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The Largest Art, a Lecture by Brent Ryan

  • Kansas City Design Center 1018 Baltimore Avenue Kansas City, MO, 64105 United States (map)

Join us for a public lecture with Brent Ryan. A social hour will be held starting at 5:30pm, with the lecture following at 6:00 pm; admittance is free and street parking is available.

About the Lecture:
Brent D. Ryan’s The Largest Art is a new manifesto for urban design, providing a theoretical foundation for this under-theorized discipline. Ryan demonstrates that urban design is the largest of the building arts, one that is distinct from other arts like architecture, landscape, and land art. In The Largest Art, Ryan distinguishes urban design by its pluralism, which has five dimensions: plural scale, ranging from an alleyway to a region; plural time, because it is deeply enmeshed in both history and the present; plural property, with many owners; plural agents, with many makers; and plural form, with a distributed quality that allows it to coexist with diverse elements of the city. looks at well-known urban design projects through the lens of pluralism, and revisits the thought of three plural urbanists working between 1960 and 1980. Ryan tells three design stories for the future, imaginary scenarios of plural urbanism in locations around the world, and concludes with three signal considerations that all urban designers must acknowledge: eternal change, inevitable incompletion, and flexible fidelity. The city is a ceaselessly active, perpetually changing entity: the urban design of the future must be an art whose aesthetic qualities welcome the city’s pluralism instead of resisting it.

About Brent Ryan:
Brent D. Ryan is Head of the City Design and Development Group and Associate Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. His research focuses on the aesthetics and policies of contemporary urban design, particularly with respect to current and pressing issues like deindustrialization and climate change. Professor Ryan’s first book Design After Decline: How America rebuilds shrinking cities, was selected by Planetizen as one of its ten best urban planning books of 2012, and his second book, a treatise on urban design as a plural art, will be published by MIT Press in 2017.

Professor Ryan’s research has been published in the Journal of Urban Design, Journal of Planning History, Urban Design International, Urban Morphology, and the Journal of the American Planning Association, which awarded his article “Reading Through A Plan” its best article of 2011. Professor Ryan has also written numerous chapters for books including The City After Abandonment; Urban Landscape; The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning; Rethinking Global Urbanism; and Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View.

Professor Ryan has three current research projects in China, all funded by the Sam Tak Lee Laboratory, examining coastal landmaking, the threat to urban villages, and a case study in transfer of development rights. He has also consulted for the World Bank on planning projects for emerging economies in Eastern Europe, and he will initiate a five-year study of sustainability in Siberian cities in 2017, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Prior to joining MIT, Professor Ryan taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was also Co-Director of the City Design Center. Professor Ryan holds a B.S. in biology from Yale University (1991), a M. Arch. from Columbia University (1994), and a Ph.D. in urban design and planning from MIT (2002).