Architecture exhibition looks at the future of design in North American megaregion

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A new exhibition opening this summer at the Yale School of Architecture brings together research and design work by the experimental Canadian architecture practice RVTR to explore possible urban and architectural futures in a post-metropolitan world.

Opening Aug. 25, “Infra Eco Logi Urbanisim” looks at the Great Lakes Megaregion of North America (GLM) to envision the kinds of systems that could best serve a cluster of cities in an age of renewable energy, new mobility, and urban growth.

Rather than present a singular vision or grand scheme for the future, the exhibition assembles a series of diverse threads — regional maps, design propositions, photographs, related architectural projects, and critical writings — that explore the GLM’s key issues and challenges, and the role of design in shaping its future.  

The GLM consists of urbanized territories surrounding the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway in both the United States and Canada, including Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit-Windsor, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Montreal. The region has an estimated population of approximately 60 million, making it the most populated of the emerging megaregions in the United States. It is also an area of abundant manufacturing, research universities, agricultural production, and natural resources, including one-fifth of the world’s surface fresh water.

RVTR’s research analyzes the GLM’s boundaries, settlement patterns, dynamics, and the benefits of combining energy resources, transportation systems, and public spaces. One example of collaboration put forth in the exhibition is the creation of a GLM Energy and Water Common, a pan-national agency of governance and wealth management. In this model, the profits of renewable energy are directed toward a public infrastructure network that connects transportation systems, energy distribution, and social amenities on the existing 401-I94 corridor. The system would link regional industries, local communities, public spaces, and new architectural structures along the line.

“Infra Eco Logi Urbanism” will be on view through Nov. 20 at the Yale School of Architecture, 180 York St. The exhibition opened in 2013 at the University of Quebec, Montreal, and traveled to Ryerson University, Toronto, before coming to Yale. Following its run in New Haven, it will travel to the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Ann Arbor.

The exhibition was organized by RVTR and is supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the University of Michigan Office of Research, Rackham Graduate School, and The MI Group. At the Yale School of Architecture it has been organized by Alfie Koetter, director of exhibitions.

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