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"Emerging Urbanisms in De-Industrializing Urban Regions" Symposium

February 21, 2020 at 9:00 am - 5:30 pm

Symposium: Emerging Urbanisms in De-Industrializing Urban Regions

This symposium frames discourses emerging from a relational study of four transatlantic urban regions that display acute asymmetries of concurrent growth and socio-economic decline in the midst of larger economic restructuring: the Detroit Metropolitan Region; the Ruhr Valley; the Innovation Region “Rheinisches Revier” (Aachen-Cologne); and the deindustrializing hinterland of the southern U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The successive cycles of urban transformation have created uneven, landscapes which consist of fissures, empty gaps and vacated spaces interspersed amongst and between developed zones of concentrated and thriving activities. The resulting leftover spaces are latent sites of contestation and uncertainty where rival actors compete for a semblance of control with their own visions of re-use ranging from spontaneous and temporary to deliberate and semi-permanent. 

Organized around four different thematic sessions, symposium participants will challenge the notion that all sites of abandonment suffer an identical fate. Examining these four regions as grounds for speculation and a platform for broader reflection engaging other global geographies, participants will engage in discussions regarding the intricate relationship between the simultaneous, incremental erasure of the built environment vis-a-vis ongoing urban projects that instigate, appropriate, produce and reproduce these weak urbanities while projecting more sustainable futures. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Seminar Series program at the Urban Studies Foundation (USF) and the University of Michigan Taubman College, and is part of an interinstitutional initiative between the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and RWTH Aachen University.

AICP CM Credits: The symposium and both keynotes are elligible for AICP Certification Maintenance credits


All events take place in the Art & Architecture Building Commons unless otherwise noted. 


6:00PM Keynote Lecture: Lester Spence, Johns Hopkins University
Lester Spence is a Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and an award winning scholar, author, and teacher. He is currently at work on two book length projects examining the contemporary AIDS crisis in black communities, and the growing role of police in major American cities.


8:30AM Breakfast and Check-in

9:15AM Institutional Engagement in the Transforming City
Senior Leaders of Academic Institutions affiliated with the post-industrial rethinking of cities will discuss their agendas and aspirations for how academia might lead and support change.

10:15AM The Production of Decline
Uneven growth, land speculation and the asymmetrical distribution of resources are common in the contemporary city. As the politics of austerity continue to challenge recovery in many neighborhoods, the tactics to secure land control center the citizens’ struggle.

12:00PM Lunch Provided

12:45PM Alternative Governance Models: Making it Happen 
Navigating the evolving roles of philanthropies, NGOs,  private companies and other actors in stewarding new futures relative to traditional government-driven projects. This session tracks processes, capital, agendas and actors in the remaking of urban grounds.

2:30PM Global Neo-regionalisms
What are new models and approaches for the re-appropriation of formerly industrial grounds? What lessons from Germany, the USA and China inform regional strategies to the reuse of left-over land resources?

4:15PM [design] where you least expect it…
Within the context of de-industrialized and abandoned territories, how do designers operate? What old categories of thought become an encumbrance, and what new approaches and affinities need to be cultivated? Is it opportunist to identify opportunity? In the absence of surplus capital, what materials and media are mobilized? In the absence of an RFP, what new roles of instigation emerge as part of design practice? Who designs and who is designed for?

6:00PM Keynote Matthew Gandy, University of Cambridge
Matthew Gandy is Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge and is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He is currently writing a book about urban biodiversity.

7:30PM Reception


Joshua Akers, U-M Dearborn
María Arquero de Alarcón, U-M Taubman College / MAde Studio
Julie Bargmann, University of Virginia School of Architecture / D.I.R.T. Studio
Ila Berman, University of Virginia School of Architecture
Scott Campbell, U-M Taubman College
Olaia Chivite Amigo, U-M Taubman College / MAde Studio 
McLain Clutter, U-M Taubman College / EXTENTS
Jill Desimini, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Angela D. Dillard, U-M Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS)
Ali Fard, University of Virginia School of Architecture
Robert Fishman, U-M Taubman College
Mona El Khafif, University of Virginia School of Architecture
Ana María León, U-M LSA History of Art
Jonathan Massey, U-M Taubman College
Nicole Maurer-Lemmens, RWTH Aachen University Faculty of Architecture / Maurer United Architects
Martin Murray, U-M Taubman College
Cyrus Peñarroyo, U-M Taubman College / EXTENTS
Jan Polívka, RWTH Aachen University Faculty of Architecture / ILS
Christa Reicher, RWTH Aachen University Faculty of Architecture 
Anya Sirota, U-M Taubman College / akoaki
Geoffrey Thün, U-M Taubman College / RVTR
Kathy Velikov, U-M Taubman College / RVTR
Lin Wang, School of Design, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Image Caption: “Image © RVTR (Velikov + Thün)”


February 21, 2020
9:00 am - 5:30 pm
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