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Opening the Gates: A Critical Appraisal of China’s Urban Development Practices

A symposium on China's urban development.

February 6, 2009 9:00am to February 7, 2009 4:00pm

By almost any measure, for the last quarter century China has undertaken the largest, most rapid, urban development transformation in human history. How has China been able to build the physical equivalent of one United States in less than a generation? What is the process and what are the physical planning and design models which have enabled this extraordinary construction feat? What have been the economic incentives and drivers?

Not only is China’s development the largest construction project in history, it is arguably the largest social/cultural experiment.  What are the social and cultural values served and what are those which have been neglected? What do we know about the impact on peoples’ lives, their everyday urban experiences; and what has been the impact on the environment?

China’s urban development has occurred so rapidly, there has hardly been time for careful assessment. The workshop seeks to examine the phenomena and to open a critical appraisal of its impact. The goal is to create an outline of what is known about China’s urban transformation, what research needs to be done and what innovative planning and design models are being considered to address specific concerns.

 Harrison Fraker, Ming Zhang, Yung Ho Chang, Xing Ruan, Thomas J. Campanella, Alexander D'Hooghe, Dan Abramson, Renee Chow, Margaret Crawford, Galen Cranz, Li Zhang, Robert Mangurian, Mary-Ann Ray, Qingyun Ma, Jianfei Zhu, John Kriken, Kongjian Yu (Dean of Peking University, School of Landscape Architecture), Peter Bosselman, Elizabeth Deakin, Jennifer Day (University of Melbourne), William Fain, John Ellis, Elizabeth MacDonald, and Marco Cenzatti


Friday, Feb. 6
9:00  Introductions and Questions, Harrison Fraker
9:20  Overview and Scope of Development, Tom Campanella
9:40  Planning Standards and Codes, Ming Zhang
10:00 Discussion
10:30 Break
11:00 Real Estate Developer Model, Li Zhang
11:20 Title tba, Qingyun Ma
11:40 Economic Drivers, Marco Cinzatti
12:00 Discussion
12:30 Lunch break (lunch not provided)
1:30  Beijing- Traditional vs. Modern, Jianfei Zhu
1:50  Beijing- Urban Temperament, Xing Ruan
2:10  Beijing- Inside/Out, Rohert Mangurian/Mary-Ann Ray
2:30  Discussion
3:00  Break
3:30  Urban Fabric, Renee Chow
3:50  A Modest Approach, Yung Ho Chang
4:10  Urban Design vs. Guidelines, John Ellis, Elizabeth MacDonald
4:30  Recent Projects, John Kriken
4:55  Discussion
5:30  Adjourn

Saturday, Feb. 7
9:00  Standardization vs. Community Design, Dan Abramson
9:20  Social Basis of Sustainable Design, Galen Cranz
9:40  Villages’ Potential for New Urban Experience, Margaret Crawford
10:00 Discussion
10:30 Break
11:00 Separation of Infrastructure Design and Parcel Logic, Alexander d’Hooghe
11:20 Ecological  Infrastructure, Kongjian Yu
11:40 title tba, Peter Bosselman
12:00 Discussion
12:30 Lunch break (lunch not provided)
1:30  Transit Oriented Development, Elizabeth Deakin
1:50  China’ Pedestrian Experience, Jennifer Day
2:10  Recent Projects, Bill Fain
2:30  Summary Discussion
4:00  Reception