Research Symposium on 'Megacities' To Be Held at U.Va. Architecture School

March 14, 2011 — "Turning Urban: Innovation in Megacities," a multidisciplinary research symposium, will be held March 24 through 26 at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. All events are in Campbell Hall, room 153.

Global population is poised to become 50 percent urban, making urban life the "new normal" for the first time in history. In the process, cities are growing to unprecedented sizes, at rates that exceed anything human communities have experienced before. The School of Architecture is interested in this phenomenon from an interdisciplinary position, seeking insights about the implications it may have for design, history and urban planning.

The symposium will pose the question of whether the rapid rates of change will produce innovations that stretch and re-invent urban social and infrastructural systems, or whether there are limits to growth that will break them. Participants will compare examples from cities around the world in an effort to identify conditions that invite innovation.

The event is intended to produce a research agenda for architecture faculty and graduate students that will allow the school to contribute significantly to international understanding of rapid urbanization and comparative urban strategies. With input from international experts, the school intends to develop a framework for a research strategy with the potential for transforming education and practice in constructed environments by focusing on creativity in difficult urban circumstances around the world.

Janice Perlman, founder and president of the MegaCities Project in New York, will present the keynote lecture on March 24 at 5 p.m.

The Friday program begins at 8:45 a.m. with Junaid Ahmed, the World Bank's sector manager for social development in the South Asia region, followed by a panel discussion with Monica Porto of the University of Sao Paulo, Brian Richter of the Nature Conservancy and Kala Vairavamoorthy of UNESCO. The morning session concludes with a presentation by Sarwar Jahan, professor and head of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

The afternoon session begins at 1 p.m. with David Bragdon, director of the New York City Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, followed by a plenary session on city case studies, "Six Mega Cases: London, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Dhaka, Venice and the Po Valley. "

Karin Bradley, a professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Environment at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, will give Friday's keynote lecture at 5:30 p.m.

The symposium will conclude Saturday with a half-day workshop for School of Architecture faculty and graduate students and the guest speakers.

"Turning Urban" is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs, the Plavnik Lecture Fund and the School of Architecture Adaptive Infrastructures Research Group.

Thursday's keynote lecture and all events on Friday are free and open to the public. The workshop on Saturday is open only to faculty and students in the School of Architecture.

The event was organized by Department of Landscape Architecture faculty members Kristina Hill, Jorg Sieweke and Kathleen John-Alder, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning faculty member Timothy Beatley, and Department of Architectural History faculty member Sheila Crane, along with Landscape Architecture graduate students Brian Davis, David Holzman and Kirsten Ostberg.

For information about the speakers and full agenda, visit the conference website.

— By Jane Ford

Media Contact

Ellen Cathey

School of Architecture