"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism

Location: International

Website: www.cau.mit.edu

The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism’s objective is to become the world’s pre-eminent cultural center about the design of metropolitan environments, by articulating methods and projects to integrate separate disciplinary agendas in architecture, landscape, ecology, transportation engineering, politics and political philosophy, technology and real estate through a most eloquent design culture on scales ranging from the complex infrastructural intersection, to that of a neighborhood, on to the scale of an entire regional system.

Urban environments are being planned, designed, constructed, and retrofitted at an unprecedented pace and scale, which often precludes a rational, thoughtful process.

Global economic forces have eclipsed standard paradigms of post-World War II urban expansion and ideas of incremental urban development. New megacities are being built all over the world in record time and often without standard protocols or procedures of the established design and urban planning professions.

c Pressing cultural and environmental concerns are demanding new levels of accountability as we measure ecological performance, energy use, mobility and density relationships, and the deployment of dwindling resources.

These and other factors challenge the intelligence and efficacy of new urbanization forms and existing conventions and typologies for development. We have entered into a new era or urban growth whereby the rules have changed and paradigms of urbanism desperately need recalibration to meet today’s global challenges.

The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism’s mission comes from four working principles:

- Challenge pre-conceived professional roles and find solutions to real world problems.

- Embrace large-scale design and planning.

- Embrace technology in the design and planning of city form and function.

- Commitment to deliver real world projects and clear paths to solve pressing urban design, architectural, and environmental problems.

MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism is framed by six over branching areas of research:

- Territorial Design

We have entered an era of a new scale of design. Whether it is the immensely large-scale development projects underway in areas such as the Gulf and China, or the reconstruction and retrofitting of nation’s existing infrastructure. This presents a disciplinary challenge for designers, as existing techniques are not necessarily suitable or scalable.

The formal and figurative features that we can logically conceive and think of the very large scale need to be reimagined. Research must urgently address and develop new elements that are critical in the instrumentarium of the large-scale designer.

- Changing Systems

As our environment undergoes changes, our cities and their corresponding systems will need to adapt. Urbanism for a changing climate is first and foremost a question of rigorous systems analysis.

In part this is achievable through the integration of so far disconnected disciplines. In so doing, new opportunities arise for analysis such as through connecting datasets that have remained compartmentalized within each specialization.

- Durable Suburbia

The trend we need to expect, hope for, and actively plan for in future urban change of western cities, concerns the gradual densification of our suburbs. Our suburbs are becoming more intensely developed, putting pressure on the existing infrastructures, and as they age, they become progressively dense and more mixed in terms of class, culture and program.

This suburban transformation poses considerable challenges to the existing infrastructure and current mobility systems, and requires a re-think of domestic as well as retail culture in the suburban sphere.

- Resilient Infrastructures

Designing infrastructure for one single purpose is a strategic mistake; instead, such large investments, which are to service society for generations, can be made to serve a variety of different agendas - including not only transportation, but also real estate, ecological diversity, and public space, among others.

Furthermore, a sound infrastructural design permits utility in a variety of completely different circumstances. This is not a call to make infrastructural investments more complex and expensive; but to make them more intelligent and open-ended.

- Technological Urbanism

The steam engine, the car, the elevator, and the AC unit have in common that each contributed to a dramatic transformation in the form and configuration of cities.

We must look to new emergent technologies and their potential impact on the design, planning, and construction of our cities. We must examine the next generation of disruptive technologies and the influence they will have on the spatial order of cities.

- Ideal Cities

Ideal cities have, throughout history, provided templates, forms, and figures of our collective imagination, through which we conceive of, plan, and direct ourselves towards our common future.

It is important that this discursive tradition remain active and that we continue to formulate ideals, hopes, and especially, the forms that correspond to them.

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