Established in 2007, the Center for Architecture, Urbanism and Infrastructure is the School of Architecture’s platform for research in architecture and the city.
The study of cities, metropolitan regions and the suburban landscape necessarily encompasses a wide array of academic disciplines. But recent work in architectural schools has often over-emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of urban studies, and lost sight of architecture’s synthetic and projective capacity. While recognizing the contributions of other fields, we are convinced that the problem of the city belongs to architecture, and that architecture has a specific capacity to coordinate and synthesize the expertise of these allied disciplines into concrete design proposals to reimagine the material and social fabric of the city.
At the beginning of the twentieth century approximately 10% of the world’s population lived in cities; today, 75% of the world’s citizens live in urbanized areas. But as more and more territory is urbanized, the “city” as a stable object of research is in turn increasingly elusive. Urbanization is not only a global phenomenon of physical and cultural restructuring—it has itself become a spatial effect of the distributed networks of communication, resources, finance and migration that characterize contemporary life. The city today is everywhere and nowhere. At the same time, an increasing awareness of the global environmental consequences of rapid urbanization have provoked a reconsideration of the traditional separation of city and countryside. The city today needs to be studied in a larger natural and ecological context that would include questions of resource extraction, energy flows, hydrology, climate, food production, waste, and the movement of goods and people.
The Center offers a focused venue for sharing collective research with an emphasis on the physical form of the city and the agency of architecture in the urban context. It enables the School to enhance its teaching, research, and public programs dedicated to urbanism. The primary role of the Center is support for collective research; in addition to ongoing research initiatives, the Center also hosts symposia, conferences, publications, working sessions and public dialogues.