Masterclass: Designing Jane Jacobs' Digital Cities

27 Sep, 2016

Masterclass: Designing Jane Jacobs' Digital Cities

Few have been more prescient in understanding the networked nature of cities, and the complex and subtle way people and information work together to create urban life, than Jane Jacobs. Historian of urban computing Jennifer Light and Jane Jacobs scholar Peter Laurence join us for a masterclass that will discuss the data and technical methods that can be used to build the personal experiences at the core of Jane Jacobs' vision for cities. We'll be taking an close look at the digital technologies currently used in city planning and considering what new tools are needed to achieve our urban planning goals. As we investigate this topic further, we'll also touch on exactly how cities function with such a layer of networked communication.

Moderated by BCNM Director and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Nicholas de Monchaux, this masterclass is open to current UC Berkeley faculty and graduate students. We welcome participation from all disciplines: the conversation will explore the engineering, design, ethical, and political implications, among others, of the "smart" city.

Please register below to attend, and read the following articles in advance.
Contradictions and Complexities: Jane Jacobs's and Robert Venturi's Complexity Theories by Peter Laurence
Taking Games Seriously by Jennifer Light
Discriminating Appraisals: Cartography, Computation, and Access to Federal Mortgage Insurance in the 1930s by Jennifer Light

Light, Laurence, and de Monchaux will be joined by Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka and SPUR Editorial Director Allison Arieff for a public panel discussion on the digital city at 6 PM at SPUR San Francisco.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society, the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, and the School of Information's Center for Technology, Society, and Policy.


Peter Laurence

Peter Laurence is director of graduate studies and associate professor of architectural and urban history, theory, and design at Clemson University School of Architecture, and the author of Becoming Jane Jacobs. He has been a student of Jane Jacobs's work for many years, with his studies in business/entrepreneurship, architecture, and urban history drawing him to her books on cities, economies, and civilizations. He began his research on Jacobs while a student at Harvard Graduate School of Design and continued it in the PhD Program in Architecture at University of Pennsylvania. His early work changed Jacobs scholarship and contributed to the creation of the Rockefeller Foundation's Jane Jacobs Medals in 2006. While interested in intersections of architectural and urban theory with proto-scientific/scientific thinking since the Renaissance, as well as the histories of modern architecture and urbanism of the 20th century, he continues work on Jacobs and is now writing a reader's guide to The Death and Life of Great American Cities. His work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and the Clemson University College of Architecture, Arts & Humanities.

Jennifer Light

Jennifer S Light is a professor in MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS). Her research investigates the intersection of science, technology and urban politics in US history, with special attention to the applications of scientific and technical ideas and innovations in programs of social reform and social control. Light is the author of two books on the sociology of scientific urban knowledge: The Nature of Cities: Ecological Visions and the American Urban Professions, 1920-1960 (2009, 2014) and From Warfare to Welfare: Defense Intellectuals and Urban Problems in Cold War America (2003, 2005). Together, the books explain the dominance of specific scientific models for understanding and managing cities during the twentieth century — and what difference such conceptualizations of city problems and solutions made in how US history unfolded. The Nature of Cities received Honorable Mention for the 2009 Lewis Mumford Prize; From Warfare to Welfare was a finalist for the Don K. Price Award. She is also editor, with Danielle Allen, of From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in the Digital Age (forthcoming), and author of articles and essays appearing in New Media and Society; Technology and Culture; Journal of Urban History; Journal of the American Planning Association; and other venues.

Nicholas de Monchaux

Nicholas de Monchaux is the Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley, and the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011). Spacesuit, shortlisted for the Art Book Prize, is an architectural and urban history of the Apollo Spacesuit and winner of the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society. de Monchaux’s work has been exhibited at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, and San Francisco’s SFMOMA. de Monchaux received his B.A. with distinction in Architecture, from Yale, and his M.Arch. from Princeton. Prior to his independent practice, he worked in the offices of Michael Hopkins & Partners in London, and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro in New York. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the Macdowell Colony, and has received additional design awards and fellowships from Parsons, the International Union of Architects, Pamphlet Architecture and the Van Alen Institute. His research in design theory and technology has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Hellman Family fund, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Smithsonian Institution.

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