In Plain Sight
An immersive installation in the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
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In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

The project was tasked with interrogating the relationship between citizenship and the built environment at the scale of the globe, where the primacy of the individual, the city, and even the nation drops away and is replaced by data: electricity, trade routes, migratory shifts, and the flow of capital, goods and people.

The installation is a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, and will be on view from May 26 through November 25, 2018. The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago.

Nighttime lights in North America
Nighttime lights in North America
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In Plain Sight at the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture
Nighttime lights in North America

In Plain Sight, a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, will open on May 26, 2018 in Venice, Italy.

The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago. The installation will be on view through November 25.

In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

Several events are planned during the opening weekend, May 24-27, featuring project collaborators Laura Kurgan, Elizabeth Diller, Robert Pietrusko. See the full schedule of events on the Dimensions of Citizenship website here.

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Apply for Summer 2018 Student Positions

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student candidates for both full-time and part-time positions during Summer 2018.

Students will be responsible for data analysis, visualization, map design, and research on projects dealing with our current research focus: conflict urbanism. Students will work extensively with spatial data including mining and analyzing data, processing and collecting data, and/or visualizing data in compelling and innovative ways.  Working in close collaboration with principal investigators, students will produce work for inclusion in papers, multi-media projects, and exhibitions.

Candidates must have experience with GIS and Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, a working knowledge of some of the following tools is a plus: Processing, Python, D3, R, APIs, Microsoft Access, SQL, Stata/SPSS, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

We are seeking candidates who have experience with computational tools but are also eager to acquire additional skills through the course of their internship. CSR researchers will mentor successful candidates and match them with projects which help them build additional fluencies with computational methods.

Full-time positions are 35 hours per week for up to twelve weeks. Part-time work will be negotiated by student/project. All positions are $15/hour. Please note, positions are only available for continuing students at Columbia University. Positions open to both graduate and undergraduate students. 

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to info@c4sr.columbia.edu with the subject "Application: Summer 2018 Student Positions". 

Applications will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

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Conflict Urbanism: Urban Language Ecologies
A series of projects that explore the role that language plays in shaping urban space.
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Conflict Urbanism: Language Ecologies explores the role that language plays in shaping urban space. This project grew out of the Spring 2017 seminar, Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice.

Language interacts with its environment at multiple scales and with diverse media. As an ecology, language either dominates, or is vulnerable to its host environments. In this way it often makes conflict visible in urban settings.  

Language works in extraordinary ways – multilingualism can divide a local community and simultaneously connect a global community. Language also works in the most ordinary ways – it mediates nearly every human interaction, from fulfilling the most basic needs to communicating the most abstract ideas.

We have collaborated with the Endangered Language Alliance to build a map which visualizes the incredible diversity of languages spoken in New York City focusing on the most vulnerable languages. We have also worked on a series of case studies about language in New York City. Our research shows that typical maps represent monolingualism very well, drawing boundaries around ethnolinguistic groups; but language ecology, especially in urban areas, is one of both community as well as individual multilingualism. Each case study seeks to address this by taking innovative and sometimes radical approaches to represent the diversity of languages spoken in New York City. Though the projects focus on New York, the methods of visualization and inquiry extend easily to other multilingual, multinational spaces.

Beyond the Census: Languages of Queens map.

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Points Unknown: Cartographic Narratives
Points Unknown is a curriculum that will train journalism and architecture students in GIS and mapping techniques.
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Spatial training paired with journalism can serve as a missing “integrator” of data and the real world—providing lessons that travel beyond the boroughs of New York. A wide array of available spatial-visualization tools can extend journalistic practice, helping reporters better find, understand, and tell stories. These same tools can expose the invisible spaces, forces, and environments that architecture, urban design, and planning students must engage, navigate, and learn to represent as part of their spatial toolkit.

Points Unknown will train journalism and architecture students in GIS and mapping techniques, and will prompt them to ask questions such as: What data are made public? What do they say about life in the city? How are neighborhoods rendered in data and what are the consequences of those representations? What undiscovered stories can be found in visualizing geographies of data?

Annotated map of Chelsea Neighborhood from course exercises. 

False color image of flood prone Houston suburbs.

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Call for Applications: Research Scholar for Historical GIS and Visualization

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a call for applications for a full-time Associate Research Scholar position for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The position, within the Center for Spatial Research (CSR) will focus on critical work with Geographic Information Systems and design for a new grant-funded project mapping historical New York. We invite applications from candidates with a strong interest in interdisciplinary work whose research practices combine GIS-based methods and strong visual design. The position is for one year and renewable for up to three additional semesters.

The position will report to the Director of CSR and will be part of a collaborative project team between CSR and the Department of History. The incumbent will work closely with a postdoctoral fellow in History and Principal Investigators to: develop methodologies for historical geographic information systems research, including geocoding census records; create compelling visualizations of research outcomes for broad public audiences; participate in writing and creating maps and visualizations for papers and other publications in journal and multimedia formats; and develop curricula and teaching materials related to this research. Successful candidates must have experience and interest in using GIS-based research practices to open up new questions in, and modes of representation of, urban environments.

Position Qualifications:

Candidates must hold a Master’s degree or the equivalent. Successful candidates will have robust experience with GIS-based research, and methodology design as well as a range of other computational tools for urban research and must be eager to acquire additional skills through their work with CSR. Experience with historical GIS research is a plus.

The Center’s projects typically draw on a range of tools including: GIS (ESRI and Open Source); R; Python; Adobe Creative Suite; mapping and visualization libraries such as Leaflet, Processing, D3, APIs, HTML5, CSS and Javascript. The candidate is not required to know all of these tools, but a willingness to learn new software, the most up to date tools, and a collaborative spirit is a requirement of the job.

Candidates will have the ability to do collaborative and cross-disciplinary research and the ability to convey specialized knowledge to students and faculty working in the Center. Candidates should demonstrate ability to show how their own fields of specialty intersect with or bring new tools and research methods to research in the urban humanities. Preferred qualifications include publication in recognized media and conference presentations.

Candidates for professional officer of research positions are expected to have established their ability to conduct original, independent research a field of the humanities. Associate research scholars' qualifications and contributions to their fields of research must be equivalent to those of an assistant professor.

Please visit our online application site at: https://academicjobs.columbia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=65699

for further information about this position and to submit your application. You will be asked to submit your 1-2 page letter of interest, CV, and a portfolio which demonstrates your work and research experiences. Review of applications will begin February 1, 2018 and continue until the position is filled.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Mapping Historical New York Receives $1 Million Grant

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a new $1 million grant recieved from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to create web-based, interactive maps of Manhattan and Brooklyn during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The three-year project is a collaboration of Columbia’s History Department and the Columbia Center for Spatial Research in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP).

Mapping Historical New York will create digitized maps of the two boroughs as well as detailed neighborhood case studies. The maps will capture two major transformations of the city at the turn of the 20th century: demographic changes resulting from immigration; and changes in land use resulting from the incorporation of parts of Long Island (Brooklyn and Queens) into city in the 1890s. The website and maps created by the project will be freely accessible to the public.

The project aims to both create the interactive maps and to train faculty and students in digital research and teaching methods, by incorporating them into the project’s design and execution and in courses on New York, immigration, and urban history.

The principal investigators for the project are Mae Ngai, Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History; Rebecca Kobrin, Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History; and Laura Kurgan, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Center for Spatial Research.

Seth Schwartz, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization and chair of the History Department, said, “Thanks to the Gardiner foundation, we have an exciting opportunity to use cutting-edge digital methods in historical research and teaching. We look forward to collaborating with the Center for Spatial Research in GSAPP.”

"GSAPP has a long legacy of studying housing and preservation in New York City, and it will be exciting for the university's research to be made more accessible through Laura Kurgan's Center for Spatial Research and its pioneering forms of visualization," said Amale Andraos, Dean of Columbia GSAPP.

Read the full press release here.

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Points Unknown: Cartographic Narratives
In this course students will explore new forms of site analysis through pairing geospatial analysis, mapping, and storytelling.
   
Course Description

Society is increasingly dependent on data and computation, a dependence that often evolves invisibly, without any critical assessment or accountability. In New York City, with its mandate to make data public, students have an opportunity to learn how to question data through journalistic lines of inquiry: What data are made public? What do they say about life in the city? How are neighborhoods rendered in data and what are the consequences of those representations? What undiscovered stories can be found in the data?

The architectural design process is coming to rely increasingly on complex, large, spatial datasets for urban analysis. Literacy with spatial data analysis, mapping and storytelling have yet to become an integral part of the design process. In pairing spatial training with journalistic approaches, this course will serve as the missing “integrator” of data and the real world.  

Points Unknown: Cartographic Narratives will focus on rethinking how we characterize a place, an important first step for architectural design, traditionally represented by a basic site plan. In this course, students will explore new forms of site analysis. Through pairing the processes of architecture and some of the skills of journalism, this course will explore four sites in the New York City/Hudson Valley Region—from the proposed redesign of Penn Station to the completion of the Third Water Tunnel.

The full syllabus is available here

Students will work in groups under the direction of an editor to explore a select site, spending the semester researching and constructing a geospatial narrative. Students will learn how to investigate their identified site and will select a particular issue to address. Students will research the site, conduct interviews, perform exploratory data analysis, and learn various geospatial visualization techniques to produce a comprehensive narrative.

The final output will come in the form of a presentation that successfully highlights an identified problem of the site, posits evidence through novel implementations of data, and provides a comprehensive narrative through geospatial representations. In addition, the research will surface recommendations for site intervention.

Points Unknown—designed jointly by faculty at the Graduate School of Journalism and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation—is funded by Collaboratory, a new university-wide program led by the Data Science Institute and Columbia Entrepreneurship to catalyze interdisciplinary curricular collaboration.

 
Call for Applications: Mellon Associate Research Scholars

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a call for applications for Associate Research Scholars for the 2018-2019 academic year as part of the Andrew W Mellon Foundation funded initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.

We invite applications from candidates whose intellectual interests are situated within the broad urban humanities, who have strong digital, visual, and multidisciplinary research practices, and are enthusiastic about collaborative working environments. The appointment is one year, with the possibility of a second year depending on funding.

Two Associate Research Scholars will be appointed: one position is open to candidates with training in the design disciplines, and one is open to candidates with training in a field(s) of the humanities. 

Successful candidates must have experience and interest in using qualitative as well as quantitative data to open up new questions in the urban humanities. The incumbents will contribute to projects underway at CSR, work on independent research on a topic(s) proposed by the incumbent, as well as contribute to the design and teaching of the Center’s workshop and seminar courses.

For further information and to apply for the position for candidates from fields in the humanities please visit: academicjobs.columbia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=65554

For further information and to apply for the position for candidates from the design fields please visit:  academicjobs.columbia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=65546

You will be asked to submit a 1-2 page letter of interest, 2 page proposal for the project(s) you would hope to complete at the Center, CV, and portfolio which demonstrates your work and research focus.

Review of applications will begin immediately.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Apply for Summer 2018 Course for Faculty: Mapping for the Urban Humanities

With the Dean of Humanities we are pleased to invite interested Columbia University faculty and doctoral candidates to participate in Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Institute.

Mapping for the Urban Humanities is a two-week skills-building workshop in critical cartography, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is designed to expand the disciplinary locations within which spatial knowledge in the urban humanities is produced and interpreted. Workshop participants will learn key skills in mapping, data collection, and data visualization that they can incorporate into their research and teaching. Space is limited. Interested faculty and doctoral candidates are encouraged to apply by January 31, 2018.

The Summer 2018 session will be held from 1:00-5:30pm, May 21-June 1, 2018 with an optional third week practicum from June 4-8. No class will be held on Memorial Day, May 28. 

Eligibility: This course is open to faculty, research scholars and doctoral candidates from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Barnard College. 

If you have questions about your eligibility or about whether your course or research project is a good fit for the institute, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dare Brawley (dare.brawley@columbia.edu) at the Center for Spatial Research. 

How to Apply: Interested faculty and doctoral candidates should apply by sending the following materials to info@c4sr.columbia.edu by January 31, 2018.

  • 1-2 page statement that describes your interest in taking the institute, and includes a description of the course or research topic you hope to workshop during the summer intensive. 
  • CV 

More information about the course, including materials from prior iterations of the institute, is available here.

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