Urban Edge 2013
On April 5th, 2013, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning will host the biennial Urban Edge Award Symposium titled Evolutionary Infrastructure / Evolving Practices curated by Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss of WEISS/MANFREDI. Expanding the definition of ‘infrastructure’ to address an escalating set of design challenges that are at once cultural, architectural, and environmental, the symposium will host a series of cross-disciplinary talks and discussions between innovative architects, artists, ecologists, engineers, and theoreticians.
Biased toward expediting movement and inherently resistant to supporting other forms of inhabitation, infrastructure is an archaic monument to mono-functional use. With ever increasing levels of urban density throughout the world, infrastructure in the city is an underworked territory that must sustain a larger agenda. Infrastructural systems are as important to cities as the institutions that typically attract the attention of designers and the general public, and recent climate-related events have catalyzed the need to re-define and re-shape our infrastructure.
Larger than life but part of it, infrastructure has immediate presence and shapes our lives in vital, authentic, and often messy ways. This one-day symposium will be a cross section through design disciplines, bringing together innovators in the fields of architecture, engineering, art, landscape, ecology, and urban design to advance the conversation and representation of design thinking related to infrastructure. These multi-disciplinary thinkers are connected by an ambition to reimagine, through a series of dialogues and talks, our relationship with infrastructure and to consider an evolutionary position, both physical and cultural, regarding the site and subject of infrastructure.
Rather than narrowly circumscribing this topic, which is evolving at an increasingly fast rate, the symposium will foster an open-ended conversation through multiple lenses (environmental, spatial, and cultural) and through unique voices that are willing to challenge typical perceptions of contemporary systems. What if a new paradigm for infrastructure existed? How can new ecological, engineering, and design imperatives redefine our understanding of an infrastructural system? What new reciprocities can we envision between pre-existing infrastructural systems and more ecologically resilient territories for public life?
Past Urban Edge Winners
2011 – Herbert Dreiseitl, Atelier Dreiseitl
2009 - Elizabeth Diller, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
2007 - Julie Bargmann, DIRT Studio
The UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning introduced the biennial Urban Edge Award in 2006. Modeled after the successful Marcus Prize for emerging architects, and supported by the Wisconsin Preservation Fund and the law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, the Urban Edge Award recognizes excellence in urban design and the ability of individuals to create major, positive change within the public realm. This award honors an internationally recognized design professional who brings fresh, innovative, and effective thinking to the field of urban design.
Funding for the Urban Edge Award totals $50,000. An initial prize of $25,000 is awarded to the winner, while another $25,000 is earmarked for a studio to be co-taught with a UWM architecture faculty member.
Urban Edge 2011
(Herbert Dreiseitl, Atelier Dreiseitl and Associate Professor James Wasley)
German artist and landscape architect Herbert Dreiseitl, www.dreiseitl.net, who specializes in incorporating themes of water into his designs, was the recipient of the 2011 award. The goal of the Spring 2011 studio, taught by Mr. Dreiseitl and Associate Professor James Wasley, was to create visions of UWM’s proposed plan for a ‘harbor campus’ of academic research and industrial incubator spaces marrying environmental sustainability with economic redevelopment, with ecologically restorative water management as the core concern.
Urban Edge 2009
(Elizabeth Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and Associate Professor Mo Zell)
In 2009, the second Urban Edge Award was presented to Elizabeth Diller, principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), and Professor of Architecture at Princeton University. Her practice is an interdisciplinary practice at the crossroads of architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts. Ms. Diller teamed with Mo Zell, Assistant Professor of Architecture, to co-teach the second Urban Edge Studio in the second semester core of the undergraduate curriculum. In an effort to introduce a broader definition of architecture, DS+R’s temporary installations served as the pedagogical foundation for the studio in which students proposed a series of installation projects throughout Milwaukee.
Urban Edge 2007
(Julie Bargmann, DIRT and Associate Professor Manu Sobti)
The inaugural award was presented to Julie Bargmann of DIRT ("Dump It Right There") Studio in 2007. Her Charlottesville, VA based practice seeks to ameliorate postindustrial brownfield sites through ecological and cultural interventions. Julie Bargmann teamed with Manu Sobti, Associate Professor of Architecture, to co-teach the first Urban Edge Studio. Their shared research interest in the cultural and historical palimpsest of a site provided a basis for investigations into Milwaukee’s decaying urban landscape. A week-long DIRT Charrette and Design Competition exposed students from multiple studio sections to methods of analyzing and mapping the city.