Restructuring From Within: A Flatbed Site in Quito As an Agent for New Centrality

This Faculty Research Seminar, sponsored by the Corporacion de Salud Ambiental de Quito, aims to investigate a fundamental issue in the transformation of the contemporary city, explored through a specific urbanistic project. It will look at the inherent potential of terrain vague as redefinable space that can drive major urban transformations and endow a specific territory with a new and significant centrality. Using the city of Quito and its current airport as a primary object of inquiry, students will rethink the potential role of derelict land within the city. Furthermore, students will explore tentative models in which the city can restructure this territory into an active asset for the northern portion of the city and for the metropolitan region at large. The seminar will focus in three crucial issues:1. The Airfield in the City: The Latent Potential of the Flatbed SiteInner city airfields traditionally have been zoned far away from the city, as undesirable programs that would never attract adjacent development. Today, in a retroactive manner, airports have been grandfathered as key entities in the development of urban growth, and are being considered as emerging sites. This portion of the seminar will investigate the notion of a \”built-in expiration date\” in early twentieth-century airports, and will explore the dynamic processes in which the adjacencies they generate end up choking their own operation.2. Quito and Its Airport: A Flatbed Site 10,000 Feet Above Sea LevelQuito, Ecuador, an Andean city, 10,000 feet above sea level, exists and operates within the constraints and pressures of a most robust topographic condition. Originally traced under the Law of the Indies, today the city has grown to be a major Latin American metropolis with a population of more than 1,700,000 in its Metropolitan District. Its primary airfield, Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre, sits in the central portion of the northern part of the city and is still widely active, receiving all international and domestic air traffic for the city. By January 2008, the new airport in Yaruqui, 25 miles away from Quito, will be operative. Shortly thereafter the grounds currently occupied by the city airport will be returned to the municipality and will be subject to a wide array of development pressures. Research on Quito will be framed from the perspective of the City – Valley.3. Urban Model: Restructuring Strategies for City\'s Old AirportThe research will provide an overall framework and will lead the development of a concept for the future restructuring of the territory in question. Drawing from the two previous portions, students will develop a series of well tempered models for Quito\'s airport grounds. Seminar StructureThe seminar will meet once a week for a three-hour session. During the first portion of the semester (1/3) students will focus on the first two issues (the airfield in the city, and the city of Quito), and during the second portion of the semester (2/3) students will work on the development of the different strategies.Logistics and TravelA trip to Quito, Ecuador, is scheduled for September 2005. The trip is fully sponsored and will cover all airfare costs and accommodations.The seminar is part of a much broader research project, directed by Joan Busquets and Felipe Correa, on terrain vague and its inherent potential as an agent for development. A major exhibit in Quito and a comprehensive publication on the subject is scheduled for July 2006.