The Freedom Trail/Trip/Travel

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The MIT Chapel, Eero Saarinen, 1955

Spent the fourth of July in Boston/Cambridge – my first time to experience this very old, patriotic, ethnic, cultured and scholarly city.  Spoke with MIT Urban Studies and Planning Professor Michael Joroff about his involvement in the New Century Cities program (NCC).  His group has been consulting with new city initiatives in Asia, North America, and Europe, including recent developments in (upcoming destinations) Helsinki and Copenhagen.  NCC often collaborates with MIT’s Design Lab to equip these new cities with the latest technologies, “deliberately located at the intersection of technology, urban design, and real estate development.”

Joroff promotes flash mobs and touchscreen tabletop computers.  He sees no end in the amount of possibilities associated with urban design and technology…especially when a city intends to jump-start an industry.  We spoke about a ubiquitous future in which the urban realm is composed entirely of digital pavilions, and interactive screens/water features/walls.  Just as I’m thinking of a time far far away, he reminds me that many people are already extremely connected with their environment through devices like the iphone.

Sadly,  I am still a member of the have-nots with that one.  This whole traveling, global communication issue is still on the unaffordable side of things for a lot of us.  At what price would you pay to be (completely/digitally) connected to your environment?  I look down at the broken, 5 yuan compass hanging from the hair-tie around my wrist.  There has never been a better time to upgrade.

The discussion at MIT is a great foreshadow to the site visits planned for Scandinavia.  I have some questions for the trips.  Is a digital public future also an inclusive one?  Can urban form be generated by these often invisible technologies? Is technology helping to advance/enhance the fields architecture and urban design in unprecedented ways, or is the emphasis/facination with surface undermining the making of space?

Other highlights from Boston: Shepard Fairey at the ICA, the fruits of the Big Dig, Master of Architecture thesis projects on display in the lobby of the GSD, Corb’s only building in North America, viewing the city from the ‘Top of the Hub,’ Sox(0)-A’s(6) at Fenway Park, Regina’s Pizza, and raw egg cocktails.

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