• OP CITY: Figuring the Urban Future and Its Audiences
    University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Toronto
    Jun 01, 2013
    University of California, Los Angeles-Department of Architecture and Urban Design

Duck and Cover: NIMBYism and Goolge Earth, proffering a new politics of urban community and public life through the tactics of the Trojan horse by Roger Sherman Architecture and Urban Design.

OP CITY: Figuring the Urban Future and Its Audiences—an international symposium—responds to the widening gulf between ever-proliferating techniques for describing and analyzing the contemporary city and the failure of those analyses to engender new technologies for urban transformation. It is time that these methods were evaluated, both in terms of their utility in projecting the urban future and in terms of their capacity to address new and existing audiences with the necessary agency to help realize the futures they project. OP CITY interrogates both their "back of house" (research and development) and "storefront" (marketing) intelligence. Funding supports architectural production of new analyses that are the basis for much of the discussion.

Harrison Higgins serves as project manager. Before joining cityLAB as associate director, Higgins was associate scholar in urban and regional planning and director of the Florida Planning and Development Lab at Florida State University where he managed contracts from $5,000 to $1.2 million for federal, state, and non-governmental sponsors. Higgins's teaching and research has focused on urban design and its relationship to transportation and other infrastructures, open space, and the implications of climate change. He recently coedited Growth Management in Florida: Planning for Paradise (2007) and is currently editing a volume of essays evaluating open space infrastructure.

Roger Sherman is the organizer and chair of the architect sessions. Sherman's architecture and research deals with urban change and the self-organizing processes of cities. His Graham Foundation–funded book Under the Influence: Negotiating the Complex Logic of Urban Property (2010) investigates the architectural implications of American property law, which encourages competition amongst multiple rights holders. He edited RE American Dream: Six Housing Prototypes for Los Angeles (1995, also Graham-funded). Sherman is the recipient of numerous awards from the AIA/LA and ASLA, including for RePark, a proposal for FreshKills Landfill End Use Plan; Playa Rosa, a mixed-use, public-private development in South Los Angeles; and Duck-and-Cover, a branded development strategy for Target's big box stores.

Richard Sommer is coconvener and host. Dean of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, Sommer's research takes geography, culture, politics, and historiography of the contemporary city as a starting point for a speculative approach to architecture and urbanism. His work is concerned with reconceiving the architect's relationship to the contemporary metropolis in light of the democratic processes by which competing cultural and economic forces vie for its future. Sommer was previously on the design faculty at Harvard's GSD, where he served as the director of the Urban Design Program. His writings and projects have been published in Perspecta, ANY, Metropolis, Harvard Design Magazine, and the books Shaping the City, Supernatural Urbanism, and Ecological Urbanism. He has received grants from the NEA, Wheelwright Fellowship, LEF Foundation, and the Graham Foundation.

Dana Cuff is the organizer and chair of the scholarly papers. A professor, author, and practitioner in architecture, Cuff's work focuses on affordable housing, modernism, post-suburbia, politics of place, and spatial implications of emerging computer technologies. Cuff coedited, with Roger Sherman, Fast Forward Urbanism (2011), an anthology of scholarly and design propositions directed at rethinking and reconnecting the discipline of architecture to issues of the contemporary city. Cuff is the recipient of numerous fellowships and lectures internationally. Director of cityLAB, she has shepherded several urban experiments and research projects to successful completion, including WPA 2.0, a Graham Foundation–funded project that generated new ideas to put architecture to work rebuilding our cities; PropX, an experiment in increasing the supply of urban housing stock in Los Angeles through agile planning and constructive collaboration among urban professionals, stakeholders, and policy makers; and the cross-disciplinary exploration of the potential role sensor networks might play in urban public space.

Founded in 1968, the University of California, Los Angeles’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design pursues issues confronting contemporary architecture and urbanism through five different degree programs, offering a BA in architectural studies, two professional degrees (the master's of architecture I and II) as well as the MA and PhD in architecture. Our primary focus on advanced design is accompanied by concentrations in technology and critical studies of architectural culture.