• Cleaning Up?
    Mariana Mogilevich
    Anita Bakshi, Clarisa Diaz, Jade Doskow, Scott Frickel, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, Francesca Johanson, and Jonathan Tollefson
    Urban Omnibus, 2021
    The Architectural League of New York

The recently-opened Bronx River House in Starlight Park represents a milestone in an ongoing, decades-long remediation effort led by local activists. Illustration: Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez

There is lead in the pipes, mold on the ceiling, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) chemicals in the water, petroleum underground, emissions in the air, and so much more—we live in a toxic landscape. Public health crises regularly reveal a callous disregard for the environments of the poorest, while high-profile cleanups catalyze development far in advance of any actual remediation. To live in the city (indeed, on this planet) is to live atop centuries of contaminants, among residues we can’t see that pose risks we can’t calculate. There is no designing, building, or dwelling without contending with the material consequences of centuries privileging growth at any cost. Focused on New York City, this multimedia, interdisciplinary series investigates what it means to live in, build on, and design for a city of pervasive toxicity. Scholars, writers, artists, and designers explore the critical and underexamined role of remediation in the evolution and experience of the city—how we reckon with and repair harms—and imagine new paradigms for planning and design in the toxic city.

Mariana Mogilevich is editor-in-chief of Urban Omnibus. She created and edited Urban Omnibus’s special series The Location of Justice and has commissioned over 200 editorial features from artists, designers, scholars, and writers. A historian of architecture and urbanism, her research focuses on the design and politics of the public realm. She is the author of The Invention of Public Space: Designing for Inclusion in Lindsay’s New York (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and articles in numerous journals and exhibition catalogues. She has developed exhibitions and other public projects on the urban environment for the National Parks Service, the New-York Historical Society, and Place Matters. Mogilevich received a PhD in the history of architecture and urbanism from Harvard University, she was an inaugural Princeton-Mellon Fellow in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities at Princeton University, and has taught at New York University, Princeton, Pratt Institute, and Cornell University.

The Architectural League of New York, founded January 18, 1881 by a group of young architects, nurtures excellence in architecture, design, and urbanism, and stimulates thinking, debate, and action on the critical design and building issues of our time. As a vital, independent forum for architecture and its allied disciplines, the League helps create a more beautiful, vibrant, innovative, and sustainable future.