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Palimpsestuous Ithaca: A Relative Manfiesto for Sub-Urbanism

 

2010 Frederick Law Olmstead Lecture by Sebastien Marot, Professor of Architectural History, Ecole d'Architecture de la Ville et des Territoires in Marne-La-Vallee, Paris. In 1978, while Colin Rowe and Oswald Mathias Ungers were showing Collage City and "Berlin: The City as a Green Archipelago" respectively, Rem Koolhaas published Delirious New York, a Retrospective Manifesto for Manhattan, both a theoretical and poetic masterwork, is considered the manifesto on sub-urbanism: the site is the matrix in which the programme is to be deciphered. Coincidentally, these three urban manifestos, each celebrated by a unique city (Rome, Berlin and New York), all found their origins in Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University where their authors rubbed shoulders between 1972-1973 and bore their respective approaches. Another coincidence is that this small border town located at the mouth of a lake, creating almost an antithesis to the peninsula of Manhattan, was founded by the same person who created the New York Grid, the geographer Simeon DeWitt. Our aim is to inverse the demonstration of Delirious New York and to produce a manifesto on sub-urbanism: the programme is the matrix by which the site is to be deciphered. We want to analyse these coincidences and examine the laudatio urbis of this mega landscape where the poetic adventures of Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark and Vladimir Nabakov all took place. Ultimately, as Fitccarraldo says in the eponymous film by Werner Herzog: "I am planing something geographical." —Sebastien Marot, 2008



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