Cities and the Culture of Construction

Term: Spring 2009

Subject Code: GANT

Course Number: 6100

This course will explore the relationship between mega-cities, design and construction in the era of globalization. More specifically, we will seek to conceptualize the idea of the �construction site� with its technologies, practices and goals, its scope and scale. We will also explore, conversely, various practices of urban destruction, demolition and reconstruction. Two key organizing texts for the course will be Guy Debord�s The Society of the Spectacle (1967) and Comments on The Society of the Spectacle (1988). These texts will highlight what it means to view construction sites, in part, as spectacles. The twenty-first century will be a century of mega-cities and mega construction sites. China, whose urban world could be characterized as one large construction site, is said to be building one hundred cities with populations larger than 10 million each. Osama Bin Laden, whose resources came from one of the world�s largest construction families, invested his wealth in the construction of cities in the Sudan before shifting his attention to shaping the landscapes of jihad. And mega-cities like Mumbai are driven by speculation in real estate at various scales, from the gentrification of slums to the �malling� of obsolete textile factories. And, of course, the U.S. interest in Iraq might be described as a war of �mass construction� in which major companies like Bechtel and Halliburton swept in to make millions before the fires of �shock and awe� had even been put out. This course will seek to unearth the dialectic between construction and destruction in today�s world-wide urban explosion.


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