H+U+D 2.0- The Inclusive City, Past, Present and Future—


For the past five years, we have been privileged to oversee the H+U+D initiative aiming to contribute new sensibilities and collaborations centered on humanities, urbanism and design (hence H+U+D) to Penn’s scholarly climate. As we have worked with faculty and students, promoting interdisciplinary scholarship and building social capital, we have also laid the groundwork a renewed Mellon-sponsored project, “The Inclusive City, Past, Present, Future” (H+U+D 2.0), that will, again bring together faculty and students from the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Design. We found that H+U+D has been successful in three areas that we will replicate, slightly modified in H+U+D 2.0. They are:

The first area, the signature H+U+D project, has been the interdisciplinary, multi-generational H+U+D Faculty Colloquium that met bi-weekly, sometimes around a seminar table and sometimes at a site or exhibition, to explore shared interests and discuss the work of its members. Participants included 36 Penn faculty at all levels of their careers, four visiting Junior (Postdoctoral) Fellows, and several associated postdocs (including two Marie Curie Fellows from the EU) who were already at Penn. The colloquium has been very successful in creating a supportive environment for younger scholars and connecting them with mentors and peers with whom they would not usually come into contact. The scholarly productivity of this group is impressive; to date they have produced 14 books, 9 chapters, 28 refereed journal articles, and 8 exhibitions.

The Colloquium has also hosted a small number of lectures and co-sponsored symposia. We have gone “on the road,” organizing interdisciplinary panels at scholarly conferences (most recently the “Sensing the City” at the last meeting of the Society for American City and Regional Planning Historians).

The second area has been in instruction. The H+U+D initiative sponsored 15 co-taught courses involving 35 faculty members and more than 150 students. These comprised 10 undergraduate “city seminars,” with international and domestic field trips, and an annual “problematics” seminar for graduate students.

The third area has been in research. H_U+D supported 27 undergraduate and graduate student research projects with results presented by the students to the Colloquium. The projects have yielded enriched doctoral dissertations, publications, notably one by an undergraduate in the Smithsonian Magazine, and inspired ongoing career choices and graduate studies.

As we look forward to the next step with “The Inclusive City, Past, Present, Future” (H+U+D 2.0) we will retain the basic structure but adding the thematic dimension focusing on inclusion and diversity both in what we study and who we are. The new project will have at its heart a renewed the Inclusive City Colloquium to explore how the humanities can inform the design professions and how the design professions can inform the humanities with a special focus on inclusion in its many forms. With the course sponsorship effort, we will give preference to courses that are co-taught, likely to reach a large audience, part of the College general education requirement and permanent “gateway” courses, designed to attract a large and more diverse undergraduate audience to the study of cities and the built environment generally. In this area, we will also initiate “Anchor Institution” seminars to take advantage of the opportunities that Philadelphia offers as a laboratory for the study of inclusion and diversity. Here we will select and work with one of Philadelphia’s “anchor” institutions to create the seminar. We expect that these seminars would offer students opportunities to study and work with collections, exhibition design, public programming, policy making and implementation, city planning, architectural design, and management. Finally, in the research arena, we will offer up to 12 graduate and undergraduate fellowships per year with undergraduates being offered a non-credit Undergraduate Student Research Colloquium to enrich their experience.

So the projects of the past five years have nurtured a remarkable treasury of human capital in the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Design as this report illustrates. The Mellon Foundation’s support has made a huge difference in the lives of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students at Penn, Moreover Mellon’s has been field-defining world-wide, seeding creativity and productivity in urban humanities among the many scholars of the participating universities Penn is proud to be among their number.

H+U+D Colloquium Visits Wright Exhibition at MoMA—


H+U+D colloquium members traveled to New York to MoMA to see Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive   The show marked the recent joint acquisition of the archive by Columbia University and MoMA. The exhibition divided materials fromthe Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Archive into 12 sections showcasing 12 different guest curators and scholars. The show was organized by Barry Bergdoll, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University; with Jennifer Gray, Project Research Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art. Colloquium members discussed the exhibition with Jennifer Gray.

H+U+D co-director, David Browlee and Jennifer Gray

H+U+D co-director, David Browlee and Jennifer Gray


H+U+D Colloquium Members (l-r) Raffaella Giannetto Fabiani, Domenic Vitiello, Lee Ann Custer (guest) and Naomi Waltham-Smith


H+U+D Launches Four New Courses in Spring 2018!—


In its final year, the H+U+D initiative invested in the creation of four new courses to attract students from across the university at both graduate and undergraduate levels. The courses each pair a faculty member from the Schools of Design and Arts and Sciences to co-create and co-teach a course that explore cities from the dual perspectives of the humanities and design disciplines. The city seminar courses focus on one city in depth for undergraduates and include travel to the city under study. This semester students will be traveling to New York and Berlin. Students in “New York as Incubator for the Twentieth Century” will study four urban visionaries influence by New York City. In “Media Memories and the Future: Sound and Environment in Berlin,” students will use the city as a  a palimpsest—sonically, visually, and spatially—to investigate and interpret historical patterns and their relationship to novel practices and methods in the present. The graduate problematics seminar takes a theme and tackles it using methods of inquiry from both the humanities and design disciplines. Students will be studying coastal cities and how infrastructure needs contend with sea level rise in “Sinking and Floating: Phenomenologies of Coastal Urban Resistance.” A fourth course, “Philadelphia: Urban Experience and Public Memory,” explores how monuments. memory, politics and sensory experience shape understandings of Philadelphia’s past, present and future.  For more information

Deadline Extended for City Seminar Proposals—


The Mellon Humanities, Urbanism and Design (H+U+D) Initiative requests proposals for undergraduate city seminar courses and course development funds. Attached please find the full RFP that details the application process. 

Next year (2017-18) the initiative will sponsor two city seminars: one international and one domestic. Please see our website for descriptions of previous seminars here. The seminar should examine one city in a detailed, multidisciplinary way that incorporates both the humanities and design. Please consult HUD Course Development RFP for full application information. 

The deadline for proposals is April 21 , 2017. Proposals should be submitted to Mary Rocco at mrocc@design.upenn.edu. 

For questions, please contact Genie Birch at elbirch@design.upenn.edu or David Brownlee at dbrownle@sas.upenn.edu.

H+U+D Annual Public Lecture Featuring Alan Greenberger—

H+U+D Co-Directors David Brownlee  (left) and Eugenie Birch (right) with Alan (center)

H+U+D Co-Directors David Brownlee (left) and Eugenie Birch (right) with Alan (center)

This year’s H+U+D Annual Public Lecture featured Alan Greenberger discussing the work and legacy of his mentor, the renowned Italian-American architect and professor, Romaldo “Aldo” Giurgola.

Giurgola moved to Philadelphia in the late 1950s to teach at the University of Pennsylvania where he joined an influential group of architects called “The Philadelphia School” who pushed back against Modernist orthodoxies and as a result made Philadelphia a hotbed of design thinking and innovation in the 1960s.  Giurgola partnered with Ehrman B. Mitchell to form the firm Mitchell/Giurgola. They were responsible for many important projects built in Philadelphia in the run-up to the Bicentennial, including the Penn Mutual tower at 508 Walnut St., the United Way headquarters at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and the original Liberty Bell Pavilion on Independence Mall. For 34 years, Greenberger was a practicing architect with Mitchell/Giurgola Architects and its successor, MGA Partners, where he was the design lead on many award winning projects. Greenberger described his time at MGA and his relationship with Giurgola, his mentor and friend. The presentation featured a number of Giurgola’s designs and Greenberger discussed the commonalities among them as well as the need for design that works in context with its surroundings to enhance rather than detract.


Search for the Next Mellon Junior Fellows in Humanities, Urbanism and Design—


Applications are now invited for two one-year Junior Fellowships to be held in 2016-2076.

One fellow will be selected from the humanities and one from design. Each will be hosted at Penn by a department in the other discipline.

Mellon Junior Fellows will be selected on the basis of their ability to contribute, through research and teaching, to the mission of the initiative.  During their ten months in residence, they will have the opportunity to pursue their own research. They will participate in the bi-weekly Colloquium, presenting their research at one of those sessions, and they will also participate fully in the academic life of their host departments. In the spring semester they will teach an undergraduate seminar, which may be co-taught by the two fellows.

For full job description,
HUD Junior Fellow JobDescript 2016-17
Junior Fellow application cover sheet

H+U+D Welcomes Two Junior Fellows—


The Mellon Humanities, Urbanism and Design Initiative at Penn (H+U+D)  is pleased to announce the arrival of its first two Junior Fellows.

Dr. Helen Gyger and Dr. Christina Svendsen have been named H+U+D Junior Fellows for the 2015-2016 academic year, in a program support by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants from the humanities and design disciplines. In keeping with the mission of H+U+D to bring together scholars and students to explore cities at the intersection of the humanities and design, Dr. Svendsen, a scholar of comparative literature, is being hosted by the School of Design, and Dr. Gyger, an architectural scholar, is hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences.

gygerHelen Gyger joins the Mellon H+U+D Initiative from Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where she received her PhD in 2013 and has taught courses on architectural history and theory. Her research focuses on the architecture and built environments of modern Latin America  and contemporary patterns of “informal” urban development, which is a global phenomenon. She is the co-editor (with Patricio del Real) of Latin American Modern Architectures: Ambiguous Territories (Routledge, 2012) and is currently working on a book project titled The Informal as a Project: Self-Help Housing in Peru, 1954–1986. While at Penn, her research will focus on the urban development programs of the Alliance for Progress. She is appointed in the Department of History (SAS).

This fall, the initiative also welcomes Christina Svendsen, who completed her PhD in 2010 at Harvard University, Svendsen bio photowhere she has taught in the Department of Comparative Literature and co-directs “Rethinking Translation,” a Mahindra Humanities Center seminar in collaboration with Peter Waterhouse’s Versatorium (a translation collective) and the Akademie der Lesende Künste in Vienna. She has published the first English translations of architect Paul Scheerbart’s Lesabéndio: an Asteroid Novel (2012) and the surrealist Unica Zürn’s The Trumpets of Jericho (2015). Her research interests include modernist literature, architectural and critical theory, and new materialisms. Currently, she is revising a book manuscript titled Stone, Steel, Glass: Architectures of Time in European Modernity. Her newest project, on which she will work while at Penn, is a conceptual history of transparency and virtual space, tentatively called “Aesthetics of Transparency: Glass Culture as Threat and Desire.” She is appointed in the Department of City and Regional Planning (Design).

Both Junior Fellows will participate in the H+U+D faculty colloquium and teach interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars in spring 2016.

Students launch website with lessons learned during H+U+D city seminar in Rio—


Students from the H+U+D sponsored city seminar, “Cosmopolitan Urbanism: Rio de Janeiro,” created a website that explore the uneven ways in which urban development proceeds through international and universalist models. The course was taught by Daniel Barber, Assistant Professor of Architecture in the School of Design, and John Tresch, Associate Professor in History and Sociology of Science in the School of Arts and Sciences. Students and faculty traveled to Rio over spring break and visited  a number of buildings and sites to explore the richness and diversity of the city. The website expands the experience into an atlas of  the buildings and sight along with commentary created by the students. Click her to visit.

H+U+D Co-Director Elected First-Ever President of the UN’s new General Assembly of Partners—


Eugenie Birch, co-director of the Humanities, Urbanism and Design (H+U+D)  Initiative as well as the  University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research and the , has been elected as the first president of the new General Assembly of Partners (GAP), a special initiative of the United Nation’s World Urban Campaign. Birch was elected at the GAP’s inaugural meeting, held in Nairobi, Kenya in mid-April. At the same meeting, New Delhi’s Shipra Narang Suri, Vice President of the International Society of City and Regional Planners, was elected as GAP’s vice president.

The General Assembly of Partners is a new global initiative that will play an important role in the preparation process for the United Nation’s Habitat III conference, the world’s premier conference addressing urban issues, to be held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. Through a process of engaging groups of diverse of stakeholders— including city policymakers, organized groups of women, academics, indigenous peoples, foundations, farmers, and the media—GAP will seek to identify and address new and emerging urban challenges in advance of the Habitat III conference.

GAP has identified 14 “partner constituent groups” to engage in this process, most of whom have elected chairs and will be electing co-chairs at the GAP’s upcoming October meeting.

“Habitat III is about creating a vision and plan for the future of urban communities around the world,” says Birch. “In order to really understand the depths and nuances of urban issues, we must bring together the diverse constituents who have a stake in making cities better, stronger, and more livable in the 21stcentury. And that’s exactly what the new General Assembly of Partners hopes to do.”

In her role as GAP’s president, Birch, with the help of the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs Major Group Programme Manager, is launching a wide-ranging engagement effort to bring together members from the 14 major constituent groups, and beyond. The GAP will work with these members to engage in dialogue, propose actionable recommendations, and publicize outcomes and collective positions to the Habitat III conference.

Lessons from Rio de Janeiro Inform Collective Class Project for H+U+D City Seminar—

Students on the terrace of Palacio Capanema

Students on the terrace of Palacio Capanema

The course “Cosmopolitan Urbanism: Rio de Janeiro” has taken as its object of study the uneven ways in which urban development proceeds through international and universalist models. It is taught by Daniel Barber, Assistant Professor of Architecture in the School of Design, and John Tresch, Associate Professor in History and Sociology of Science in the School of Arts and Sciences. Rio is an ideal site, not only in that the city has increasingly faced pressure to enter the network of ‘global cities’ over the past few decades, but also because its urban development has been subject to so many different forces, both internal and external, since its founding.The first part of the course was spent examine the history of Rio in the context of the history of architecture and urban planning, on the one hand, and the history of universal tropes of science, positivism, and development on the other. Special attention was also paid to the importance of Rio as a site for the elaboration of Brazilian identity, and for how this has played our recently through the recent World Cup and the upcoming Olympics. We then traveled to Rio and visited a heterogeneous collection of buildings and sites in order to explore the richness and diversity of the city. Some highlights: a visit inside the Palacio Capanema (also called the Ministry of Education and Heath, Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, et. al., 1936-1943); a tour of the renovations to the Pedregulho housing complex (Affonso Eduardo Reidy, 1947-1951); a soccer match at Maracana; and a visit to the Foundation Oswaldo Cruz including the Museum of Life and the original building that housed the laboratories for many of the public health experiments and vaccines that were so significant to the development of Brazil – and remain crucial to the region today. Now that we are back at Penn, students are hard at work preparing the collective project “RioAtlas: Cosmopolitan Urbanisms” in which they are expanding on their exploration of these different sites organizing them into a web-based interface. Students for the course are divided between the Architecture Department, History and Sociology of Science, and related fields. They are: Megan Bridges, Kahaari Kenyatta, Carissa Lim, Paul Marett, Martina Merlo, Ariela Osuna, Natalia Revelo, Monique Sager, Emma Schad, Emily Siegel, Sean Turner, and Lindsay Wong. We have also benefited from the experience of our TAs Erin Putalik, PhD Student in Architecture, and Rosanna Dent, PhD Candidate in History and Sociology of Science, and from the knowledge of Rio (and of Brazilian Portuguese) of Daniella Costa, a visiting scholar in Historic Preservation in the School of Design.

Renovations at Pedregulho.

Renovations at Pedregulho.


Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Museo de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, 1952-57