25th Annual Public Lecture: Lawrence Vale

Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 4:30pm
Room 200 College Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104
"Developing and Redeveloping Public Housing: The Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities"

Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning at MIT, will deliver Urban Studies’ 25 th Annual Public Lecture, entitled Developing and Redeveloping Public Housing: The Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities. The lecture will draw on Professor Vale’s current research for his third book on public housing that looks across seven American cities to compare the historic efforts of “slum clearance,” officially called urban renewal with current efforts to clear public housing on those same sites. Free and open to the public; no RSVP required

Lawrence Vale’s work has focused generally on the "design politics" of the urban built environment, examining such topics as public housing, capital city design, and disaster recovery. Vale attributes his interest in cities to his childhood view out of the window of his family’s 21 st floor apartment in a Mies van der Rohe building on the lakefront in Chicago and his travels through the city where he noted both bold planning and clear inequities in the built environment. He has focused much of his work on the history and policy dynamics of public housing, examining the broad question of who benefits. He has a distinguished record of research and publications that includes seven widely recognized books and dozens of articles. His 2001 book, From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors won the Urban Affairs Association’s best book award. Reclaiming Public Housing: A Half Century of Struggle in Three Public Neighborhoods (2002) won the Paul Davidoff Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. The web site Planetizen named The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster (co-authored by Thomas Campanella) among its top ten books of 2005. Following Hurricane Katrina, Vale made appearances on NPR and was quoted in newspapers from across the nation for his understanding of disaster recovery and contributed to the volume on Cities After Disaster, edited by Professors Eugenie Birch and Susan Wachter of Penn’s Institute for Urban Research. The second edition of his 1992 book Architecture, Power, and National Identity was released in 2008.

Vale has a degree in architecture from MIT and a Ph.D. from Oxford University in international relations. He has been with MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning since 1990. He served as chair from 2002 until last year. Among his awards are a Rhodes Scholarship (1982-85) and a 1995-96 Guggenheim Fellowship for his research on American public housing. He has also been a repeated recipient of MIT’s Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellowship awarded for excellence in teaching.