Fabrics + Typologies: NY/Global

Architecture + Urban Design

Fall 2012

Richard Plunz, instructor

This course explored the meaning of urban building typology and fabric in the evolution of cities worldwide. It questioned the canons of architectural and urban historiography that tend to overemphasize the isolated monument rather than fabric. Students scrutinized the evolutionary history of anonymous urban fabric, often created by the uncelebrated architect or builder, and which comprises the major building volume of this and all cities. The focus was on the culture of housing with the intent to grasp the political and tectonic devices that lead to specific fabrics in specific urban contexts. The city became a crucible to be understood both forwards and backwards in time, from extant present-day realities to underlying formational causes and vice versa. Beginning with New York City, this exercise in urban forensics was played back for other global cities. Seminar participants translated the technique and values learned from the New York case to case studies embedded in their own local knowledge, culminating in a final forum in which comparative projected architectural transformation of fabrics became the basis of critical discourse.