Network City 2007

Besides running the Netlab this spring at Columbia, I will be teaching my Network City course there as well. I taught this class for years at SCI_Arc and am excited about updating it for Columbia. Lots of new ideas, from a retooled syllabus that will feature more material on the megalopolis of the Northeast seaboard to, just possibly, podcasts.

Click here for the syllabus.

Network City
Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.

Avery 115, Tuesdays 11-1 [first meeting in Avery 408]

This course fulfills the Urban Society M.Arch distributional requirement.

Network City explores how key urban areas have developed as ecosystems of competing networks. Networks of capital, transportation infrastructures, and telecommunications systems have simultaneously centralized cities while dispersing them into larger posturban fields such as the Northeastern seaboard or Southern California. Linked together through networks, such cities form the core of global capital, producing the geography of flows that structures economies and societies today.

But networks, infrastructures, and property values are the products of historical development. To this end, the first half of the course surveys the development of urbanization since the emergence of the modern network city in the late nineteenth century while the second half focuses on conditions in contemporary urbanism.

A fundamental thesis of the course is that buildings too, function as networks. The demands of cities and physical and social networks on program, envelope, and plan, particularly in the office building, the site of consumption, and the individual dwelling unit will be considered as will the reciprocal influences of such changes in these typologies on the urban context. In addition we will look at the fraught relationship between signature architecture (the so-called Bilbao-effect) and the post-Fordist city.

Throughout the course, we will explore the growth of both city and suburbia (and more recently postsuburbia and exurbia) not as separate and opposed phenomena but rather as intrinsically related. Although the material in the course is applicable globally, our focus will be on the development of the American city, in particular, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles.

This course is offered by the Network Architecture Lab.

Readings will be available on-line at Courseworks.

All students should buy Stephen Graham, ed., The Cybercities Reader, (London: Routledge, 2004) and Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout, The City Reader, (London: Routledge, 1996).


The term project will be a research book, exploring one architectural, infrastructural, or urbanistic component of the Network City. Material should not be formulated into a traditional research paper, but rather assembled as a dossier of information that tells a story through the designed and composed sequence of images and texts lead by a narrative you have written yourself. The book will be designed simultaneously as a printed, bound object and for the NetLab web site. Design is integral to the term project.

1 Introduction: Towards Network City

  • Ronald F. Abler "What Makes Cities Important," Bell Telephone Magazine, March/April. (1970)

2 The Growth of the City [New York and Chicago 1870-1940]

  • Joel Tarr, "The City and the Telegraph: Urban Telecommunications in the Pre-Telephone Era," Graham, Cybercities Reader, 44-46.
  • Ithiel de Sola-Pool, "The Structure of Cities, from The Social Impact of the Telephone," Graham, Cybercities Reader, 47-49.
  • Ernest W. Burgess, "The Growth of the City: An Introduction to a Research Project," LeGates and Stout, The City Reader (London: Routledge, 1996), 97-105.
  • Louis Wirth, "Urbanism as a Way of Life," LeGates and Stout, The City Reader, 156-163.
  • Robert M. Fogelson, "The Business District: Downtown in the Late Nineteenth Century," Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950, (New Haven: Yale, 2001), 9-42.

3 Fordism and the Congested City

  • Robert M. Fogelson, "The Central Business District: Downtown in the 1920s," Downtown, 183-217.
  • David Harvey, "Fordism" in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-140.
  • Harvey Molotch, "The City as a Growth Machine," in John R. Logan and Harvey Luskin Molotch, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1987), 50-98.

4 Cold War, Open City

  • Peter Galison, "War Against the Center," Grey Room 4, Summer 2001, 6-33.
  • Albert Pope, "The Open City," Ladders (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), 14-54.

5 Office Building as Corporate Machine

  • Spiro Kostof, "The American Workplace," America by Design (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 69-134.
  • Reinhold Martin, "The Physiognomy of the Office," The Organizational Complex, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2003), 80-121.
  • Peter Rowe, "Corporate Estates," Making a Middle Landscape (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991), 149-181.

6 Plan and Non-Plan in the Suburban Field

  • Victor Gruen, "Cityscape and Landscape," in Joan Ockman, Architecture Culture 1943-1968, (New York: Rizzoli, 1993), 194-199.
  • Mario Gandelsonas, "Scene 6. The Suburban City," X-Urbanism: Architecture and the American City (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 30-35.
  • Kazys Varnelis "Psychogeography and the End of Planning. Reyner Banham's Los Angeles. The Architecture of Four Ecologies," in Pat Morton, ed., Pop Culture and Postwar American Taste, (London: Blackwell, forthcoming 2007).

7 Neoliberalism, the Cult of the Authentic, and the City Core

  • Jane Jacobs, "Introduction," The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), 2-25.
  • Sharon Zukin, "Living Lofts as Terrain and Market" and "The Creation of a "ÀúLoft Lifestyle" in Loft Living (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press), 1-22, 58-81.
  • Dan Graham, "Gordon Matta-Clark" in Gordon Matta-Clark (Marseilles: Musées de Marseilles, 1993), 378-380.
  • Ivan Chtcheglov, "Formulary for a New Urbanism," 1-4, and Guy Debord, "Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography," 5-8 in Ken Knabb, ed., Situationist International Anthology, (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981).
  • David Harvey, "The Constructing of Consent," A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005), 39-63.
  • Rem Koolhaas, "'Life in the Metropolis' or "ÀúThe Culture of Congestion,'" K. Michael Hays, Architecture Theory Since 1968 (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1998), 320-331.

8 The Emergence of the Network Enterprise

  • "Office Landscape," Progressive Architecture, (September 1964), 201-203.
  • "B?ɬºrolandschaft, U.S.A.," Progressive Architecture, (May 1968), 174-177.
  • Malcolm Gladwell, "Designs for Working," The New Yorker, December 11, 2000, 60-70.
  • Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, "The Californian Ideology"
  • Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on Societies of Control ," Graham, Cybercities Reader, 73-77.
  • David Harvey, "From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation," The Condition of Postmodernity, 141-172.

9 The Global City and the New Centrality

  • Saskia Sassen, "A New Geography of Centers and Margins: Summary and Implications," LeGates and Stout, The City Reader, 208-214.
  • Michael Hardt, "The Global Society of Control," Discourse, 2:3 (1998), 139-52.
  • Stephen Graham, "Excavating the Material Geographies of Cybercities," Graham, Cybercities Reader, 138-142.
  • Kazys Varnelis, "The Centripetal City: Telecommunications, the Internet, and the Shaping of the Modern Urban Environment," Cabinet Magazine 17.
  • Mitchell L. Moss and Anthony M. Townsend, "How Telecommunications Systems are Transforming Urban Spaces," James O. Wheeler, Yuko Aoyama, and Barney Warf, eds., Cities in the Telecommunications Age: The Fracturing of Geographies (New York: Routledge, 2000), 31-41.
  • Manuel Castells "The Space of Flows, Space of Places: Materials for a Theory of Urbanism" in Graham, Cybercities Reader, 82-93.
  • Martin Pawley, "From Postmodernism to Terrorism," Terminal Architecture, 132-154.

10 The Creative Class

  • Richard Florida, "The Transformation of Everyday Life" and "The Creative Class,' in The Rise of the Creative Class (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 1-17, 67-82.
  • Bert Mulder, "The Creative City or Redesigning Society," and Justin O'Connor, "Popular Culture, Reflexivity and Urban Change in Jan Verwijnen and Panu Lehtovuori, eds, Creative Cities. Cultural Industries, Urban Development and the Information Society, (Helsinki: UIAH Publications, 1999), 60-75, 76-100.
  • Sharon Zukin, "Whose Culture? Whose City?" LeGates and Stout, 136-146.

11 Landscapes of Discontinuity

  • Sze Tsung Leong, "Readings of the Attenuated Landscape," Michael Bell and Sze Tsung Leong, eds., Slow Space (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1998), 186-213.
  • Ignasi Sola-Morales, "Terrain Vague", in Anyplace (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), p. 118-123.
  • Mike Davis, "Fortress L.A.," LeGates and Stout, The City Reader, 201-208.

12 Terrains of Non-Place, from Postsuburbia to Edgeless Cities

  • Robert Fishman, "Beyond Suburbia: The Rise of the Technoburb," LeGates and Stout, The City Reader, 77-86.
  • Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, "Beyond the Edge: The Dynamism of Postsuburban Regions," and "The Emergence of Postsuburbia: An Introduction," Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, eds. Postsuburban California: The Transformation of Orange County (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), vii-xx, 1-30.
  • Robert D. Putnam, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital," LeGates and Stout, The City Reader, 105-113.
  • Marc Augé, "Prologue" and "From Places to Non-Places," in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.

13 Network Culture

  • Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).
  • Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, "Protocol, Control, and Networks," Grey Room 17, Fall 2004, 6-29.
  • Kazys Varnelis, "Network Culture," Kazys Varnelis, ed. Networked Publics, (The MIT Press, forthcoming 2007)

5.1 Presentations