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I Want to be METROPOLITAN – New Book by PRAUD

PRAUD is a Boston based firm formed in 2010 by Rafael Luna and Dongwoo Yim.  PRAUD researches various scales in architecture and urbanism with key topics such as hybridity, urbanity, density, and transformation.

“I Want to be METROPOLITAN” is PRAUD’s new book on mini-metropolises. Boston is used as a case study to provide a different reading of the city. The study focuses on showing the efforts that the city of Boston has made in order to grow with metropolitan characteristics while remaining at a much smaller scale than cities like New York, London, or Tokyo.

SHIFTboston wanted to learn more about the research and writing of “I Want to be METROPLITAN” so we interviewed Dongwoo Yim.

SB: What was the most surprising thing that you discovered about Boston while you were writing and researching your book?

DY: For many internationals or for people who had lived out side of the US, Boston is barely conceived as a big city. It was the same for me who was grown up in Seoul. However, since Rafael, my business partner in PRAUD and myself, started the research, we found out that Boston has a lot features that we call, “metropolitan” in many scales. After all, although not that many people say Boston is a metropolis, it still contains lots of metropolitan aspects in it, and I guess that is something that makes Boston so much interesting and viable.

SB: What made you decide or inspired you to write about Boston opposed to different city of similar size?

DY: First of all, studying and working in Boston is one of the biggest reason why we chose the city as case study for MINI Metropolitanism. Because, we have more knowledge of and better access to projects and resources. Secondly, which is more important, Boston is almost a perfect example to explain what MINI Metropolis is. A MINI Metropolis is a city that is smaller in size and less dense in population than mega-metropolis, such as New York or London, slower in growth than fast growing cities like Shanghai or Mumbai. Yet, it must have a strong momentum that lets the city grow more gradually. Lastly, we always questioned ourselves of being “local”. As professional, architects in our case, what would be the role of local professional is an important question to have, and for us, generating various conversations and dialogs through this research was the answer to the question.

SB: What aspects of Boston and it’s growth over time make it stand out from other famous cities?

DY: When we go through the efforts of the city on its built environment, it is quite surprising to see the humongous scale of efforts that the city has made. Major land reclamation since the beginning, distinctive air-right project of Prudential Center, and recent efforts on the Big Dig projects only explain just part of its efforts in many scales. Nevertheless, Boston always tries to keep itself in decent size rather than expanding the city towards mega-metropolis. Therefore, the growth is more about increasing the quality of built environment of the city than expansion. And perhaps, this decent quality of built environment makes Boston as boutique city and MINI Metropolis in this research.

SB: What types of projects could push Boston into the spotlight of becoming a bigger and design respected city?

DY: It might not be that easy to specify which project could push Boston into a spotlight, but in the research, we are proposing multiple projects in different scales from pavilion scale to urban scale. For instance, Design Museum Boston Mobile Pavilion is a small scale project we are working with Design Museum Boston with the idea of approaching to public and various neighborhoods to provide them a different cultural experiences. And Boston Expo 2020 and Boston Olympic 2020 are proposals in bigger scale to make Boston more international with more sustainable approach than traditional Expo and Olympic Games strategies. I believe efforts to push Boston have to be made in various scales.

SB: In your opinion, what are the best ways that Boston can grow for the future?

DY: Our research focuses on catalytic projects that can naturally stimulate other developments around and eventually become a momentum of growth of the city. Boston is not a city that can have a master plan from scratch. Yet, it has capability to put major efforts on certain built environment. Therefore, I believe, it is very important to find a growth path that is in between master plan and generic building project.

If you would like to pre-order a copy of  PRAUD’S newest book and read their other publications click here!



Categories: Architecture, Sustainability, Urban Ecology
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