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Gentrification: The Latest Architecture and News

Situationist Funhouse: Art’s Complicated Role in Redeveloping Cities

Courtesy of Stephen Zacks. ImageHovagimyan collaborated with Gordon Matta-Clark on Day’s End, in which Matta-Clark illegally cut a half-moon through the Navy Pier at the end of Gansevoort Street in 1975
Courtesy of Stephen Zacks. ImageHovagimyan collaborated with Gordon Matta-Clark on Day’s End, in which Matta-Clark illegally cut a half-moon through the Navy Pier at the end of Gansevoort Street in 1975

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

While Stephen Zacks’ new book, G.H. Hovagimyan: Situationist Funhouse, is ostensibly about the life and work of the artist, there’s an intriguing and seemingly topical subtext looming in the background: the role of art and culture on the development and redevelopment of cities. It’s a complicated and sometimes fraught issue, prone sometimes to simplistic, even binary thinking. Zacks, a friend and former colleague at Metropolis, has always had a more nuanced view of the issue. Last week I reached out to him to talk about the work of Hovagimyan, the historic lessons of 1970s New York, and why “gentrification” needs a new name.

New Green Spaces Don’t Have to Lead to Gentrification

Decades of redlining and urban renewal, rooted in racist planning and design policies, created the conditions for gentrification to occur in American cities. But the primary concern with gentrification today is displacement, which primarily impacts marginalized communities shaped by a history of being denied access to mortgages. At the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Matthew Williams, ASLA, with the City of Detroit’s planning department, said in his city there are concerns that new green spaces will increase the market value of homes and “price out marginalized communities.” But investment in green space doesn’t necessarily need to lead to displacement. If these projects are led by marginalized communities, they can be embraced.

Dequindre Cut, Detroit / SmithGroup. Image Courtesy of The DirtHarold Simmons Park, Dallas, Texas / Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Image Courtesy of The DirtJoe Louis Greenway, Detroit / SmithGroup. Image Courtesy of The DirtElla Fitzgerald Park and Greenway / Spackman, Mossop, and Michaels. Image Courtesy of The Dirt+ 13

Contemporary Social Housing in China: Playing with the Constraints

Saskia Sassen, the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, predicts in her co-authored book “The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agendathat, in the future cities will become our crucial battlefield as we continue to fight against gentrification and growing degree of isolation in our communities. Sassen argues that, “Cities should be an inclusive space for both the affluent and the poor. Nevertheless, in reality our cities never achieved equality for all, because our cities were never designed that way. Still cities ought not to be a place that tolerates inequality or injustice”.

New York City Promises Affordability Through Rezoning But Delivers Gentrification

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Dozens of neighborhoods in New York City have been upzoned based on contrived, and even false claims made by the city, which promised more diversity, affordable housing, minimum displacement, and other worthy goals. None of those projections materialized, but this is never acknowledged. Worse, the upzoning created the opposite conditions: less diversity, fewer affordable units, and whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. This, too, is never acknowledged. But the damage is done—and developers are having their way—following the new zoning. Then it’s onto the next neighborhood, with the same approach. Roberta Brandes Gratz explores in her article city planning and city promises in New Tork City, disclosing zoning regulations that lead to the opposite of what they preach.

Tech, Class, Cynicism, and Pandemic Real Estate

It didn’t take long for the coronavirus pandemic to inspire both cutting-edge architectural design solutions and broad speculation about future developments in the field. Many of the realized innovations have been contracted by or marketed to the real estate sector. But as firms compete to provide pandemic comforts to rich tenants, the COVID-19 technology that directly affects working-class communities is mostly limited to restrictive measures that fail to address already-urgent residential health hazards or administrative conveniences for developers that allow them to circumvent public scrutiny. These changes had been long-planned, but they have found a new license under the pretext of coronavirus precaution. In terms of “corona grifting,” this sort of thing takes the cake.

Gentrification and Dystopia: The Future of Mexico City in the Aftermath of the Covid-19 Pandemic

'Territory and Housing' (2018). Image © Alberto KalachSanta Fe, Mexico City. Image © Johny MillerSolving the problem of crowding, drought, and flooding in Mexico City (June 2018). Image © Eduardo VerdugoMexico City During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Image © Santiago Arau+ 5

When looking at the population of the world's metropolises, in this case Mexico City, the reality is that the majority of the people living there have migrated from other regions of the country and, sometimes, from other countries as well. Of course, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, companies and schools have gone virtual, and, with their work and studies no longer tied to urban centers, people have left in masse for the coast and other less populated areas in search of space and lower living costs.

The Challenges and Opportunities of Urban Regeneration in Gentrified Areas of China

Since the 1990s, copious amounts of cities in China have been undergoing urban renewal. Prompted by this state-facilitated urban redevelopment, skyscrapers are being built rapidly in major cities to attract affluent middle-classes, resulting in countless relocation and displacement of the working-class population. Such process is known as “gentrification”.

As cities and neighborhoods are being gentrified thoroughly to meet middle-class taste and boost economic growth, urban land resources are being treated in ways to increase business potential, leaving little room for the development of urban street life. Among rows of concrete and steel constructions, nowadays, urbanites are struggling to find a place to sit, rest, and play during leisure time. Analyzing five architectural practices creating livable urban public spaces, this article discusses the challenges and opportunities of urban revitalization in China under the phenomenon of gentrification.

“BEFORE/AFTER”: An Architectural Documentation of Urban Changes in Hutongs

“BEFORE/AFTER” documents the drastic changes, both physical and psychological, which took place during the renovation of Beijing’s Fangjia Hutong in the months between April and September 2017. In 2019, OPEN Architecture was invited to participate in “Unknown City: China Contemporary Architecture and Image Exhibition”, the opening exhibition of the Pingshan Art Museum, with their work “BEFORE/AFTER”.

Leona Lynen Explains How to Fight Gentrification in ReSITE Podcast

Design and the City is a podcast by reSITE, raising questions and proposing solutions for the city of the future. In the fourth episode entitled Fighting Gentrification, Leona Lynen, a city-maker advocating for the collaboration between civil society and administration, talks about the case of Berlin and her new co-operative project.

Sharon Zukin on Privately Managed Public Spaces, Gentrification and Urban Authenticity

The Midnight Charette is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by architectural designers David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features a variety of creative professionals in unscripted and long-format conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and more personal discussions. Honesty and humor are used to cover a wide array of subjects: some episodes provide useful tips for designers, while others are project reviews, interviews, or simply explorations of everyday life and design. The Midnight Charette is available for free on iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, and all other podcast directories.

On this episode of The Midnight Charette Podcast, Sharon Zukin discusses the economic and social impact the technology industry has had on cities around the world, the relationship between gentrification and the commodification of modern life, building improvement districts and the increasing securitization of public spaces, and the desire to live in authentic neighborhoods.

Michelle Mlati's Afrofuturist Approach To Spatial Planning

With an academic background that includes social sciences, curatorship, and architecture, Michelle Mlati's trajectory is an interesting one; more so for the way her current work dabbles in these areas simultaneously.  

Describing herself as an afrofuturist critical spatial designer, Johannesburg-based Mlati’s practice investigates elements of the city, from sustainability through to social dynamics, architecture to aural and visual cultures.

Rios Clementi Hale Studios Address Gentrification Through New L.A. Office

The Los Angeles-based firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, a transdisciplinary practice engaging in design from urban planning to product design, opened their new offices in the city's Crenshaw neighborhood. A recent article by Metropolis Magazine outlines the firm's design process in creating their new office layout to emphasize their aspirations as an established practice.

Dear Internet: Stop Placing Blame for Gentrification on an Architectural Style

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Architecture, Aesthetic Moralism, and the Crisis of Urban Housing."

It may shock some people to hear this, but architecture is not urban planning. It is not transportation planning, sociology, political science, or critical geography. However, architecture, new-build apartment architecture specifically, has become a social media scapegoat for today’s urban housing crisis: escalating developer-driven gentrification.

Out of my own curiosity, I searched several academic databases for research that successfully correlates the architectural aesthetic of new build apartments with gentrification. While many writers and denizens of social media really want to blame today’s bland, boxy, cladding-driven style of multifamily urban housing for gentrification, I’m afraid the research isn’t there. In fact, one study featured in a paper on neighborhood early warning systems for gentrification cites historic architecture as one of five predictors of gentrification in the DC area.

9 Principles of Ethical Redevelopment to Consider in Order to Improve Communities, Not Gentrify Them

A version of this article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Principles of Ethical Redevelopment."

Where does creativity live? Can the highest level of cultural production come from down the street? What does it mean to be a good neighbor, a good steward? How does that look when there are so many forces at work keeping people isolated? How do you see value in what others discard? Can we learn to talk about moments of success in our struggling neighborhoods, not as random and magical, but as sophisticated flexibility? What is civic empathy?

These are some of the questions Place Lab, a University of Chicago partnership between Arts + Public Life and the Harris School for Public Policy, explored in an exercise last year conducted with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: it’s the articulation of a set of nine principles collectively called Ethical Redevelopment.

Is India's Plan to Build 100 Smart Cities Inherently Flawed?

The Indian Government’s Smart City Mission, launched in 2015, envisions the development of one hundred “smart cities” by 2020 to address the country’s rapid urbanization; thirty cities were added to the official list last week, taking the current total of planned initiatives to ninety. The $7.5-billion mission entails the comprehensive development of core infrastructure—water and electricity supply, urban mobility, affordable housing, sanitation, health, and safety—while infusing technology-based “smart solutions” to drive economic growth and improve the citizens’ quality of life in cities.

In a country bogged down by bureaucratic corruption, the mission has been commended for its transparent and innovative use of a nation-wide “City Challenge” to award funding to the best proposals from local municipal bodies. Its utopian manifesto and on-ground implementation, however, are a cause of serious concern among urban planners and policy-makers today, who question if the very idea of the Indian smart city is inherently flawed.