Wendy Cheng”Chair, American Studies, Scripps College; author, The Changs Next Do

Wendy Cheng”Chair American Studies Scripps College; author The Changs Next Door to the Diazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California (Minnesota 2013) Neil Padukone”Director NYC Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Council; author Beyond South Asia: Indias Strategic Evolution and the Reintegration of the Subcontinent (Bloomsbury 2014) In recent years architects have focused design research on the potential of various historical architectural sites of collective inhabitation and/or labor found on the edges of the city (the monastery the phallenstary the factory the social condenser etc.) to act as models for the establishment of new social and political collectives. The private market has developed new co-living and co-working real estate products including those which adaptively-reuse former office spaces and which promise higher-density and transit-oriented suburban living marketing urban amenities and lifestyles to young residents of suburban areas (many driven out of urban areas by housing costs). And the cumulative effects of longer-term patterns of migration as well as more immediate events such as the reaction to the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests have begun to challenge the image of the suburb as a monolithically white patriarchal and politically conservative milieu giving way to more complex contested and culturally-specific realities. These phenomena prompt questions regarding what forms of collective life politics and social transformation might be possible within the architectural and infrastructural context of the contemporary American suburb; and of how that architecture and infrastructure might change in order to shape and respond to new needs and desires. The studio symposium will explore the social and environmental impacts of postwar suburbanization relating the development of infrastructure real estate practices and other physical financial and policy tools to the present-day circumstances of suburban life. The aim of the seminar is to provide a context for students to consider the potential reuse of the ensemble of office buildings at Alexander Park. What can architecture contribute to the project of overcoming the social hierarchies and environmental damages that have been locked-in to the built form of suburban and exurban areas through historical patterns of development? If the local politics of the suburbs has been historically grounded in the preservation of private property values and exclusive access to communal resources (e.g. school districts) what possibilities for more progressive forms of local politics might today emerge from (and materially transform) suburban communities?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *