Yesterday I went to the Regional Plan Association’s conference on “Innovation and the American Metropolis.” The RPA’s interventions in the urban fabric of the New York metropolitan area have been hugely influential, laying out the material and intellectual framework for the development of this, one of the U.S.’s greatest urban regions. Of course, these interventions have not been without controversy, as Marshall Berman’s withering attack on Robert Moses in All That is Solid Melts into Air underlines.
In a first for me, I live blogged the event for Social Text. My account of and reactions to the RPA presentations are available here.
There were many fascinating presentations, but perhaps the most interesting was one by an architect involved in a project sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art called Rising Currents. The goal of this project, which brought together urban planners, architects, ecologists, and civic groups, was to explore a series of creative responses to sea-level rise resulting from climate change, re-envisioning the coast lines of New York and New Jersey around the New York harbor. This is one of the most interesting climate change mitigation projects that I’ve seen, one that suggests it may be possible to make progressive interventions in response to the gathering climate crisis, at least in the short- to medium-term.