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Syracuse Architecture's UPSTATE center hosts conference on future of Rust Belt cities

September 21, 2010

Mary Kate O'Brien
(315) 443-2388

UPSTATE: A Center for Design, Research and Real Estate will host the “Formerly Urban: Projecting Rust Belt Futures” conference at Syracuse University School of Architecture Oct. 13-14. The two-day conference will focus on the future of shrinking cities in America’s Rust Belt, underscoring the centrality of design and innovation in their revitalization. International experts from architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, as well as planning, policy, finance and economics will consider the ways in which design innovation can create urbanity in weak market cities whose urban character has devolved radically due to economic, demographic and physical change–cities that are now considered “formerly urban.”

“Although many metropolitan centers are growing rapidly, Rust Belt cities suffer from the loss of city fabric, diminishing social welfare networks and basic services, eroding public school systems, the loss of industry, increasing amounts of tax delinquent and vacant land, crumbling infrastructure and declining population,” says UPSTATE director Julia Czerniak. “ We’re looking forward to exploring these issues with such an impressive group of panelists.”

“This conference is part of an ongoing series that focuses on the city and contemporary best practices in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design,” says Mark Robbins, dean of the School of Architecture. “Through UPSTATE, this forum explores approaches that will shape the future of our urban centers, locally and worldwide.”

geuzeAdriaan Geuze, renowned Dutch landscape architect and co-founder of West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, a leading design practice in Europe, will deliver the keynote lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 5:30 p.m. West 8 and Geuze have established an international reputation with a unique approach to planning and design of the public environment. He is the winner of several international design competitions, including Governor’s Island in New York City, Playa de Palma in Mallorca and Toronto’s New Central Waterfront.

Five sessions will examine:

  • case studies of cities that have fostered vibrant civic life within diffuse urban fabrics;
  • regional strategies such as planned shrinkage, consolidation and land-banking;
  • the potential of landscape to build upon and maintain vast amounts of emerging land;
  • ways in which buildings, infrastructure and other design interventions can catalyze urban effects; and
  • financing structures for innovative development in weak market cities.

In addition to Czerniak, Robbins and Geuze, conference participants will include:

  • Theodore Brown, professor, Syracuse Architecture, partner, Munly Brown Studio;
  • McLain Clutter, assistant professor, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan;
  • Toni L. Griffin, founder, Urban Planning & Design for the American City; adjunct associate professor, Harvard University Graduate School of Design;
  • Rosanne Haggerty, president and founder, Common Ground;
  • Eelco Hooftman, partner and co-founder, GROSS. MAX. landscape architects;
  • Mark Linder, associate professor, Syracuse Architecture; principal, CLEAR;
  • James F. Lima, partner, HR&A Advisors, Inc.;
  • Brian Lonsway, associate professor, Syracuse Architecture;
  • Sébastien Marot, professor of history and theory, École d’Architecture de la Ville et des Territoires;
  • Jonathan Marvel, principal and co-founder, Rogers Marvel Architects;
  • Don Mitchell, Distinguished Professor, Department of Geography, SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs;
  • Edward Mitchell, principal, Edward Mitchell Architects; assistant professor, Yale University School of Architecture;
  • Hunter Morrison, director, Office of Campus Planning and Community Partnerships, Youngstown State University;
  • Anne Munly, professor, Syracuse Architecture; partner, Munly Brown Studio;
  • Marc Norman, vice president, Deutsche Bank Community Development Finance Group;
  • Darren Petrucci, professor and director, Herberger Institute School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture, Arizona State University; principal and founder, A-I-R [Architecture-Infrastructure-Research] Inc.;
  • Damon Rich, urban designer, City of Newark; founder, Center for Urban Pedagogy;
  • Roger Sherman, principal and founder, Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design; adjunct associate professor and co-director at cityLAB, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design;
  • Charles Waldheim, professor and chair, Department of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design;
  • Mark Willis, resident research fellow, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University;
  • Jane Wolff, associate professor and director, master of landscape architecture program, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto;
  • Andrew Zago, founder and principal, Zago Architecture; design faculty, Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).

UPSTATE: A Center for Design, Research, and Real Estate was established at SU’s School of Architecture in 2005 to engage innovative design and development practices and address critical issues of urban revitalization. A book based on the “Formerly Urban” conference will be published in spring 2012 through a collaboration of Syracuse Architecture and Princeton Architectural Press, funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation. The “Formerly Urban” conference is supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Deutsche Bank Foundation, with additional support provided by the Central New York Community Foundation. The conference is free and open to the public. On Oct. 13, sessions begin at 1 p.m.; on Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. For more information, visit

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