Extreme Cities Laboratory Launch at Studio-X NYC, 10 May 6.30

Please join us for the public launch of GSAPP's Extreme Cities Laboratory at Studio-X NYC (180 Varick St, 16th floor) on Friday, May 10th at 6:30pm.

Our initial event will focus on "Building Megalopolis," an interactive architectural timeline that has been installed at Studio-X looking at the last fifty years of thinking in architecture, planning, and cities in the BOSWASH megalopolis and a research tool for rethinking the relationship between architecture, planning, history, and the megalopolitan scale.
There will be a panel discussion with Jeffrey Inaba, David King, Kazys Varnelis, Benedict Clouette, Leigha Dennis, Neil Donnelly, and James Graham, and a celebration of the student and faculty research over the past two semesters that has set the agenda for the continued work of the Extreme Cities Project.

The Extreme Cities project starts from our observation that the “future” has often been focused on the near term. As data sets get bigger and analytical tools more sophisticated, temporal horizons for analysis and planning seem to be getting narrower. As investors make profits in trades measured in milliseconds and politicians react to micro-adjustments in opinions of constituents, long-term thinking gives way to increasingly short term fluctuations. The future collapses into the present. Too many of our disciplines and industries have lost the ability to think beyond the current cycle, or even beyond the latest phase of a cycle. But the key questions facing us, the shared questions, require us to go beyond contemporary paradigms.

Instead of seeking to maximize advantage in the present-tense environment of our own lives, we intend to think instead about our legacy: the future of our grandchildren, inscribed in the forms and processes of urbanity. Extreme Cities suggests a new leadership model in which we set out to investigate the cities of a half-century from now instead of simply projecting the concerns of our current timeframe into the future. We identify the key urban strengths of cities to imagine what they could be in fifty years. Rather than reactive, ours is a proactive model, seeking to maximize these assets. The Extreme Cities project engages with thought leaders in industry, business, university, government, and culture to identify these key drivers and to explore the consequences of maximizing them in the future.

In the first year of the Columbia Extreme Cities Project, we have initially identified five key strengths of cities to investigate and take to the extreme. We treat these as principles of urban aggregation, the catalysts through which cities originate and evolve, and together they help illustrate what makes the city such a remarkable human creation. These urban drivers of evolution in thought, culture, economy, and technology can be found throughout the history of cities but the forms they will take in the coming fifty years will be far more radical than the simple amplification of the present trends in urbanization.