The word “downtown” has become a metaphor for something that is problematic, challenging, inspiring, and/or tragically flawed. The downtowns of the world have been subjected to endless surgeries—cosmetic, noninvasive, high-risk, and doomed. Art and architecture have frequently been promoted as part of the treatment as well. Downtown is inevitably a disputed territory with myriad forces fighting for control of it, be it the citizens, the government, or private developers. Are the catch phrases—revitalization, restoration, renewal—admirable goals or merely antique terminologies that need to be replaced? What are new solutions for mapping the myths and realities of what we think of as downtown?
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Yaşar Adnan Adanalı is an urban researcher and activist based in Istanbul. He is finalizing his PhD dissertation on the neoliberal urban transformation of Istanbul. His research focuses on the spatiality of democracy. In addition to Istanbul, he has been working in cities in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. He maintains two urban blogs, Mutlukent (Happy City) and Reclaim Istanbul. He received an Urban
Planning Journalism Award from the Turkish Chamber of Urban Planners in 2011.
Ana Paula Cohen is an independent curator, editor, and writer. She is a visiting professor at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, and curator of “Embodied Archeology of Architecture and Landscape” in Tel Aviv (2013). In 2009–10, Cohen was the curator-in-residence at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York. She was also co-curator with Ivo Mesquita for the 28th São Paulo Biennial, “In Living Contact” (2008). In 2007, Cohen co-curated the project “Encuentro
Internacional de Medellín 07” in Colombia.
Suketu Mehta is the New York–based author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2005), which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He has won the Whiting Writers Award and the O. Henry Prize. Mehta is Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. He is currently working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he was awarded a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship.
Charles Renfro is a partner at Diller Scofidio Renfro, which Fast Company has called the most innovative design practice in the profession and one of the fifty most forward-looking companies in the world. Renfro is on the faculty of Columbia University. His writing and interviews have been published internationally, and he currently serves on the board of the Storefront for Art and Architecture.
Guilherme Wisnik is an architectural historian. He is the curator of “Margin” (2010), a public art project, “Rio Oir” with Cildo Meireles (2011), and the X São Paulo Architecture Biennial. His books include Lucio Costa (2001), Caetano Veloso (2005), Critical State (2009), and Oscar Niemeyer (2011). He wrote numerous chapters and essays in Phaidon’s Brazil’s Modern Architecture (2004).