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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Richard Conniff
If ecologists have belatedly come to think about cities as ecosystems, what about architects and designers? In a seminar room on the seventh floor of Paul Rudolph Hall on the corner of Chapel and York streets, environment and architecture students are working to blend two ways of thinking that have often seemed at cross-purposes—sustainability and the design aesthetic.
It’s early in the semester and the students in Alex Felson’s “Ecological Urbanism” course haven’t yet gotten to the design stage. They’re still sorting out problems and environmental solutions. One team is developing a proposal to clean up the open sewers running down narrow alleys in Nairobi’s densely packed Kibera slum. Another hopes to use plants to remediate contaminated soils at an old power-generating site in Fair Haven and link it into a network of new parks. A third team wants to add a ribbon of parkland along derelict manufacturing riverfront in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, where a recent rezoning would instead put up a wall of luxury condominium towers.
Felson aims to get his students to frame each project as an experiment, with a hypothesis and outcomes that are quantifiable and susceptible to testing. In part, that’s a way to deal with one of the major challenges to urban ecology: in cities packed with people and buildings, it’s difficult to set up…
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