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McKelvey School of Engineering

Cyclical City: Stories of Urban Transformation

Wednesday, April 14 | 11:30 AM

Virtual Event

In this Master of Landscape Architecture Lecture, landscape architect and educator Jill Desimini will present research shaping her forthcoming book, Cyclical City, a groundbreaking work offering a study of designing for urban vacancy worldwide.

As cities evolve and resources shift with time, spaces within those cities are often left fallow and abandoned. Cyclical City tells the stories behind these sites, from Philadelphia’s Liberty Lands park to Lisbon’s Green Plan, and it looks at the ways in which these narratives can be leveraged toward future engagement and use. Desimini posits a fundamental role for spatial design practice to transform abandoned urban landscapes through time. She argues for approaches that promote the specific affordances of the land itself (hydrology, vegetation, topography, geology, infrastructural capacity, occupation potential); the importance of cyclical change; and the particularities of the cultural, political, and physical context. These themes are explored in five cities—Philadelphia, Berlin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and St. Louis—and across centuries, from periods of great upheaval to ones of relative stability and even economic growth.

This lecture is coordinated with the seminar Vacant/Wild/Ruined: Feral Urbanism, taught by senior lecturer Michael Allen, and is funded by the Master of Landscape Architecture program.

The event is free and will be delivered via Zoom. Register here>>

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts


Arts & Culture, Humanities & Society



Event Contact

Michael Allen | allen.m@wustl.edu

Speaker Information

Jill Desimini is associate professor of landscape architecture at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. Prior to joining the full-time faculty at the GSD, she taught in the second term core studio of the MLA Program at the GSD and at the Northeastern University School of Architecture. She was formerly senior associate at Stoss Landscape Urbanism, where she managed the firm's efforts on the Lower Don Lands in Toronto, the Bass River Park on Cape Cod, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Her work has received numerous awards including a finalist entry in the Van Alen Urban Voids competition, a Narendra Juneja Medal and an ASLA certificate from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Selected Professions Fellowship from the American Association of University Women. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Brown University. Desimini's research focuses on landscape strategies to address the conditions of shrinking cities.

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