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News

Gowntown Reviewed in dDAB

Vyjayanthi Rao

Our first book, Gowntown: A 197-X Plan for Upper Manhattan, was reviewed by John Hill, dDAB (A Daily Dose of Architecture Books). He begins by taking us on a walk:

See: John Hill,  NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture Book , 2019.

See: John Hill, NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture Book, 2019.

Having given a walking tour of Columbia University's four Uptown Manhattan campuses strung along the 1 Train — Morningside Heights, Inwood, Washington Heights, and Manhattanville — for many years now, I've been forced to dig into the long and contentious process of the last, the new campus taking shape northwest of 125th Street and Broadway.

More from A Daily Dose of Architecture Books.

While it probably won’t influence the city, developers, and other actors in Upper Manhattan, it just might have a strong impact on a new generation of urban designers and planners more interested in sustainable, community development than private development.
— John Hill, dDAB
This book was a project of many hands, minds, and hearts! Much appreciate support from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

This book was a project of many hands, minds, and hearts! Much appreciate support from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

From Gowntown: Introduction:

What exactly is this document? To begin, it’s a series of meditations on Manhattanville—and Upper Manhattan—intended to provoke discussion, even action. It has been prepared in light of Columbia University’s massive expansion into the neighborhood and the inevitable enormous changes this will bring. This proposal is the work of Terreform—a nonprofit, freestanding research center, which as part of its mission formulates unsolicited interventions for vexed urban situations. Gowntown has not been commissioned by anyone, although its preparation has entailed extensive consultation, shares many points of view, and, of course, stands on the shoulders of giants. We are pleased to call to the achievements of Ron Shiffman, who has been New York’s most dedicated community planner for decades and who was instrumental in producing Community Board 9’s fine 197-a plan1 (encompassing Manhattanville).

We likewise salute the many groups and individuals in the neighborhood who—through a combination of imagination and resistance—have struggled to secure a happy and equitable future. With these fair efforts in mind, we choose to call this document a 197-x plan to acknowledge that it is not the result of consensus building and to suggest that such “unofficial” contributions should enjoy the same standing and warrant the same attention as the more official, community-sponsored 197-a and the generally developer-driven 197-c.

A truly open planning process must be just that: one in which all contributions are respected.

Download the introduction from our project page.


In 2016, Terreform launched its publishing imprint, UR (Urban Research). UR is a medium for disseminating our work and as a support structure for designers and researchers who share the project of a progressive and liberated urbanism.

Andrea Johnson at CCNY Panel on Food Insecurity

Vyjayanthi Rao

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This World Food Day, October 16, Terreform research director, Andrea Johnson will take part in a round table panel discussion along with Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams; and Nicholas Freudenberg, Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy.

The discussion will focus on “current policy efforts surrounding the fight against food insecurity and efforts in regards to food sustainability on a local and national level.”

The City College of New York President, Vincent Boudreau, will moderate the discussion. The event is organized by The City College of New York Office of the President, The City College of New York Office of Institutional Advancement and Communications, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

OCT. 16th - Panel Discussion: Food Insecurity in Our Community / Time: 12:00-2:00PM / Shepard Hall 350  Free.  Regist er for tickets.

OCT. 16th - Panel Discussion: Food Insecurity in Our Community / Time: 12:00-2:00PM / Shepard Hall 350

Free. Register for tickets.

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Andrea Johnson, Research Director, coordinates numerous publications and collaborates on design research projects. Andrea has worked with Diana Wiesner Architecture and Landscape, the Bogotá Mountain Foundation, and Urban Think Tank. She is a graduate of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at The City College of New York where she has also taught Digital Representation. In 2015, she was named a National Olmsted Scholar Finalist. Prior to her landscape studies, Andrea provided immigration legal services in NYC and assisted women to start small businesses in Puerto Rico.

📷 Philippe Schmidt. Earlier this year, Andrea presented Terreform’s New York City (Steady State): Home Grown project at Bauhaus University, Weimar, as part of the 2019 International Model Project Forum.


Diagram: Foodshed Supply Chain Over Time in “Designing for Re-Engtanglement” by Terreform, PLOT Volume 8: Cookbook. The essay derives from forthcoming Urban Research book,   Home Grown.

Diagram: Foodshed Supply Chain Over Time in “Designing for Re-Engtanglement” by Terreform, PLOT Volume 8: Cookbook. The essay derives from forthcoming Urban Research book, Home Grown.

As designers and planners, our natural impulse is to seek out metrics for quantitative improvement wherever we work, but acting on that motivation often cause us to overestimate the importance of the built environment and underestimate its context. Like the sanitary mapping of 1865 that sought to link environmental nuisances with public health, today’s mapping treats food environments as abstract territory rather than lived space and misses opportunities to leverage these systems within broader city policies and funding streams.

In Home Grown, we are proposing strategies that re-entangle food with broader planning and design goals to connect with other facets of the city metabolism not through the universal development of completely closed loop systems, but rather by reimagining food as a public utility supported by greater university investment that forges connections both locally and in the greater region.
PLOT Volume 8: Cookbook. FRONT AND BACK COVER Emma Ressel, Beef Tartare and Anchovies, Cream Cheese, and Beer, from the series Insatiable Hunger and the Peacock’s Plume.

PLOT Volume 8: Cookbook. FRONT AND BACK COVER Emma Ressel, Beef Tartare and Anchovies, Cream Cheese, and Beer, from the series Insatiable Hunger and the Peacock’s Plume.


Terreform is a nonprofit urban research and advocacy center founded in 2005. Its imprint, UR (Urban Research), is a book series devoted to cities and their futures. We invite the collaboration of all who share our interest in creating sustainable, beautiful, and just cities around the world.

Deen Sharp at King's College Cambridge

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Terreform co-director, Deen Sharp, will be giving a talk at King’s College Cambridge on October 17, 2019.

Organized by King’s Urban Network, Deen’s talk examines the notable recent expansion of joint-stock corporations into the urban fabric of the Middle East and analyzes how the built environment was utilized to absorb surplus capital.

I look to how corporate capitalization draws on future financial revenues through the production of present urban space. In analyzing how the corporation arranges contemporary urban life through the future, I center on capitalization, the central mechanism through which the modern joint-stock corporation organizes its operations.

Capitalizing urbanization is the extension of time, the drawing of future revenues into the present through the concentration of space (urbanization). Far more than a mere financial operation, capitalizing urbanization is a force that is increasingly organizing collective life in the Middle East and beyond.

The event will be held at King’s College Audit Room.

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BEYOND THE SQUARE: URBANISM AND THE ARAB UPRISINGS

Deen Sharp and Claire Panetta, Editors

Contributors: Khaled Adham; Susana Galán; Azam Khatam; C. Lanthier; Ed McAllister; Julie Mehretu; G. Ollamh; Duygu Parmaksizoglu; Aseel Sawalha; Helga Tawil-Souri

Revolutions do not occur in a vacuum; rather, they are caused by a complex mix of domestic and international factors. They ultimately come to fruition in places, and not just in central squares.

Beyond the Square fills a major gap in our understanding of how urban space factors into popular uprisings. It is a valuable contribution to the analysis of space and politics.
— Asef Bayat, author of Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East
Terreform is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), urban research studio and advocacy group founded in 2005 by Michael Sorkin. Its mission is to investigate the forms, policies, technologies, and practices that will yield equitable, sustainable, and beautiful cities for our urbanizing planet.   See our latest projects.

Terreform is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), urban research studio and advocacy group founded in 2005 by Michael Sorkin. Its mission is to investigate the forms, policies, technologies, and practices that will yield equitable, sustainable, and beautiful cities for our urbanizing planet.

See our latest projects.

Vyjayanthi Rao at Urban Democracy Lab - NYU

Deen Sharp

Terreform co-director and new Managing Editor of Public Culture, Vyjayanthi Rao, will be presenting at Urban Democracy Lab's Engaged Urbanists Working Group this Monday, October 14.

Rao is an anthropologist and writer studying architecture, infrastructure and social life in large cities.  She has written several essays and have edited two books so far.  The first is Speculation Now: Essays and Artworks, which draws together multi-disciplinary reflections on speculation and speculative practices in contemporary life and artistic practices.  The second, titled Occupy All Street: Olympic Urbanism and Contested Futures in Rio de Janeirois a collection of essays exploring the spatial transformation of Rio in the shadow of the 2016 Olympic Games.  The book was launched at CUNY Graduate Center with David Harvey and the editors, Rao, Mariana Cavalcanti, and Bruno Carvalho. The event was chaired by Amy Chazkel, Associate Professor of History, CUNY, Queens College and the Graduate Center. It was sponsored by the Public Space Research Group, Graduate Center, City University of New York.

See more from Terreform’s archive. From Storefront New York to HAND annual meeting, “The Center Cannot Hold” and the Nexus Between Urbanization.

OCCUPY ALL STREETS: OLYMPIC URBANISM AND CONTESTED FUTURES IN RIO DE JANEIRO

Bruno Carvalho, Mariana Cavalcanti and Vyjayanthi Rao Venuturupalli, Editors

Contributors: Bruno Carvalho, Mariana Cavalcanti with Julia O’Donnell and Lilian Sampaio, Gabriel Duarte with Renata Bertol, Beatriz Jaguaribe with Scott Salmon, Guilherme Lassance, Bryan McCann, Theresa Williamson, and Vyjayanthi Rao Venuturupalli

Occupy All Streets is a brilliant and searing indictment of the injustice, violence, militarisation, elitism and mind-boggling waste inherent in planning and organizing Rio as host city of the 2016 Olympics.
Through punchy prose and superb visual material, its contributors expose the myths that sustain mega-event urbanism; draw out the deep histories of branding Rio as an aesthetically exceptional city; and, most important of all, explore the possibilities that exist for organizing megacities more justly.
An extraordinary book!
— Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University, author of Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism

Zoned Out! in the New York Times

Elisabeth Weiman

On the city’s rezoning plans for Inwood, “Manhattan’s Last Affordable Neighborhood”.

“Little did they expect the fight back, which has been incredibly vocal and active in all of the neighborhood,” said Tom Angotti, a professor emeritus of urban planning at Hunter College who wrote the 2016 book “Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and City Planning in New York City.”

“In Inwood, it’s specifically the Dominican population that is going to be the most vulnerable,” Mr. Angotti said.

New York Times.

On Sunday, the Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale coalition, which includes local residents and community groups like Centro Altagracio de Fe y Justicia as well as citywide organizations like the Metropolitan Council on Housing and Faith In New York, held a public forum to discuss the city's current rezoning plan for Inwood.   City Takes Time With Inwood Rezoning Process By Abigail Savitch-Lew,  CityLimits,  October 26, 2016.

On Sunday, the Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale coalition, which includes local residents and community groups like Centro Altagracio de Fe y Justicia as well as citywide organizations like the Metropolitan Council on Housing and Faith In New York, held a public forum to discuss the city's current rezoning plan for Inwood.

City Takes Time With Inwood Rezoning Process By Abigail Savitch-Lew, CityLimits, October 26, 2016.

ZONED OUT! RACE, DISPLACEMENT, AND CITY PLANNING IN NEW YORK CITY

Editors: Tom Angotti and Sylvia Morse

Contributors: Tom Angotti; Philip DePaolo; Peter Marcuse; Sylvia Morse; Samuel Stein

Last year’s conversation between Tom Angotti and Domingo Estevez, Inwood resident and community organizer. The event was held at Word Up: Community Bookshop.


Vanessa Keith Interview in A People’s Climate Plan for New York City?

Deen Sharp

Architect and UR author, Vanessa Keith, was interviewed as part of Climate Action Lab’s ‘living document’, A People’s Climate Plan for New York City?:

It crystallizes a year-long series of workshops with activists, researchers, and artists intended to reimagine climate politics through the lens of the city as both the frontline impact zone and the source of grassroots alternatives informed by the imperatives of climate justice, eco-socialism, and decolonization.

Inspired in particular by Aurash Khawarzad's Upper Manhattan Project (which in turn has its roots in the 2015 WE ACT for Environmental Justice's Northern Manhattan Climate Action Plan), this pamphlet aims to promote ongoing conversation, organizing, and speculation about popular climate planning at a city-wide scale beyond the important yet limited version of the Green New Deal that has been recently adopted by the city with the Climate Mobilization Act.

Read the full document and give feedback!

A People’s Climate Plan for New York City?  Released September 20, 2019 by Verso.

A People’s Climate Plan for New York City? Released September 20, 2019 by Verso.

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Earlier this year, Vanessa Keith, author of 2100: A Dystopian Utopia - The City After Climate Change gave a lunchtime lecture at CUNY Climate Action Lab (CAL). The event, organized by Ashley Dawson and Zeynep Oguz, brought together “activists, researchers, and artists to reimagine climate politics through the lens of the city as both the frontline impact-zone and the potential source of grassroots, artistic, and scientific alternatives informed by the principles of climate justice, for A People’s Plan for Climate Action for NYC”.

Watch videos of the day long event, which included UR authors, Vanessa Keith and Tom Angotti, on the Center for the Humanities - CUNY website.

"It's good to see that the onset of rapid global warming is nudging creative minds into action. Job one is to make sure we prevent as much change as possible, but that which we can no longer prevent will require us to adapt, and here are some provocative plans to stir your imagination!" — Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Kongjian Yu in IFLA World Congress

Deen Sharp

LETTERS TO THE LEADERS OF CHINA: KONGJIAN YU AND THE FUTURE OF THE CHINESE CITY   Edited by Terreform  With contributions by Ai Weiwei, Thomas J. Campanella, Zhongjie Lin, Xuefei Ren, Peter G. Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Daniel Sui, Julie Sze, and Kongjian Yu

LETTERS TO THE LEADERS OF CHINA: KONGJIAN YU AND THE FUTURE OF THE CHINESE CITY

Edited by Terreform

With contributions by Ai Weiwei, Thomas J. Campanella, Zhongjie Lin, Xuefei Ren, Peter G. Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Daniel Sui, Julie Sze, and Kongjian Yu

Kongjian Yu will be presenting Letters to the Leaders of China at the IFLA World Congress 2019 (International Federation of Landscape Architects), Breakout Session 1.6 — Literature Cafe / Wednesday, September 18. Torghjørnet  17:30 - 19:00.

The session will be moderated by Annemarie Lund, Landscape Architect, Editor-in-Chief Emerita LANDSKAB, Denmark

He joins book presenters:

Marc Treib, University of California, Berkeley, United States: Doing Almost Nothing. The Landscapes of Georges Descombes (2018) / Pietro Procinai and the Landscape of Modernism (2017) / Austere Gardens (2016).

Gareth Doherty, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, United States: Paradoxes of Green (2017) / Is Landscape…? (2015)

Martin Prominski / Hille Seggern, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany: Design Research for Urban Landscapes. Theories and Methods (2019).

Bianca Maria Rinaldi / Puay Yok Tan, University of Torino, Italy: Urban Landscapes in High-Density Cities, Parks, Streetscapes, Ecosystems (2019).

Jenny Osuldsen, NMBU/Snøhetta, Norway: Outdoor Voices (Outdoor Matters) (2019).

Anne Katrine Geelmuyden / Marius Fiskevold, Sweco Norge AS, Norway: Arcadia Updated (2018)

Karsten Jørgensen, NMBU, Norway: Teaching Landscape 1 + 2 (2019) / Defining Landscape Democracy (2018)

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Kongjian Yu will also be be speaking at IFLA Breakout Session 2.12 Eastern Perspectives —Common Ground in China and Japan:

As rapid urbanisation in Asia alters the landscape, so does our relationship with the landscape change, offering up new opportunities but also dislocation of communities from the land. These effects are exacerbated by climate change and an increased reliance on technology to make our cities liveable.

This session illustrates the importance of landscape architecture in managing change. It explores the importance of people to place and the relationships between communities and natural systems and processes. Faced with the post-industrial transformation of manufacturing it examines how people and communities can transform post-industrial inner city brownfield’s sites to realise new communities and dynamic places.

The session will be moderated by James Hayter, IFLA president. Other speakers include Bin Li, Research Fellow, The Oslo School Of Architecture And Design; Xia Liu, Graduate, Tongji University; Binyi Liu, Professor, Tongji University; Ni Yan, First Author, Beijing Forestry University; Hiroe Yoshida, Principal Architect
3--lab; Yichen Zhu, Tongji University. Programme here.

Deen Sharp in Public Books

Nikhil Sambamurthy

Terreform co-director, Deen Sharp, in Public Books, “The World the Gulf has Built.”

Despite the fragility of the alliance, the term “GCC” is often utilized to discuss these six countries together, because of their shared historical geography; cultural and religious mores; governance structures (characterized by authoritarian monarchies and highly personalized rule); large migrant worker population; rapid urbanization; and vast revenues generated from oil and gas. It is all too easy to focus on everything that is exceptional about the GCC—the record-breaking towers and shopping malls, the three-hundred-island real estate archipelago trying to replicate the world. But this reasoning does much to cover up the GCC’s ordinariness, its multiple connections to everyday lives around the world.

How exceptional can a region that produces so much of the energy that powers contemporary capitalism be?

“It’s long past time that observers of the GCC undo their view of the region as exceptional and recognize it as the global power broker it has become.”

Proyecto Helicoide at Seoul Biennale

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Celeste Olalquiaga, Director of Proyecto Helicoide and Downward Spiral co-editor, exhibition at the 2019 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.

At a moment when cities are increasingly unequal and segregated it asks if they can continue to be perceived as collective spaces and what tools or strategies can be used to transform cities into collective spaces. (E-flux)

Learn more about the “Cities Exhibition”. Proyecto Helicoide > Infrastructure > Caracas, Venezuela.

#ICYMI Olalquiaga in CNN:

Once hailed as the would-be icon of Venezuela's fast paced modernity, El Helicoide's downward spiral sadly represents the collapse of a national dream built on untenable social divisions.

One can only hope that both country and building will rise from their current situation and meet the challenges of a country whose vast oil reserves still hold an unfulfilled potential. For this to happen, justice must be served for the country's political prisoners, but also for its ever-present masses of urban poor. (CNN: “El Helicoide: The futuristic wonder that now sums up Venezuela's spiral into despair,” 2019).

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Folleto El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya: Centro Comercial y Exposición de Industrias, 1956.

Learn more and download the table of contents of Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent from Mall to Prison.

Learn more about Proyecto Helicoide, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the architectural, cultural and social value of El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya in Caracas, Venezuela.

Learn more about Proyecto Helicoide, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the architectural, cultural and social value of El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya in Caracas, Venezuela.

Terreform Urban Research Receives Graham Foundation Grant 2019

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Terreform has received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for its imprint, Urban Research.

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation has released a list of organizations that will receive its coveted Production and Presentation Grants to pursue architecture-related projects this year.

In line with the Graham Foundation’s mission to “foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture,” awardees will receive assistance with production-related expenses for a variety of undertakings that aim to enrich architectural discourse, including films, publications, exhibitions, and lectures. Final decisions were made on the basis of four criteria: originality, feasibility, capacity, and potential for impact.

More from The Architect’s Newspaper.

See list of projects UR (Urban Research) 2019.

Anas Awad, "The Merchandise Tunnel," illustration, 2019. In "UR13: Open Gaza: Four Tunnels" by Bin Al-Sirhid (Pseudonym).

Anas Awad, "The Merchandise Tunnel," illustration, 2019. In "UR13: Open Gaza: Four Tunnels" by Bin Al-Sirhid (Pseudonym).

Urban Research (UR), the imprint of Terreform, publishes progressive books about cities and their futures.


Michael Sorkin at the Green Living Room - West Woodlawn

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

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Michael Sorkin presented at the soft opening of the Green Living Room in West Woodlawn, Chicago. Located in 6431 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, the Green Living Room is the result of the work and dedication of Naomi Davis, founder of community nonprofit, Blacks In Green, which:

“serves as a bridge and catalyst among communities and their stakeholders in the design and development of green, self-sustaining, mixed-income, walkable-villages in communities owned and populated by African Americans. In these places, every household can walk-to-work, walk-to-shop, walk-to-learn, walk-to-play, and neighbor dollars circulate to reduce greenhouse gases.”

“Woodlawn’s new coffee shop teaches residents about sustainability, green neighborhoods” by Margaret Tazioli, Curbed Chicago.

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Davis doesn’t take the “living room” title lightly; the muti-purpose space is open to the public and designed to feel like a second home for West Woodlawn residents. Given Davis’ background in theater, she added a stage for performances, live broadcasting, mini concerts and film nights. The Green Living Room also holds a cafe with free wi-fi, computers with low to no-cost green economy curricula, and information on resources and job opportunities.
— "Chicago Green Jobs Group Gets Official Headquarters" By Emily Nonko, Next City


Sorkin shared his housing design and collaborative journey with Davis at the opening.

NAOMI DENISE DAVIS: SURTHRIVE! in the cities where an entire acre is impossible to find -- consider the BIG: Blacks in Green BIG Urban Homestead plan and our "House As Garden" design that adapts to common Chicago lot sizes. Our award-winning design is by internationally renowned Michael Sorkin Studio, and we previewed it to standing room only at our #HardHatHappening on 8/31. From fruit/nut orchard and vegetable sanctuary to water reuse and of course solar, we're building a "living building" affordable to the black middle-income purse. Groundbreaking and breaking ground in 2020 -- visit us #TheGreenLivingRoom for info on how to own your own green 4-flat in the 'hood...and start building your family health and wealth!!

From public post below:

Learn more about Terreform’s work with BIG and Chicago on our South Side Stories project page.

Support Blacks in Green.