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Athenaeum of Philadelphia | Cyclical City: Philadelphia and 350 years of Hydrology

August 11, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Jill Desimini is the author of Cyclical City: Five Stories of Urban Transformation (UVA Press, 2022)
As cities evolve and resources shift with time, spaces within those cities are often left fallow and abandoned. Cyclical City is a book that tells the stories behind these sites, from Philadelphia’s Liberty Lands park to Lisbon’s Green Plan, and it looks at the ways in which these narratives can be leveraged toward future engagement and use. The book posits a fundamental role for spatial design practice to transform abandoned urban landscapes through time. It argues for approaches that promote the specific affordances of the land itself (hydrology, vegetation, topography, geology, infrastructural capacity, occupation potential); the importance of cyclical change; and the particularities of the cultural, political, and physical context. These themes are explored in five cities in the book— Philadelphia, Berlin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Saint Louis—while this talk looks specifically at Philadelphia and the role that hydrology has played in its formation.
Jill Desimini is a landscape architect and associate professor at the University of Connecticut. She is trained as an architect and landscape architect and has practiced in both fields. Her current research investigates design strategies for abandoned landscapes. She is author of Cyclical City: Five Stories of Urban Transformation (University of Virginia Press, 2022), From Fallow: 100 Ideas for Abandoned Urban Landscapes (ORO Editions, 2019) , and co-author of Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). Her work has also appeared in Manifest Journal, Bracket [Takes Action], JAE Online, A Public Space, LA Frontiers, New Geographies 10: Fallow, Journal of Urban History, Landscape Journal, Journal of Landscape Architecture, Scenario Journal, The Journal of Chinese Landscape Architecture, Places, as well as in book chapters on fallowness, urban wilds, land banks, and other related topics. She holds a Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Brown University. Prior to joining UConn, she was Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a designer at Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Wallace, Roberts and Todd, and KieranTimberlake.