Call for Papers

February 5-6, 2016

Cities are increasingly dominated by commodified spatial forms that are built and governed by exceptional rules. Across the continent of Africa, corporations are building privately owned company towns modeled after successful New Urbanist developments on other continents. Wealthy cities are collaborating with famous architects to develop self-sustaining research and technology zones, like Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona’s architecturally iconic Innovation District. Designs for the “entertainment city” continue through stadium development, museums, parks, and other consumer experiences whose success is evident from the immediate popularity of New York City’s High Line. Free zones, ports, and distribution hubs are emerging as spaces of exception and demonstrating a strategic infrastructural architecture to purposely expedite transactions and evade local responsibilities. These forms are being built and governed privately or quasi-privately in cities competing for investment capital, separate from the ordinary politics of the city and responsive primarily to an elite demographic and the needs of global capital. This produces cities with profit and business logistics foremost in mind rather than local culture and aesthetics or social equity. As architects and urban planners, are we complicit in these processes that produce homogenous city forms and limit democratic control of urban space? Can we challenge them?

How have the spatial forms and rules of the neoliberal city developed historically?
Can we identify historical antecedents to neoliberal city building? How were these projects contested, and what can we learn from those disputes?
What theoretical and methodological innovations can scholars employ in the study of neoliberal spatial forms and rules?
In particular, does emerging work on the geography of infrastructure and logistics change how we conceptualize this field of study?
How can planners and architects intervene today to produce cities that are responsive to local place and culture and socioeconomically just?

GOALS:
We aim to bring together graduate students at different phases of study from institutions across the U.S. and internationally to foster dialogue on a pressing topic that impacts the fields of both architecture and urban planning. This day-and-a-half conference includes a keynote speaker, graduate student panels, break-out sessions and informal social events. This conference is open to all graduate students whose research concerns the built environment, particularly architecture and urban planning, but also across related disciplines.

PARTICIPANTS AND STRUCTURE:
We seek twenty-minute paper presentations from researchers whose work reflects on questions related to the theme. Graduate students are invited to submit an abstract (300 words max.) of their proposed presentation to ruleandform@umich.edu by November 16, 2015. Applicants will be notified of the status of their submission by December 4, 2015. While no travel stipend can be offered to accepted presenters, Taubman College extends free registration for this event to presenters and all attendees.

Keynote Speaker: Reinhold Martin, Assoc. Professor, GSAPP Columbia University

Organizing Committee:
Michael Abrahamson (Architecture: History/Theory)
Irene Brisson (Architecture: Design Studies)
Patrick Cooper-McCann (Urban and Regional Planning)
Carla Kayanan (Urban and Regional Planning)

Contact: ruleandform@umich.edu

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