Arguably, the city is the most celebrated and academically cherished formal and spatial configuration of urbanism. Sustained exploration of material conditions within post-industrial cities, however, can have the effect of foregrounding a dilemma in one’s urban study. One can uphold the propriety of the city and the disciplines that labor to make sense of it; or, one can let go of the city in favor of urbanism itself, exploring the myriad spatial configurations produced by the processes of urbanization that persist outside of the canonic territory of the city. Young’s approach to American urbanism stems from the recognition that the terms “urbanism” and “city” are often conflated in a manner that is no longer consistent with contemporary forms of urbanism, nor city. New strategies for urban research are necessary to promote explicit understandings of the suburban landscape that have the capacity to change the terms of our collective engagement and participation.
Jason Young is associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan, and the Fall 2013 Howard Friedman Visiting Associate Professor of Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. His academic research explores contemporary conditions of American urbanism in a post-city, digitally organized culture. Young was the 2012-13 Helmet F. Stern Professor in the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities where he worked on a book length project titled, Skirmishes with the MacroPhenomenal: Letting Go of the City. The book explores franchise space, digital culture, and the emergence of a “database subject,” a new type of urban subject. Young was a contributing co-editor for Stalking Detroit (Barcelona: ACTAR 2001), an anthology of essays, projects, and photographs offering a thick, analytical description of the city of Detroit during the 1990s. Young has lectured recently on his urbanism research at the Berlage Institute in the Netherlands, the ETH Zurich, the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, the University of California at Berkeley, the Universitá Iuav di Venezia, and Clemson University.