildings today it some more or less standard fare. I think clients. They said the majority of them are are with the program in terms of the energy requirement. When it comes to the finalize the building does it anger when it comes to the capital investment? Yes and no indepence strange. If you told me this is you're not mine. I'm I'm startled as an architect. How little trying to save made with the public? It's all talk this. Everyone seems to agree. The the young generation may be more so. I'm not sure we'll see how that plays out. But this is an accepted condition today and yet it's amazing how little effect it's had in in real terms and build their own house they buy a car central Cetera. And it's startling to me is seems so completely obvious. And the costs are someone mild and in fact in today in our world if we're going to negotiate this in architecture we're going to go she ate amortization. Will it pay for self open seven years or twelve years and that'll be the conversation right in terms of additional investment and and. I don't know I'm the wrong person to ask my thing. That doesn't seem to be a huge argument here. This is something nothing that would be hugely beneficial and you might consider even kind of moral obligation. But we're not quite there in reality in thinking talking about the American city broadly Think about Los Angeles in particular among a shortlist very urgent societal challenges of courses anthropogenic climate. Change decarbonisation carbonation of the economy. Precisely the kinds of issues that you both in your research to practice have been focused on for many many years and you've clearly seen with a number of institutions as a number of different projects great success in realizing fragments of the built world. That are maybe even energy positive may be even carbon-neutral. Do you find an appetite. It for that sort of thing. And so the California broadly but by the way if I could reconnect the dots goes back to early conversation. That's my interest in the the now and then I interested in young people connecting the dots between the broader. Let's say academic conversation about let's stay with with with carbon neutral and the reality of as an architect connected to the real world the relationship of the public or the broader water notion of their response to that and I think what is going to do in terms of this education is it starts prioritizing methods of approaching the problem which are more they move away from the purely conceptual and they become more strategic and I would have said. Today's young students the students. Ah Today's generation need become much more strategic and it's very different education. Got His pure design. That somehow you live in your separate world and it's up to you. Is You develop ten years later. Twenty years later right as a practitioner. Decide what that connectivity is right as you really as you you face the reality of the public visit you mentioned strategy. I know that while you were leading now institute at Ucla you are engaged. Very high level conversations across the university about the strategic response wants to climate change and threats of threats of a variety of kind of drought among them. Fire right You did this What I thought was a very interesting study about about that? Certification of Wilshire Boulevard on that I want to ask you about many of our guest in our conversations here have preferred to that country the size of the Netherlands. You mentioned mentioned one hundred and seventy three municipalities having reached a certain kind of limit of some kind. And I'm interested to know if you if you follow that argument that in fact people are more and more interested in how to look at density within the fabric of the city itself. An example of Wilshire Boulevard having the the amenity a kind of or vanity having a cultural history and having the kind of carrying capacity to use the term when we we started that project. I've been fascinated and we've discussed it before for with certain large-scale problems that no one seems to be addressing or even interested in and some of them they are very very simply you you look at Los Angeles and again. I've been here since I was ten years old and I've watched the freeway system developed in that period of time and I now I just moved from from down the block because it took me an hour to get downtown. I moved halfway there by living my office because I'm I need accessibility disability of the city. And it still takes me an hour after two o'clock if I want to go to the Lecture it doesn't work right and then that leads leads me to think we'll the system finally just break so at seventeen million. Does it break at twenty or eighteen five and it seems it's like a really basic kind of issue that finally would go. There is a limit any system and my drive here today. The traffic this way is okay. The Sabbath Day it was already completely stopped from the beach. Alway and sign going there. It is again as an hour hour. Fifteen minutes to go seven minutes on a Sunday morning. His fifteen fifteen miles. So we're we're hearing Venice say we're here in Venice. Your studio had been used to live very close to here and in this move. This is a move. That's not an enormous normal distance geographically but it speaks to the capacity the carrying capacity of the cigarettes exactly but in any we started the study. We're we were looking at. We were bring asked the dump the kind of Los Angeles and that the projection which is probably low as one point. Five million people additional people in Los Angeles now in the county not the metropolitan in twenty fifty and we started by asking. That question. would that be the breaking point of the traffic infrastructure sure and then we did a scenario of distributing that over this given area and we can say that the most obvious one it'd be somewhat an equal distribution etc connecting to densities such et Cetera. And this would Because of the horizontality of the city I think that the first system to be breaking would be the the transportation system and then with that we're connecting piece of information. They just add a lane. Four or five in the traffic's worst. And of course fascinating the more lanes you actually go the reverse. I induced and that was a couple of billion dollars right. Then we're going. Seems like an obvious problem and so we started looking at this as well in one of the scenarios if we put US fifteen miles fifteen point five miles from Santa Monica downtown. La On Wilshire Boulevard. Could we put all the people there we we did a really really quick study and we said within a five block with that would get. Everybody walked to the Metro. It would look like Barcelona so before we designed it. We decided it's dual and we said we'd be map Barcelona so you'd look at a five seven story structure it could be done and then after that we met six avenue and we said okay. That's one look and this is another one and and the density shifts and you're going to walk a little less but you have a different kind of housing stock and then we proceeded to do that project and what that meant is that we it was is one percent of the total area so we had ninety nine percent of the Nimby solved. It'll beep essentially what it is today in one thousand nine hundred fifty and slightly improved through because the vehicle and certain technologies will slightly improve so maybe as our. It's GonNa take you forty five minutes to get downtown for Mira something and we produce that it was actually an incredibly interesting idea and of course what it did also it crossed very townships that make up this thing we call la so it. Santa Monica and Beverly Baliles and it happens across the century city. And then Koreatown in downtown and we made several different models that prove this could be done foley kind of fascinating but then the next question is who do you present us to there is a really bright mad etc but there's nobody he just that problem here there's literally there's no planning department deserve a design department and then you scratch your head going. Go back to my question is anybody just is interested in will it break in. It seems like we're talking. We're talking about the seventh largest economy in the world. Nobody is actually interested in that question and it will break. Its way questions. It's emerged. I any conversations with many of our guests who asked you know if you're thinking at the urban scale in Los Angeles who is your patron who's your client who's your who's your audience whereas the venue. That's what I'm saying but that's also less some of your other guests. Be Curious that kind of answers you got. I would have said that a majority of people here that are interested in Urbanism Urbanism Aranda Precinct level. And it's still going to be street. Trees and be micro urban environment and it's a bus stop benches news and this whole group of people that are just at that maybe micro neighborhood at some level and again. I'm particularly interested in the other. I'm interested in the big scale problem. That's just my own my own interest because there's any number of people that can do that and it's also for me. There's less kind of opportunities there. I see the opportunities these that don't exist today at the macro level and they. I'm convinced I won't make it long enough from my life span. But I'm convinced the twenty first century that the most compelling impelling problems will be these very very fascinating macro problems and they're not just macro and again. It goes back to the educational environment. They're highly integrative. And it goes back to the latour conversation. They have to do with incredibly complex hybrid networks. That it's never the thing itself it's always the thing you're discussing the subject. The topic is such in relationship to its multiple connections of other network disconnects. I think very clearly to your previous formulation that you're less interested in the appearance of things and the kind of the the Senate graphic more interested in what you might describe as the performance give. How do these systems operate our the implicated? You've also mentioned now L. A.. Couple of times and I know from your work. An interest in the non obvious The NON LINEAR Air Secondary. Like well if you pull on this something else happens. That doesn't seem causal. You've mentioned it in this conversation. I know from your previous work yet. An interest in in postponing appearances less concerned with the appearance of things in the urban context and more concerned with how things perform with that be transportation systems or accommodating one point five million New People in the county over a number of years or the the kind of carbon economy and the performance net zero energy. In that regard I'm interested in The the limits of performance in that regard. I mean yeah I know in in other contexts and in this conversation Tom. You've mentioned these performance. Demands of architecture is just the obligation of the architect. I'm known for not answering questions directly Eh. I reminded me that the public is preoccupied with the look of the thing so the conversation we're having with performance whether it be energy or otherwise. The thing I find so interesting is that relaxing us about the look and my interest in performance is absent correct reverse notion of the public. I'm known as an architect who produces things that look like something and I'm even labeled or a habit is a formalist and as you know in our profession. There's this divide between the formula. The Burger Matic especially the guys right and I lived through that. This is my own education and ice scratching my head going that this is a condition that's produced by the critics or by certain members of the public. That present your work in that with say Cooper Union. They always want to discuss the nature of the idiosyncratic. Look but they don't WanNa talk the nature of the public that I have half the people moving in eleven story building walking and is part of the public space base in a social sense in. The school is about the connectivity of Engineering and in art and architecture and that it's the most efficient laboratory building building that time in the country it was a great effort by the client of making leads platinum. embolic thing they never they. Don't ask those questions and we already have a condition in this country which maybe this will be like these conversations help did they tend to isolate they become very binary conversation. You're either designer in a formal or your performance enhanced instill is embedded as you know in our educational system. You're great but that's that's precisely what I WANNA get at Thomas. That sense of whether it's the Cooper Union building or it's Bloomberg Center Cornell Tech Campus in New Yorker in a number of projects have -morphosis and a sense that By pushing the performance live having having very very clear very bottom line often kind of quite ambitious goals with delivery of certain kinds of perform. Tippety find any work you arrive at these kind of unexpected or non obvious conclusions. I mean as you say we live in a an economy of the image in which media plays a role of course the way in which if we talk about our texture at all anymore the way that it appears is through the rendering or through the community meeting and and I think in that sense the what you're alluding to is the way that the image of of urban change the image of urban futures kind of plays in public imaginary and it's very difficult in that kind of either as mediated context the context of a public meeting to really get to questions of well. What are the goals that are performance? I think in part would it be fair to suggest this is why you've had so much traction then Producing effective work with institutions. I mean I think if your your work with mentioned on a couple of universities where there are clients there are meetings and there are decisions to be made about. Well what are these performance. Measures were isn't a broader political economy. If we think about the future of American city it's not always clear who we who were speaking. Yeah of course that's interesting because the right now. Is You know the one of the conversations. Happy University is the challenging of the isolated model the ivory tower and a cornell was an agency example of that because we were on their campus and then we worked on their their new campus on Roosevelt Island and they were definitely looking at again. I'm trying to the now. They're definitely looking the engagement and can they can. Activity is being now. Absolutely essential in the educational process. Right has other asking by their nature broader questions that discuss in these performances within social cultural political terms. which is the necessary right where we're has to go? But that's GONNA lead to several places to in urban work. It's gone so complex. It's not a model that seemed to go to the public. Like it'd be just in this conversation as it gets translated to what we can talk about. It's actually translatable to the kind of everyday prison and that I want to be if you you have what could be considered today fairly simple medical procedures. They're actually insanely complicated. Have come out of decades of research and it's moving at the speed of light and again. It's kind of interesting how that we don't have a lot of everybody's concerned with the cost of medicine and all the problematic in the news as every other day but there's very little conversation on what one of the reasons that took place was the radical shifts in technology that we have. I have two knees knees today. That's everybody has stealing Jerome Fifty. I'll never never heard of. I would have been doing whatever I would be hobbling around doing during whenever and but the but it's ramped up enormously which has to do with the day to day notion of how we deal with medicine better expectations of move IDA said there's a parallel argument even within our urban environment. That that you would understand if you've lived in Manhattan or you lived in Baumel Boston. You could pick certain cities clearly early and I think it comes. Now more intuitively that you understand just inherently the nature of certain complexity that comes with a certain kind of density. I'm density both in physical terms of social cultural terms. That is understood. But if you're not in that situation in La if you if you're within in this enormous suburban kind of situation that alone is giving you an incredibly complicated subject to somehow make people aware of this incredibly interconnected set of disciplines that makes up we call urbanism fact we had that conversation with the La one percent solution. We separate this goes back. Also the strategy the main part of the study is the study itself represents under a very complex set of conditions. The conversation of the public has to be stripped down and the one percent worth because we can now talk about an completely strip it down and put it within a public forum and this is now strategic right right and then with that comes the complexity right that no one's GonNa be interested in is we now can approve the possibility of that about solution. I think the WanNa ask ask you these these examples you've mentioned healthcare. The research university the relatively from the COMMUNICA ability transmissibility of Advanced Knowledge College. Let's call it in certain fields too broad publics conversation I had with Jim Corner years ago or Jimmy his observation that if you were to parachute into a research which university and land in physics public health any number of other fields at a high level you wouldn't necessarily parachuting in as a civilian billion presuppose that you should be able to follow along. It wouldn't necessarily have presumed I should understand day one. I should have to take some one. Oh one courses and so I want to ask you about at that and we didn't have the language so if you know if you think about the Research University in this regard is it a fair observation that in our conversation of the city today we we. We somehow have internalized the expectation that we're always talking to everyone. And is that any way limit our capacity for developing these tools and techniques weeks and understand it ends the we have to have our own language that deals with complexities and it's GonNa require them whole invention adventures of language and within any discipline there has to be a A very kind of specific language is we're working on a project now that's made up of a series of communities that makes a city. That's a line. We don't have the language to describe it. We don't we don't know what to call these things and to us a good sign. They were heading someplace that we don't have the language to describe it but not necessarily in fact that's rampant architecture. I want to return to this question of the specific acidic particular. The the you've mentioned the term idiosyncratic quality of some of your work I associate that correct me if I'm wrong with an interest in the per formative and a kind of experimental open-mindedness about outcome an often this produces in the context of urban projects. kind of set up. Non Linear outcomes outcomes. I mean as you've said already in this conversation urban environments or so highly indicated they connect everything in a way that if one begins to pull or push on one tiller aspect of a problem. There can often be these. NON LINEAR SECONDARY TERTIARY EFFECTS. And I think are often you know design for all. The limits of design design is often invoked as a way of understanding the world. We're quite comfortable dealing with that level of complexity Engaging in you know as you said speculative inquiry before you have all the data right you're working with urban systems that are far more complex in that regard. I'm wondering if there are if there are limits to that level of urban speculation if there are you know kind of dangers associated with speculation at the at the scale of the urban. I became interested in Very early on America's social worker in prioritizing abusing and challenging the systematic and fascinated fascinated with accident chance behavior happenstance and I somehow connect that to a basis of the human character that I'm interested sit in the European human character. Yes and That I'm I could do a study as faces and I'm not interested in some sort. The title represents beauty and I have huge problems even the whole notion of beauty. And I'm much more interested in compelling US in other words that within our global global growth is so culturally diverse that it seems that this is not a territory wanted to bother with. I've used that as a as the material I'm working with. I'm in some ways like drawings and our wilfulness Shan't dealing with wilfulness in towns and I am interested in organizing or using that material as my my stuff that I work with so if I look at New York the grid is a given. I'm going to start against war. I'M GONNA start at some some accidental place that I find the most interesting as a source of information. And I'M GONNA use that now a model and then that model it's an urban terms is strangely enough. It's GONNA relate cities over time and I'm fascinated with the urban work. We're doing right now. That we how very short periods of time developing huge huge projects that if we looked at cities we admire took place over centuries. Uh and I'm interested in whether we can condense some of those qualities and with me it starts with them the complexity of multiple forces and with with that the organizing chance happenstance etc the develop something that some filled with what could be seen as mistakes. Sir Errors Again happenstance or again the idiosyncratic in it's my current practice I've had but again as architects center planners we have to we concretize ideas so we finally produced that you now critique it's not leftism is broad conceptual what kind of framework unless it pat and now you look at that and you start asking what it does what. I'M GONNA Walk Right by Studio Tomorrow to conversation. And this particular organizational organizational things. Where does it take you write it? But it's good to start with our conversation will start with Human values how to out a week. Have reconfigure reconfigure contemporary society which is going to be clearly urbanized. That's not GonNa Change. And what are the possibilities for new models and again it seems like there's so few people despite a time dealing with that that it makes itself a compelling problem you agree right interesting and again not at the social level at a level that some has some resolve in a physical sense right is when I started. My first beginning in planning was with crude associates was just out of school and I had a very kind of abstract education and the end of the sixties. That was it was the end of modernism. Isn't a challenge. Chris Alexander with me it was Ralph Knowles et Cetera and Ian mcharg. We were led into going to systems thinking and it was this very new stuff touchy. Yeah she feeling much much more prepared as a as a thinker. Anyway they're gonNA planning versus architecture and started with with Victor Gruen and at the time it was. I think that can L. A.. Lot of people showed up there and I was here for two years doing some planning and then when I saw the results I was horrified and I realized the document which I agreed with the result of that had nothing to do with in my brain interesting the physical quality of the place and I realized it was much more qualitative and quantitative person et CETERA. And it got me back into architecture and I realize that in a circle around for decades now is done. This and I realized has that looking back that in fact I missed it and the connection lows too. But I'M GONNA I'M GONNA be very insistent on A feedback loop of where. It's taking see me in terms of the reality of were taking me in terms of the city Beijing right. It's not an idea. No matter how elegant that ideas it has to be tested and then that feedback act loop. That's so important you now readjust your the the conceptual position and the methodological the method to get you there and is that had feedback loop is so important so after recoiling from seeing that work with gruen realization. With what did you do after I started teaching. Ah and asking questions about architecture and has kinda difficult. I'm not a good employee. I started my firm out of default. I I literally couldn't work with anybody and is successful ways. I had no choice but to do it on my own. Seems to have worked at it. You mentioned Ralph Knowles in USC. I mean I think of course everyone who doesn't know should know you you are actual training at At the southern California. You mentioned that you moved here when you were ten so you spend quite a lot of time in this part of the world among the things that I'm interested in your experience with Ralph Knowles. Oh Ralph Knowles of course was had been a student of Kevin Lynch in my tea and enosis work. What I see Z.? Is this again this loading up of the performance of if you if you take the performance of demands of some set of desirable ethical or societal outcomes. But if you charge them sufficiently in certain instances see this in your work the outcome can kind of transcend the obvious and I find this often in your work in our conversations of our work at the at the kind of architecture on urban scale the sense that if you if you simply pursue the demand of decarbonising our economy or engaging in a number of other forms of performance outcome if one pursues that with a kind of rigor kind of empirical and ethical rigor one can often. I see this in. Your work often arrive at something. It's not obvious at all but now I'm going to say I am a formalist harmless because the environmental rigor I took for granted. It made total sense. There was no reason I had to pursue that. I took for granted where it took US complete of conversation precision because he was We talked about this before. He's also my models SA- teacher how so and that it took me until probably thirty five the gut. What I did and at forty five was getting much clearer and sixty? I'm now understanding that that I'm working with huge amount of what he gave me to work with and I'm interested in his Model of education of the way thought and investigated. And then with that. Adam going home if I've got a teacher that taught me when I'm in my young twenties and I'm working at sixty. I've got an unusual guy right right and I could be so lucky to be the same person in those long term kind of that kind of depth right that you can still work on. Because he's an immensely unusual person but he started a some on an investigation where we had again. That's completely stayed with me my whole life. I'm interested in operational strategies and not not a priority and we've talked about that and separates me. It will separate architects. Most of the probaby. priory you think you draw you preconceived wrestling in what he started. We was you work through a process and you work on the process which develops something and you don't know what it is and to this day I'm only interested in working with the solution is but I know what it is already bored with it. I want to move something else right. There's no reason it's on right. That methodology took someplace someplace in. You've seen the work and it was just absolutely amazing things that just left us in. They weren't completed and he couldn't complete them. In fact that's a plus not a minus this may be critique at all that's And he left him in immensely kind of abstract terms but they were just beyond compelling being allowed. Did you to realize that you're going to move in an architecture which is so outside of all the terms you understand within history type type logical etc that it opens opens up a complete new vision of openness that that abstraction as you say it's not a detriment it's rather quite a fertile outcome in fact Once wants the performance of demands are those parameters in terms of us today or so clearly inscribed in the work. There's something liberating in that. I mean and you know what happened happened on. We didn't talk about a lot. But it was implicitly urban. He was focusing more on the direct natural forces that produce these organizations but they were all at urban scale and again you have to remember. He's the next wave at USC. Following the case study people and so my fifth fifth year. They couldn't quite deal with him. We all the case study guys and I may think pure Kohnic Ellwood. We just went after these guys they were. We're not interested in doing little houses and dealing with kind of style right and he had already started as going and it was really fascinating. Now he's It's interesting he's having A. You can have a rebirth. Because his He was so far ahead of a song. Could not be more. Teach deal for you. Could you could send him in any. Is You know I was just feel be way I was just reading today. Nineteen seventy four energy she inform. MIT press Does the study. For the Owens Valley the urbanization of at the scale of the Owens Valley worth on the boroughs clearly from from systems theory. You know it's Jason mcharg but up different Yup that it avoids the total izing of a Hilbert Simon and it opens up a kind of a methodology in a way because at the time that triad would have been he and Christopher like senator at an in Berkeley and car payment and he. In hindsight hindsight was by far the most advanced in kind of an abstract thinking you'd agree absolutely were much more grounded one more socially one more in landscape architecture but still connecting. I think that's really hard for sure. Just absolutely kind of made it that. I mean Ian mcharg. Of course you know we is within within this Anglo Scottish Anglo American tradition of what I'll refer to as a geological determinism kind of if you understand the geology in this underpins much of landscape architecture in the United States the sense of if you understand the hotness official hydrology in the geological underpinnings of those systems you should be able to derive urban form warm. And there's a long tradition of that as you know what strikes me about. Knowles work is systems theory but applied at a level of abstraction to thermodynamics and solar performance performance and. I can't find a precise analog anywhere. He's doing something. Kevin Lynch could could not do. It's not exactly Christopher Alexander and it it. It's well ahead of its time. Clearly I mean his ecological study for how to urbanize a scale of a valley. I think could not be more more pressing. Oh Aw notice interesting. I'll still how relevant is. Now is silly. He would still be kind of an extreme edge character witness. You've mentioned Elon. Musk and Tesla for example apple We've talked in other context. But Steve Jobs and apple. I wonder if does the architect operate at a disadvantage. I mean so. In both cases Apple Tesla they're producing proprietary product kind of assemblages of things ecosystems of tools and techniques for four abroad public. That what was the the Steve Jobs formulation for things. We don't even know we want yet. And as architecture urbanism are are you at a disadvantage working through necessarily institutions or public meetings or conversations about. Well what do people have an appetite for Because he wanted things I senses says that you would be quite happy to go away and work a little bit and then say well. Here's an innovation that we all agree we need but that goes back I think both with a profession and the academy. It's an absolute priority that we become more strategical that the problem isn't producing good designers. We have huge amount of talent. That's not the issue the issue is this engagement with society whether it in fact can solve all the way I was educated. Not Counting Ralph Knowles but design schools. You just you made something. Let's could a beautiful and simple. You just develop these kind of beautiful things that sixties and Seventies. It'd be absurd absurd today to do that. You have to think much more complicated terms bid. You're missing earlier meaning eager to join the world. It's how your apple validity. Pick any object right absolutely part of the kind of a useful society and it has to be thought about it in those terms and you and it's going to take you probably from architecture protection you kind of move you to the jobs of the mosques and there's nothing wrong with that so it's just I think we have to get kind of caught up to the world at that level of complexity and we have to be a little more demanding so it's going to happen anyway because they go to work as they move from the academy to the work all all of a sudden. Now they're they're right into the real world and what I worry about is that they have a critical mass the now hang onto the value of the culture of Orcas Asia when they are now confronted with the vast amount of contingency in the kind of the reality that they're facing do they have a way of balancing the human values the culture of design and the demands of society. Tom Many thanks very much. Pleasure always You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for Organization at the Harvard Graduate School of design This conversation was supported by the knightfoundation and the generous donors to the American cities spot. Our producers are Azize Barbara public. Charlie Gilliardi Jeffrey Nesbitt. Peralta music is by Kevin Graham to learn more visit every TAC a C dot G._S._T.. Dot Harvard Dot E._D._U..

Los Angeles Tom Role University Ucla US research university America New Orleans Hilbert Simon Harvard Graduate School of des USC Sudan tributed Saric University of Agri- California Landscape architecture Anina
Planning for Adaptation

Future of the American City

45:38 min | 10 months ago

Planning for Adaptation

"The city is a teenager with certain formation. Already character personality. The bones are here. We're sending this adolescent to finishing school more from the Harvard Graduate School of design. This is future of the American city conversations on how we live where okay we live on. Charles Waldheim Weird today with Elizabeth Plotters Arbor urban planner architect in education. whose work has focused on the shaping of the built environment in cities? Elizabeth joins US today to discuss her role in planning for adaptation in Miami lives. Welcome thank you. It's nice to be here so over the course of the last four decades you've had as much as an impact as really any urban est on the shape shape of Miami. You most recently have been engaged through your partnership DP focusing on the Miami Twenty one planning process. Tell us about the Miami. twenty-one is Miami Zoning Code it was a brand new code several years ago actually. It's hard to imagine. It's almost ten years ago initiated by Anna Halliburton Sanchez. The planning director and Mayor Manny Diaz. Both of whose leadership was really important to enable it but but it was intended to be a code for the new Miami. The Miami that was beginning another boom at a point in which I think many people thought. What's the point of a new code? There's so much going on. Isn't the Horse Out of the barn already but my colleagues and I felt that it was worth trying to take this enormous building energy and try to make this into a city that had public realm that would make it worth walking And not driving and that in some way would transform the city to be in fact an urban density place of delight light rather than where it was heading which was to be largely a suburban in character in automobile dependent. It's put I mean given even at so many planning efforts across so many American cities tend to be adaptations or revisions to existing documents. Was the idea of starting reading from a blank. Page a radical idea that strikes me as a both ambitious but also quite potentially very impactful in shaping the future of the city and it was even even surprising for us because we brought our concepts to Mayor Diaz and said you know up to now what we've been saying is that You make this an option to the existing listing legal framework. And you make it more appealing in various ways you encourage people to use it but you don't take apart the old system because that's probably politically impossible title. And he said No. We're going to start. We're going to start over and that was it was am bishops and it was incredibly encouraging to everybody Who worked on it including I would say the citizenry that participated in the effort? So this was a project of yours and your partnership with unrest wanting so in DC Z and it was also a project which was in some ways before us in timing. This business cycle as you say. This was almost a decade ago. Now and some Miami Twenty one. It may have been already in a moment when the city was changing really quite. I think anticipated what's been really almost a decade now of prosperity in this part of the world and the intention was that The emphasis would be on the form of buildings insofar as they influence or form from the public space so it was really about the street space or the public spaces. We understood that significant portions of the city would be high-rises that would be highly highly formal interesting buildings but what those buildings did for the pedestrian and for the streets was really the core goal and in the other aspect of course was hell it was a city of Commercial Carter's that ran through residential neighborhoods. That were interested in conserving or residential. Character I one or two story neighborhood and that commercial development was impinging in ways that people were unhappy about so there was a lot of attention paid paid transitions in height and density rather than the old suburban buffers and I think it became very influential as a as a quote quote unquote form based Code. That could encourage other places to embark on a similar effort. I should say though. One very important component is is. There's always a history and a kind of DNA that's in place we you know. We said there's already a lot here their there expectations about capacity vested rights. There's a street grid. The separation public and private property has largely Kurd historically so this is a teenager. The city is a teenager sir. So Miami the adolescent with a certain formation already character personality. The bones are here. We're sending this adolescent to finishing school. But I mean clearly both Miami twenty-one your work more. Broadly with DP have been notable for their focus on spatial planning so well beyond simply land use regulatory and policy. I see frameworks which are necessary but insufficient as many would argue but ultimately the kind of spatial framework and the focus on the public realm. You mentioned the topic of Autumn Ability Ability. I mean clearly. This is a city and a part of the world that's been built over the course of much of the last century around a both single family home ownership and the idea of autumn ability so what elements within Miami. twenty-one were you focusing on to try to mitigate the impact of the automobile or to balance in a way the autumn ability of the city with the pedestrian experience if you look at the city's public transit offerings the downtown is incredibly rich in that way. There's two kinds of rail. Believe it or not that are here a convergence of bus lines and and it's eminently walkable. There's river that you could travel on as well so I don't think it was a reach here here. In other places there is a need for density in order to encourage that transit to grow. We wanted parking to disappear as a street front element wider sidewalks. There's one setback on the largely commercial card or so that there can be a continuous public realm. Tom And a pedestrian area and in the higher density areas is a requirement for pedestrian passages through the blocks. Because we do have the the blocks is that is generated by the Jeffersonian Mile. which is just a little bit too long? It's all about making the pedestrian path as convenient and shortest possible. So what may seem to be either pain in the neck or insignificant requirements were brought into the picture in in order to make the pedestrian life. More safe comfortable and interesting one in this city will. It certainly is a city that is both walkable but also experienced reinstitute various ways around various forms of transportation. Does the plan anticipate a kind of an overall increase in population and growth over the medium term. You're absolutely yes that said that wasn't envisioned. In terms of any specific data that growth was envisioned as emerging from exsisting expectations for the capacity and the land and in particular in terms of the underlying zoning the existing zoning that had been there. And I think you always have to do this is determine what's to be conserved or saved what can be developed and to make that very clear because otherwise you know the neighborhood. People are worried about what's going to happen to them and the developers are worried about their loss of value and and so that conservation and development. Duality was really driving. And that was geographically based I mean you mentioned conservation in relationship to community. This is among the storylines that emerges in Miami's history that this place and not just the beach but broadly Miami a place where somehow design line leadership the Development Community and neighborhoods have come together around the idea of preserving the valuable aspects of their physical past. This is an extraordinary Reuter accomplishment compared to so many other American cities where preservation has been seen to be really in opposition to development. Have you found that the development community have been partners partners in in your work in Miami Twenty one. Are they supportive of the efforts by would say yes. I think throughout the process and and then the feedback. I'm back that we've been getting has been that it that the Development Community finds it easier to work with the architect Stu because it is all about predictability ability we were replacing regulations that sometimes had multiple layers. That until you that you couldn't really tell what the result would be. And that's of course part of the American legal system is you don't ditch anything you just add things but in zoning it's because the categories are broad and citywide aid and you have a highly localized issue to deal with and so instead of changing that original zoning category somehow modify it locally and and so oh we managed to consolidate that history into something. That was much more simple. I mean doesn't outsider to Miami in its formal planning processes. It's remarkably lucid document. Or set of documents and I think that legibility as you say is quite unique in the context of other American city. So it's been nearly a decade. Now can you see evidence of the way in which both the process and the product of Miami Twenty one have impacted the shape of the city already the things that were most visible. I think to people quickly the and of course it went in in two thousand nine or ten in that was I was worse part of the recession. So there wasn't a lot of building going on but for some reason or other the the banks. Thanks we're building Brent banks on corners and CVS and Walgreens were building and these things would usually have been you know setback with the parking lot out front and people literally cheered to see the building at the sidewalk with a wider sidewalks and a front door and the parking into the side or the back instead so that was the first way that it's was visible but I think you can also see efforts to conceal parking in the higher are density buildings. You know it's happening incrementally so that wider sidewalk may not be visible everywhere yet but it's happening the urban arts or accretive and they take their time. Has it been surprising at all to you. That in this part of the world especially so hit by that downturn in the housing economy that things have rebounded so robustly over the course of elastic will. We should have been hit very badly. But between foreign investment and more recently some some of the tax changes that are encouraging people from places like New York to relocate to a state without income tax. I think we've seen up pretty steady stream of incoming residents or at least buyers or renters and renter's apartments. I mean there seems to be limitless international national demand for being here and being a part of the experience but equally we see it among young people the creative class so called the designing classes certainly and others leaving other American cities to be a part of this part of the world. Have you seen evidence of your work on Miami twenty-one affecting conversations or planning efforts in other cities oil you know I think once Miami's was underway and shortly after we were done. You saw cities like Los Angeles Austin Denver Ver- Cincinnati a lot of cities. Beginning the efforts to remake. There's owning codes. And as I said given some of the other places that we've worked in most of these places have been looking at codes that were written in the twenties or thirties didn't even have a structure that reflected the fact that parking became a requirement in the sixties. So there was no separate article or chapter on parking. It's just kind of slipped into ten different places. I mean the fact acted in half a decade city's zoning codes had not really reassessed their structure and what was in them. What had been added over the years is something that everyone's just is coming to terms with now so even in the places that are happy with what they're doing but they're just trying to make themselves more efficient happenings do things? Yes yes there. Are we find that. What's most appreciated first of all is a reorganization of the document and moving things around and then once that's done then you can really address the content? I see I see so your work lives in the work of Of DPC have been engaged in focusing on the shape of the city for many many decades. You trained as architects. You coming out of Yale Architecture you moved here in the nineteen seventies to the first of all. Did you come out of your training. As an architect with a preformed or an established set of urban coons was clear that you had an aspiration to work on the scale of the city or winded that emerge view. That was not clear at all. I look back on a course about modern cities. Cities taught by Ken Frampton as an important foundation. For All this work but certainly it was one building at a time. The way architecture was being taught at the time and we were just beginning in the early to mid seventy s to hear about some Europeans. who were talking about that cities? In that included people like Rem Kohlhaas. The two crear brothers must see must Galati and their drawings and their discussions about other kind of to some degree romantic. But we're truly surprising. I think to most architects at that time. And so they. We're very influential. I think in getting people to start thinking about what it could be like. We started looking around Leeann careers ta his description of the neighborhood and and the walkability enabled us to look around Miami. And say you know. Where can you walk to anything here if you live here? Our friends in the preservation world of Miami beach say those kinds of early discussions were very important for their revaluing of the art Deco district and understanding that it was a treasure from an urbanistic perspective. It wasn't just the individual buildings so it was in the air we were participating. It's a painting in something that I think was happening. That tour went around the whole country. So you were at a moment in your intellectual architectural foundations. You were receiving leaving the the failures of modernist planning failures of modern architecture at the scale of the city from the European experience. And you were also making a decision and to be here in this part of the world. How did you choose to set up shop in Miami of all the places that one could go as an architect? We were chased here by the recession of the seventies as the the oil recession when nobody was getting any jobs up north and the University of Miami played an important role in bringing us here. Here on this doin. My partner was I I hired to teach there. He brought a Bernardo Fort Brescia he brought me and a host of others who've come and gone on some of whom are still here and so that was we thought we would follow the poll Rudolph Model for years and Florida and then back to where we came from. was that what it was for years. But I'm not sure but that's what we thought. It might might work for us but you know. Meanwhile we became very engaged aged with what was happening My understanding is that the school of architecture was itself at that moment. Still in formation of course architecture had been taught at Miami me for some decades and so that was fairly early days both in the formation of the institution but also in its influence in the shape of the city. That's true we were attached to engineering. We started something called. The Architectural Club of Miami with our colleagues at architectonic bring speakers to town because that wasn't happening and that's when the institutes lecture series were were also bringing us ideas from other places and I should say the other piece that was important at the university besides the institutes influence with speakers. For instance was at one of our colleagues from Yale discovered a book called Civic Art the American Trivia Civic Art from nineteen twenty two and that began to influence us in our teaching as we started to examine these urban issues. I should say we understood. We were not going to be building. The Cox Ta that crear was speaking about that. We had to deal with our suburban fabric. And I remember how radical article it was to say. I'm going to do a housing subdivision in Boca Raton for a studio assignment and the civic art was open right there with the students. The fastest. They're they're in retrospect. You're giving me the opportunity to think about important moments having grown up appear in the seventy s and one of the postwar suburbs of Florida. There couldn't have been anything further from the kind of cultural aspiration of that early project. I mean I think one of the things that's been may be under reported nationally really has been the role that you played as one as one of the foundational members of architectonic. I remember seeing in those very early projects as they were published and the kind of the kind of the wave that they made you know the kind of impact that they had Not Not just in architectural discourse chorus but in ultimately in in popular culture. You know I would give learned a lot of credit for that. Since she was the one of us who grew up here she was very aware of the the cultural ultra heritage of the buildings and those early architectonic buildings were very much influenced by her recognition and admiration ration- of the early modern and mid century. Modern buildings of Miami and Miami beat because she recognized that that was of the place that it was certainly a regional character Richter that was being displayed and also that it was a very much of our time in terms of materials and methods and she saw value in those that which I think then the firmly picked up on in a very productive way. I mean many of the ingredients if we could use that term that you're describing already a global city a city that's in the ven diagram between kind of tropical environment and kind of US legal and economic frameworks combined with certain history of built fabric. Also a certain kind of aspiration to minute mid air strikes me is quite unique and it also speaks to to frankly. So you're you're insights you and your colleagues seeing in the nineteen seventies and eighties while this combination of preserving. Our Bill passed mixing that with the aspiration expiration to build something new that combination again is very hard to come by many other cities. You're probably right not sure we knew what our aspirations were in those early years but we had come out of a certain kind of intellectual framework in the schools we were in and landing in the midst of a world of developers and speculative building in which we're always trying to say. How do these two things go together? There must be a way to put them together. We don't we're not going to give up everything the thing we learned just to be able to make a living here and so I think of stuff. DIS Mulan Polities in California. Dan Solomon in San Francisco that there were others around the country who were grappling with these same dichotomies. Let's say and that's what brought us together eventually. Ah with this idea of making the Congress for the new urbanism because we said we're you know we're dealing with something that a lot of people are dealing and wouldn't it be great to learn some something from each other or somehow advance what we're learning in a bigger way so with the formation of twenty putters Auburn DP Z.. And at at the same moment a series of really notable projects. You're also cultivating Discourse A conversation a network of people consciously ultimately the becomes really a global global phenomenon. Really has you can't write the history of our field. You can't write the history of urbanism in the last Half Century without placing you under twenty central to that effort. Were you aware or conscious of that as a project in the early days or was that something that became clearer ultimately as it as it came into formation. You know I think think Unrest developed way of speaking to the profession and to the public about a lot of what was going on and I remember him very clearly as we were developing building designs and are practicing. There needs to be a line of thought we need to Have some intellectual framework for what we're doing. It's not just something new every time we do it. We already know the limitations of in construction in south Florida. What's going to be the overriding idea at that point? I think the idea that there might be some connection to the larger context of the city of urbanism or of the region became important from my perspective. I say as as a student of architecture in this state in the nineteen eighties eighties would emerge for me in. My consciousness was a combination of things that I hadn't seen sorted together before that I now associate with you. Listen with an with your colleagues a part of that is this Historic literacy a kind of an awareness of the cultural project in which even though we may be here in a particular locale were working in a larger her longer duration tradition. And in that I would also say would would you. Would you agree with this characterization. Thank you and your colleagues engaged in a redefinition of what the region was you know and something about being in the Caribbean basin. Something about being in this part of the world one could imagine kind of cosmopolitan even kind of international identity but one which was based in a certain climatic region and then also a kind of a level of comfort with the informality and the vernacular of building in this part of the world. Yes no that's absolutely true. Certainly among the Faculty of the Early School was a group of people from Around the Caribbean which enabled that kind of focus. And then I think we realized that from New Orleans to Charleston South Carolina Alana that there was this connection with through the sea to the Caribbean into this kind of region that maybe we were in the center of being down here at the end of Florida more so than the rest of the country and in and so we began to understand the distinction of being in this place that were related to climate related to materials related to cultures. But you know I might add one thing that may be was different here than in other places a reaction to Frampton Hampden to the regional ideal to post modern exploration of history. which was at one point? We were quite happy to take it to a a very literal exploration and production and part of that had to do with the suburban context. If we were going to be somehow transforming the word think we thought was the banality of suburban building. We realized it had to be done to some degree in terms of the culture. That was appreciating that place or and that kind of building and so much of the kind of postmodern interpretation of history and with innovative forms. And and you know approaches to materials we realized was probably overly ambitious for speculative world. It was more for a kind of patron client in the traditions early American Mediterranean. Wherever you were were very important and were being produced in suburbia as a kind of kit version of those honorable histories? I think at that moment is when we said well we just have to bring the best version of this. And why shouldn't these traditions. Why shouldn't they be able to evolve in the honorable fashion that they they volved in the in the I? It's interesting to me. You used the use. The term honorable it speaks to a kind of Ethic and and you. You framed it now in your in your remarks in terms of the commercial development Economy building in this part of the world combined with a reading of its history suggested you limitation to certain of the excesses that we saw but it strikes me that you another risk of the work is not always indulging in the the more superficial iconic graphic aspects of some of that work you know and and seeking in the history of type or the history of climate and region. Something may be more meaningful. Is that fair or durable Maybe timeless harmless enough. I would point to Vin scully's influence. He used to speak of the the kind of diminished form of of the inaugural building building of the new place and even before that period that he's known for writing about a you look at the early colonial work whether it's the Spanish Missions on the other coast or the British colonial architecture of the northeast. They only had one thing to work with with very given the very modest materials and and scale that they could manage and that was proportions and so those buildings are beautiful because they have a proportional system. We we realized that he just applying something as simple as that to the current vernacular could be very effective in distinguishing buildings. And so that then opened the door to really studying the traditions and and I should say one of the things that gives me great satisfaction. Shen has that that opened the door for architects to be able end there and the owners of these buildings to say there's a place for this kind of cultural production Russian which we enjoy participating in either as owner or designer. There can be a place for this in in a way that it's not just an out lier in the midst of whatever else is going on in a contemporary way. So this is kind of place. Making capacity of the traditions became came very powerful. I think it's interesting and well put I mean you're speaking to something that I've had a hard time putting words around which is something about your practice which associated your work. BBC's hoover more broadly its impact in the field again a kind of a kind of integrity to its own project. When has a sense that whether you were in building seaside decide you know creating a collection of really quite fashion forward architects of the day or whether you're building a new a new physical spatial planning code for a city that you you seem to be speaking with one set of languages and one doesn't have a sense that you're parsing that language for different audience? Yeah trying hard not to be patronizing absolutely absolutely and in one of the things that I took from that experience in that Craig. robins mentioned in our conversation with him in your collaboration with him is that if the spatial framework if the planning framework if the urban design and pedestrian framework is robust enough. It's durable enough. It can also sustain all manner of cultural life including architectural flourishes. Absolutely so I've just come out of an urban design studio in which I tried to explain to students that as the urban designer you you can can wield the most powerful influence on the built environment when you lay out the streets and and the buildings which we architects think. Of course the most important are really the third tier and you might engage in the second tier quite often yourself Charles but that subdivision of public can private property has a very long life and is very durable and the second one is how you detail that public realm because that's public money and it's a lot of money and it may get redone every fifty or a hundred years You know there's a long term and that involves infrastructure landscape water-management management. I mean a lot of things that then are hard to change and but the buildings change the life of the mortgage is thirty years. Depreciation is ten years or whatever it is and so that that first action of how you put it together which you were just talking about is really very powerful and you have to be very careful about that how you do it. Because it has a big effect and a long-term effect I mean in the kind of colonial context of the American city It's absolutely evident as you say the the durability ability of those linens as they're placed on the ground and my colleague at the Schwab sketches recently published a book really just about the urban grid and that question proportion Shen its relationship to walkability what it what it might afford so in your practice in advocating for a new kind of vanity. You've anticipated what what now seems to be a certainly generational trend nationally in which many people would prefer to live in an urban environment. Living in the city you know living in a walkable diverse verse a culturally vibrant but also Kind of proximate environment seem so desirable to so many people do well. Yes and and now the challenge is how. How do you make that accessible to more people than those who can afford it? I mean Richard Florida does a great may copa about how talking about the creative have class seems to have invited wealth back into the cities in a way that has become exclusive in many areas in affordability crisis of many cities is is clearly a result of that. It's true I mean one of the clear challenges in Miami. Today's affordability and access to housing among the working class. You know it it. It used used to be the fact that somebody like My friend Jimmy Morales in city. Miami beach could grow up there. The son of working class parents working in the service industry they could live in Miami impeach that could work there and now the working class have increasingly Set of challenges and if you combine affordability challenges with Mobility tined nine times of commuting. It makes it very difficult in a city like Miami and the context of the so. We've known that about Manhattan. For instance for a long time. There are many places in all of a sudden. It's arrived here in Miami surprise surprise. So that's the question of our time is how do you bring and that kind of urban amenity to the places that don't have it. How do we retrofit these environments? How do we acknowledge different? But at the same moment different forms of mobility polity and in changes presumably technological and cultural about how we move around. And you know how how. How do we somehow integrate the entire life cycle within the neighborhood? How are we bill neighborhoods? That can be both diverse but inclusive of different generations. How's it possible to have education culture? You know a full life. In the context of the city we found not need to flee a certain point in time to have aspects of healthcare education. So you know I think we all we now. We know how to do that. And there are lots of good examples both new end regenerated but there are miles and miles of the stuff that we built between nineteen fifty not and continue to build today to some degree. That don't serve us in that way. And and that's a huge geography the when it comes to affordable housing. I think the first first thing is there is a stock and we should be dedicated to saving as much of it as possible. And so how do you do that. I think often people think of affordable housing as its new. How do we build new affordable housing in the NBA's don't want it and and then you find out that the construction cost is more than and the affordability benchmarks allow and beyond that the real estate the land now is part of Equity Class of investment and the investors offers are driving its value not the users and so the challenges are great but it has to start with a kind of unified dedication or commitment to sang? This is important and we need to wheeled all the tools. I don't know how many people have seen what it takes to produce a new quote unquote affordable or workforce housing complex of anywhere from thirty to two hundred units that kind of aggregation Shen of funding programs. The bureaucracy of pulling all that together is amazing. Six or eight different funding sources some public some private some some non for profit. We really need experts to do that. And it's difficult to do the new stuff and that's why it's important to try to buy down the value of the old take places Miami. twenty-one spoke to that insofar as Zoning Code could by making increases in density for market rate building enable funding of affordable housing or you could incorporate it in the building and received the additional capacity for the market rate. How is it going forward? A city might be able to imagine imagine Increasing density providing greater mobility options In relationship to those cultural histories that can be quite durable. That is talent Lynch and particularly because there is a uncertain long term future for reasons of changing climate. But I do. I believe that it's in almost any city at at least one. That has the kind of history that you're referring to that it's worth saying. I mean some of that will stay or we will make every effort to enable it to stay and that's a specific geography or may be individual moments events or places buildings and then that there will be other parts of the city that are invited to change and grow and increase in density every time. And hopefully that might happen in relation to mobility whether it's public transit or whatever else we invent in the future but for now public transit well we also must acknowledge that The city of Miami is arguably the United States. That's the most Vulnerable to sea sea-level rise and increased storm events associated with anthropogenic climate change and global warming. we know from our work with the city of Miami Beach. They're already ready engaged in a very ambitious programme of elevating streets and installing backflow preventers and pumps and pipes to rebuild their city at a higher more sustainable elevation. How do you view the challenges associated with sea level rise in storm event in this part of the world you know? I think we probably need. I need to come to terms with the end game. I sat on a task force ten years ago where the thinking in public just started and no one wanted to talk about anything but immediate mitigation reducing carbon and immediate adaptation and. I think you know that mitigation is one kind of universal Salaam action that everybody can take around the world and the adaptation is often immediately needed is short term as well as long term consideration. It's the highly localized and that's one reason. It's hard to get a federal government to focus on it because it's so different wherever you are you know flooding in Iowa. Ella is different than flooding in Miami. And some places it's fire and drought but in order to understand how to marshal the resources or to to deploy them in the short term. You really need to understand the long term picture and that's the scary part of it and it also needs needs a unified approach which seems hardly possible from a political perspective but everybody would need to come together and say what's the end game. And how are we going to have an orderly life here as things change because we haven't been good at that in the US. American cities deteriorated in in the twentieth century in a very unconscious. Way Mean would happen to. The rust belt could happen to cities that are threatened by climate. Change in in which there's a slow reaction to something big. That's happening the people who can depart and you know other people are left behind and a built environment gets left behind behind and so I think we understand what could happen. We actually have experience with every aspect of this future and my opinion and we need to deploy eight that knowledge in studying the scenarios and the one of the most complex parts of it is is the financial one so for an architect or an urban designer. We could suggest build this appeared. Defend this retreat. There it's easy enough to do that on paper. But what about the underlying values or or growing or diminishing values of the properties and where does insurance play a role in that could tax policy and the things like depreciation play a role. And then what's the you know if there is a retreat from some places what you do with what's left behind. How do you clean? Who Pays for the cleanup so the end game right now? Real estate has an has a forever value in most people's imagination. You'RE GONNA sell it. You Hope it's appreciating associating for most people it's their largest investment their house for instance. And how do you change that picture as you say it strikes SME- that on the one hand our colleagues bars that are arguing that at the level of finance and insurance and reinsurance people individual actors and institutions are already already beginning to make choices. They're already beginning. Performance to price in. I know that many of the new developments Here on both sides of Biscayne Bay. You have already anticipated a another level for the public realm. They've already anticipated a storm event that keeps their population on site and safe for several weeks and in that context. Is there a pillar challenge here in Miami where the the preserved built fabric has been preserved in a certain geography over a certain limestone geology and at an elevation. That's basically vulnerable. Well let's take the art Deco district for instance which may be the most obvious one. So what are the scenarios for that. So there's already a group of Architects Angle. The that'll have to go and then the hands are rubbing together and saying we're going to really be able to rebuild old something big and important there and so I dare say there are scenarios being made of precisely what you can do with historic districts as well as historic buildings. But I think probably not yet at the scale of benchmarking in some way. How long can you do something? What kind of technology do we need to develop if we want to be? Defending longer in the whole scenario from defense to retreat deserves a lot of work. It strikes us that you know there will be even before for we talk about retreat and rebuilding. They will be decades of learning to live with water in different ways accommodating it. It's hard to talk about this without getting highly specific but I think it should be pointed out that we're dealing with our localized anticipated impacts. There are different impacts in different parts of the country. Three and I always used to say you know. Mitigation as universal. INADAPTATION is highly localized but there is one universal adaptation to consider hitter which emerged in my thinking recently and that is under all the different impacts whether it's drought heat fire. I mean there. There are days when airline departures or landings are cancelled in Arizona. Because of heat I mean what does that do what can how. How can you depth to that in the long run but we need to be considering in all of these places? How do you get people out of harm's way? How do we leave? Because because at some point it's just too costly to maintain that adaptation at some point. When does it behoove us to think about not being in the places where we shouldn't be no down? I mean if you look at the research of planners working in the middle of the twentieth century Ian mcharg for example his maps of Staten Island predicted almost precisely the impacts of sandy these. These are known known bodies of knowledge. Of course many American cities Seattle in Chicago come to mind have elevated over a story over the course of a century and in the lived experience of of cities internationally each element of this hustle. As you say we know quite a lot about You mentioned storms storm event event. Living in this part of the world. I know growing up here. You know tracking the hurricanes the seasonal depressions. That's a part of life in in this region. It has been as long as humans have lived here at the same moment. We know that we'll have more frequent storm events. We know that populations will have differential abilities to respond to their challenges and city Miami miami-dade They'd have a chief resilience officers. That are working on these questions. Does it make a difference to be working in a state where the political leadership has not always been able to articulate the climate change or adaptation to sea level rise or. Does it make a difference to work in a context where at the local or the municipal level. There's a conversation going on but at the larger skills at the state and federal level. You don't always have the partnerships that you're looking for probably someone from within government would give you a different answer that I think that is so localised that it's the region that needs to be leading the charge so yes it would have been nice if the state state were paying attention and there was some funding coming down but I think everybody understands that the state is so large. There's so many different conditions are so many people people who would be asking for help on this topic every region as should think they're on their own. How long FEMA going to bail us out of things? FEMA has some tragedy somewhere in the United States every week which they're sending people in money to I don't know how that continues but it has a lot to do with the amount amount of people that are just in places and in the wrong places and was history often of a culture in which risks or somehow allowed to be taken also. We did identify in that first public. Work that you needed at least at the regional scale some kind of unified management or approach to this problem. Whatever it was going to turn out to be end would resulted from that was the southeast Florida? Climate Compact in which four counties are in fact back trying to share information benchmark Various issues together. And you know. I think that's probably the right way to do it and not depend so so much on Tallahassee but I will say that the larger government influence or impact might be in terms of the regulatory framework that enables else action to be taken or does not or gets out of the way removes impediments so the climate action areas that the state allows you now to identify to study. Things is probably was one of those helpful steps. But I imagine that there's a whole series of other regulatory impediments to working on these things that probably need to be cleared out first and you know in fact that's what the social scientists will tell you that there's three steps to change. The first one is to is to understand what you need to do to have the good example of something but the clearing out the impediments from a regulatory perspective is also when important. One doesn't get a lot of attention. I suppose so if that could occur in such a way that then you ll allow the regions to work on what they have to do. That would be helpful loose. Thanks so much for doing this. You're welcome it was an enjoyable conversation. You took me through quite a journey of topics and time. I'm fine thank you. You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for Organization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the Knight Foundation and the generous donors to the American. The city sparked our producers. Are Aziz Barber Charlie. Give Jeffrey S Nesbitt. Music is by Kevin More Visit T._A._C.. G._S._T. Dot Harvard that E._D._U..

Miami Miami US Florida Miami beach Harvard Graduate School of des Miami. University of Miami Charles Waldheim Development Community Miami beach Architectural Club of Miami Shen Manny Diaz Anna Halliburton Sanchez planning director Carter Walgreens Elizabeth FEMA
Climate Gentrification

Future of the American City

38:33 min | 1 year ago

Climate Gentrification

"This is a game of musical chairs and there will always be people who were wanting to move from one chair to the next. But you just don't want to be the person that that is standing when the music stops from the Harvard Graduate School of design this is future of the American the city conversations on how we live where we live on Charles Hunt. And we're here today with Jesse Keenan just as a social scientist. His work examines the relationship between climate change and the built Environment Jesse joins and just today to discuss his concept of climate gentrification. Welcome thank you for having me. You've been published in a variety of contexts. Both popular they're professional technical press over the past months around this concept of climate change. Mitigation can use begin for audience to unpack defined that term fourth sure climate gentrification as a theory which now have some empirical validity that explains the extent to which instability in economic terms leads to instability in social terms particularly as it relates to the affordability of housing in response to climate change impacts and so is clemency certification a term that that you've formulated. Yeah I a number of years ago. Almost six years ago I was doing work overseas and I recognize is there were some unintended consequences to some of the investments that we were making in the built environment and cities Under the name of resilience and fact we had created raided kind of Amenity we had created a level performance on that was actually increasing investment but operating indirectly with the unintended consequence of driving out many of the people that the policies were seeking to protect years later or some months later with hurricane. Sandy in New York. I recognize that there. There were certain geographies in Queens and in Brooklyn as well as in Staten Island or certain communities that had a relative advantage in terms of low exposure We're seeing increased rents In fact people were moving from one district to another Somewhat out of necessity because maybe their homes are. The neighborhood's were destroyed good but very often as a as a function of perception of thinking about hey in the long term this may actually represent a superior investment so there's several well different pathways by which climate gentrification may manifest the first pathways superior investment. This is people make an investment moving from one area of high risk geography to lowest geography of market. If you will and this can operate across multiple scales from district district region to region Displacement in in in south Florida may actually lead to climate gentrification in Atlanta or Charlotte for instance. Jesse would you say your concept of climate. GENTRIFICATION COMES OUT OF THE EMPIRICAL OBSERVATION OF SEA Level Rise and storm events yes I I would include other impacts associated or attributed more formerly to climate change including forest fires the availability of potable water LA soil stability any number of biophysical hazards and Physical exposure that as an impact on property so it isn't just limited to sea level rise and climate gentrification in that conception while I think we can agree. Three most rational actors can agree that the climate is changing anthropogenic climate. Change Sea level rise increased storm events will impact the way that we live in the American city widens recreation as a focus well classic model of Gentrification is really about the supply side of the equation it's it's about more or less opportunistic developers A real estate investment Actors that come in and see value in a particular area district or community and they take that risk and they develop and they create a market and that leads to degrees of social instability but also oh positive externalities a negative extra was good and bad that comes. gentrification climate distribution is different from the classic model in the sense that it's actually really represents a shift in demand and that actually takes the idea of gentrification and and moves it to a different scale altogether because now it isn't about a localize has neighborhood is actually about a broader shift in wide swaths of coastal regions or regions their more susceptible to forest fires in the Mike. And so we start to see. gentrification caught up in demography in climate migration as it starts to connect both demography and the economy at a much broader broader range of scales so the negative connotation the impacted your justification on various populations. You're suggesting is actually going to increase in scale scale and scope. There's no doubt and we're already seeing that both empirically and anecdotally so this suggests that in the context of sea level rise increase storm events events not only coastal cities affected but ultimately a whole variety of populations or affected. That's right and there's a number of cities across the states that actually see. See this displacement as a competitive advantage for attracting What will be a mobile or immobile depending on how you look at it and think about populations and economic base he's so what may be the plight of certain coastal areas in the southeast? United States may be an opportunity to attract new population for instance in the Mid West. It's a complex array. That's very much caught up in. The history of economic mobility in the United States and the implications are particularly for low to moderate income households and historically arkley marginalized communities as not. Everybody will have the capacity to be mobile to pay for the cost to adapt. I think one of the greatest challenges their implications of this work. Because how do we think about those who are trapped who may be trapped in the future on certainly there will be some communities that will have an upside to climate gentrification their houses will. We'll be worth a whole lot more now than they ever have been in the past but there will be many people particularly a renting tenure class. That will be significantly. Challenged to relocate kate and create new lives livelihoods places and communities your work is compelling to the extent that it touches on both The winners and losers. Let's save climate change if we could use those terms. Are Those terms fair in this context. No I think that's absolutely fair. And much of what we describe and evaluate is about trade offs offs and so in many ways the scholarly disciplined that we bring in multiple areas of social science and Applied Science and as well as design. Research is to understand both resilience and adaptation not as absolute goods but nethon logical and analytical domains from which we can understand trade-offs and so we have to understand that resilience at one scale to one set of people may be maladaptive to another and that it's the degree of self interest Degree to inequality of resourcing All of that plays into the trade offs that society has set for itself and making decisions. That's primarily what I'm concerned with decisions about investment in decisions about investment in the bill environment as well as how we design the built environment the history of American city In terms of economic change terms of environmental change suggests mobility is not always guaranteed to all populations and in fact your work points very directly to the vulnerability of fixity in space over time. How do we think about resilience or planning adaptation in the context of an economy economy? That is so unevenly distributed. I think we saw the extent to which our history of economic mobility which has been tremendous. This shrank through many generations across many economic cycles. greatly impaired in the foreclosure crisis in the last housing cycle. The extent to which people were trapped and the extent to which job growth and economic growth was actually happening in cities. In places people couldn't afford we started to give recognition to the idea. The economic mobility was a much more complex set of characteristics deterministic or not that were driven by mobility in terms of class lass in terms of education even access to transportation and healthcare all our social drivers of how we think about economic mobility climate. Change as we understand. It is in many ways a threshold issue in the sense that it very often as both not just the shocks of hurricanes and flooding flooding but the ongoing incremental stress that pushes us across thresholds of social issues that challenge abroad ray of social policies from affordable housing to health. Care that are all now challenged by that ongoing and additional stress of climate change in my own work on Detroit and Economic Restructuring Shrink we see the result of populations that didn't have access to that level of mobility and given that that mobility falls differentially along questions of race and class. This image this future for the American city that you're describing seems quite challenging. I also think it's an opportunity and I think climate gentrification points to an opportunity community at least in terms of land use planning because what it reflects is an opportunity to think about density and to think about sustainable urban density that avails itself of the Amenities of transportation of cross subsidized affordable housing. And the like it's an opportunity to think about. How do we create the value? And how do we redistribute that valued help stabilize not just low to moderate income populations but also addressing much broader spectrum of society. Economy me and I think in that we have a collective opportunity for collective action that rethinks the notion of density Rethinks wchs the notion of organization and rethinks what it means in terms of a broad scale of accessibility. Is it possible that the resilience planning tools and techniques. We have available today or sufficient that challenge. There's different degrees of maturity in adaptation. Planning which is inclusive of not just resilience planning but also Hazard Mitigation Planning Flood Plain management design events for civil engineering. It's it's a wide spectrum of activities but really time will tell The extent to which are resilience is adaptive or maladaptive in this is one of the elements that we have to give consideration to with resilience as it. They're six or seven major categorical variants of resilience but primarily. What we mean is engineering and disaster resilience which is about a reversion to the the status quo is about a reversion to the pre event stimulus and in that sense? It's fairly conservative yet. Were challenged all around us to to think about transformative adaptation the way we consume produce manage designed the built environment so we have this conflict between station heirachy and transformation. Listen so I think as we get more and more analytical clarity about the implications both intended and unintended with a variety of activities and both adaptation in resilience planning. We will start to understand the clarity of the trade offs and thereafter. It's really a function of the democratic processes of society of due process to give consideration to what we want to protect what we want to preserve and what it is that we wanna let go and it's that's the transformation in that will happen both as a function of demography demographics economics and more fundamentally due process as a matter of electoral politics and presumably mm ably the function of the marketplace. As well absolutely and we can't discount that And I think that that's part of our fundamental mythological. Ambitions ambitions is to understand the extent to which economy is shaping everything for material design and selection to space and location to life cycle analysis to a wide variety of technical but also social implications and bearings on how we design and build and manage the built environment so acknowledging as you have the resilience is in in some ways fundamentally conservative framework and that. It's only one element within adaptation. How might we think about enabling civil discourse or conversation about these choices? It strikes me in reading your work. That much of it is coming from. Literatures occurs in certain technical disciplines. You're publishing an in a range of fields and at the same moment as individual actors in digital communities individual homeowners are making choices. How does that populous become a literate on this range of subjects? I'd say one of the more powerful academies that has translated its work in to the public discourse is climate communications which has begun to understand these trade offs and conflicts and begin to translate them I to an heuristic terms which is simplified terms that people can understand and relate to now for many years. There's been a lot of research that has translated. Its way into behavioral economics comics into a public policy as it relates to risk and it's all about risk and risk assumption risk transfer so that world of risk is well understood stood but adaptation is only about managing risks. It's about managing the opportunities and I think the extent to which we can elucidate what those trade offs are over. The short term to the long term are critical for advancing public discourse. Because much of what we talk about now is about infrastructure. It's about material cheerio responses that have long term life cycles but really all that infrastructure does for the most part is by US time and by the time for more difficult decisions that we have to think about whether it's managed retreat or fundamental land use decisions or whether we're over consuming space in an unsustainable on sustainable way given the origins of the concept in your work looking at European examples and what you've seen in North America. Are you suggesting that there are perverse. Incentives built it's into large-scale infrastructure responses to adaptation. There's no doubt that disaster capitalism has driven the discourse of resilience in a uniquely American aircon phenomenon. They're certainly a severely organized. Industrial and organizational response if not political response that capitalizes this is on disasters. Part of that is a response that you can't pass judgment on. which is that? We haven't fully funded our infrastructure and the operation and maintenance and the Cap Paxson wchs and affects of infrastructure so we used disasters as a means to recapitalize and make new investments and infrastructure. But part of it is a deeply entrenched American American phenomenon of disaster and recovery. And there's no doubt whether it's tax provision or building codes or any number Moore of institutional mechanisms that drive the built environment and the production of the built environment we are deeply entrenched with the notion of the status quo. We do it the way we've always done it. I mean if you look at productivity in the construction industry it's it's by far the biggest laggard in the United States is very little innovation. That happens in the built environment comment and here. We are now confronted with the idea of transformative adaptation so we have a lot of incentives that are deeply institutionalize that were not fully fully pain For what we could or should be paying in in the production and consumption of housing particular on because it's been deeply subsidizing subsidize in probably the pinnacle example of this is the National Flood Insurance Program where the federal government absorbs a fair amount of risk That the the taxpayers absorbed that consumers don't absorb we have here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the example of the underwriting of flood insurance on the Cape Secondary homes a whole series series of questions about the distribution of risk at the site level. Your work has focused recently on south Florida as you mention Miami Dade County. Why is Miami Dade County? So seminal in describing this new condition well. Miami is a city that was created by real estate for real estate. It was a marketing conviction. But the interesting thing about Miami is that it's reached a certain crescendo and level of maturity. Where the extra analyses of a lack of fundamental fundamental transportation planning a lack of fundamental Water and wastewater planning infrastructure has caught up with itself. It's reached a certain critical mass. Ask a certain intensity That is now leading into the vein of dysfunction. In in that moment I can. Now see the fissures there's in the exposure of these various dysfunctions and how they're reacting and market preferences and particularly consumer preferences and so in my mind and yes there's a narrative and there's a story line with sea level rise and actually rain inundation events actually represent much more immediate hazard but in my mind wind it's a combination of its own settlement patterns in history and maturity in combination with the confluence of climate change that opens ends up a lot and there's much to be explored there. Some would argue. It's perhaps to cloud. It is driven by rhetoric the deep deep inequality economic inequality inequality that real estate has impart produced in Miami on May actually cloud some of the more precise analytical Outcomes but what I think in many ways it represents The challenges that many Cenis have which is how do we protect the tax base. Where do we shift tax base? How do we think think about protecting a broad spectrum of our population And what's IT GONNA cost us. And how do we respond in a way that thinks about equity that thinks about out Fiscal Stewardship Were at that moment. Where Miami has the opportunity to get it right or get it wrong? We have ten fifteen twenty years. Get right or get it wrong. Your work as focused on the role of elevation in this context of climate change vacation. Why elevations important surrogate here? There's several different pathways. I mentioned in the first pathway. which is a superior investment? There's a second pathway of climate gentrification which is a type of inverse gentrification where essentially only the wealthy can afford the cost of increased insurance and the like and finally there's the resilience pathway by which resilience creates an amenity that drives in speculation Li if one of more more of these pathways was developing as a as a function of behavior consumption. In Miami. It would most likely be happening associated with elevation because in theory the higher elevation you are the less susceptible you are either as a function of observation of nuisance flooding or your perception that elevation allegation actually represents a superior investment does really combination of observation and perception so we tested two hypotheses. The first policies Aussies what was that there was a correlation or relationship between rate of appreciation. And how high a property was. We found very strong correlations nations throughout the entire sample but particularly strong and it was a big surprise to us along the coast because there's a fairly heterogeneous distribution of flood risk across the county. There's certainly a high areas of a Coral Ridge North and south of downtown that is fairly uniformly distributed in terms of risk because it can flood on the fringe of the county can flood in a great number of places But why was it that we were getting the strongest correlations on the coast and and our theory which has been validated by other economists. Since is that nuisance. Flooding was driving it in part but also perception was driving it so we now understand that the perception of what it's going to be worth in the future is likely the reason we found such high correlations on the coast I The other thing that we tested was called the Nueces I- prothesis was that we looked at properties and we broke them up into one meter cohorts and we hypothesize around the year. Two thousand plus or minus four or five years which is when the observational studies. Really kick in to suggest that a climate change and sea level rises was really actually beginning to have an impact in terms of observational studies. And sure enough a right around that time around two thousand the lowest elevation cohort completely dropped off in its rate of performance relative to the rest of the elevations which worked as a pack. Elevation was not that much of a strong effect until essentially sea level rise kicks in And that represents the first peer reviewed published evidence of climate change signal and a real estate market on the implications nations for property taxes the implications for the public bond market implications for wide variety of investment and public investment Stem from from these findings and in addition to this. Are you finding anecdotal evidence amongst the people that you speak with of individual actors making choices voices based on this. There's some evidence of an individual's I in terms of survey and interview evidence and data But there's no singular lurked large scale development that we can say this is about climate change. We really just don't see that evidence where we see. The strongest evidence is really an individuals who are buying up individual houses. They're buying up small properties and again. That's a reflection of a change in demand is not necessarily a reflection of big bad evil real estate developers. Now that that isn't to say that the people who are advancing these very large projects that are that are extensively feel like climate. gentrification aren't thinking about climate change as Impacting like this is a real value. Add now where you are on high vision. It is say they aren't giving consideration to that but we don't see any evidence that that's a primary consideration fedaration. Is it ironic in your view that the history of elevation and class that we see so many other American cities where the lower bottom land was associated with lower class and along certain race lines is is it. Is it ironic in your mind that that's inverted in Miami beach or it's not ironic ironic as much as it is deeply perverse as a convention of American history and it is important that we give consideration to the uneven impacts of that but we also have to represent and understand that there's other communities throughout South Florida that represent different modes of settlement and marginalization and opportunity. Climate change isn't just about the opportunity to correct historical wrongs which in many ways it can and should be about particularly as it relates to sustainable urban development but what we really need to understand is this impacts everybody rich and poor. There's an article in the Miami Herald this summer in North Miami where a woman was in a multi million dollar house and she was facing a couple hundred hundred thousand dollars in fines because her seawall corroded and now her street was flooding. The people who lived around her were ultra-wealthy. They had built defenses. They built all the bells and whistles necessary to keep seawater out of their yard out of the street that is climate. Gentrification that woman owns a multimillion dollar asset that she's elderly but she's GonNa have to move because she can't afford a couple hundred thousand dollars to be able to fix a problem which is more or less an infrastructural. Problem problem in the city wasn't going to do it for her. So there's a wide spectrum of impact and we have to think about yes marginalized communities but we also have to you think about middle income communities workforce housing. We have to think about a broad spectrum of actors who are going to be impacted by climate change. What I'm afraid of is we have have a singular focus on history as a guiding point for the future we will lose sight of the full range of opportunities and we will just fall into into predictable polemics about who benefits and who bears the burden when I think in reality we all bear both collective responsibility but but we all bear collective opportunity? This story the woman her seawall her neighbors this points out. I think one of the challenges that you do your work points do which has to do with individual actors making their own choices. We have a widely widely distributed environmental threat. Each landowner individually responding. Is that really the way forward Arthur opportunities for more collective action. I mean this is one of the challenges that you've seen in the humanities discourse in both the sort of cognitive perception and meaning and in in many people have argued in reality from a critical studies point of view resilience pushes the burden on the individual and it becomes a characteristic of into. Are you resilient or are you not right. It's it's a kind of binary election. Do you have the capacity for Zillions. And instead we should be thinking about collective adaptation and collective responses and in fact there's many examples sort of the perfect example of of elements of resilience that can be maladaptive a series of individual homeowners who put flood barriers that promote the resilience of their home home but when the flood comes it steers water to other properties. That would not have otherwise been flooded and that's collectively maladaptive because it's collectively flooding infrastructure and it may actually be maladaptive to the those individual property owners because it may be cutting off services. Electricity potable water to those properties individually so I think in the humanities discourse behind resilience in what it means as an individual state and an individualized capacity on I think in many ways challenges challenges us. In fact there's great work by Helen Asmundsson in Norway Looking at the extent to which resilience created kind of lethargic a kind of apathy among among those that were engaged and when they started utilizing the nomenclature and the framing of adaptation people started understand that this was a collective issue that it wasn't about the individual capacity but it was actually about collective action. And there's no individual property owner. Who can survive is an island in advance of anthropogenic agenda climate change? We've seen that. The combination of housing costs plus commute. Times makes Miami Metro area one of the most challenging environments armaments. Especially for the working class. How do you imagine the effects of climate change will accelerate those conditions of inequity or? Are you more optimistic. Dick than no I think certainly wasn't perfect. Example of this is One of the primary impact for seeing is greater convection events. In since that when it rains it really pours and those downpours are leading to surface flooding That is actually having a measurable impact in Traffic Circulation. Those trip times cost gas and the cost time. And when you think about the a Labor economy of Miami Many people have more than one job. There's a wide swath Roughly roughly. Let's see forty to fifty percent of Miami is by most conventions economically Stressed if you're losing an hour or two in traffic because of a rain event on that's hourly wages that you could be making so you know the implications or a economic productivity but also people's livelihoods On our our immediate in their measurable and they're happening today and so We really need to utilize that as a means to think about. How do we advance the Metro Rail? How do we think about more cohesive planning as it relates to a bus rapid transit? On how do we think about interoperability. I bind between transportation systems. How do we think about fundamentally where people live where people work where people go to school? And how do we give some resolution to that So that we can Not just optimize system but build robustness there in certain robust capacity to accommodate a wide range of events so from resilience robustness snus. I mean these questions seemed particularly apt given the percentage of the working class. And the working. Poor that you point to that are involved in the service and the tourism economies. I think for many They think of south Florida as among the most vulnerable and exposed geographies in the United States. That talk about the future of American city In in many estimations domations Miami Dade County is really really at the tipping point with respect to rain event sea level rise and these massive storms. Yes it is but we can substitute those impacts for many other cities. The availability of Potable Water and storm events in Los Angeles. Njoya are of equal import. An impact. So you know these are not unique. basically anywhere in the United States as we highlighted added more recently in the national climate assessment and the built environment chapter There's a wide spectrum. There's there's really no place in the United States that doesn't have some some immediate challenge to climate change. Miami just is the poster child in many ways but is by no means unique in many of these challenges in your your research. Have you found evidence of a slowing or a redirection of development To other areas away from south Florida anecdotally in my own experience. My my perception is that they can't build it fast enough. And maybe this is in part why you think of Miami. As the poster child for climate change it seems A kind of cultural dissonance dissonance. That on the one hand we clearly have evidence of a future of living with water and yet we can't seem to build them fast enough. Well we have to think about those vertical bank vaults right they're not really functionally Real estate in the sense that people live there and there they engender engender part of a community or and built environment they're they're more or less Assets and singularly so perhaps different way to frame it is. This is a game of musical chairs chairs and there will always be people who are wanting to move from one shared at the next. But you just don't want to be the person that is standing when the music basic stops. How should we reconcile cultural heritage community values of collective memory and individual experience on the one hand versus the enormous power of these forces that you're describing that might cause us to migrate? I think we need to become more familiar. With the language of Justice and Justice comes John who forms it comes in procedural justice and it comes an absolute moral justice and I think that we need to come to terms with the fact that we have processes of design and planning and public policy that will guide us to have due process that will give voice to the people who are voiceless. That will give voice to the public. Whether in electoral terms or participatory planning but it may lead to an inequitable outcome and when I say equitable I mean equitable. In terms of distributive justice that is the notion of distribution of resources equitably across society in terms of access and we may have a perfectly perfectly just outcome but it may ultimately be inequitable. And we have to come to resolution with that we can challenge that for what it is but we have to understand that there. There are two mechanisms of how we relate and analyse the notion of equity and justice in our role in that and our role that we play as educators caters as design leaders as Albuque- policy advisers. How do we help people understand again coming back to? What are the Trade Offs Your era social scientists? Do you imagine that designers planners those responsible for imagining the built environment have a particular ethical responsibility to advocate for more collective outcomes. Yeah I you know it is a it is an interesting thing because the question is is it a personal ethic or is it a professional ethic and and professional ethics are geared towards the preservation. The Self Service of the profession which is geared towards an agency of a client as to a product. Is there an adaptive capacity within this this building within this infrastructure to be able to adapt to a range of potential parameters is there passive survivability in these buildings so that we can have potable water water when the electricity goes out or the elderly can evacuate when there's lack of a service in the elevators. You know the question is are we really going to. To internal is the monopoly of the professions in service of the public. Good or are we going. To perpetuate an ethical convention that is geared towards agency of clientelism. And I think that the ethical standards at least to the A and what I teach In architecture are geared towards agency inclined to listen and but I think that the ethical rules are beginning to mature in. They're beginning to create a friction because there isn't necessarily Israeli conflict between environment and economy that we are starting to see that there are quite synergistic and that we are creating new values through stewardship of the environment that will actually advance the interest of our client whether they know it or wanted or not and to what extent does this suggest or imply a different education for the architect. I I think what. It implies. Not only for architects landscape architects planners and others is that we need a basic fundamental understanding of the applied science of climate change. We need to understand the physics. We need to understand. What radiant forcing is? We need to understand basic elements of fluid dynamics. We need that literacy across the realm. We need to understand what climate change is how it applies water first and second order impacts of climate. Change the bill apartment that should play into our total understanding and design and selection of buildings while your research is focused most recently on Miami. He did county You've looked also obviously New York New Jersey Po Sandy. You've suggested that these impacts will be felt across every American American city are there cities or their communities across states. That could imagine to have an advantage. Coming out of clemency cert. Yeah there are definitely cities that have some beneficial attributes and those attributes sir not just environmental. They're often function of governance. There's leadership there. There's people that think about climate change and think about renewable energy friends so a a perfect example of this is the extent to which certain local markets have been a law in with local governance to reinforce a renewable energy production and that is feeding into micro grids that is feeding into cheaper more reliable more resilient energy infrastructure. You see this primarily in the mid West right now and you see see what follows behind that data centre development tech jobs is is actually driving an economic base in many ways because it's cheaper more reliable liable energy the perfect example of where we are shifting based on a combination of climate mitigation reducing greenhouse gases and climate adaptation And and that's well On. That could not have happened without leadership and governance you touch on the importance of governance and the importance of leadership You of course have been active. You've advising government on advisory panels and boards at the federal level at the state At the municipal and county level. Can you say something about the SCHOLA- clarity of the scales of US governance. And at which scales do you find the efficacy of governance. The regional strength of regional regional bodies I think is increasingly being understood as a real politic. There's greater collective will mobilization of political. Will there's greater sophistication education and what the cell is and what the by is one of the strengths of the states. Right now is regional engagement. We have the southeast Florida regional climate. Change Compact we we now have one In Tampa Bay Tampa Bay actually doesn't get a lot of Recognition but they are actually equally if not more vulnerable than southeast Florida. Now there's a multi multi county compact there. I think it's ten counties and In Tampa Bay. That are modelled. On that we see multipple the bay area regional collaborative in San Francisco. Oh you see it in L. A. There are regional engagement that I think is critically important wise it critically important because they can start to address housing transportation listen Many of the other attributes Apollo policy and urban policy. They can start to see it as a system an interconnected system and they see the shortcomings in delimitations of of any given local government in isolation and they recognize that their capacity to work together as much greater than some of their individual capacities patties. Jesse thanks very much. Thank you for having me. You've been listening to future of the American city. curated by the Office for urbanization at the Harvard Graduate School of design. This conversation was supported by the knightfoundation. And Agendas diller stood the American city spot producers. Barbara Charlie Gilliardi Emerson Ladies Peralta Kevin Graham and Jeffrey Ladies Recording engineer to learn more visit ever. TAC DOT GST dot Harvard. That Aditi you.

Miami United States south Florida Jesse Keenan Harvard Graduate School of des Mid West New York Miami Herald Queens Sandy Miami Dade County south Florida Miami Dade County Charles Hunt scientist Florida
Interview with Mina Chow  XX|LA Episode 020

XX|LA Architects Podcast

42:18 min | 1 year ago

Interview with Mina Chow XX|LA Episode 020

"And welcome to the X. X. L. A. Architects podcast a show featuring Los Angeles is leading women in architecture and issues relevant to the profession. Shen I'm your host Audrey Sato today's episode features Meena Chow Architect and professor at the UC School of architecture. Mina is also the star producer and director of the documentary film face of a nation. What happened to the world's what's fair? There are two screenings of the film coming up this month in March one in Baltimore on the twelfth and another in Los Angeles on the twentieth now without further ado police enjoy episode Helmi about how You got into architecture and then specifically how you started getting into film so like a lot of architects and architects that have been around for a while. Sometimes we forget how we we got into what we do. I had been practising for awhile and something came up. That reminded me. It's related to the movie. So when when I was twelve years old my dad my mom showed me their pictures of the nineteen sixty four New York world's fair and the images were so incredible and inspiring that I decided to think about architecture for the first time it was my first awareness that there was this incredibly inspiring expression of of hope and I saw that in the buildings that they were surrounded by in the photographs that they were in. Yeah I saw some of those photographs in your film But it at the time. I started the movie. All this was completely not on any part of my radar. I totally didn't didn't remember anything about this. It was making the movie that actually started it about ten or twelve years ago. I'd been teaching a USC for like three years. And I decided that I needed to figure out who I was and I also needed to define myself differently from everyone else so I I started by thinking about exploring something. I'd always been interested in which is film making when I was in graduate school at Harvard Graduate School of design. They wouldn't let me take any computer classes. I was a computer nerd. So you know what you want. Ah for your students is to build up their weaknesses right. So I had to handwrite everything but I also had to fill my schedule up with other classes so so I looked on the curriculum and I saw that. They had some film classes and I tried to take spike Lee's class but they wouldn't let me in because Spike Lee's class was reserved for visual and environmental studies students. So I looked around and I saw well. Hey there's this class about women in film. It covered covered a lot of the historic background about women. Authorship as directors and producers flash forward to two thousand six six I think it was and I thought well here I am I teach at USC School of Architecture one. And I go check out. The Phillips called and it was the time period in which the president and the provost of the university were encouraging faculty to explore interdisciplinary realms. And I thought well I've always wanted to do that. So Oh I reached out to to film faculty from the Cinema School and I talked to both of them but one of them. I spent three and a half hours meeting with and we decided to start by collaborating on some projects together because he was interested in architecture and I was interested in film he was really good. The story he was one of the editors for Sophie's choice and he edited Heather's so he started teaching me film story but before we started did really delving into film story. We had to learn to learn how to how to do everything. Like how do. How do you hold the camera? What are you shooting? What are the techniques? I know how did any of this but I just started hanging out with them. In the first thing we did was a short. Well we didn't. I never finished it but it was a project where we went to Washington. DC also this time period. What I learned that I had a really great talent for fundraising and I raised enough money to bring him and another other professor with me to Washington? DC to shoot the solar decathlon at the mall and the Washington DC Mall. But I didn't know what I was doing and and and one thing I have to backtrack about is that right. After I graduated from Harvard I actually became a professional actor. Oh so most people don't know this about me but I started a horror movie. Why did this was because it was relatively easy for me to do This because there were not that many Asians being represented in Washington. DC to be like principles or like acting in commercials and stuff. So I actually caught. I got booked relatively easily. I made a third of my income from acting jobs. No commercials and so I had this experience being on camera One thing I also haven't mentioned is also trained as a professional actor. I started that in grade. School starring in school plays in elementary school high school. I started out double majoring at in my undergraduate degree in architecture. Dramatic Arts but then Harvard Robert. I started learning how to do filmmaking and then I started learning how to make films at USC and then from the point we did the solar decathlon. We also ask by a national to do a couple of small short webcasts so I did one during the middle of the recession called. Be The happy which I worked on with the Cinema School Faculty and from there I started doing more and more collaborations with him and he started the feature. Her film face of a nation would happen to the world's fair he is an editor and yet he's also a cameraman. He ended up coming with me to China China to start the movie and I learned so much from him. So that's how the film began. Wow I love that you had this other passion and talent bat you know it. It actually to me seems really related to architecture in a way because both our storytelling mediums and then also relate relate to the human body and how someone behaves in space. Yeah I want to address the story issue Kelly because the story part I think needs needs to be worked on by our profession. Because I don't think we necessarily understand how important story is to get the ideas and the concepts across. How do you to tell a story to a client or an audience using architecture? I don't know if we necessarily teach our students to do it as well. But one of the things that I learned in film like my producer taught me this. He said People Watch movies to watch people not to watch architecture. What what he meant by that was that we had to make sure that the film was about something bigger and deeper and more universal than just the building thing because if you think about architects we ourselves design buildings for people just like a filmmaker is crafting story Dorian crafting a work of art or expression of some sort for people to consume? So I think story. We're trying to teach our students in architecture. Protect your how to be clear on your story like the way I was taught. Was You know we have an idea. We have concepts and you have party and and things like that but learning learn how to express that in a way that is incredibly powerful and connects to people. That are not architects to me. That's what I learned the power our story and one of the things I had learned the filmmaking process was really understanding what the story was just like you're stripping away at any sort of extraneous ideas about a concept on Sept Designing Tat. You have to strip away all the other things that don't have anything to do with the story in the film so that it's very clear when an audience watches your movie. They know what your intention is that makes me think about there was one review of your film that said something about tenderness. There's a tenderness in the film. I I truly felt that was a great description because you brought so much of your authentic self like your family and your experience Orient and and I remember hearing you say that At the beginning that you weren't intending to put yourself in the film mm-hmm so I had this real problem. Some of this as being a woman and some of this also crosses into being an Asian woman who is taught traditional values. Not Putting yourself out there not sticking up some of it is also being a filmmaker and a director who doesn't necessarily want your own Catharsis to be in the movie and also a director really good director recognizes that it doesn't matter part of the director is going to always be in the movie so why I put the director in the movie. Sure so when we started the movie in two thousand ten we were going to China to film at the world's fair. The film was never intended to be an hour film. It was always supposed to be a ten minute movie. That was all I raised the money for. It turned it out to be much bigger than that because I ended up filming instead. Obviously resonated with me is that I would pursue it for seven years until I figured out what was going hang on but when I started the film I flew with the Cinema School Faculty. His name is North Holland and he's a full professor at the US schools semantic arts and he said to me when we were on the plane. Let's not put the director in the movie. And let's not do any voiceover and I was like hall. Hell hell bent to make sure that we didn't do that because I wanted to be a good director actually at the time I wasn't even planning on being the director I just wanted to do a fun project my friend so we were actually flying lying to China to do a cool short movie. I had no intention to be in it. And then what we ended up filming instead. Devastated me so much that it turned into something much bigger much more expensive much more look more time to to make sure that it was told to the right way so it was a big struggle and then in the fourth year of making the film I had to break those rules because I would either have to raise a half a million dollars more money. According into the experts who told me that I would have to do that and I would have to spend another five years making the movie. Oh God if I wanted not the director not to be the movie so I gave in at that point and I didn't realize what I was setting myself a four when I said okay I will do the voice over and I will investigate investigate. How my connection to world fairs is so personal in Wia care so much at the time? I just decided to do it. I didn't realize how difficult difficult it was going to be. I imagine it was personally difficult to just delve. That much into you know who you are and expose all of that so some of that also required that I'd be honest with myself about who I am and what I'm not good at and what I need to work on so being in the ivory tower teaching architecture you kind of get a reputation for being elitist taste and I had to think about. Well what is it about myself. That is not connecting to people outside the profession because the whole reason and why decided to make movies which didn't mention in our interview yet is. I just felt like a lot of what I was doing. What I cared about in architecture just didn't in connect to people and I wanted to figure out a way that I could connect what I cared about two people that were outside the profession? So what I started by doing in was to question some of the things that I had been in some ways disrespecting so this is really hard on me you to think about it because my mom's gone but what happened was when I was growing up I felt like I was investigating the intellectual side of me. 'cause which is more like my dad and I was actually not spending enough time on the part that is emotional. which is my mother? She would like to watch Chinese soap operas. My sister's like to watch soap operas in junior high and around this time period. I actually stopped watching television in junior high ever. Really Watch that much television. You know the reason I stopped watching television was because I felt like it was low culture and I felt like I wasn't spending enough time on the you know the intellectual stuff so I ended up spending all my time time on the intellectual stuff and in some ways fulfilled some of the goals that I wanted but I felt like there was rift that what I was interested. Distant in architecture did not connect to people including my own family so I started investigating soap operas. One of the big things I learned was that you have to have enough time with character in order to feel something with the character The other thing that I learned and I also learned this in my dramatic arts arts background was that in order to feel something for the character you want to ensure that the story that is portrayed trade shows the character in more than just one dimension so if you have a strong character you also want to show parts of this person. That might not be so so strong. You have a lot of different schools of thoughts on. How do you do a narrative? The one way you can think about it is that you have protagonist and you have obstacles and so you have to think about what is who is the protagonist. And what are the obstacles. So I started thinking about the the stuff that I had filmed already and I originally had the hero in our film as the protagonist and he in some ways still is but one of the problems I faced with him was that he didn't want me to film him in any vulnerable situation so he came across as being very very strong. But you couldn't necessarily empathize with him so that you can understand why he was so strong is Jack. Yeah this is Jack. I had some very good writers that I worked with. And they he crafted these questions. That would push buttons so when we were asking Jack some of these questions we would anticipate getting some emotional response. We got some emotional response but he ended up yelling at me and he ended up threatening not to be in the movie. Oh my God and when that happened I decided to back off a little bit and go back back to square one and figure out another way so when we backtracked. That's when we decided okay. Well I'm tired. I can't raise another half a million dollars. I don't have another five years to work on this because I might die before that happens and I'm so happy that I ended up doing it this way even though I don't feel like the film is as strong as I could do it today. Learning the lessons I've learned because Jack did ultimately die before I finish the movie so what I did was I had to dig into my own soul and my own background kind of dig into the emotional stuff the stuff that you know we all buried deep that we don't want to use it. That's what I had to do. And that was really hard and then going through. That was hard now. Imagine you digging. Open your wounds and pulling up scabs but then as the film director you don't want any of that to work. Its way into the movie because people will roll their eyes. You don't Wata have your own Catharsis in the movie because that's your Catharsis. It has nothing to do with what you want the audience to experience. You know it's like going through therapy right but they're not letting any of your therapy to be absorbed. You had to like really quickly figure out the stuff that that just was your baggage and then bring enough emotion and so that the audience could feel something. Yeah no I definitely thought it was well L. edited in that way like I thought it was enough to give me as a viewer an investment into. Yeah okay like I see this big problem problem from a personal level but I also see a big problem from like. It's a big problem kind of level to warm really glad you got that. Because that's exactly the the dilemma. We were trying to figure out because the whole point that I stepped in the first place was I wanted people to care about the bigger issue right and I think it made it more powerful harmful to to like discover that experience of the Shanghai world. Expo from your is knowing where you came from with like the sort of expectations expectations you might have of the US pavilion and then going there and finding the disgrace you know so you never really want to tell your story and so I made the mistake if you notice. There's a lot of these expert interviews in the movie and that's that was my misconception of what makes documentary. I thought documentaries were issue base which they are but they still need to tell a good story and the way to tell a story is to allow the the audience be immersed in the film experience and what that means is. It's not so much about telling it is about getting the audience to experience. What what the character experienced? So in some parts of the film you will feel like you're experiencing yourself then you use techniques like cinema verite where you take a camera and there's this thing called fly on the wall where you try to be the the objective observer and and you don't try to insert your own opinion in so so we did that in some parts of the film especially in the Shanghai World Expo because I had really good filmmakers then the expert interviews. It's me doing all the interviews. I was interviewing a lot of them and It was kind of difficult trying to figure out what's the balance of immersive of experience and not giving away too much and not telling the audience what to feel so hopefully it was enough. I mean it's I would do it again so much better the next time. Because I've learned so much for making this movie but isn't that everything with architecture with filmmaking. I mean with anything. It's always a work in progress. We're all works in. Progress are representation at the Shanghai world. Expo was so disgraceful. I affeldt and in some ways do feel like it is showcasing reality of the US. Even though it's like the darkest reality I think we could portray for me. It was unfortunate because I've been wearing rose colored glasses for so long and I. I think that had to do with being a child of immigrants growing up hearing how wonderful this country wasn't how lucky I was to be born here and yet when I talk to people people when I'm telling them about the movie a lot of Americans say oh yeah they already know about this. They agree with the erosion of America's image. I I have to mention. There was a book that I used. When I was trying to find a way of expressing this John Steinbeck's a win the winter of discontent was something that I carried with me because because it was about the lessening of American standards and I also read Jane Smiley's thousand acres and the reason why I reread? We read some of these classics was because I wanted to see how they were able to convey some of these feelings. I started researching the ugly American. Where did that it come about and for me? It was about when I saw you know I had to think about well. How did I react? When I saw the awful fiasco in Shanghai and it was all about the commercialization Shen and that it seemed like everyone that the country had been going in the wrong direction so I had to like really isolate exactly how that could be shown in in a movie and how much it could be shown because obviously these are bigger issues right so figuring out okay? It's about let's okay. Well what are we used to a show. And that's when I investigated Jack Story and why architecture was so effective to tell. The story was because without using any words you can just show uh-huh corporate logos and you can show the incredibly inspiring spaces of the Geodesic Dome in Montreal. And you know Oh and people feel this. You don't have to say anything you can just show it. Yeah I mean even walking into the big Bucky Ball in Montreal. Now you still still feel the sense of wonder like Oh my gosh this was built. When you see the pavilion in Shanghai? It's just like it's so bad it feels like a caricature except it's actually what happened. It's it's unfortunate and I do want to say this. The people that I interviewed they were all. Aw really good intentions in a documentary. You'd never want to be especially today with Fake News Ray. You don't really WANNA be unfair air on the worst you could say about. Things that were constructed is that they really knew nothing about architecture. Design and how powerfully form space in order to convey a message or convey the wrong message case to the movie. You're right it's not anyone person's fault it's kind of like we were set up for failure. It's been systematically going downhill for twenty five years and it's not any particular entity or person. I wanted to be fair in that way but it was really about making sure that the audience understood the obstacles. And how do they get to feel feel what the poor the poor girls facing these obstacles. What are the obstacles that Jack faced so you had to figure out a way of conveying? This it's fairly and you don't WanNa blame anybody so what I ultimately decided to do was i. I had to figure out like what was my a vision as a filmmaker and my vision. I'm emotional and this is the part that connects to my mother emotions. What connects to people? People feel things so you know everyone knows Michael. Moore's films so one of the things he's known for is his sarcastic wit. I'm not sarcastic. I wasn't Charles Ferguson. Either where I was going going to do this sort of investigative journalism. There was a point in which I was thinking about following the money. Where did all the money go? Sure I didn't have the budget for that. That's like a couple of million dollars to follow the money and I only raised three hundred thousand or something like that. So what I did do was I went back to square one and I started to figure out. Well who AM I. And what kind of movie do I want to tell. And do I want to Piss people off. I mean I want people to get angry But I also want them to feel sad. I wanted them to feel the full range of emotion because the point in doing this movie for me was in some ways to enact like a catharsis audience so that the audience starts to feel these emotions themselves so they can start to heal and so I decided to make the film a love letter that this was my love letter to America and so to do that I needed to be fair. I needed to be balanced. I needed to make sure that people realized how much I cared about America Apo- and that this is not something that I was blaming people for but to recognize that we're all at fault so Kind of to stray off topic You mentioned fundraising. You know. Three hundred thousand dollars for this film and that you're very good at fundraising which I think. A lot of architects aren't aren't good at. Can you talk about what those qualities are or how you go about convincing people to give you money. Everybody wants to filmmakers. WanNa know this too and professors and everybody tells you how important it is to a follow your passion. Sure it's really the truth. That's really the case because it really carries through when you're trying to say something and I'm in the making of the film what I learned several important rules in points that I learned about fundraising number one. You never give up Number two you never know where the money's GonNa come from. You mean you might think that you're gonNA write some grants and you might get lucky. You might eight actually hit some key points that they're looking for and they might hord you some money but you can't let not getting a grant not getting the money stop op you from doing what you're doing because the money will come if you have the passion to get it done and sometimes I don't know why you're doing it but you still have to keep moving closer to the goal and you might not even know what the goal is. You just keep doing it. You keep going so I knew you. That film had a power to speak to people far more strongly than some other methods of expression so I knew I wanted to learn. Learn how to do that. That kept me going but like a lot of times I started out by thinking. Oh I would research some grants Ranson think this organization should fund us because we're perfectly aligned. It has nothing to do with it because there might be ten projects that are perfectly aligned. Mina they can only fund one or two right. I sometimes think I want some of these graphs because I didn't give up and they just wanted me to go away. What is that the applied who a grant like three times in a row six times? Some of them. I've applied to eight times and I still haven't gotten might try again for another project. Sure but it isn't just about applying to grant so. Let me explain about that process. You start with what I call the low hanging fruit. Sure if somebody tells you about something like Oh my gosh. You should try for this. Because they're not that many applicants for it you have better shot at getting it. Sure so. That's low hanging fruit okay. Another situation like you know even architects. They want to design your own projects and stuff like that. And like they're hanging out with other architects. Like no other architects. Go to that real estate a networking thing. They're gonNA feed you. They have more money than architects. So go hang out with them. They'll give you your first project or something like that the same with the film's is you. You reach out to organizations or people that understand the message so you have to do a lot of work to figure out what you're you're trying to say I'm talking about going out to fundraise after your clear headed about what you're trying to do. All I knew is I was clear headed that this is a really important issue. Do it was bigger than architecture. It was about the American on national identity and it was about something something that was much more universal and so I had to figure out how that can resonate with different funders different organizations and and if you are constantly working on it whether you're writing about it with your finding a way of expressing your feeling that's going to get you closer to being clear and your vision And then when you go out there I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't know how to pitch like Oh perfect. Example I was with Rory Kennedy at Academy event where they were showing doing her documentary and like and then I started talking to all these really like Academy Award winning directors and producers and they were telling me about the movies about rape genocide or murder. My friend Doug Blush was editing the hunting ground and Ryan Vogel decorous and they were like. Oh my God that's about Russian doping or for like the Olympics from nineteen sixty something. Oh Meena so. What movie are you doing? I used to say it's about building out a world's fair which sounds like. Oh Wow I made a lotta mistakes and just kept honing to. It's a lot of a lot of really important work that you have to do on yourself. Yeah Yeah I was lucky at friends had really really good writers really good producers that were asking me all the right questions and like one of the questions they asked me was. Why should I watch this movie? Why should I care if I'm not an architect? How do you get people to care about this? One last question question about about the film and then I WanNa talk about your background in architecture. What was your hope or desire like what's the goal that the film would bring a bow? How I kept some really modest goals? My goal was to get people to care whatever that means right. So the fact that we've just finished our twenty-second screening national screening. I've been traveling all over the country showing the movie because people are finding out about of it and hopefully i. You know finding a way of universally connecting people that I can get people to care so I've succeeded in getting getting more people to care another goal that I I'm really happy about this. One of the goals I had was to get into some film festivals that were not necessarily architecture. Film Festivals Scher Psychot- into two great. And we've got into one of the top twenty five film festivals. The Snow International Film Festival and Strangely Ainsley enough. Most of our audiences are not architects. I would say only about fifteen percent of audience is architects and the rest of the audience is made up of you know a lot of people that are very patriotic or we have a lot of world fair fanatics we have a lot of diplomacy and international relations people The topic we cover is about public diplomacy. We're using so when people say oh. It's another architecture firm like no. It's a film that uses architecture that covers an important issue about the representation representation of the American people. And how dropped the ball. And why it's so important is because of this era of fake news and extremism every country in the world has a Ministry of Culture which is putting out narratives about the values of that country through their culture and and we eliminated our version of a Ministry of Culture which was called the United States. Information Agency suggest before nine. Eleven was when the agency that represents represents the American people to the world got eliminated in whammo. Nine eleven happened and you have to wonder. Why is it that they're attacking us because because of our symbols of money in war but this whole notion about eliminating the agency that represents the American people to me? That's a really important issue shoot. That's beyond architecture because when you're talking about the era of fake news extremism terrorists you also. I need something to counter that narrative. And that's what we've eliminate and we've not only eliminated and now we're getting were in some ways. Crippling a lot of the diplomacy initiatives through State Department and that's why they actually liked the movie and the Public Diplomacy Council. US Public Diplomacy Council. Actually they champion in the movie. What do you think it would take for our really bad representation at the World Expo to be better? I mean t to an acceptable level. You know what I mean like. Well there were a lot of challenges because it's been it's been a slow erosion because they started by taking takings public money away then. They eliminated the agency. That represents America th world. Then they started hiring and season. The entities wanted to help so everyone everyone that tried to to represent. America of the world's fair did the best that they could based off of their knowledge but what happened was eliminated the expertise of architecture. And that's how I got to how bad Shanghai was. On the other thing in Shanghai's they didn't hire an American architects to represent America. So Oh you know it's a slow process and like anything worth doing. It's going to take several steps. The good news is step. One has been taken. They are using being an American architect. This time. They also use an American architect for the Milan molex though which we show but the architect that was involved poor James Bieber didn't realize how bad the RPM setup so that if they didn't raise enough money he wouldn't get paid so that was really bad. Ultimately the goal is to start are to get funding again from the United States government. You know a lot of people. Don't think that funding will ever be able to happen again. But if you understand the fact that this is is more than just about a building this is about putting out messages about what American values are. Then I think that it becomes much bigger than just I. You know stupid building out event that this country doesn't seem to care about anymore and the other issue that we try to bring forth in the movie is. This is one of the most USC important advance for connecting to the people of the world at the time. When they were marketing Shanghai was considered the biggest event attended by human beings in history? seventy-three million people went. You know these are really important events about getting people to gather in a real place and Z.. Each other face to face. There's a term that people misconstrued but I'll just say it because everybody understands it for this term the last three feet which was by Edward r armourers but what he was talking about was the importance of the last three feet for face to face communication which cannot be replicated when you're talking about a chat room or a website like facebook. We're actually on our best behavior when we're in the same room with somebody and so there are very few events that we can do that. We do want to start to understand each other which means that we can't think of ourselves as living in our own boxes anymore. Yeah I think that's a good segue to talk about Something that you and I have talked about a little bit before. which is what? It's like to be an Asian American woman men in architecture so in making this movie I actually had to define what we're American values and I actually did a lot of homework to think about. Well what are the American values that my mom and dad seem to value and what made them want to stay in the United States. Some of those were individual. Oh freedom and self expression because that is unique to America and if you think about our culture and embracing innovation then in some ways innovation has thrived because we've allowed individuals to pursue. What they believed were important challenges in society and culture whereas if you think about that in counterpoint to Confucius values they stress family and they stress not sticking out in some ways when you don't the need to that might be construed as not letting the individual express himself so the challenge of being Asian American is? I was taught to really value my family over myself self yet. I've been taught to find myself and you see the dilemma there. There's a total paradox. There too how do you resolve of that. It's a constant balancing act. But I think that it's wrong to assume that every Asian woman has to follow the same same path I mean I think one of the things that I struggled with when I so. I grew up in Hawaiian. It's very mixed place. But it's predominantly commonly Asian. I think and so I grew up in a culture not just with my family but at school or with friends where You don't Brag about yourself Alf. That's ugly or like we don't say things in a certain blunt way So the bragging thing I think is actually any more than just being a woman and being Asian culture civilization has taught us not to quote Brag. But for some reason we've misconstrued strewed that to mean don't even have a voice and I think that's where we're as Asian women were misunderstanding. The message the example I like to give give is like we. We tried to pass on our best intentions to our children and sorry. This movie still makes me cry. If you're familiar with the joy luck club there. A few use scenes there and one of them is about. She was taught not to take the biggest crab. Did your mother teach you not to take the biggest. No because I didn't have have crab but yeah I'm familiar with your swansea the best to your guests. And that's not just a mother the thing it's host it's a good host you you give the best to your guest and everything the way that I misunderstood it which probably made me cry so much as that. I don't deserve the biggest crab and that's not necessarily what the message is It just means you want to honor your guest and I think a lot of Asian women misconstrue the message you need to make sure you take care of yourself and the way my dad used to tell me he says if you don't take care of yourself you're not going to be around to take care of anybody else so you have to take care of yourself and you have to spend the time on yourself and you have to speak up. Yeah yeah the judgment I had to make was not understanding why people were always underestimating me when I came to the mainland. 'cause I I was clearly capable of doing things I was doing and Oh you know it was quietly. Hit some stereotypes about you. Maybe but I think I I. It didn't help at by not promoting myself as well. Why I still have that problem? But I'm getting over. I used to really take it to heart when people said you're too self promoting emoting now don't anymore because I've actually talked to some of my friends. That are actually. Don't have that problem and they said you should be proud of being accused of being too promoting. Because you've gotten over the thing that has been crippling you. It's not about bragging. No it's about having confidence it ends and being able to just share that I think yeah but getting back to the voice finding our own way of finding voice that is so unique it to every person and it requires that they do the hard work. I was lucky because I was taught by the sky that is considered one of the main gene advisors on leadership. Warren Bennis. You know it was weird because before I met him leadership. Was this whole thing where you're supposed to be you know showing showing people this or that and you're supposed to be the figurehead and you're supposed to be the one in charge and you're telling everybody what to do. It is the exact opposite. What what he showed me and he didn't tell me this? He showed me by example he showed me. It's about inspiring people. It's so much work. But you have to figure out ways of inspiring them to get excited about the main vision so it's also about having a vision seeing who aligns with your vision and working with people that align with your vision finding the best people knowing that you just happened to be the leader in this situation that you might not be the leader in another situation. That's amazing to wrap things up. Can you tell us how we can watch your film and find out more. We are still doing screenings all over the country and and if you're lucky enough to be in la. We have a screening coming up on March twentieth at the Helms Bakery and it's done through women in Architecture Committee for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. If you're in Baltimore actually that screening is I that one is a free screening and and it's being sponsored by the University of Maryland Baltimore County and that's March twelfth on campus. We'll have all these listings on our website. which is dace of a nation movies movies dot com and maybe we'll be able to stream on a streaming network at some point but I have to set that up? That sounds great. Hopefully y'all get to check check out the movie because it's fantastic. Audrey thank you thanks for listening. I'm your host Audrey Sato and today's guest was Meena Chow Chow. I'll have more information and links in my show notes. You can check out her film. And by the way. Are you subscribe to our new email newsletter if not visit US online at x x Dash. LA DOT COM and sign up. You receive information about events like Meena screening as well as notifications nations of new episodes. You can also find me on social media at X. L. A. Podcast. Thanks for listening.

United States director Shanghai America Jack Story professor Los Angeles USC USC School of Architecture Baltimore Audrey Sato Cinema School Faculty editor producer Harvard Graduate School of des Spike Lee DC New York Meena L. A. Architects
Fonz Morris

Revision Path

1:11:30 hr | 5 months ago

Fonz Morris

"Are you looking for a new job? Are you hiring but struggling to diversify your candidate pool? We have something that can help our job board head on over to revision path dot com forward slash jobs to browse listings or to place your own this week on the job. Board design action collective is looking for a lead web designer in Oakland California companies. Stop making excuses on your diversity and inclusion efforts poster job listing with us for just ninety. Nine dollars you're listening will be on our job board for thirty days and will spread the word for you about your job to our diverse audience of listeners. Get started with US and expand your job. Search today provision path dot com forward slash jobs deep. You're listening to the revision path. Podcast a weekly showcase of the world's black graphic designers web designers and web developers through in depth interviews. You'll learn about their work their goals and what inspires the mess creative individuals here's your host. Maurice Cherry. Hello everybody welcome to revision path. I'm Maurice Cherry quick things I want to mention before we get started with this week's interview so I up. Submissions are open for recognize recognizes the design and theology featuring essays and commentary from Indigenous People and people of color who are to me the next generation of emergent design voices so the theme for this year is in fresh and the deadline for submissions. Is April thirtieth? Make sure you read the rules before you submit can do all of this over at recognized dot design again. The deadline for submissions is April thirtieth. Secondly and this is for those of you that are in the Atlanta area. I would love it if you would come out to the Museum of design Atlanta for Creative Atlantic twenty twenty now. This is an interview series. That revision is doing along with Museum of design Atlanta and the goal of it is the highlight black creatives in ranging from an award-winning cellist. To a Harvard Graduate School of Design Loeb Fellow. Now the first conversation this year is actually going to be with that award winning cellist with Corey Okay Cello Johnson. That's going to take place on March. Twenty six at six thirty. Pm tickets are still on sale. You can head over to museum design Dot Org to get yours today. We'll also put a link in the show. Let's let's talk about our sponsors. Facebook design and abstract design is a proud sponsor for vision path to learn more about how the facebook design communities designing for human needs and unprecedented scale. Please visit facebook dot design. The episode is also brought to you by abstract design. Workflow management for modern design teams spend less time searching for design files and tracking down feedback and spend more time focusing on innovation and collaboration glitch but for designers abstract is your team's version control source of truth for a design work with abstract conversion sketch design files present work request reviews collect feedback and give developers direct access to all specs. All from one place. Sign your team of four free fourteen day trial today by heading over to. Www DOT abstract dot com. Now for this week's interview I'm talking with fons. Morris Growth Design lead at core Sarah. Let's start the show all right so tell us who you are and what you do. My name is Fond Marris. I am D design lead on the growth team at Core Sarah Dot org which is an online at tech company based out of Silicone Valley focusing on transforming lives through education. How did you get started there? Once my last star that helped get off. The ground ended up now working out for me. I told my wife that if I was going to get a job back in corporate America or go back in the entrepreneurship space. I wanted it to be out in California. I just knew the community. That was out here. I knew the the weather one to change it environment. I'm father I wanted to raise my daughter in a different environment than New York City or Philadelphia and I just started to pursue opportunities out west and I applaud two different positions. Recruiters hit me up from different companies and ultimately landed at. Corsair in August. Twenty eight what projects are you working on there as a growth design lead so currently just released our new homepage? Which is doing fantastic. The numbers are up. Four percent across site-wide which is really exciting for those of you who understand. Metrics have recently worked on redesigning our Promo UNISOM framework which is really important for us because we have a lot of products that we need to promote two different learners at different times so our old chrome UNICEF system was just ineffective and it wasn't really producing traffic and it was really hard to develop. The Promo units was a scalable so we redid that that was very successful. I also helped Redo our degree. White label framework degrees are really important part. Of course Sarah Airport the future of course and we have about eighteen degrees now and each one is from a different university so they need their own place to be able to house the necessary information and another product that I worked. Aw is our new. Us search results page. We were having some issues with not getting used to the right concept that they wanted so we completely revamped that and then also being on the grow team. We're GONNA lot of small experiments were really experiment based where will roll out to three smaller iterations of something to get the data from that to be able to make better educated decision on a design which those small tasks so it split between big projects like the ones. I said originally events smaller ones that are more targeted towards growth specific. And iterations. I GOTCHA. So it's a lot of the sounds like it's some user testing involved with it when you're doing this comparison. Yeah yes sir. Lots of it. So what's again? I'll get a real quick. Usually what we have is a control. Which is what the actual live. Current site is and then we'll have a bearing A. B. C. And then we'll roll out each of those barriers to a specific target group. And we'll get the numbers back from those and then that way we can compare the effect that each Zayn at on each target and be able to make a decision based on the metrics. What's a regular daylight for you? There sounds like there's a lot of meetings a lot of maybe cross functional. Work stuff like that. Lots of meetings. I don't think I would have ever thought that as a as somebody with designer in their titled out would have so many meeting. I would say it's funny. It's interesting is really a just an end had used because as a designer I was a solo person. I was used to just sitting in front of my computer zone out at cranking out designs. Where now I would say. My time is split. Almost maybe sixty forty sometimes even seventy thirty meeting design and then you split in not necessarily formal meetings but one on one meetings with the autism vessel Martine because designed lead. I support the other designers on the team as well. So when you add all that up you'd be surprised how much time I actually spent meeting. But that's because I'm helping come up with decisions and helping other designers come up with decisions with things like that to where my job is no longer only focused on what can physically produce but also what I can emotionally and technically hell of a people with or grow with and things like that. So it's funny. How how many meetings I do have nowadays though so how many designers are on the grossing will right now. We're about nine okay. At our highest we were about twelve. But that's something else that's tricky out. Here is the turnover at companies because the designer wants a better opportunity or they're contractor or it's just not a good fit so you see teams growing shrink Way More often than I thought but right now we're at about a strong nine. Yeah I would imagine out there in Silicon Valley because there's so many tech companies out there really so many design focused tech companies that if you're a designer of a certain caliber you kind of can just bounce from place to place if you want to. You know that's what it feels like. You definitely give reached out to a lot of companies but the hiring process at these companies are kind of tricky so even if you are skilled you still got to go to bare their hiring process which is definitely something that. I wanted to talk about today because I don't know how many people understand how much work it takes to get at to get on one of these companies. Just how sometimes is all so even just the luck of the draw because there's so many phases of it? You never really know which phase could take you out or if you're GONNA get to all of the favors as well. Listen let's talk about it because I'm actually the bill of IRA. Well not hiring on the interview teams. I'm doing a lot of like phone screens and resume screens. Let's talk about it because I actually have a lot to say about talk to be sort of. I guess when it comes to what you're looking for out of designers and it doesn't necessarily have to be specific like skills. Unsure skills are transferable. But what are you looking for? When you're hiring for someone. Of course air. I think the level of designer is important because that ties into what we're going to ask them to produce and by that I mean if we have a lot of production work if there's a lot of ood designs that need to be produced that maybe we've already did a lot of the work for we don't need to put a lot of be behold the full product design process into this. Then we can have been. You could say maybe we're looking for someone who is not a senior level designer but did not really junior is so because of that now will be looking for. Communication skills will be looking for the ability to do use research. We may not be expecting you to take full full project on. That may go to a three quarters because you might not have had that kind of experience yet but we'll be expecting you to be able to to lead some things to a certain extent without any hand holding to a certain extent as well and that you determined through asking questions asking them what type of responsibilities. They've had it their previous position. Joe Ask them what type of things the interested in looking forward to working gone if they get any position and then it's your job as the viewer to take all the information at c if the two situations alarm and feel like a good fit do you find that there are certain skills or certain qualities that you're looking for in particular. I think at the end of the day we wanna work with really nice people people. And that's what I really value about. Sarah is that I really like my coworkers. Everybody is friendly. Everybody is smart. There's not a lot of Egos you feel. You can trust each other and those are more on the personal side than a aww technical skills so I would say be in being transparent when we ask you what your last job was about. You don't want you to sound as if you were the best thing since like spread or you will be Lebron James Product design because we want some people that have humility seven. Wants you to be able to tell us how you work with a problem in how you solve the baby bump heads with somebody on your team. That's not the same thing about you. Were really trying to figure out how you handle challenges. So we're looking for those types of things as well a problem solving and being able to maybe compromise with some people to figure out how to get Point if both were bottlenecked on the idea to all of these at non technical thing these skills it's amazing to me. How and this is something that I knew. I sort of knew this before. But certainly once I started interviewing and hiring designers and just creatives in general like your personality and your behavior oftentimes are more important than what you have on your resume or your cover letter. I mean certainly that will get you. I think in the door get you past the screen but like you said You. WanNa you WanNa work with people that are going to fit within the culture and I know culture fit can kind of be a a negative term that is thrown about but like you say you WanNa work with Nice People? People that you can get along with and do work with like. That's really important. Cultural Shit is important and I don't understand why coach says the negative works. It's it's important. Why is important because as a black man when you think of what is it mean for me to be a culture fit somewhere? What does that mean? If it's not a black organization. Dan What culture am I trying to fit into so understand how it could be a like a negative situation but I also think it's coming from the perspective of do you have ego? Are you just a nice person? Are you friendly? Do you get along well with with others on your team. Are you supportive? You people want to come to work to work with you and that's important because you're wicha coworkers mortar. You are family sometimes so culture it is important to me but it does get tricky and I know what fate that but I definitely think cultured once again goes into soft skills as well. That's just really important. Because if I'm not talking to you about designed or if you're not literally doing the design your most likely using yourself skills if that's communicating goes sharing or analyzing critiquing. So that's why ends up being really important for someone in the product space to be stalled on both sides of the coin. What other sort of advice would you give like for someone? That's not the surly standard. They're looking to work at core Sarah. But if they're looking to get into this industry like what advice would you give to an up and coming designer? That wants to get a job in design. I love that question. That's one of favorite questions that I have actually sped days hours much trying to figure out what's the best ashes to that and I recently spoke at tech and I'm really happy to be able to have come up with the best answer to that question right before I did my talk and my answer. My answer is I think you should take a second think about all the different products that you interact with. And what's your favorite event? Then figure out. Would you want to work at that company? And if you WANNA work at that company and you should go to that company's career page and you should look at all the positions that they have available and if any of those positions jumped out to you should go into you. Should read the product to describe Job Description and you should read those requirements in those requirements. Are Pretty much your checklist of the skills and things you need to learn. She did one day. Get that job so I think that's a no cost really valuable. Step that a lot of people don't do but could do a should do to really learn the details of what it would take to possibly land your dream job because I say this also is think about somebody who has not developed any of their skills yet. Wide just blindly develop skills or go after skill that you heard somebody else say when you can think about where you wanna be in your life. What company you think makes you happy or if you want to build your own product think about a company that built something that and then still go today careers. Page still need that same information. You need a starting point and I think that's something I've learned from a lot of people that might be transitioning careers more trying to reskill. They needed starting point at a job. Description is a really good starting point. That's a really good advice. I like the fact that you were saying like take that as like the things that you have to do the checklist to get that particular job and I would even say you know especially if you still want to work for that company even if that particular position may not be what you think I could at least hopefully get your foot in the door there. There might be something else that you end up doing. The company might see what else you bring to the table. They might make a position for. I mean it's a rarity sometimes. Depending on how established the company is but especially like in in startups like tech startups. Absolutely like the job that you get is that necessarily the job that you will keep if that makes any sense yes that makes a ton of sense in but when you think of it how many people visit accompanies career page. You don't have to only visit bethpage when you're looking for a job. They're learning sources. Their knowledge base of this is what this company is asking somebody to do. This position should know and it's literally just syllabus. Almost it's like your career syllabus. And that's what I want. My two cents to be to everybody is visit all of the job boards of all the companies you liked star taking notes and look and see if there's any redundancy in some of the skills that they're asking because then those are the ones you really know you should learn as opposed to just like. I said blindly Tronto follow after somebody else and Pullin skills that you think might be the hottest trends because those might not be the hottest translates very true one weird thing that I've run into with interviewing and Hubris or just like garden variety. Racism was the sometimes I will interview non black candidates and just the tone that they take with me or the way that they will answer questions or not answering questions or mask if there's someone else that they can speak to because they looked at my lincoln profile and they're like well I'll give you an example and this is not tied to my current employer if you happen to be listening but I've certainly interviewed people before that I said well look at your link. Dan and like you're not really a designer. So is there a designer that I can speak to like? This is back when I had my radio which I thought was very interesting considering like I run the studio. So if you're talking to me like stop here. Oh Yeah. People wanted to only be interviewed by either. Yeah I guess. I'll be transparent. This has also happened at the place that I work. But it's interesting how I don't know if this is like a a new thing happens in desire but like I don't think people realize that just because you're interview with one person that you're also sort of suddenly being interviewed by entire team like that person is trying to see if you fit not just in the company you're in this role this particular singular role but like you know what the team like. Do we WANNA hand off work to you. We want to hand off products. We like you at the end of the day and this is all. You're acting at the like the phone screen stage then you can forget it right. I understand what you're saying. I don't think that the okay so I disagree with that. I think the first round should be anybody. The company wants to be just getting a temperature. Check of where you are and being able to just what you went to. Why do you WANNA leave your job? Tell me about yourself. I don't really think you need to be specific profession to ask somebody those type of high level. Let me get to know you type questions so I think the recruiter being a first person that you speak to make sense because I need to bet as well as all the people coming through the door. I'll let you speak to our designers and stuff like that in the second round. We're going to get a little more technical but for the first go because it's so introductory I don't necessarily. I never felt as if the first person I spoke to needed to be a designer. I was just really honestly to be candid. I'm just always happy. Make it to the phones for so. I'm not on who I'm talking to. I'm more happy that I'm talking to somebody. Okay I can. I can see that viewpoint. I still think though it just helps to not like the jerk essentially no no no I am. I am always about respect and professionalism. I think that is so important. I can't even think of the enormously important. You should never be jerked to anybody if you're trying to get something from the best just common sense so if you're trying to get a job and I'm your first access point to the company and you're not being nice to me. I'm not sure how far you're GONNA make you. That's true and I've I've definitely run into that several times but I guess intern wild. Yeah yeah in terms of other advice like I can't stress enough the importance of having like a really good portfolio like I looked at your website. I see you have your portfolio and I mean it's it's great because it lists not only the things that you've done but also like the thought process behind it. I know that I've talked to designers young designers. They're like just starting out or just coming out of school and I'm like it's so important for you to actually talk about your design decisions and not just show a bunch of mockups or a bunch of pretty pictures like that anyone can generate that like you can buy a mockup thing from like. I Dunno mighty deals or somewhere for like fourteen bucks slap in logos all of a sudden. Look at all this work that I did that on billboards in folders and like no it's not real world you know like to talk out the the why behind. Why you're doing certain things like those shots might look pretty but the critical thinking. I think is more important as a designer. If your visual or if you're something like product X. is still important to be able to articulate that in some way right so tell the story wrath another piece of information that I would want to say is people WanNa hear story so we only showed the the final design. You jump to the last page story so I don't know what the stories about you. Just jump to the end. You know what I mean. I I don't know what store you just. Toby and it doesn't really show me how you got to that. Final Zahn Best. What SOME FEEDBACK? Actually just did a mentor session yesterday. Adobe with oganization out of San Francisco named cascade at seven it was fantastic because I got to actually interview about five junior designers and walk through their portfolio. A give them feedback. That was what I was focusing on the most was. Are you telling me a story to give me from the topic pace at the bottom of the page? That's what's so important. A you do that through breaking it up with letting me know what the problem is and letting me know that you understand the industry that you're in in thin walking me through how you think about. This could possibly be solved anti you understand user and understand what the user wants from. This helps you figure out what trae information in your content should be in the negative information architecture. So it's a whole flow that you can end up telling somebody that would really help them understand why you made a decision you may ambassador people are really trying to get from your portfolio there. Yes Sir About me page. Read a little bit about you but for your skill side. They're trying to figure out. How handle this problem? What you did in the process it. How did Absolutely so speaking of the story mean we have you on here to talk about your story. So tell me about where you grew up so I grew up in Brooklyn New York. I went to a public art high school. I'm a self taught designer with like to say that not to Brag but more of as inspiration for anyone to know that once again like I said earlier. You work hard at something. I'm a true believer in achieve anything that you put your mind so I wanted to be architect when I was young and I taught myself architecture and went to high school from our high school. I went into computer science at Georgia state. Well I started at Morehouse actually getting my degree in computer science and then I transferred from Morehouse to Georgia state. And that's where I actually finished my degree in computer science and I taught myself in my senior year of college. Georgia state got a grant from the State of university from Georgia state. Got a grant from the state build a multimedia lab on campus and they completely furnished it with all new multimedia equipment MAC equipment. Pc ADOBE METROMEDIA pro tools final cut new cannon equipment a bay completely furnished with all new things for us to use that students and I pretty much just moved into the lab and I taught myself everything that that I could possibly there. So let's upgrade experience. Let's step back a little bit so self taught designer also here same way. Was Your family. Supportive of you. Going into design or architecture like did they see this as something that you can do for a living. I don't think I spoke to them enough about it. I was always academic type of student so as long as I stay in my books. My parents were supportive of anything that I was doing. I actually had a friend whose father was a black architect and then I did a I try to get an internship with another black architect and I took some courses at Parsons School of design when I was in high school and this energy showed my parents that I was really interested in architecture so I did have support for them but I will say. I don't know if they knew to the extent or to to the degree that I wanted to pursue design or pursue architecture at that moment I try to show them the best. That could be the work. I did at school and do my passion for looking at buildings and constantly reading architecture books architecture magazines so I would say that they supported me to the best that they knew. How okay what Drain Architecture. I just feel like because I like design at the end of the day in growing up in New York City. You're around a lot of skyscrapers an S. For some of the most famous architects have planted the seed. You're walking up and down Fifth Avenue. Or you're walking in Soho or Brooklyn you you see all these amazing art deco style buildings these modern buildings from with all these different heights and cons of windows. And then you see you've got the Brooklyn Bridge and you've got the high rate that you got the George Washington bridge the Queensboro Bridge. It's so many different bridges that just seeing in either all amazing examples of architecture so I would think growing up in New York. City is what exposed me to architecture and being in the city is where they made me say. I want design one of these buildings day now I also went to Morehouse so I have to ask about it. What was it like when you when you got there? What was it like when you first got there? It was an amazing experience being a black man wanting to connect with other black men in the higher education space. It was really self rewarding and was very proud and accomplished. I also wanted to to attend. Abc was well. My sister went to North Carolina. Ant So it was almost as if I felt as if I had made it to a certain level education wise. Because I had made it into more house which in my community was respected as a very prestigious school for black men. Though I loved the experience I ended up transferring though in all honesty because one I paid for college out of my pocket and Morehouse being a private college. Tuition is way higher in the State University as well as they don't offer in state tuition sadly which this. This has a trickle down effect. The resources that I needed to be successful just wasn't available at morehouse while I was attending. But I don't think that's a shot at morehouse. I think it's it's an eye opener to understanding the value of getting funding. And what you can do with the right money because Georgia state. The other hand had all of the new equipment all of the computer labs all of the things I needed to pursue computer science degree successfully. Georgia state was able to give me so. That's why I left. Morehouse from cultural from a personal feeling. I've really loved going to Morehouse. It really made me proud on a campus every day and seeing some of the other brothers trying to better than lobs family lobs to get in higher education but when he came to the resources the State University just had an abundance of them. And I'm in Georgia state geographically. You weren't that far from Morales Anyway. It's like you could take the national down their street. You're you're right. There can't be taken while David haven't happy right across now doubt so yes yes and and Atlanta is still a very black focused city so when I left to go to Georgia State. I didn't have any Gretz felt as if I was just doing. What was the best for me at that moment but I love morehouse? I think it's very important institution in our community so interesting. You mentioned that about the resources so you got there in ninety seven. I think you said You'd rather not as I got there in ninety nine. I also started out in computer. Science started out actually duel degree computer science computer engineering because the scholarship that I had we had two major in one of the stem fields and I wanted to computer science mainly because I wanted to do web design. I have been learning web design on my own just like reverse engineering webpages at my bike. Mom Schools Computer Lab and teaching myself. Html 'cause I mean I'm from I'm from a small town South Alabama. We didn't have a bookstore. The library had one computer that could get on the Internet's so like we didn't have a whole lot of resources around Mike. Learning this stuff. I mean at the college. They had more resources but I was teaching. Allow that stuff myself. And so when I went to and also I would say I wanted to major in computer science because I wanted to be Dwayne Wayne from a different world trade. Heresy or of the reason I wanted to go to a black college as well was because a different world like you said as well as kill C. Drop baby baby baby video man that will colleges like. Are you kidding me look help missing out on that? They're I don't know if there's a thing piece of something out there like on the route or like the undefeated or something about how like hip hop and the nineties and how they glorified college. You don't see a sweat shirts. Oh my God h will be smart. I mean you don't have none of that none of that. Oh Man oh man I got. I got the Boston campus. I started out computer science computer engineering switch to I think I switched to computer science. Maybe after like the first few weeks or so 'cause I didn't really want to do the engineering part but I wanted to do web design and I remember. I was sitting. These names will take you back. I was sitting in Dr Jones's class and did you take a class with Dr Jones which classes at. I think it might have been like computer programming. One I think. Like when the intro classes man. Listen don't make me show how old I am. I'll have to go through transcripts. Look at my name's my professors. But I remember the thing that I didn't like about Dr Jones and he's passed recipes but the thing about Dr Jones was. He wouldn't teach he would sit in class and tell all his anecdotes about his fishing buddies and Mino- growing up and and all this sort of stuff and we're just sitting here like winners the class and a start and I don't know if this was like a way to weed people out but then like when you're ready to go to the next class then he would start teaching. I oh I guess we got rid of all the scrag with now we can you know now we can start learning something but Dr Jones was also my adviser and so I remember going to remember the Secretary Mrs Banks. Oh Ma'am Elinor. She's still there or not but man she was my best friend at morehouse off for years. I was there because I I ended up switching my major mass largely. Because wow yeah. I switched my major mass. 'cause I was I met with Dr Jones and I told him I wanted to go into doing web design and I showed him some like design stuff. I did like. I did the design for the Project Space Scholarship Program and as I look at all the stuff I've done it he was like look. The Internet is a Fad. Like all this. Ww Web south like stuff ain't gonNA be around. That's not what we teach you here. If that's what you WanNa do you need to change your major? Sounds like over and computer. Science program should've picked up where development years ago. Yeah but like this is nine hundred ninety nine though like. I don't know that many colleges that would have had a curriculum so I'd say that he was wrong. Don't get me wrong. But like he didn't have anything he was really like. This is what you WANNA do. You need to like major in something else and I thought about it and look at my transcript and my credits and stuff and so. I switched over to math. 'cause I had enough credits from taking. Ap Math courses in high school. Say Oh well if I switch over man. I can graduate early like for me. I was thinking how soon can get out of here. 'cause I was figuring like and also my freshman year was rough. That's a whole other story but I was really thinking like like what can I get out of here and get my degree you know and I switched over to math and just stayed in math and I graduated in three and a half years. I technically graduated in too but I walked out three but yeah like even then like there was nothing. I remember the computer lab. They're being so not the rag on Morales because now it's gotten better now. They have a whole technology tower. I think Dr Arnn will still teach him back but now he's the chair. He's the chair now but I remember they just had these old archaic like Sun Microsystems. Silicon Graphics workstations. I'm like what in the hell is this. How much they cost us. This after using Lennox like it was really rough back down and I was like man. Maybe it was a good thing. I did change my major although to be clear. Abc News need to be able get the funding from the government to pay for these things. You know what I mean. A lot of age was used. Hey for this stuff with their own money. That stuff's expensive. Although the be clear like you know when I switched over to math it wasn't like I was going into technological workplace. Either I mean they had these. I almost felt like sometimes I was sitting in like a one room. Schoolhouse just like really bad quality desks. Blackboards broke in like then again that. Yeah but this is like ninety nine to two thousand and I would imagine it's different now but part of me didn't honestly pardon me to know any better because I'm like. Oh I came from Alabama so we use we use chalkboards and overhead projectors. 'cause that's where using high school so when we're doing that in College. I was like Oh this is like what you're supposed to do and then I knew people that were going to Georgia state and Georgia tech using like these smart whiteboards and stuff. I was like why sketching out comic solid. With a piece of talk allergist Cheonan in the equation and getting the ground. What's Oh my God? Yeah Yeah Yeah I I typically and I understand what you're saying and they made a lot of progress since since those days which is good to see. I was down there about two years ago a when I walked on campus. I can see the growth fell. Good Yeah. They've definitely grown a lot now but say they still don't know morehouse has. It's not to rag on Morehouse but Morales has other issues outside of funding and just curriculum and software and hardware. Things like that but it has grown a lot. I will give it that much. Like the Performing Arts Center and all new equipment and things rear end tyranny. Everything you know. I mean movies are shop on campus. Now like a good part of hidden figures out on Morales's campus Tyler Perry's change in Atlantic bringing that found their heavy which is good because there's a lot of money in that space so Atlanta. I Miss I miss Atlanta sometimes honestly. Hey It's always here always here because nowhere so you transferred to Georgia state and you're talking about how was in from the house once you graduated from there like what was your first design. Gig like what were you working on? I started doing fliers for people and business cards and doing logos for anybody that needed it. No industry specific and then I started to get better at that. And that's when I got my first first project ever was well. My first ever painting GIG was a website for a furniture company a small indie furniture company. And I think they paid me. I think the whole deal that my partner worked out with ended up being thirty five or fifty five hundred four full website and I just could not believe it when he came back with a fifty percent deposit. Wow and I said to myself. Are you kidding? Me Man gave you that money. That's what let me know that there was a lane for me. Zebra designs came off. Pretty much always been a believer in in having your third eye open and Ben Designs and that just spelt by the name of a company possible to me was third. I designs and so bad furniture. Company will start doubts. I paint Klein okay. How long were you freelancing that? Oh I still do it to this day. So okay I mean because he grew from freelancing into now that I'm later careers just consult. Yeah Yeah but I don't call it dirt out designs anymore but the process or the concept of doing freelance design work. I still do it to stay by. I'll always be able to do that. Which best the thing which message? This is why you always want to learn a skill. They can never take the skill away. No because I don they can never take that away from Yakin. Always make money doing this on whether it's at a company or whether it's freelance aware it's trying to build my own product so that's the value of having a relevant skill. Yeah absolutely so. How long was it until you move back to New York City? After I was doing third designs I realized maybe I could get a job in the industry and national. I got my first art director position at a money transfer company that was a small tiny version of like. Oh Western Union. I did that for almost two years. And that's where I really got my first bearing understanding what it's like to work with engineers who are going to be building your stuff and this is what web develop beret. His birthday is a web designer and really understanding the programming languages like that and then I actually had a in my family. A little brother actually ended up getting killed in New York and do what I decided to just leave Atlanta. It was just a whole life changing experience for me. I just felt like I needed to be back around family and so I left Atlanta to go back to New York and when I got to. New York is when I got my first agency job where I was working working on a lot of different marketing materials. Banners Flash Banner Web banners landing pages for entertainment companies movies and New Yorkers a good place for design so it was easy place to get a job once I left Atlanta. Now was this a my artisan. No this is not even portfolios portfolios but resumes are so hard to decide what to put whatnot put Marty's DNA was pretty much what what dirt designs in was third out designs. I product. Okay okay go away so I'll keep going with this and it will start to make a lot more sense so once I went back to New York and I started working in the agency space. I kept the third John's idea going with the same partner and we started to to even bigger project for even more people. We worked with DEF JAM and we did Kanye West banners and we worked with that jamming. We did jagged edge stuff in Rick. Ross and we work with Universal Music and we did movie releases and we just realized why we're getting good this we're actually getting real clients and then another partner of ours. From morehouse joined on board. He opened up his network. Then we was doing work with real estate companies and all these other different new businesses and what ended up happening is one of our clients that we had did a lot of work for hire dust. Actually the it's an amazing story. The Angel our first angel investors were a family auto Pennsylvania. The LOMAX family the honorable. Dr Walter Lomax. He was actually Martin Luther King. Junior's physical well physician is real physician. And that's the craziest parties like that. Most black people don't know family. Were really focused on investing in a lot of black startups in black businesses. All across the country and across the world actually so they put up the money for me to build modest DNA and that was my first product which was supposed to be a way for indie artists to promote and monetize their brains. It came out around the time. My Space Stop in. Facebook pages had just launched man. So you go from attending morehouse where Martin. Luther King went to now getting supported by the family of his doctor. Grace greatest experience ever in most most people don't even know of the Lomax family. They are amazing. Amazing people have done so much. They've been behind the scenes for so many different things that people don't know and I just am very fortunate enough to have worked with them and put up real angel money for us to build our first product. I will forever be thankful for them forever appreciative and it's really allowed me to get my product design. Career started because prior to this. I was doing web designing graphic design but once we started doing Mardi DNA. That was my first step into actual product. Wow so you also worked for a gaming company is that right high five yes so the Startup Marty did that for about five years but then we ultimately ran out of funding and I was and knew I needed to get a job again and then I was in Philadelphia at that moment and I thought to myself well. I'm GonNa do something fun. I'm going to do something I haven't tried before. An high five Games was a video game company that Bill Casino Games for Facebook as well as in house casinos so I was art directed there and I worked on the marketing team. Which allowed me to try to help promote our new games coming out in our new campaigns and coming up so it was actually my first attempt at working on growth team because my whole job was to try to create amazing visuals to keep people wanting to play our games. And so you're in New York. You're working at Pi. Five Games as art director doing stuff. When did you decide to move to Philly like what brought that on so my first move to Philly was when we got the angel investment because the Lomax family was based out of Pennsylvania? Okay so we needed to be in fairly attributed to get back and forth to the office because they were our investors and you need them to. We needed to go into the office to be able to talk and help strategizing plan things out so that was my first stay in Philly wants. That didn't happen and I moved back to New York was half-off Games and then I left. Hot Games went to Philly a second time to work at comcast which is extended. That was my second state affiliate. What was it like work? Yeah fill is a great city. I went for the first time in what you was at. Twenty seven no twenty seventeen twenty eighteen. I think was the first one great city great city great food scene. I love Philly. A lot of people will tell me when I went to Philly. Philly's rough like Philly. I had a great time in Philly. I enjoy PHILLY. Billy is raw earliest. But that's if you go to the role played Eric Roth. If you go to the wrong places. So absolutely. What's critical about Philly is its proximity to New York and his proximity to defeat so it was like a midpoint between two major cities so depending on if you are in government in DC or your banking or real estate or finance in New York you can even live in Philadelphia and commute to New York. It's often Wow Okay what was it like working at comcast? It was interesting. It was interesting I learned. Why do I say that is because I was a contractor okay? You're a contractor at these big companies. You treated a little different. You still get to. I mean you still go to work every day but certain company meetings. You don't get to go to like. They had a gym in the building that I couldn't use because I was a contractor. A you always have this kind of over your head. You're like a second class citizen because your contractor so when you can put that aside which is not that easy working. That was cool because it was. The hottest company in the city could walk to work. The building and the work environment was amazing. My Co workers were cool at actual work on a lot of high profile stuff. I got to work on the netflix. Release about to work on the living stuff. I'd have to work on that new x one remote so I'd have to work on a lot of projects and different product and I learned a lot. I learned a lot about design systems. I'm a lot about the difference between art directors and creative directors working with Sales Team. So it was a really important learning process for me and I learned a lot about things not only design related but just basic work environment related. Gotcha made me realize that. Also that's been realized I never wanted to be per se contractor again at company. Stability is not really there and I realized I needed to hone in on my skills. And if I wasn't gonNA DO ENTREPRENEURSHIP. I need to get full competition somewhere because the contracting stop just kind of gets away sometimes so that kind of clouded. My experience is xfinity a little bit in transparency. I worked at. At and T. From like two thousand six to two thousand eight also as a contractor and yeah I I know what you mean about that second class citizen kind of status like aside from the fact that they will just kind of treat you in that way. There's also the fact that I don't know if it was like comcast but like at a TNC. They kept changing the goalposts when came to like what they measured you for success by so like employees. Were Kinda set because they have salary and so whatever happened happened like contractors were held to this really super rigid like almost glengarry. Glen Ross Communist like standard of you have make this many points a week and if you don't make this may points a week you're fired like and they will be quick to tell you that they will get someone else in to fill your spot like that like they don't they don't care right and also randomly if you're a contractor in your already feel some kind of way being the only black man in all. The design team doesn't really help I. There were certain times where I just had a really ask myself. Is this the right place for me? And did I really see myself? Having a mobility in that company in Lucky enough the same God that I did my first company martyrs. Dna with a raised another round of money. And that's when I left. Comcast join their team as head of his on at my channel which is a startup that was focusing on video telecommunications nice how long were you at my channel for about two years about two years we started. I started doing a little bit of part time work while I was still at comcast event. We were making so much. Progress in vibe in energy was was good. We were doing well. I just decided to leave and go full time at my channel. Nice so that was my second stay at entrepreneurship. Well like my third. One is so while you were at my channel right after. That was when you decided you wanted to move out West and so two year career there. You go so here with a full circle now this whole all this rambling did made sense. We're make system how I got here now but you know what what I want. Honestly say is an for anyone. That's listening to this. Live your own pack. You never know what's going to work. Try Different things out. Make the best decisions you can. We're all human. You'RE GONNA learn so much from every step of the road that don't try to be too perfect because part of life is just figuring things out and I'm really happy with the path that I took in my life. I don't regret any of it and I'm happy. It led me to where I am now. Embiid with many points in my career that I didn't see getting this far in design for whatever was going on at that moment but also the taback exit stuff I said earlier. That's why you have to be patient with yourself and you'd have to have self confidence you have to believe in yourself because you can achieve anything. Yeah you mentioned speaking at Aphrodisiac. Last year is a huge van. It's all about diversity. In the tech community I would say it also extensively kind of shifts over into diversity of design community because designing tech tend to be pretty linked. I would say it was the tools that people using things. How do we increase diversity in the design community? I think you have to find all the people that's interested in it and you have to introduce it to people who may not have thought about it. Awareness is critical. That's a really good first step so let me say awareness finally okay and by awareness. Do you mean just awareness that we are here or just awareness the actual profession that there's an actual profession that you can go into. That's not necessarily just called design but that there that there is a position titled You ex design a wide design writer. Uh researcher product manager product designer. I don't think a lot of people understand the granular levels of careers You just understand the overarching umbrella of tech in. You may go to the overarching umbrella of design but when I speak of awareness I wanNA let a population of people who may not be familiar with this understand all the different disciplines that you can pursue and by doing that you allow people to find what's interesting to them as well as what they're passionate about and then by doing that. That's how you help. Somebody make their first step into deciding actually do want to get into design and I WANNA be exposition. But if you don't know that there's such thing at the data scientists or as a product designer or as a uwe or interaction designer how you really going to achieve one. Become one of those. Having that exposure is import yet to to know that this is a potential things. Sort of like what the granularity I mean when you and I started out like you were a web designer graphic designer. You're a webmaster. That's pretty much. It as technology and design have certainly evolved over the years. Now you can get so so specific with the type of design that you do and I do think that makes it harder when you're just coming into its because there are these and I don't know if you see this too but like I feel like if you're if you WANNA get into the design industry there's certainly our paths that you can take that feel like they're a little more reliable than others but like say someone will go to say you know what. I want to design so they hear about General Assembly they go to journalists embassy. They take the US you know intensive course in like I think it's like ten or twelve weeks or something like that they get out they get placed at a place. Now there you X. Designer they hate you X. Right but they went through it because they felt like that was a way to get in. You know right see. That's what I'm saying. They skip that first step of what I said. Almost forty five minutes ago of figuring out. What part of this do you actually like? Don't be so caught up in the. Us part the Kota Morin. I like the way apple products. Look I'm really like ranch style of back so that's not you x. So you go in. Us Don't mean that's what you're GonNa do really take the time to to focus on what you want to do right. I think that's where you'll decide. Do you want to really go into a? Us Program from General Assembly. That might not be the best for you. But if you don't really know what you WANNA do. I think that's where you end up starting to make the decisions that you'd think might work for you as opposed to work really would work for you. So the exposure. I do agree with you as well that the exposure could bring some layer of complexity but I also think that it will ultimately lead to a layer of clarity. Yeah that's a good way to put it like that because oftentimes you know just knowing that these positions exist is one thing like I think. Sometimes you know to be honest with you. Some folks get caught up in the salary. They'll see that this place is paying this much though. I gotTA get into Tech. Oh I got into design and yeah there is money if you go with the right company and the right position but it's gotta be something that speaks to us something that speaks to your unique skills and talents in what you like. And it shouldn't just be about chasing a salary because if anything I think we both know like to say designers are a dominant doesn't like you can be replaced in. Some way is not so much about just trying to make sure you get a paycheck at the end of the day. Right right I agree with you. I agree with your net. I mean money is definitely important for sure but there's a lot of people that make a lot of money that are not really happy so of your important money. Can't be the dominant deciding factor. Because that means Joe. Take the money to work at a company for position. That should not really happy in and I think that ends up having a lot of negatives consequences so I would tell anybody male or female to fight for the most money you can get but also understand that. There's other things that matter. You're looking for career just the money right. What keeps you motivated and inspired these days. I have a family to take care of. My family is really supportive and inspired by me and proud of me and I'm proud of myself. My growth over my career keeps me motivated. The love of support from our community. Shout out to you honestly I just hit you up on twitter in lengthened and act you. Hey how do I figure out participate in your show one day? An you responded to my tweet in honestly less than an hour you responded Tamar Linden message in less than thirty minutes so tied with interaction but that kind of interaction and support. That's what keeps me motivated. Because that means people respect me. That respect goes a long way. That respects is what makes you feel good. That respect is what will also chew you up. Maybe when you're having a bad day so the respect for my community I would say is what keeps me really motivated and when I say community. I'm using that as a broad term. I'm not just using that as community or my family. I'm using that Zahn community. The Community Bay Area Community Not Community in Brooklyn. So by community motivates honestly. What haven't you done yet that you want to do in your career. Well what I've been doing. It's been in my last last couple of months on Dan. I WanNa thank you as well as more public speaking. A lot of people have told me that they think I could possibly have lain in speaking. They have a motivational style and inspirational style. And I can explain things. That could possibly be complicated in a more. Layman's type of way out you would net and I also really like supporting people and I think speaking allows you to do all that so I would like to do more speaking shadow the Afro Tech. They're the ones that really gave me my first first shot at speaking on such a big platform that I had been doing smaller events here but the Afro Tech. The success of appetizers. We'll let me know that I would like to continue doing speaking as well as I think. I WANNA start some kind of online school to help with training the community to gain the skills that they need to decrease this digital divide gap that I see every day that work and participate in design so one of the themes that we have for this year that I'm trying to carry this. Throughout twenty twenty is basically. How are we as black designers and developers technologists et Cetera? How are we using the skills that we have to build a more equitable future? Because I mean the the future technically is now I think. Twenty Twenty shutouts. Abc Twenty Twenty has been a year that has been in the collective consciousness for over twenty years of pieces to show ABC so people have always had a notion of twenty twenty being like the future. Now that we're here and you look at Your Life you look at your career. You look at the skills that you have. How are you helping to build a more equitable future? I think by supporting other people to become a designer and blazing trails and making sure that I'm a face of diversity in design. I think there's a lot of unique trailblazers and I'm not saying I'm the only trailblazer but you need trailblazers today but to bring awareness to situations and that's what I'm doing every day that's what I put a hundred and twenty five percent into doing that but I also understand and think the value add supporting my community talking to mentoring talking to people go into portfolio interviews. Having one one call with people who may reach out to me that want to have questions about you x y. They don't know anybody in product is on it. They can show their portfolio to just ask a question. I think being that resource for people is really how I can give back the most. Yes I can give back Design and I make sure to try to bring adversely to Michael Johnson. I'm really proud of that. And I love being Akwa Sarah because I can debate and I've seen that I've seen my power of being able to use people of Color on the homepage of Sarah and that's a big step for us. That's the net. I spoke about an mytalk. Talk Afro Tech. So I think those ways and I'm able to actually give back at home nice. That's funny you mention that reminds me of Dr Genie's Brita who he had on the show. This was years ago but he was talking about how he changed the default slack hand to like a brown hand and how how even just like that simple gesture was something that like made shock waves. You know the fact that you see. The default hand does not a white hand. It's black hand or Brown hands. Like what does that mean you know? So I I. It's funny to even those little can seem like small gestures can have a huge impact huge there. Hugh Dow Tell One quick story when we redid our Promo unit. Klaff ON THAT. I spoke about working on. I was able to sit with some designers. Show the flexibility of the new system in one of the days that I log answered coarser Dot Org Esau. A brother wanted any promise that we just did and I saw sister in another unit that we did and then when you add another place there was another person of color on the site and it just really showed that versity and it was a good first step of course Sarah and it was an amazing step for me so I don't think you really should look at it as was it. A big or small step is the step that it's necessary so shout to the brother who did the slack hand because that is amazing shadow to everybody who is making a difference in whatever way that they can because we need everybody to do everything that they can't. Where do you see yourself in the next five years? It's it's twenty twenty five. What is funds working on? I think I have become a a household name in design as far as a representative from the black community. I think I will have my at least my prototype. First version of some type of training platform off the ground to be able to help mentor a teach and educate future designers current designers or people who want to upskill or reskill. And I think I'll always still be designed as well. I may have started may have finally launched the APP thinking about doing some kind of an APP that just allows people to have a place to talk. Maybe get support. So you'll see me. Probably doing something entrepreneurship. Wise as well as still being a powerhouse. In the design industry somewhere leading some kind of team diffic- nice just to kind of wrap things up here. Where can our audience find out more about you and about your work on line you can go to? I'm very active on twitter. You can find me at Young Fawns Y. O. U. N. G. FOMC. You can find me on instagram. At finds money F. A. Wednesay any y you can also find the link did at Fons Marris. I'm not the biggest social media user forgotten but I am the biggest social media user for networking imprint promotions. So you can find all three of those social media platforms as well as if you just want to see some of the work that I did you can go to my portfolio which is fonts. Fomc DOT design. And you can email me you can however you want to try to find that you can reach out. I'm Orelon trust you. Type Funds Mars into Google search bar. You'll see me now while falls Morris I wanNA thank you so much so much for come show. I mean your energy. I mean like so people for people that were recording this. I'm recording this. Like after my work day so like after eight hours your energy has mu pumps now like. I hear such positive feedback from people like that and like last night when I was doing the mentoring with the junior designers. I got some same feedback like that so worries. That's what I was saying. I think I have a laid in speaking in public speaking because my passion for design and my passion for my community and my love for just humanity allows needs to be able to share that. Bring that energy to the table every. Thank you for sharing that with me because those are the typo pieces of feedback. That's really important to me. I'm no longer as focused on. Am I just a good visual designer? Focus on that and M. I A good guy. Ama- interesting. Mit citing. Am I still bringing a lot of energy to the table saw? I'm glad that you were able to receive that for me because I wanted to bring back because I feel really honored and excited to be a party. A podcast so thank you thank you thank you. Sir. I really appreciate it off. Big Big thanks to funds Morris. Of course thanks to you for listening you can find out more about funds and his work through the links and the show notes vision path dot com and of course thanks to our sponsors for this episode. Facebook design and abstract. Facebook design is a proud sponsor of revision path to learn more about how the facebook designed community is designing for human. Needs IT unprecedented scale. Please visit facebook dot design. This episode is also brought to you by abstract design. Workflow management for modern design teams spend less time searching for design files and tracking down feedback and spend more time focusing on innovation and collaboration like glitch but for designers abstract is your team's version control source of truth for Design Work but abstract to conversion sketch design files. Present work request reviews collect feedback and give developers direct access to all specs. All from one place. Sign your team up for free. Fourteen Day trial today by heading over to www dot abstract dot com provision is brought to you by lunch a multidisciplinary creative studio in Atlanta Georgia. Are you looking for some creative consulting for your next project? The next podcast etc. Then let's do lunch visit us a Yep. It's lunch DOT com today. I'll leave him. Put a link in the show notes. This podcast is created hosted and produced by me Mari Sherry with engineering and editing by RJ. Basilio voiceovers by music man dray. With Insurance Ultra music by yellow speaker. Our transcript provided by glitch. So what did you think of this episode? Hit US UP ON TWITTER. Instagram or even better leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts. And let us know. That's really kind of the best way for us to know. Not only how we'RE DOING. I guess as a podcast but also to hear from you. The listener like I love reading those reviews. Of course Ali Review. Right here on the show so please leave a rating and review five stars. Of course he loved the show and definitely would love to hear from you as always thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next time

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The Politics of Density

Future of the American City

46:35 min | 5 months ago

The Politics of Density

"The design professions are intrinsically optimistic. And if you don't feel that I don't know how you get up in the morning is if you don't think what you're GonNa do is going to make the world a slightly better place You're in the wrong field from the Harvard Graduate School of design this future of the American city conversations on how we live where we live on. Waldheim were here with Dana Coffin author educator whose research focuses on affordable housing and urban density. Dana joins us today to discuss her work on the politics of density in Los Angeles Dana. Welcome thank you so you are among other things we could say professor of architecture urban design at Ucla for you are the founding director of a city lab. That's right so for the past decade or two You've been engaged in questions of the built environment. Los Angeles tell us about that. Well City labs started in two thousand six. I began with my colleague. Roger Sherman an urban designer and architect who has since joined another architecture practice and we started it because we could see that after Katrina. There was so little response from architects about how to deal with really massive urban issues that a city like Los Angeles kind of known for Calamities and disasters could use serious design research center and it turned out that that was the case. We didn't really have any major hurricanes we had to deal with. But you know I think. We started with four initiatives basically rethinking green trying to think about sustainability issue. Something that's really plagued Los Angeles from the start. Probably the most overarching theme was the post suburban city I think of Los Angeles is the mother of all suburbs. Even though I know I have colleagues who think Rome might have been that and it seems to me. We ought to also be a place where we solve suburban problems. The we also did a initiative around sensing based on some of the sort of smart technology stuff I was working in and then we had another one on new infrastructures and we added an important one. Maybe five years ago on spatial justice and those themes than have driven all the work we do which is all self initiated. You would think Los Angeles like New York would have multiple urban design think tanks but in fact we just really didn't have some good urban thinkers in part because we have no long-term tradition of urban planning and design interesting. I mean you mentioned this. Of course there's the longstanding intellectual movements to geography policy in planning a range of cognate disciplines certainly a longstanding commitment to architecture and the design fields. I mean southern California's home to dozen really leading institutions. Whether it's your Employer University of California Los Angeles whether it's USC School of Architecture. We think about CY ARC. The WOODBURY CAL arts one can go on and on about the uptake of intelligence People having access to education design in the arts and yet somehow in our experience our conversations here Los Angeles has been a place where the city was really the product of the work of architects. Well I think the way you described that feeds into the stereotype of Los Angeles as not having their their right that. It's a ninety eight suburbs in search of a city. It was sort of that way in terms of the schools. We always talk about how we should be collaborating and working together on the pressing issues of Los Angeles and it doesn't seem to coalesce and I think part of that is kind of furthering the myth or some help fulfilling the prophecy that instead of seeing Los Angeles. A place with a nineteenth century downtown. That's extremely vibrant with a fair amount of public spaces and symbolic public buildings and really rich tradition of architectural heritage particularly since World War. Two that we shouldn't be really thinking of ourselves as a place where a built form has governed the way the city evolves even if governed primarily by developers instead by planners and maybe that would characterize a city. I've been struck in our conversations in in the city with Christopher Hawthorne among many others of a sense of history mindedness sense of that. That era in Los Angeles. Hawthorne's formulation of the I L. A. Which was really progressive era associated with The city beautiful movement or the art deco so of course there are those layers of history. But even you yourself authored. A significant book about the idea that Los Angeles was delivered in part through residential architecture. Right I think the DNA of Los Angeles really is it's residential form and primarily at single family housing. That doesn't mean that we don't have a really remarkable array of multifamily housing from queered housing. Too you know duplexes in Hollywood or the Hollywood hills kind of hotels. But it's the single families zone that you know. Blankets as bantams legacy has attested to the lanes of ED. So we're basically struggling past that I I also think the history of Los Angeles has become more appearance to all of us including people you mentioned because we're working downtown again. You know until twenty years ago downtown was still a concept that we architects were all trying to revitalize. Now you know there's public buildings. Cafes Street live people walking dogs housing and industrial areas. So you know there's something like twenty thousand units of Housing Right now in the pipeline for the downtown area not exactly the kind of housing we might need but more housing is always better. Know that you've been committed for a long time in your research in your practice to the delivery advocacy for public housing specially affordability in housing. Of course that's among the major challenges in southern California frankly among the major challenges facing the American city you mentioned this housing that is in the pipeline and yet describe it as not maybe completely fulfilling the demand tell us what are we missing in southern California in terms of a solution to the need for accessible housing. Well I mean at the most basic level. We need affordable housing. Not just one form. We need every form of affordable housing and what people are building now partly because the development industry has governed. La's growth and we've depended on development for that they're building at the most profitable and which is luxury housing and of course the pipeline starts five years before will maybe there was a market for luxury housing five years ago. But really we're overbuilt in that right now so we also don't have unlike New York a long legacy and built fabric of social housing. So originally you know. We tried to build ten thousand units of public housing in the second wave of the housing accent. Forty nine and I think in the end we built like not even a third of that so our legacy and practices just haven't been built through public social housing strategies. We have nonprofits. That are fantastic but now in Los Angeles is very hard to find land. It's very hard to get neighbors to a politically go along with the very housing that we all need so. They're all kinds of new complications so the combination of a general of ISM. Let's call it that kind of yes affordable housing but not in my neighborhood combined with a sense that the fleet the population of both the city and the county have reached a certain kind of apex. So you have this kind of economic engine of this Ten Year Bull Bull market but at the same moment without that engine of growth. It's not so clear where housing might emerge in that context. Now I was just watching marriage story. I don't know if you've seen it yet. But everyone in New York who's trying to convince the Guy Broadway play director to move to L. A. Says will you'll love it in La. There's so much space. Oh Yeah don't forget about La the space there. I mean this is kind of stereotype that in Los Angeles all we have is field conditions whereas all there is a New York. Is You know. Dan's high rises. And I think that kind of mythology even pervades people who live in Los Angeles that we think of ourselves still as an expansive sprawling metropolis when actually we've hit the limits so if you go out to the inland empire which used to be the area east of La that you could always find a house that was more affordable those prices of also skyrocketed. So there really is nowhere further out to go and because of that it's causing all this new kind of a self evaluation and challenges to how we think we live here at. Maybe we aren't quite as cliche about it. As New Yorkers are but I still think people here are value the idea of a lawn even though they don't have one so one of the projects you've been engaged in through work at UCLA and city lab has been an interest in an advocacy four accessory dwelling units. Tell us about that work. Well so when we started at city lab in two thousand six one of the goals was self-generated saying in order to think of the Post Urban City. We really need to be thinking about doubling the density. Why not imagine that all of the single families owned could actually be shared and have a second unit there and we came up with that really like an indigenous practice because if you went to any of the lower income neighborhoods any of the outskirts. There was already this robust building practice a garage apartments and second units and granny flats so an and people were doing it heroically. They were building on the weekends pouring their own slab. Because it was all illegal and then you couldn't actually advertise and build wealth that way because You couldn't sell it as if it had a second unit. So seeing that kind of industriousness. It was clear that there was a need and it came to me that really everybody in Los Angeles had some kind of backyard home story whether it was for a kid who was coming back from college or a nanny or a grandparent or that they were trying to get their kids because they wanted a smaller place one to rent their front place and if you look in the history of Los Angeles people have always used their yards for income generation is a really beautiful book called my Blue Heaven by a woman named Becky Nicolaidis about that. So in the idea that we could double the density increase sustainability and make new housing. That would be smaller and more affordable. We started working for ten years. I studied every aspect. I think granny flats. What were the lock typologies? I don't know maybe you've done this in your work too. But no one had really studied How single family. Properties were subdivided. And when we did field surveys there were some neighborhoods that almost two thirds of the lots already had built an informal secondary unit And they ranged from really poorly built to absolutely perfectly built but none of them legal so the State Assemblyman for my district called me up to say what housing ideas do you have. And so I put together a team of experts or architects and builders and developers and researchers and we all went together and proposed several ideas in the accessory dwelling unit. One was the strongest partly because Ucla had been so extensively involved through city lab in the research and we ended up writing the policy at the state level jumping over the city. And by doing that we instead of having the five hundred thousand single-family loss which exists in Los Angeles. We had what I estimate to be. Eight point one million single family lots all of which now can have a secondary unit so it was a very effective now I think we should have tripled the density but when I started talking about doubling the density in two thousand seven or so people thought I was insane. Feel now They think I didn't go far enough. Which is amazing. I mean it's been that amount of flip really in the last twelve years for people feeling like Los Angeles could be forever as it was as in nineteen sixty two to realizing that we have to think a harder and better about how to make a city. That's open to all the people who are currently living here and need to live here so that that's a real struggle and a really interesting time to be an architect ally. There are so many aspects of that that experience that you're sharing that I think are notable among them the idea that instead of a a single major project or a big infrastructure upgrade or a single big like kind of big ribbon cutting opportunity or the big philanthropic moment or the the big public realm gesture that we see some of these days. The idea that you have something which is really distributed through private actors right and and not not even necessarily to one particular neighborhood or one community but rather in fact in the way that single family home ownership and the individual parcel and its relationship to the history of the city distributes a kind of capacity but also with the idea that you were beginning with something that was already de facto. Happening right I think the prevalence of private actors in Los Angeles versus public actors is also the genesis of the law really being as effective as it is because it means that you know every time I would go to a neighborhood council meeting the collective will was a bit touchy well. We're not sure we want that. How much parking problems would it make? Is GOING TO BE MORE TRAFFIC. How do we know his living there? And afterwards three or four individuals will come up to me and say how could I build one? What would it take? I'd like to have that. And basically person by person. There was a deep need and desire for them but collectively the willpower was difficult to push the needle and now they people have seen. It isn't actually so dangerous on their neighbors is imagined. Will now that you've done this work. I mean a part of what I'm struck by also is a from what I understand the in addition to the research that you did in your academic work in through city lab the idea that you engaged in a a kind of grassroots political process right superdome is that is that a fair description. I think when you deal with I mean I find this neuron work when you deal with urban problems and futures opening possibilities at the urban scale as complicated as this it entails everything from building technology and design magic to lending institutions and what constitutes a collateral. And it's hard to get a grip on all the pieces that are necessary when you make this kind of really integrative bottom up change but I do think it's one of the ways. The city will evolve. I think the kind of way we work is much more What I would call a radical increment. Meaning you develop a design idea for something small that if it proliferates has huge implications and that's the way city. La- has always worked. I mean part of what I'm struck by their also on the one hand. It's an approach to the political economy which I more often than not have associated with the American city with a kind of Oakland say old left or a kind of community development organization which is district. It's this community. I'm working on behalf of this organization and for you to take that as an approach but then go to Sacramento and say well what what could the state do to enable this on the ground the other principal distinction between what we do and a community design operation or an architecture? Practice is that we initiate all our own work so it's really rooted in long scholarship. That says here's a way you could intervene. But there's no actor at present to do that. Were an architect. Couldn't have done what we did. Because there's no client for it where we worked with a lot of architects. I think Kevin Daly's architecture with the little by home that we built was a magical turning point to make people believe these backyard homes really were architectural but no single actor was able to pull that kind of complex collaborative operation together. It took knowing from long years of scholarship. What to do? And I'll tell you what we're working on now and you can see how this idea basically proliferates or this strategy proliferates now that we have this network of actors in northern and Southern California because we found a team in northern California doing similar work. We're working on schoolyard housing. We have something like I think. Seven the size of seven Manhattan's in public schools in the state of California of land and only the University of California is consistently providing housing. So if we took the elementary schools middle schools community colleges and state schools we start providing affordable housing on freeland again that would serve students as kind of model for how other kinds of affordable housing would occur and those are sites that are available that aren't pressing against neighborhoods all the time and now we're really focusing particularly on community colleges because of the rowing awareness that those students in California of which there millions have the same housing needs of course as everyone else and the community colleges have huge amounts of land. Sometimes three hundred acres of which may be fifty acres. Forty acres is occupied by classroom buildings in the rest or agricultural land because they were often colleges training farmers. Which of course is not really what we use community colleges for anymore. So not so much mattress. What's interesting is the through. There seems to be. It's not so much. The delivery of housing which is culture seems to be able to do. It's not so much even the the design or the construction would people seem to have access to it's the value of land and the parcel of land and it's ownership. Because presumably. The construction costs on this college. Site will be the same whether it's across the street on a private parcel or on the site of a former college yes so a tweak that slightly to say that yeah. We've done fine with housing production particularly when it's conventional forms so single family homes. Nobody does it better look out in the Antelope Valley. It goes on forever. We're out of that kind of land. Now so WHO's working next? Maybe the kinds of developers of multifamily housing that build high end housing. Okay we have sites downtown around the river that are all getting developed by people like dark angels and Herzog and de Meron and okay. We can do that also. But what about more innovative forms? That might actually serve affordable housing. So where do we find excess land? Where is there excess capacity? That hasn't really been seen before and in the work we did with boat backyard homes and now is cleared homes. I think of it as freeland because it was land that is already purchased but unoccupied for one reason or another so the combination notches of the lens value in kind of financial market sense. But the idea that it's already publicly owned first of all in the Republic of California and at the same moment is less encumbered by being a part of this neighborhood or this property owners association. Yes okay so here's the other component. Which is that. It also captures new populations new programmatic needs and in that sense requires new architectural form so it requires architectural thinking to leverage the housing. For instance. If you think of UCLA where we're doing some extensive work now because that land is pretty densely built already but we have an amazing housing administration. There that's really trying to find creative solutions for students who can't live within an hour and a half commute of the campus and they're getting PhD's there as ing these kids that are doing this work driving in and out each day and doing the same time so they need something much more like a hostile or a cheap hotel or a weekly during finals week overnight or maybe they need sleeping pods or napping zones right. There's a million different ways. We could be solving accommodation for the smaller segments of say our collective populations in their relationship to where they live and where they work. But we don't do that because developers and banks don't build those things. Those aren't conventional typologies. So what city. Labs steps into do is generate new thinking about types and then if it takes like did with the secondary units then we go and try and figure out how would we get loans for it. How would we get political support for it? Who WOULD BUILD? What would it look like And I'm now seeing UCLA and the other UC system's but we are so well connected in Ucla as an amazing testing ground for really whole new segments of accommodation. I'm not even calling housing anymore because seems to me. Something like pod share we live or you know more in keeping with what we're working on now other contexts. Dan You've referred to urban design is occupying a relatively weak position vis-a-vis not having a clientele. He mentioned that in our session already and by by virtue of not having a clientele therefore being somehow Adrift In this clear context. Is that a sensibility that you think applies to urban design. More broadly as a discipline our profession is it specific to southern California Los Angeles commits a good question. I mean I don't know how you teach it at the. Gst You guys do a pretty good job and you also have landscape and urbanism. So you're already trying to cut across disciplinary boundaries it seems to me urban design is intrinsically. Trans Disciplinary and collaborative and negotiated. And that isn't really the way we teach architectural design. Though it's becoming more so I would say in. A lot of us are experimenting with how to do that. So that architects when they get into practice will be more effective in Los Angeles. Especially if you think of that as the platform for an urban design way of thinking in our urban design department is a couple of very good souls but who've had a hard time getting any traction in the city we don't have what's Toronto has or Paris or you know many others Shanghai right. We don't have a strong planning context. Let alone design context. So it's hard for me to see except for through this mechanism that I call the radical increment how you teach urbanism from an architectural point of view. Because I don't believe I'm capable or even that interested in big architecture as urbanism. I think that's you know people can do that. But that's a kind of one off operation. I'm interested in much more. Systemic one of the conversations that we've been engaged in here in the city has to do with the relationship between the design professions. Let's say the Financial Ization and the delivery of certain forms of housing and the the present and increasingly evident need for of societal address but also contextual addressed questions of homelessness so clearly among the central pressing questions American city today is. How will we house people that are under house? That are invulnerable conditions are have been on the street. You know in this case. Of course you can't experience Los Angeles without experiencing this on a daily basis at the same moment. I have spoken with a number of people in Los Angeles in our visits. That are really engaged in this on a on a daily basis. You know I know in southern California of more examples of built affordable and subsidized housing and a high level of quality than any other American city. Not that there aren't other experiments elsewhere that are of interest. But how do we? How do we bridge the gap between the energy and the intelligence and the innovation? That's happening that I see on the ground. And what seems to be in in many of the conversations almost insurmountable political economy or impossibility of housing our population. Yeah you know I think that the most apparent and egregious and sad aspect of that is our an house population which has expanded and grown and really is living like chronically on the streets now something like sixty thousand people in each time we count. It's growing and each neighborhood. That's approached Even after the council members of all decided they will build supportive or homeless housing in their neighborhoods. Very progressive left wing. Neighbors come out and say Oh is just not good for them here. You have to find a different site and until we push past that we aren't to be able to get people into housing until we find greater subsidies and recognized that it's a much more complex problem than just housing alone. We're not going to get past the problem and I think until we start breaking down the big UN house population into much more refined understanding of who the people are and why they're on the streets. We're not going to solve the problem so the work that we're doing now really has a lot to do with housing insecurity rather than chronically an housed and it's going to take a thousand people doing a thousand things with political leadership at the top and buck grassroots. Worked FROM THE BOTTOM. One of the things city lab has done as a means to begin this guy set of investigations because if it took me ten years to figure out. How To do granny flats? I won't be alive by the time I figure out what's how to think through an housed populations but we've moved a city lab into a satellite operation in the Macarthur Park Lafayette Park neighborhood. Which is sort of at the heart of downtown. It's a primarily Central American and Latin X population. That's got huge pressure for development coming from downtown on the East but hasn't yet had the boyle heights effect which is really hyper gentrification and real antagonism between the people who live there and the people who've come in there so I'm trying to figure out now how we can think about design and the built environment and better cities From a like embedded perspective if we live with the four different community organizations that we've partnered with their for the next five years. Can we actually bring those groups together to figure out how to make decent sidewalks more shade safer parks More housing built in affordability as development pressures. Which are really pervasive across Los Angeles? Now push those people out of their homes. Many people have referred to the business cycle and structural forces of capitalism in which following the housing mortgage crisis Vallejo. Nine of course there was a kind of surge and people put on the streets who were already may be vulnerable at certain supports taken away and if not knowing that this is structural condition. You know many of my colleagues are now on what they refer to as a kind of pre recession footing. They're looking at their watch. This ten years of this bull market and and so I guess one of the questions I've got is to. What extent is that condition in Los Angeles something? That people have become inured to his. It becomes so vernacular so commonplace that people have essentially given up. Hope well I you. There's another narrative line about the end of California. I'm sure you've heard it right between the fires and the homeless population and mortgage crises. People think the California Ariza over its one calamity after another which is really what's kept our movie industry going you know. It's always possible to take that kind of scenario and play it forward in any city. I could do it for New York or Boston. Her Des Moines but in Los Angeles. I guess the idea of this multipronged solution. We never have a single solution for anything. I mean there's never been a mayor Lindsay in La. Who had an idea that Manhattan would be different? You know that's just not the way we work. So it's always been fragmented and parcel advised and a set of experiments. I think that's why the case study house project was so powerful here and maybe why our department of Transportation is so effective that it just different segments have come up with different solutions and I actually think that the community lending industry now this growing in Los Angeles has some amazing answers for how to start providing new forms of housing. I think the population of unhealthy people on everybody's streets isn't something you ever can get adjusted to. Everyone is Faced with it directly every day. So you can't get over the idea that you have to find a solution. It doesn't feel hopeless. It feels even more necessary. So yeah but this goes back to my feeling that it's GonNa be a fragmented multipronged solution. We can't attack neoliberalism and think we're going to wait until we get over that to figure out how to provide affordable housing we need to leverage every means possible community lenders a tech or companies schools backyards and. I don't think that's too optimistic. I think that's actually realistic and pragmatic. I mean if you look at how much surface parking for instance series in Los Angeles complete land banking waste of land. It could also be on the ground plane and we can just lift all the housing above it. You know there's there's actually plenty of land if we just thought about it differently and if we figured out how to finance it in a way that people could afford it so that it wasn't a twelve hundred square foot two bedroom apartment. You know it's interesting that there's a whole new product type as they call it of housing. That's evolving say on the West Side. And which is micro units. If they were better subsidized they wouldn't be as horrific as they are. But maybe three hundred square feet four hundred square feet. They rent for like two thousand dollars an apartment sort of New York style rents and people who are supposed to be living one person to one of those are doubling and tripling up. So it's like Cong Cong style densities and rents with not very good architectural thinking behind it. Frankly because we're still using old models of unit mix and conventions that don't fit new housing types so again it ties back. I think to the academic context as being a real resource for to move the needle of housing in Los Angeles and then of course Los Angeles is a model for elsewhere to build better housing of a greater range of types defined that the policy environment for the the the kind of planning culture in the city is amenable to those kinds of transformations. I mean I'm in many other contexts of many American cities. People that we speak with. They tell me that well. Our zoning regulations are land use planning our automobile parking requirements fighting the last war and that there's an and of course we expect that our political and juridical mechanisms will be conservative. They tend to be the last to come. When there's societal or cultural change well you know. It's not by accident that we were able to pass the ad you law at the state level but not at the local level. So I actually think the state is highly aware I mean Los Angeles it people think. San Francisco's bad by some measures. Michael store per wrote a book about the histories of Los Angeles and San Francisco and found that. Actually our Disparity between wages and housing costs were greater because our wages are depressed in every job category from Gardner to CEO compared to San Francisco's so in any case the entire state is faced with housing crisis. And I think because of that the state legislature is somewhat protected from local controversies to make better policy and they're pushing forward remarkably radical policy. Which now we need architecture to demonstrate that the visions of very high density minor transit stops like around a bus station like S. B. Fifty would've provided can actually be very liveable neighbourhood and that's where to me The architecture design component of urban design has to be working now. It's not like we can make zony policy like we did after the war where you can just say okay. It's GonNa be yellow here that's single fam- is GonNa be Orange Year. That's GONNA be multifamily as if you had one big fat paintbrush now. It's much more acupuncture and requires design thinking so that people see that life twenty years from now could be actually more affordable more livable than it is today so your call is for architecture and urban design to be as progressive as the potential for political change. I think they have to go hand in hand unless we have a vision in process. I'm not naive to think. Oh if people saw how beautiful neighborhood could be even if it was all four stories that they'll all just go along with it but until we start that conversation where we're really imagining futures and envisioning them an opening possibilities. Not just pushing whatever's going on now bigger and bigger really showing that it's qualitatively different. I don't see how people get from here to there from the city today to the city tomorrow your students at Ucla to come and study architecture. Urban Design did they come expecting sidled. Change they come expecting progressive politics through design. Yes I'm sure. Your students due to their amazing. This generation of students is the best student generation. I've ever worked with. They all come and we don't always respond as effectively as we could with ideas about sustainability. They're facing the two most critical crises that architecture itself addresses in the history of my teaching between environmental climate change and UN housed housing crises issues. Those are both things that architecture plays a huge role and they want to have some action. There they want agency in that so. I don't know I've I've never had more responsive students than I have right now. It doesn't mean that they I. I don't teach them. I mean I don't know how you teach that I leave that to the planners but I teach them about how you do architecture with those things in mind that that's not irrelevant to architecture. Are you optimistic about the potential for a green new deal in the State of California or or federally? Yes if we can't do it here where are we going to do it? I mean California is as progressive as it gets and we're struggling I. I don't know I still imagine that California can be a leader in this. I hope we can keep onto our automobile emissions standards and our recycling standards. It's a stretch given the economy's problems these days are blooming ones. It's interesting how I mean you've been in our conversation reference. The the role that Los Angeles has played as a certain horizon. Soon kind of you know the planes of ID a certain kind of manifestation of a kind of a kind of aspiration certain kind of way of life but it's also true that California certainly more. Broadly has been home to all sorts of reforms protections and corrections and adjustments. And in that sense. You know one can read the recent past whether it's Prop thirteen all the way through the California. You know kind of legislation. That's maybe more protective environmentally. And seeing that I'm interested in you know bantams formulation of the non plan reference ban them ruling that you the Banham came and found a place where we'll political decision-making happen but many people were arriving here to escape planning in a way right. It was a kind of realization of the self and and I think in many of my conversations and Christopher Hawthorne mentioned something like this kind of kind of exhaustion of that infinite expanse and the idea that will where are we now and so my question is to what extent can we from the lessons of Los Angeles from your work. Can we generalize to other American cities? I've been struck by how many people are really reticent to say anything at all about other cities from their experience in Los Angeles. Well there is a kind of essentially manifesto. That's always gone hand in hand with Los Angeles which I think has always been a myth it in the same Way New York as it probably equally badly put Manhattan is always generalizing itself to everywhere else. Right I mean it was referred to refer to it as the Urbanism Right. It's always been exploring its models whereas in Los Angeles I find. It's a bit of an island to itself well. Interestingly maybe you could reverse the idea that Manhattan would spread everywhere to basically that Los Angeles has absorbed everywhere. I mean I think of Los Angeles really tied to the Pacific Rim. I think London Paris and New Yorker irrelevant to us. Frankly the more. I'm not connected to the North South access especially to Mexico and Latin America and South America and then to Asia. The more you see where Los Angeles fits into way real global picture and to me those are also the populations that have made Los Angeles the most vibrant city in America for sure I mean. I have no doubts about that. I may be arrogant about it. But like there's nowhere that's more interesting architecturally and politically and socially now than Los Angeles and it's because of those immigrant populations largely and because of our history as being Mexico you know a hundred and fifty years ago so that by Talapity is the source of our creative future in my mind and though there has been a long standing quite dominant political identity. It's actually never corresponded to the actual population here. And it's always been their struggle to try to push say downtown from Spring Street and Broadway to Grand Avenue of place. It still doesn't cohere as a piece of urbanism so all of that to me is the kind of bubbling Petri dish and life force in this city. That makes it so that we can be a model because of this way we've absorbed our cultural and architectural and spatial history from the other direction of urbanism. Own Ask you Dana but how you got into this line of work between your tenure at Ucla in your education at UC Berkeley. You've been in the system for some time. How is it that you found the subject matter? Well I grew up on an orange grove. You probably don't know that my grandfather was a farmer. My father was a farmer and engineer nor support. The farm as water became more expensive in Galleria and my my two sisters and I and all of our husbands worked in the last generation to support that same farm until we finally sold it and each stage this sort of development transformations that happened. Really were I think the most exciting things that I watched as a kid whether it was sidewalks coming to our little rural town or you know trying to figure out how you could grow food in this state when there really was no water and no real rural lifestyle possible at least in near the Mexican border for us oil and orange groves. Is that kind of original kind of you know kind of Anglo Omic driver upright buoyed by tourism in the land development? You saw that play out in your jam being interested in that transformation and also having an aesthetic sensibility probably's naturally you end up in architecture. I don't think I knew that. Urban design was even a thing. Maybe that has contributed to my lack of belief in urban design as a possible direction. Sounds a little bit like my relationship to landscape architecture. I didn't know it existed until I did. Oh that's interesting yes. It really exists. Yeah and so. In that regard you published a book in Two Thousand Eleven Fast Forward Urbanism With You. Go Find Roger Sherman. I WANNA touch on. I think in that publication As much as anything else kind of got that sense of The acceleration but also the optimism the speed at which transformations and innovation were happening. Yeah I think I mean. You've touched upon optimism several times in our conversation. I don't know how you operate in this profession. If you're not an optimist I mean maybe you can stay in academia and be a pessimist but the design professions are intrinsically optimistic. And if you don't feel that I don't know how you get up in the morning is if you don't think what you're GonNa do is GonNa make the world a slightly better place. If you aren't always operating on the world you want to live in not the one you do live in You're in the wrong field and we still imagine and that may be part myth that Los Angeles is the place to play that out. I do feel like Los Angeles is a place where urban possibilities can be played out differently than in practically any other city in the United States and to me. Now I I think looking at how cities change and How architecture contributes to that. We need more models. There aren't standard rules. This is one thing. I think that's really special about Los Angeles is because we don't have codified urban roles and spaces and guidelines and even zones. There's a way that you can experiment here. That is impossible in most other places. So you know there's a variance for everything in La drives the planners insane. But because we don't really think of Something like the industrial zone as being absolutely firmly formulated. It means that it's open to experimentation where. That's the what architects can do. And I think we've had a long tradition at least in this century or in the past century twentieth century of architects leading those experiments so mean from the hillside houses of Frank Lloyd Wright to cal Hamilton who was planner architect. Who worked on the Pali nucleated city too? You Know Tom. Main people like The case study housing architects. So they seem to keep coming right. Did a cough. Thanks very much. Thanks for having me. You've been listening to future of the American City curated by the Office for Urban Ization at the Harvard. Graduate School of design. This conversation is supported by the knightfoundation and the generous donors to the American city spot. Our producers are these barber. Charlie Gillyard Jeffrey S Nesbitt Emerson Peralta music is by Kevin Graham to learn more visit evill. Tac DOT GST DOT Harvard Dot Edu.

Los Angeles California Ucla New York Urban Design Harvard Graduate School of des Manhattan Christopher Hawthorne City labs Roger Sherman USC School of Architecture Dana Coffin professor of architecture Dan freeland UN Employer University of Califor Rome