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STS Colloquium: Nicholas de Monchaux, UC-Berkeley
March 9, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Local Code: Technology, Creative Practice, and History as Instrument
Guest Speaker: Nicholas de Monchaux, UC-Berkeley
Date: Monday, March 9, 2020
ABSTRACT: Nicholas de Monchaux’s Local Code project comprises a series of design proposals for networked urban environmental infrastructure in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; these were developed with local non-profits and community organizations and created using design and mapping software developed by de Monchaux and his team at UC Berkeley since 2010. This talk will showcase these digital tools and their applications, but speak most of all to the central role the history of technology and design culture plays in de Monchaux’s work. He will explain both the inspiration for Local Code in software experiments supported by ex-NASA administrator Howard Fisher at the Housing and Urban Development in the early 1970s, as well as a larger critical and historical project that formed part of the work’s publication in 2016. This work contextualizes the project by considering the loose but essential web of interactions between technological and urban design pioneers Warren Weaver, Jane Jacobs, Gordon Matta-Clark and Howard Fisher from the 1940s to 1970s. Particularly as planners and designers again turn to software and science to engage urban problems, de Monchaux argues, history is an instrumental tool to not just critique, but also advance, the state of the art in design practice.
Nicholas de Monchaux is Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media. He is the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011), an architectural and urban history of the Apollo Spacesuit, winner of the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society and shortlisted for the Art Book Prize, and Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). With Kathryn Moll, he is principal of Modem. His work has been exhibited widely, including at the Biennial of the Americas, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Lisbon Architecture Triennial, SFMOMA, and the Chicago MCA.