Surreptitious Urbanisms

Surreptitious Urbanisms is a synoptic preview of a comprehensive exhibition and publication exploring the history and international manifestations of the multilevel city.  The installation surveys some of the key topics to be explored in an exhibition and book about global skyway cities scheduled to open at the Walker Art Center in early 2016.  Through an examination of the history of elevated pedestrian networks within the larger context of the multilevel city, it traces various motivations to create “streets above streets.” The full exhibition will focus on 14 cities — Atlanta, Calgary, Cincinnati, Dallas, Ghadames, Hong Kong, London, Minneapolis, Mumbai, New York, Riyadh, St. Paul, Singapore, and Tokyo—to visualize and comparatively understand the forces that guide the development of such diverse systems. These forces include the amelioration of climate, congestion, and safety concerns, the pursuit of economic development and urban regeneration, and the desire to create a more multidimensional urban spatial experience. The curators argue that the normative reading of the skyway as an isolated, mid-twentieth-century North American anomaly is only a partial understanding of more deeply embedded urban strategies with a longer lineage of historical precedents. This broader understanding is further supported by an evolving typology, found particularly within contemporary Asian cities, and can be detected in various large-scale buildings by some of the most provocative contemporary architects.

This exhibit for the MIT School of Architecture + Planning was organized by Jennifer Yoos and Vincent James, partners in VJAA, and Andrew Blauvelt, Senior Curator, Design, Research, and Publishing, for the Walker Art Center.