ARCH 409 - Special Topics in Architecture
Section: 003 Urban Fragments: The Americas
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Architecture (ARCH)
Department: CAUP Taubman College of Arch + Urban Planning
3 (Non-LSA credit).
Enforced Prerequisites:
ARCH undergraduates.
Advisory Prerequisites:
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

From Buenos Aires to New York, the cities of the New World have been sites of speculation and experimentation, as idealized utopias, techno political dreams or revolutionary enclaves of resistance. The developmentalist policies of the post war and the totalitarian governments of the 1960s and 1970s led to political turmoil, rural migration, and uneven investment. We discuss the main cultural, economic, and political discourses that affected the Americas in the twentieth century and the responses or reactions they prompted in the urban and architectural realms. By comparing these responses as a series of case studies, the course assembles a modern history of North, Central, and South American cities as a network of shared and reciprocal influences.

We begin by comparing the Law of Indies with the Manhattan grid, and tracing the influence of French urbanism in the National Mall at Washington, D.C. and the Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires. The grand scale of these axes, their iconic obelisks, and relationship to state monuments speaks to the nationalist politics embedded in these projects. We shift focus to the aerial view as trope for the distant gaze of the visitor—or the modern architect—and confront the technological determinism of planning with the contingencies of urban growth. We follow the results of excess loans and state profligacy through a collection of “white elephants,” from Caracas’ Helicoide to the beleaguered Brutalist buildings of the United States. The role of public space as protest site brings together Mexico City’s Plaza of Three Cultures and Washington D.C.’s Resurrection City. We problematize technology exchange in housing solutions by examining Soviet panels in Cuba and Chile, and the PREVI Housing project in Perú. The utopian communities of Open City in Valparaíso, Túpac Amaru in Jujuy, and Drop City in Colorado provide insights into alternative, more participatory narratives for cities. Finally, we discuss fences and borders by comparing the divisions between gated and segregated communities and states in Los Angeles and Tijuana, and the many real and implied borders in Detroit.

Themes to be discussed include: the relationship of the urban fabric with “other” cities such as university campuses; developmentalism and governmentality; participation and utopia; segregation and borders. Readings include primary sources such as Law of Indies extracts, Le Corbusier’s descriptions of South American cities, and Paulo Freire’s writings on pedagogy, as well as recent scholarship by Alonso, Kahatt, and Liernur.

HISTART Concentrations Distributions: 4. Modern and Contemporary, D. Europe and the US, E. Latin America and the Caribbean

Intended Audience:

Students interested in urban design, urban planning, architecture, and the cities of the Americas at large.

Class Format:

Half lecture, half discussion seminar

ARCH 409 - Special Topics in Architecture
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
Tu 9:00AM - 12:00PM
002 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
003 (LEC)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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