Redeeming Industrial Cities with Superbuildings

Bilbao

The NYTimes has run a story on Bilbao and its attempt to reclaim its downtown and central river with Frank Gehry architecture. (Giant spider optional.) See “Bilbao: 10 Years Later”

Transforming ugly industrial space into beautiful civic space is an international project. Providence, RI has the Waterfire Festival, which centers on the confluence of rivers in the downtown that once was completely covered by concrete and asphalt. More on that in a future post.

I was attracted to the Times article because my students and I are discussing the status of cities in environmental literature. They’re reading Robert Sullivan’s Rats and Jenny Price’s “13 Ways of Looking at Nature in LA.” So far, they seem quite willing to take what we might call a strong immanental position: like rats, people are animals, and cities are just something that our kind of animal makes. We’ll see how this plays out next week when we discuss the slums of global megacities and the radioactive secret city of Chelyabinsk, Russia.

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