CDD's Brent Ryan Lectures at Tsinghua University

On September 19, 2016, Brent Ryan, associate professor and head of the City Design and Development Group at MIT DUSP, recently led a small team of faculty on a visit to the School of Architecture at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. They were welcomed by the school’s Associate Dean Jian Liu and other researchers from the university.

Prof. Ryan gave a lecture titled Development After Decline: Top Down and Bottom Up in Shrinking Cities, in which he introduced and analyzed the top-down and bottom-up strategies for revitalizing shrinking cities. Prof. Ryan discussed case studies in well-known American cities such as Detroit, which has been facing issues of managing abandoned properties, brownfields, and property rights. He explained that top-down approaches in Detroit tend to build on a larger scale, at higher cost, and carries symbolic meaning for a nation in recovery; bottom-up approaches tend to be smaller scale and lower cost, based on neighborhood characteristics that can be creative yet at times incoherent. Lastly, he focuses on four resulting, divergent questions: who pays for redevelopment; who decides how to redevelop; what to demolish vs. preserve; and which is the most effective redevelopment strategy.


The question and answer session following the lecture was robust and centered on the application of the shrinking city framework in the Chinese context. The participants consisted of students across disciplines at the university, as well as scholars and faculty from other schools in the city.


- Joanne Wong, first-year MCP student in DUSP and STL Fellow