Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What is Infrastructure?

That's the question this exhibition at the New York Center for Architecture tries to answer. My friend Burt's professor - Nader Vossoughian - is the curator, and he suggests that our definition of infrastructure in the 21st century is "not just as an assembly of buildings, roadways, bridges, pipes, and tunnels (although each of these is important). " Maybe in the society we live in today, the internet, smart phones and blackberries are just as much an important part of getting from point A to point B on a daily basis as are roads, trains and bridges, and should be included in our new definition of infrastructure?

"What is infrastructure? For much of the twentieth century, the answer to this question was guided by the ideology of functionalist urbanism, a school of thought that said that all healthy cities served four major needs – work, housing, recreation, and transportation. Today, we no longer take this view for granted, for it is a perspective that makes no provisions for community, identity, or history. At the same time, we still lack an alternative model for visualizing the city that can deal adequately with the public health and quality-of-life issues that the early functionalists sought to address. Our capacity to balance urban development with the demands of ecological imperatives and social needs has only worsened in recent decades, and this exhibition asks whether the trend can be reversed."

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