Network City

History/Theory

Spring 2013

Kazys Varnelis, instructor

Network City explored how urban areas developed as ecosystems of competing networks since the late nineteenth century. Networks of capital, transportation infrastructures and telecommunications systems centralize cities while dispersing them into megalopoleis (e.g. larger posturban fields such as the megalopolis of the Northeastern seaboard, the Great Lakes region or Southern California.) Such territories are key players in the geography of flows that structures economies and societies today.

Cities can be thought of as communications systems or networks, but these are products of historical development. To this end, the first half of the course surveyed the development of urbanization since the emergence of the modern network city in the late nineteenth century while the second half focused on conditions in contemporary urbanism. Throughout, we used New York as a key test case. Like cities, buildings also function as networks. In this sense, the city is not just as a network but rather an internet (originally “internetwork”) of buildings. We considered the demands of cities and economies together with technological and social networks on architectural program, envelope and plan. Throughout the course, we explored the growth of both city and suburb not as separate and opposed but rather as a whole.