Book Launch - Online at Terreform / UR

May 5, 2016 at 180 Varick Street, New York, NY

For NYC launch invite, please sign up at urpub.org

Get more details from NYCXDesign

Terreform, New York-based nonprofit center for urban research and advocacy, announces the launch of its publication imprint Urban Research (UR) Books on May 5, 2016. Dedicated to progressive thinking on all matters urban, UR will release its first six titles, which investigate a broad range of social, cultural, economic, political, environmental, and design issues that define cities today. 

Understanding that no single approach is adequate to the promise and problem of the urban, UR will publish a wide range of design and analysis with the goal of becoming a key venue for disseminating urban ideas. UR’s publishing program aims to get the word out about solutions exceeding the imaginative reach of official planning and design, encourage vigorous debate, and engage with progressive urban research and critical advocacy across the world. 

6 new urban research books to be released by Terreform.

''We are thrilled that UR is making its debut, and look forward to adding a broad new avenue for dissemination and debate about our urbanizing planet. Our goal is to offer a supportive home to critical and visionary ideas about the future of the world’s cities and we hope to become a valued resource to people and organizations striving to create sustainable, equitable, and beautiful environments. We welcome proposals for projects from all who share these goals.'' said Michael Sorkin, President of Terreform and Editor in chief of UR. 

The first six titles, written and edited by urban scholars, academics, architects and researchers in the fields of urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, urban geography, and political science, explore diverse subjects ranging from expansion of urban universities and speculations on a changed world to critical fantastical readings on modernity. 

Terreform also announced spring line-up titles:

Gowntown: A 197-X Plan For Upper Manhattan by Terreform. ISBN: 978-0-9960041-0-7, $40.

Waterproofing New York, edited by Denise Hoffman Brandt and Catherine Seavitt. ISBN: 978- 0-9960041-0-7, $40.

2100: A Dystopian Utopia / The City After Climate Change by Vanessa Keith and StudioTEKA, Preface by Saskia Sassen ISBN: 978-0-9960041-2-1, $40.

Adventures in Modernism: Thinking With Marshall Berman, edited by Jennifer Corby. ISBN: 978-0-9960041-6-9, $25.

Beyond The Square: Urbanism and the Arab Uprisings, edited by Deen Sharp and Claire Panetta. ISBN: 978-0-9960041-4-5, $28.

Mahometan & Celestial’s Encyclopedic Guide to Modernity by Steven Flusty with Pauline Yu. ISBN: 978-0-9960041-5-2, $40.

The books are printed in the United States, and are available at URpub.org 

Forthcoming titles include Occupy All Streets: The Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Competition Over Urban Futures, edited by Bruno Carvalho, Mariana Cavalcanti, and Vyjayanthi Rao Venuturupalli (July 2016); The Helsinki Effect: A Public Alternative to Culture Driven Development, edited by Terike Haapoja, Andrew Ross, and Michael Sorkin (September 2016); Zoned Out: Race, Displacement and City Planning in New York City, edited by Tom Angotti and Sylvia Morse (September 2016); An Atlas of Extraordinary Rendition: Space, Sovereignty and Torture in the Global War on Terror by Jordan H. Carver (September 2016); Kongjian Yu: Letters to the Mayors of China, edited by Terreform (May 2017); Why Yachay? Cities, Knowledge, and Development, edited by Terreform (May 2017); New York City (Steady) State: Home Grown by Terreform (May 2017); and Gregory Ain: Low-Cost Modern Housing and the Construction of the Social Landscape by Anthony Fontenot (May 2017). 

Terreform is a nonprofit research and advocacy group founded in 2005 by Michael Sorkin. Its mission is to investigate the forms, policies, technologies, and practices that will yield equitable, sustainable, and beautiful cities for our urbanizing planet. Future books from UR will cover projects ranging from the practical to the utopian, from community-generated plans for neighborhood transformation, to visionary speculations by designers, and to collations of critical arguments about issues that shape urban growth and survival. 

For further information and review copies, contact:

Elisabeth Weiman, [email protected]

Cecilia Fagel, [email protected] 

Terreform designs various projects including speculations on sites in such vexed environments as Gaza, post-Sandy New York, and Yachay, a new technopole in the Ecuadorean highlands as well as urban research publications. Particularly, New York City (Steady) State is an ongoing research project of Terreform and the project addresses to a comprehensive investigation into urban self-sufficiency. While centered on New York, it is intended to raise issues and propose solutions for cities around the world that seek to take radical measures to secure their respiration and autonomy and to achieve a more sustainably democratic polity, founded in the local. This research was featured in the United States Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Biennale and will be published in a series of forthcoming volumes. 

See some urban research projects of Terreform working on:

Bird’s-eye view of Midtown Manhattan’s neighborhood food hubs in New York City (Steady) State.

New York City (Steady) State

New York City (Steady) State explores the morphologies and technologies that might enable an autonomous and self-sufficient New York City. Under the framework of Steady State, Terreform has been investigating the possibility of the city’s ecological footprint becoming co-terminus with its political boundaries. This fantasy of autarky opens up an exploration of the wide range of combinations of environmental, architectural, and social conditions that support urban life. 

Bird’s eye view of Steady State’s linear production towers


In Gowntown, Terreform investigates the impact of Columbia University’s expansion into Upper Manhattan and proposes strategies of transformative leverage that can provide broad and focused benefit, countering an urbanism of trickle-down and gentrification. Gowntown proposes a planning paradigm focused on carefully designed — as well as spontaneous — institutional and environmental connections. Our plan suggests that by improving the physical and social linkages between educational, cultural, and human service institutions, their collective positive impact on the communities they inhabit can be greatly augmented. 

Open Gaza

Gaza is one of the most beleaguered environments on earth. Crammed into a space of 139 square miles (360 square kilometers), 1.8 million people live under siege. For urban scholars, activists, and designers alike, Gaza presents a unique political and ethical problem space. Terreform has brought together a large, collaborative, group of architects, urban designers, social scientists, and cultural theorists to think through how this situation might be changed. Can planning, design, and technology aid in advancing a more just and humane urbanism? What kinds of research and representation are required to assist these projects and speculations? 

The Case of Yachay

In this project, Terreform and a group of collaborators interrogate the logic of the Technopole as an instrument of development by studying the specific case of Yachay, a new “knowledge city” in northern Ecuador. Such cities are being produced across the global south, with the view that more Silicon Valleys offer salvation from the geopolitical and economic realities of the region. We question these forms of growth, which isolate the development of scientific knowledge and technological prowess from the surrounding community, its needs, and its well-being. We argue that the production of knowledge is not an isolated endeavor that divides intellectual elites from ordinary citizens and show how this practice can be given shape through spatial development and integration. 

Self-Sufficient Skyscraper

At the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, Terreform proposed the recycling of a derelict skyscraper to become a largely closed loop — a sustainable vertical neighborhood. Housing 500 people, it would harmonize inputs and outputs — with some necessary reliance on external sources — to provide an environmentally autonomous building. Although this proposal provides an infrastructure of conviviality it does not seek to be an enclave: the social life of the city must span all its scales and places. 

28+ (with Michael Sorkin Studio)

28+ takes its name from the elevation above which the city is “safe” from floods. We have designed a barrier that connects this contour, beginning from a ridge at the end of the Rockaways, running along the peninsula, crossing Jamaica bay, and meeting at the Verrazano Narrows. The levee we propose is habitable. Not only does it allow the protection of buildings otherwise at risk, it increases the stock of waterfront residences and commercial spaces and improves public transit connections to the rest of the city. 

All images courtesy of Terreform

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