Architecture and Urban Transformation I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Plaza Court 2, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Organizers: Alain Thierstein, Nadia Alaily-Mattar
Chairs: Alain Thierstein

Call for Submissions

The nexus between architecturally exceptional projects and the city is the focus of this special session. Ever since the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao (GMB), designed by Frank Gehry, opened its doors in 1997, the promise of duplicating or copying the transformative effects generated by architecturally exceptional projects has been travelling in the worlds of planners, city authorities, real estate promoters and scientific observers alike. With ‘exceptional’ we mean that the architecture involves the innovative use of materials, the exceptional arrangement of volumes and/or the signature of an architect of international professional acclaim. Such projects are usually costly; they are time consuming endeavors frequently involving political risks and controversies.

While some go so far as to argue that “magnet cities” (Haynes and Langley, 2014) and “phoenix cities” (Power et al., 2010) have been able to counteract urban decline by using exceptional architectural projects that “hard brand a city” (Evans, 2005), trigger “architourism” (Ockman, 2015) and “architainment” (Fernández-Galiano, 2005), others have questioned the “Bilbao formula” altogether (Franklin, 2016) and called for a more differentiated approach to analyze how architecturally exceptional projects ‘work’ (Alaily-Mattar et al. 2019, forthcoming). The central concern of this special session is that more research involving new perspectives is needed in order to analyze the effectiveness of architecturally exceptional urban projects. Possible paper topics and themes can include, but are not limited to:

_ Theories, concepts and research methods for researching the role of architecture in urban transformation, place marketing, city branding and the politics of representation
_ Advanced qualitative and quantitative methods, e.g. digital methods and tools
_ The nexus between architecturally exceptional projects, tourism and social media
_ Case studies of the processes accompanying the commissioning of architecturally exceptional projects, particularly policy frameworks and spatial visions
_ Investigations of case studies throughout the world, particularly, presentations that unpack inter-dependencies between actor networks, the realization of architecturally exceptional projects and urban transformation
_ Ex-post investigations of the actual socio-economic effects triggered by architecturally exceptional projects
_ The historical evolution of the use of star architecture projects as an instrument of urban planning

Our ambition is to collect papers for a special issue at a peer reviewed journal. The last special session that we organized at AAG resulted in a special issue at the Journal of Urban Design.

We invite you to join us at this session by (1) Registering for the annual meeting of the AAG; (2) Submitting an abstract and (3) Providing us with your program identification number (PIN), so that we can add you to our session. For further information, please contact Dr. Nadia Alaily-Mattar, E-mail:



Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Alain Thierstein Munich University of Technology 5 8:00 AM
Presenter Alberto Vanolo*, Università di Torino, Dipartimento Culture, Politica e Società, Regenerating a starchitecture. The invention and reinvention of PalaFuksas in Turin 15 8:05 AM
Presenter Matt Patterson*, University of Calgary, Is there a Bilbao Effect? Testing the local area impact of iconic architectural developments. 15 8:20 AM
Presenter Nadia Alaily-Mattar*, Munich University of Technology, The problematization of ‘star architecture’ in architecture research 15 8:35 AM
Presenter Johannes Dreher*, HCU Hamburg, Joachim Thiel, HCU Hamburg, Beyond Bilbao: Star architecture projects and the geographies of innovations across the construction supply chain 15 8:50 AM
Discussant Joshua Hagen Northern State University 10 9:05 AM

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