New York as Incubator of Twentieth-Century Urbanism: Four Urban Thinkers and the City They Envisioned

This course is constructed as an argument among four visionary thinkers whose differing views of the twentieth-century city were shaped
by their response to New York City’s modern urban, architectural, and environmental development: Lewis Mumford (1895–1990), Robert
Moses (1888–1981), Jane Jacobs (1916–2006), and Rem Koolhaas (1944–). The seminar explores the central problems that preoccupied
each, from civic representation and sustainability to large-scale infrastructure and urban renewal, from community and complexity to
urban experience and the urban imaginary. Readings of key texts by and about the four main figures are supplemented with related
material and with case studies of New York’s built environment. The class includes two trips to New York to visit selected sites. The focus
is double: on the role and agency of the “urban intellectual” in the production of urban culture; and on New York’s material history. New
York has been called the capital of the twentieth century. The seminar aims to assess the continuing relevance of the ideas of this quartet
of influential thinkers and to reflect on twenty-first-century New York in light of its evolution over the last hundred years.

Instructor: Joan Ockman, Senior Lecturer, Architecture, School of Design
TA:  LeeAnn Custer, PhD Candidate, History of Art, School of Arts and Sciences