The Jerusalem Seminar in Architecture
Previous Conferences // o 1998: Megaform as Urban Landscape
Theme Statment by Kenneth Frampton

As the twentieth century draws to a close it becomes increasingly evident that the ubiquitous urbanized region is inimical to the application of urban planning in a cultural sense. Notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by land-use and zoning regulations where these are effectively applied, spontaneous urban development, stimulated by speculation and fed by the automobile, effectively inhibits any large-scale critical intervention in the field of urban design. Architects and planners are almost always limited to the design and realization of single, unrelated structures which, irrespective of their quality, remain isolated in the landscape. The fact is that, with or without the intervention of architects, the megalopolis continues to reproduce itself in ever more chaotic form and at an ever-increasing rate. Thus there comes into being an expedient, amortizable environment that strives to render itself increasingly available for theoretically limitless expansion under the impact of global modernisation.

Subject to such constraints two critical strategies proffer themselves for the mediation of late modern urban environment: first, the practice of landscape design in the traditional sense of the term; and second, the conception and realization of large institutional structures as megaforms. The former suggests itself as a means for softening and unifying the random character of the megalopolis; the latter proffers the possibility of organizing large complexes into continuous horizontal forms closely connected to the ground. Where this occurs, the building assumes a topographic character of its own; it becomes, in effect, a landmark or place-form. A number of late modern building types suggest themselves as possible vehicles for this operation, ranging from cultural complexes to transportation interchanges, from office parks to convention centres, from hospitals to shopping malls, from sports complexes to university facilities. Moreover, any of these types may be combined with each other to form hybrid programmes housed under a single roof. For this year's seminar we have invited a number of practitioners who, in one way or another, have been engaged in the creation of such forms.

The Jerusalem Seminar in Architecture is pleased to announce the participation of the following architects in our forthcoming seminar on Megaform as Urban Landscape to be held 21 – 23 June 1998 at the International Convention Center, Jerusalem. The seminar will be chaired by Professor Kenneth Frampton of Columbia University.
Royal Crescent, Bath, England, John Wood the Younger, 1767-1774.
Photograph: Adrian Pingstone.

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