17 Jameson - fredric jameson FUTURE CITY he P roject on the City assembles research from an ongoing graduate seminar directed by Rem Koolhaas at

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new left review 21 may june 2003 65 fredric jameson FUTURE CITY T he Project on the City assembles research from an ongoing graduate seminar directed by Rem Koolhaas at the Harvard School of Design; its first two volumes—the Great Leap Forward , an exploration of the development of the Pearl River Delta between Hong Kong and Macao, and the Guide to Shopping —have just appeared in sumptuous editions, from Taschen. 1 These extraordinary volumes are utterly unlike anything else one can find in the print media; neither picture books nor illustrated text, they are in movement, like a cd rom , and their statistics are visually beauti- ful, their images legible to a degree. Although architecture is one of the few remaining arts in which the great auteurs still exist—and although Koolhaas is certainly one of those—the seminar which has produced its first results in these two volumes is not dedicated to architecture but rather to the exploration of the city today, in all its untheorized difference from the classical urban struc- ture that existed at least up until World War II. Modern architecture has been bound up with questions of urbanism since its eighteenth and nineteenth century beginnings: Siegfried Giedion’s modernist summa, Space, Time and Architecture , for example, begins with the Baroque restructuration of Rome by Sixtus V and ends with the Rockefeller Centre and Robert Moses’s parkways, even though it is essentially a celebration of Le Corbusier. And obviously Le Corbusier was both an architect and, with the Radiant Cities, Chandigarh and the plan for Algiers, an ‘urban planner’. But although the Project testifies to Koolhaas’s commitment to the question of the city, he is not an urbanist in any disciplinary sense; nor can the word be used to describe these books, which also escape other disciplinary categories (such as sociology or economics) but might be said to be closest to cultural studies.
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66 nlr 21 The fact is that traditional, or perhaps we might better say modernist, urbanism is at a dead end. Discussions about American traffic patterns or zoning—even political debates about homelessness and gentrifica- tion, or real-estate tax policy—pale into insignificance when we consider the immense expansion of what used to be called cities in the Third World: ‘in 2025,’ we are told in another Koolhaas collective volume, ‘the number of city-dwellers could reach 5 billion individuals . . . of the 33 megalopolises predicted in 2015, 27 will be located in the least developed countries, including 19 in Asia . . . Tokyo will be the only rich city to figure in the list of the 10 largest cities’. 2 Nor is this a problem to be solved, but rather a new reality to explore: which is, I take it, the mission of the Project on the City , two further volumes of which are so far projected: one on Lagos, Nigeria, and one on the classical Roman city as prototype. Volume One of the
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This note was uploaded on 07/27/2010 for the course ARCH 4040 taught by Professor Mical during the Spring '10 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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17 Jameson - fredric jameson FUTURE CITY he P roject on the City assembles research from an ongoing graduate seminar directed by Rem Koolhaas at

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