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A New Infrastructure: Establishing a Culture of Resilience and Civic Engagement

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Title:
A New Infrastructure: Establishing a Culture of Resilience and Civic Engagement
Creator:
Marblestone, Kevin
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
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University of Florida
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English

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Architectural design ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Civics ( jstor )
Discourse ( jstor )
Infrastructure ( jstor )
Landscapes ( jstor )
Libraries ( jstor )
Opportunistic behavior ( jstor )
Urban design ( jstor )
Verbs ( jstor )
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Undergraduate Honors Thesis, Architecture

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Abstract:
This paper seeks to bring focus to the role of social infrastructure in the modern day urban landscape. As today’s urban environments rapidly evolve, the responsibility of social infrastructure as a means to provide architectural interfaces and connections between people is at an all-time high. How can civic structures physically engage the public and provide a constructive platform for community discourse? How can social infrastructure adapt to rapidly evolving ecologies of information and technology? How can a new infrastructure catalyze the creation of a more resilient urban fabric? These are all questions I intend to respond to through research of specific examples in both the past and present, such as the evolution of the library as an urban platform, as well as through the lens of an urban design proposal produced in the fall semester of 2015. Through this process, I strive to gain a better understanding of the opportunities that exist in the creation of an effective social infrastructure, and ultimately conclude that through the proper utilization of informational and physical resources, infrastructure can transcend beyond its modern uses to encompass a greater social and moral agenda. ( en )

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Copyright [thesis author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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! A New Infrastructure: Establishing a Culture of Resilience and Civic Engagement Kevin Marblestone University of Florida Spring 2016 An Undergraduate Honors Thesis Presented to the School of Architecture and the Honors Program at the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Design in Architecture with High or Highest Honors "#! !"## $

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! 2 2016 Kevin Marblestone

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! 3 I would like to ack nowledge Emily Whitbeck, my partner in Design Studio 7 at the University of Florida in Fall 2015 for her collaborative efforts in producing the work displayed in this paper I want to thank Professor Donna Cohen and Professor Charlie Hailey for their academic stimulation and guidance through Design Studio 7 and Theory of Architecture 2, respectively. I would like to especially thank Professor Bradley Walters, my Thesis Faculty Advisor, for his consistent dedication, commitmen t and support throughout my und ergraduate career.

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! 4 3 5 6 6 7 10 15 16 Acknowledgements Abstract Defining Social Infrastructure Establishing the Characteristics of Social Infrastructure Infrastructure in Relation to Context Library as Social Infrastruc ture Conclusion: Infrastructure as the Next Urban Frontier Works Cite d! TABLE OF CONTENTS

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! 5 Abstract of Undergraduate Honors Thesis Presented to the School of Architecture and the Honors Program at the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Design in Architecture with High or Highest Honors A NEW INFRASTRUCTURE: ESTABLISHING A CULTURE OF RESILIENCE AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT By Kevin Marblestone April 2016 Thesis Advisor: Bradley Walters Departmental Honors Coordinator: Mark McGlothlin Major: Architectu re This paper seeks to bring focus to the role of social infrastructure in the modern day urban landscape. As todays urban environments rapidly evolve, the responsibility of social infrastructure as a means to provide architectural interfaces and c onnections between people is at an all time high. How can civic structures physically engage the public and provide a constructive platform for community discourse? How can social infrastructure adapt to rapidly evolving ecologies of informati on and techno logy? How can a new infrastructure catalyze the creation of a more resilient urban fabric? These are all questions I intend to respond to through research of specific examples in both the past and present, such as the evolution of the library as an urban p latform, as well as through the lens of an urban design proposal produced in the fall semester of 2015 Through this process, I strive to gain a better understanding of the opportunities that exist in the creation of an effectiv e social infrastructure, and ultimately conclude that t hrough the proper utilization of informational and physical resources, infrastructure can transcend beyond its modern uses to encompass a greater social and moral agenda.

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! 6 DEFINING SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE Over the past seve ral decades, the term infrastructure has broadened in meaning to include the potential of environmental systems and social networks within society. Infrastructure can be defined as the layering of networks with nodal intersections that as a whole operate a s a supporting system to a inhabited territory. In its most latent form, infrastructure includes the heavy, belowground systems that include transportation, sewage, mechanical, and electrical operations. The narrative of infrastructure can be broadened to include those systems present in the social spectrum. The term social, as it relates to the urban landscape, is the space defining the moments of interaction and distance betwee n civilians of a habituated territory. It is measured quantitatively through population, and qualitatively through accessibility and adaptability. Social infrastructure can be defined as the set of spatial and informational systems present within an urban territory that serve to provide an enabling platform for the city to be a an active participant in its own well being. This network comprises of profoundly unobtrusive, opportunistic architectural typologies These moments exist as a node in a larger network, constantly dependent on the presence and act ion of other systems that ar e f ed through constructed, or unconstructed channels. This opportunistic approach to designing such spaces involves a critical element of contingency; that is, these spaces must be created in the act of anticipation of future needs and services in the city Open structural and institutional frameworks must be established, absent of permanent program and encouraging programmatic flexibility. Contingency permits opportunism when taken into consideration with the forces in its immediate context. In the context of the city, this establishes infrastructural formulations that expand and contract to the populous demand. ESTABLISHING THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE Urban Resilience and Connections Social infrastructure represents these facilities and conditions that foster new connections between individuals. In fact, it is the quality of a citys social infrastructure that measures its true level of resiliency The concept of urban resilience has increased in importance over the past several years, as new attention is being brought to the subject of designing cities in such a way that it can respond and evolve to changing environmental and social conditions. Resilience encompasses the hard infrastructure, including transit systems water retention tec hnology, but it also encompasses the soft infrastructure, including accessible public spaces for the people of the city to utilize. This intense system of interconn ectedness between things must

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! 7 first be understood at the larger scale of the city as an en tire entity, generated by endless layers of networks and frameworks each with a unique purpose. In the book Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City, author Stan Allen proposes infrastructural strategies for urban landscapes by diagramming conn ections between sites within specific environments. He illustrates cities as a immense field of points and lines, with each region of this field being explicitly defined by local characteristics while still being connected to other regions through a strong system of urban networks. Allen also brings up a critical topic of circulation, giving movement to the connections between critical points. Allens methodology of connection in an urban society is a fundamental principle to build off of when dealing with social infrastructure. He emphasizes this mindset by running through an example of one of his own personal infrastructural projects, a competition entry for the Logistical Activi ties Zone in Barcelona. He states, Our design strategy consisted of setting d own the traces of and architectural infrastructure that would allow flexible development while maintaining unified identity: a directed field within which the future life of the sit e could unfold; an architectural means to impose minimal yet precise limits on future construction.1 Allen illustrates this theory through an intense diagramming and mapping of the site, including existing and deve loping connections ( Figure 1 ) Approaching this project with the element of anticipation and contingency at the fore front of the design process is a critical aspect to understanding the role of social infrastructure in any particular landscape In my personal design work, I have employed this process in order to better comprehend the bold and subtle complexities of a gi ven urban site, ultimately contributing to the design quality of the final project ( Figure 2 ) By establishing a strong, open architectural framework, the piece will be able to adjust and e volve over time as the building is re scripted. Infrastructure in Relation to Context Infrastructural systems and networks are most clear when understood in the context of their site. These systems must engage directly and specifically with local politics, culture, and civic discourse. Most importantly, these connection s need to catalyze the conduits present in the form of the city as an all encompassing metabolistic entity. In the case of New York City, the grid system acts as the datum through which all networks and system operate. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $!Allen, Stan. Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999 ), 73 74

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! 8 Figure 1: Stan Allen dia gram of Logical Activities Zone (Source: Points and Lines) Figure 2: Diagrammatic sketches showing layered connections in urban context

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! 9 The city grid is societys method of scripting an interface on to the landscape for the purposes of efficiently con necting people and resources through a dense urban fabric. In the publication Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas illustrates the existence of a culture of congestion found within the urban context of Manhattan.2 This arc hetype of congestion is contextualized through the development of urban environment s, as well as civic structures (Figure 3). He characterizes Manhattan as the prototype of the modern metropolis by promoting the irrational ambitions of architects and urban planners at the time, whom ultimately create the citys urban experience. The grid, he says, was Manhattans way of attempting to predict and control the future of the city. This two dimensional system allowed for eventual threedimensional growth. Koolhaas then highlights the congested culture of Manhattan by stating that the citys continuous hunger to grow forced the inventions of new and better technologie s. Koolhaas concepts in this publication characterize the urban fabric as a system of parts that ultimately generate a programmatic experience in the urban context of New York City. This grid structure stratifies and connects, a phenomenon that I further explored through isometric illustration, with emphasis given to the civic infrastructure in west C helsea coast in Manhattan (Figure 3) The establishment of social infrastructural systems can be traced back in history to ancient Rome. The public platforms created by the romans in the form of the forum and the basilica intertwined sacred and political s paces, blending program and expressing the societys cultural importance. However, perhaps the most interesting phenomenon was the evolution of this conglomerate of civic spaces to adapt to changing public interest and expectations. For example, the Curia, which performed as a critical meeting space for the ordines and as an archiving space, lost importance in the space of the public square. As a result, the Curia was eventually moved into the portico spaces of the forum or into the basilica. In the essay T he city as symbol: Rome and the creation of urban image, Paul Zanker explains that t he multi functional basilica was a perfect embodiment of the practical and ideological needs of Roman society. It could be easily subdivided into different compartments an d, through the use of an exedra or a tribunal, could be articulated h ierarchically as well. 3 This architectural expression of social infrastructure has many cotemporary equivalents, such as the library as an opportunity institution that blends cultural p rograms and provides a civic platform for public discussion. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! %!Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifiesto for Manhattan. ( New York: Monacelli Press, 1994 ). &!Zanker, Paul. The City as Symbol: Rome and the Creation of an Urban Image.

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! 10 Societys engagement of a particular urban landscape adeptly changes and transforms based on current and anticipated needs. Infrastructure has the capability of not only maintaining existing lan dscapes, but also r evitalizing forgotten ones. The 30th installment of the Pamphlet Architecture journal focuses on the reutilization of dormant landscapes throughout the built and un built environments in our world.4 It argues that the primary catalyst in this process is the creation and implementation of new infrastructural systems. The authors of the journal walk through several project examples that speculat e on the imminent possibilities of adapting to new technologies, augmenting the process of space making in landscapes with seemingly little spatial potential. This publication realizes and illustrates infrastructure as a tool to reconnect society with lost environments. The author states that By postponing the question of urban form, proponents of an infrastructural approach to the architecture of the city suggest that a focus on performance criteria, operational imperatives, and contemporary flows might allow us to reengage with social and environmental subjects without participating in the culture wars of the past.5 This creation process is a phenomenon that must be embraced in order to establish engagement both within and outside of all scales of urban environments in modern day society. Library as Social Infrastructure Perhaps the most inclusive example of an opportunistic institution embedded within the urban infrastructural fabric is the library. The library, a program that has lasted through multiple centuries, remained relatively unchanged in intent and c ivic role throughout the course of civi lization. However, the advent of new technologies and the immense stresses of a growing urban populace demand that the librarys narrative broaden to encompass a larger social and civic agenda. In the Places Journal article titled Library as Infrastructure, author Shannon Mattern brilliantly explains the importance of the library as a vital civic piece of social infrastructure.6 Mattern claims that libraries need to be centers for civic engagement by adapting to evolving ecologies of informational infrastru ctures. More convincingly, the author contends that the librarys narrative can !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! '!Bhatia, Neeraj. Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructure Opportunism : Pamphlet Architecture 30. ( New York, N.Y.: Prin ceton Architectural Press, 2010). !(!Bhatia, Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructure Opportunism, 4.!)!Mattern, Shannon. "Library as Infrastructure." Places Journal. June 1, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2015. https://pla cesjournal.org/article/library as infrastructure/.

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! 11 expand to encompass both the enfranchised and the disenfranchised citizens within a community by continuously re engaging with local conversations and providing stages for comm unity events. This information greatly supports the notion that the health of civic infrastructures in society directly impacts both economic and social conditions. The library is thus labeled as an architectural medium through which people can connect and engage with one another. Not many other architectural typologies hold this social infrastructural potential. The library, viewed as a civic space for the people, holds the capacity to engage adeptly in dialogue with multiple audiences. The effectiveness of the library stems from its ability to provide to civilians from polar corners of civilizations in unique ways; the library does not serve just one audience. The library must then be literate in new informational ecologies, Figure 3: Drawing collaboratively created with Emily Whitbeck

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! 12 constantly transforming its methods of circulation and projection to embrace ideals of transparency and connectivity. In the publication Verb, and architecture boogazine, the author states The Librarys insistence on one kind of literacy has blinded it to other emerging forms that increasingly dominate our culture, especially the huge efficiencies (and pleasures) of visual intelligence. Unless the Library tran s forms itself wholeheartedly into an informa tion storehouse and aggressively orchestrates the coexistence of all available technologies and all available devices to collect, condense, distribute, read and manipulate information, its unquestioned loyalty to the book will undermine the plausibility of the Library at the moment of its potenti al apotheosis.7 The p urpose of the library has broadened to encompass a much greater social and civic agenda. Its infrastructural DNA must be rethought and catalyzed to better the librarys effective experience for the end user. The days where libraries housed endless books ar e over; the library is now a critical infrastructural piece in the social realm within the multidimensional grasps of modern day urban society. The author further states that The fact that the contents of a simple library can be stored on a single chip, o r the fact that a single library can now store the digital content of all libraries, together represent potential re thinking.8 The book specifically uses the example of the Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas to illustrate how a library can be generat ed to serve multiple audiences through different media. The structural and programmatic arrangements of the Seattle Public Library are illustrated in Figure s 4 and 5 below. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *!Verb Connection: The Changing Status of the City, of Architecture, of Urbanism. Architecture Boogazine. Vol. 3. ( Barcelona: Actar, 2004) 3 #!Verb Connection: The Changing Status of the City, of Archit ecture, of Urbanism, 5.! Figure 4: Seattle Public Library Diagram (Source: Verb Connection) Figure 5: Seattle Public Library Model (Source: Verb Connection)

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! 13 The library has evolved from a space to simply read into an urban cen ter with many multifaceted responsibilities. Spaces within the anatomy must swell in program, while other areas must be re scripted in order to embrace the changing dynamic of information circulation. The library today has an agenda of proliferation that t ransforms its core into a place for people to connect, and as a whole contributes to the well being of the immediate and regional community. I further explored the potential of the library as a piece of social infrastructure in my Design 7 Studio course at the University of Florida with Emily Whitbeck under the direction of professor Donna Cohen in Fall 2015. The project responds to a nonfictional program, The New York 2031 master plan, which calls for the addition of nearly two million square feet of academic and living spaces within the existing Washington Square Village superblocks. The project presented an opportunity to explore the idea of creating a social infrastructural piece (a library) within this dense urban fabric. There are several que stions th at I considered in this process: how can civic structures physically engage the public and provide a constructive platform fo r community discourse? How can social infrastructure adapt to rapidly evolving ecologies of information and technology? How can ideas, values and social responsibilities scaffold within the librarys material systems? These are all topics my partner, Emily Whitbeck, and I explored through perspectival drawing and modeling, calibrating the complex connection bet ween the civilian and th e city. The programmatic layout of the library includes spaces for three main activities; producing, archiving and projecting information. Several massing configurations on the site were considered for these programs, drawing connections from existing acad emic and residential programs in order to develo p an effective urban interface (Figure 6). Configuration 1: Street Edge Configuration 2: Spatial Joint Configuration 3: Programmatic Division Figure 6: Drawings collaboratively created with Emily Whitbeck

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! 14 The library performs as a social infrastructural platform with the instrumental capacity to set the stage for community discourse, media creation and inf ormational archiving. The tectonics of the interior and exterior spaces utilize the city as a backdrop for these events. The spaces closest to the ground are organized on a ramped ground surface, culminating in a piano nobile on the fourth level. This arch itectural tactic engages the public with the structure, catalyzing a visual conversation with those who observe the faade from the street level. Apertures of differing sizes within the faade of the project connec t various programs of the library between buildings. The architecture of the campus proposal is purposefully diaphanous with information through mediums of light and sound. Figure 7: Library Entry and Archive | Drawing s collaboratively created with Emily Whitbeck

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! 15 SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AS THE NEXT URBAN FRONTIER A universal protocol for social infrastructural devel opment has yet to exist in our society. This is indeed the frontier for urban regeneration a nd development over the next several decades, due to its capacity to augment the urban experience and support the impending population growth within cities. By crea ting multifaceted urban infrastructures with proliferated programmatic narratives, the city and its inhabitants will grow to become increasingly resilient through time. The citys grid of networks and system provides a clear conduit for the establishment o f opportunity institutions, those that serve to create an urban platform for community discourse and social connections. Realizing t his new type of infrastructure will serve to re integrate architecture as a systems based organization with activities that extend beyond the local realm to encompass a greater social and moral agenda.

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! 16 WORKS CITED Allen, Stan. Points Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. Bhatia, Neeraj. Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructure Opportunism : Pamphlet Architecture 30. New York, N.Y.: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifiesto for Manhattan. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Mattern, Shannon. "L ibrary as Infrastructure." Places Journal. June 1, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2015. https://placesjournal.org/article/library as infrastructure/ Verb Connection: The Changing Status of the City, of Architecture, of Urbanism. Architecture Boogazine. Vol. 3. Barcelona: Actar, 2004. 1 29. Zanker, Paul. The City as Symbol: Rome and the Creation of an Urban Image.


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