Industrial Urbanism: Places of Production

Since the Industrial Revolution, cities and industry have evolved together: from Manchester to Rochester, company towns and entire metropolitan regions have grown around factories and expanding industries. However despite this shared past, popular notions of manufacturing tend to highlight the negative aspects: pollution, environmental degradation, and the exploitation of labor caused by growing industry, on the one hand; and - almost paradoxically on the other - the blight, abandonment, and “shrinkage” resulting from the more recent decline of manufacturing from cities in the developed world.

Industrial Urbanism: Places of Production moves the conversation beyond these overly-negative characterizations, exploring the relationship between current urban planning practices and the places that are being designed and dedicated to the production of goods today.

In a time of dramatic shifts in the manufacturing sector - from large industrial-scale production and design to small-scale distributed systems; from polluting and consumptive production to a clean and sustainable process; from a demand of unskilled labor to a growing need for a more educated and specialized workforce - cities will see new investment and increased employment opportunities. Yet, to reap these benefits will require a shift in our thinking about manufacturing.

The exhibition addresses three integrated themes: Production, People, and Places. These themes are presented, both separately and in relation to one another, as components that reposition the city as a key actor for industry and production and restore industry to its historic role as a crucial element in the weave of the urban fabric.

Looking ahead, in the quest to make cities competitive and resilient, we suggest exploring the following questions: What are the contemporary relationships between city and industry? What might the future relationships between city and industry look like? What physical planning and design strategies should cities pursue to retain, attract, and increase manufacturing activity? Redefining the role of industry, making it an integral part of the city, is a spatial, social and economic challenge. More than two centuries after the start of the Industrial Revolution, policy makers, planners and designers have an opportunity to re-consider the ways industry creates places, sustains jobs, and promotes environmental sustainability.

This is the future of manufacturing. This is the future of cities.