There’s a creeping sameness in many of our newest urban buildings and streetscapes, says architect Vishaan Chakrabarti. And this physical homogeneity — the result of regulations, mass production, safety issues and cost considerations, among other factors — has blanketed our planet in a social and psychological homogeneity, too. In this visionary talk at TED, Chakrabarti calls for a return to designing magnetic, lyrical cities that embody their local cultures and adapt to the needs of our changing world and climate.
Why you should listen
As the designer for Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Refinery, the first mixed-use skyscrapers in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Yards project, a nonprofit artist space in Harlem, attainable housing in Newark and a contemporary urban bazaar in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Vishaan Chakrabarti is engaged in some of the most distinctive projects redefining global urban life in the 21st century. He has also advocated for more equitable and ecological cities in New York Times op-eds such as “Penn Station Reborn” and “America’s Urban Future.” In his 2013 book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America, he illustrates through hard data and soft cartoons why Americans would be more prosperous, sustainable, joyful and socially mobile in a more urban nation.
Chakrabarti is the founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), a New York-based architecture studio dedicated to the advancement of metropolitan life. He is also a Professor of Practice at Columbia University, where he teaches architectural design and urban theory. Prior to founding PAU, he served as the director of planning for Manhattan under Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the tragic events of 9/11, during which he helped to plan the High Line, the reconstruction of the World Trade Center and the expansion of Columbia University. Born in Calcutta, Chakrabarti holds degrees from Cornell, MIT and Berkeley.
Video and article text via TED