ANN Oct 24, 2001

Lectures: Resilient City: Trauma, Recovery and Remembrance (MIT, Cambridge, Spring 2002)

Thomas J.

Remembrance (MIT, Cambridge, Spring 2002)
Date: 24 Oct 2001


Public Lecture Series and Colloquium - Spring 2002

The Resilient City: Trauma, Recovery and Remembrance

MIT School of Architecture and Planning
The Joint Program in City Design and Development

The Resilient City project was conceived in response to the terrorist
attacks which destroyed New York's World Trade Center on September
11, and is intended to be both a scholarly and therapeutic exercise.
The project will examine critically how cities in the past have
prevailed over trauma and devastation, seeking to understand the
forces--economic, artistic, political, and social--that have enabled
cities to rebuild and recover. By studying how cities in history have
emerged from catastrophe, we may better understand the challenges we
face in rebuilding lower Manhattan.

Cities have been subjected to periodic destruction throughout
history. They have been shaken, sacked, burned, bombed, flooded, and
irradiated. Yet, in almost every case, they have been rebuilt.
Usually, they are rebuilt as inhabited places, although
sometimes--in cities such as Pompeii or Timgad--they become sites for
tourism, education, or even myth. Whether reconstructed to
accommodate and restore city life or rebuilt to serve as sites for
mourning and remembrance, no major city has been truly or permanently

The central intellectual challenge of The Resilient City is to
develop a framework for understanding both the commonalities and the
significant differences inherent in the vast array of post-traumatic
urbanism. Doing so will require investigating diverse examples of
urban trauma and recovery. These will include London's
reconstruction following the fire of 1666; the regeneration of
Chicago in the 1870s; Hiroshima after the atomic bomb; Dresden and
Berlin in the wake of World War II; and the rebuilding of Beirut
following civil war.

The Resilient City will bring together urbanists and historians from
around the world to examine these and other examples. They will be
asked to extract the pressing questions asked in the past as cities
and their citizens struggled to rebuild. In the process, we hope to
explore the full richness of the design and planning politics
entailed by the reconstruction process.

This politics of reconstruction takes two intertwined forms: a
politics of symbolic succession, and a politics of institutional
processes. How has the symbolic power of the built environment been
used as a both a magnet for attack and as a signal of recovery? What
does each particular process of recovery reveal about the balance of
power in the society seeking to rebuild? Whose vision for the future
gets built, and why? These and other questions will shape the
Colloquium's broad-ranging inquiry into urban resilience and recovery.

The Colloquium will take place at MIT on Monday evenings beginning on
February 11, 2002.

For more information about The Resilient City, please contact
co-organizers Lawrence J. Vale ( or Thomas J.
Campanella (


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