Dasan New City Landmark

Maehyangli Eco Peace Park

Everyday Space Workshop

Seun Walkway

Seoul Skyway

New Rochelle Waterfront

Nooks and Cranny

Negotiated Occupation

Helsinki Central Library

Rethink Athens



Fresh, Rotten and Preserved

Rowe X Ungers

Vertical Horizon

Stories of Nature

Museum of Polish History



New Jalisco State Public Library

Olympic Sculpture Park

Barnard College Diana Center

Taekwondo Park Master Plan



Urban Terrains Digital Lab

Urban Terrains Lab







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The contemporary discipline of architecture is univocally concerned with the creation of new environments. “New” has become a presumed criterion of architectural production. But what happens after the “new”? What about the banalities of growth, aging, decay, death and burial that happens after the novelty of the “new”? Process of decay is an immanent condition of architecture and urban environments. The image of architectural ruins and its return to nature have been persistent in the representation of architecture of the Renaissance and the art of Romanticism, from the drawings and projects of John Ruskin, Sir John Soane to Piranesi and in the romantic landscape paintings of the French and the Dutch School, the English Garden, and the Hudson River School. The ruin identifies the ecology of architecture and the city as an integrated system of artificial and natural environments and humans as its subjects and objects. If the contemporary discussion of sustainability has to do with the life-cycle of environments, it is imperative that we understand and expand upon the ecology of growth, decay and maintenance of urban environments.

The research identifies the urban ecology as a state in between the controlled environment and the wild, to study the development of ideas on growth, decay and maintenance of environments and the position of the discipline of architecture and urban design in this trajectory. The research weaves through the following topics: concepts of nature and landscape relative to the sublime and the picturesque, image of the ruin and return to nature, ideas of beauty, awe and fear, urban expansionism and shrinking cities, creative destruction and destructive creation, life-cycle of infrastructure, ruin porn and decay kitsch, concepts of maintenance and the history of hygiene and environmental control, pollution, dust, and dirt, institutionalization of preservation and conservation and urban strategies of cosmetic surgery, life-support, fakeness, and mimicry.

The investigators research the topics of noise, facade maintenance, pollen, weed, paving, puddles, and rust to identify the social construct of urban ecologies. In following Mary Douglas, when does dirt become matter out of place?


Social Construct of Sound (Investigator: David Chessrown)


Social Construct of Paving (Investigator: Yeung Shin)


Social Construct of Puddles (Investigator: Alexander Smith)


Social Construct of Rust (Investigator: Jacqueline Liu)


Social Construct of Facade Cleaning (Investigator: Armando Rigau)



Project Investigators
Akiko Suzuki, Alexander Smith, Armando Rigau, David Chessrown, Jacqueline Liu, Jose Tijerina, Yeung Shin

Fresh, Rotten and Preserved
/ Urban Ecologies of Growth, Decay and Maintenance

Program: Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Dept. of Architecture, Urban Theory Seminar
Project Director: Yehre Suh
Date: Spring 2012