#117: Another Green World

Rem Koolhaas’ Countryside exhibition opened at the Guggenheim Museum this week, providing an opportunity to ask the question that the concept of “countryside” always implies: Where does the countryside begin, and where does the city end? Pondering this inevitably forces us to define what a city is, a distinction that has never been stable. Cities used to be centers of industrial production, but many have pushed large-scale manufacturing elsewhere and evolved into zones of pure knowledge work, cultural production, and advanced consumption. Many of the world’s biggest cities—certainly New York—are surrounded by amorphous (and growing) zones of warehousing and logistical distribution that don’t fit neatly into any category, because they’re not really meant to be classified or thought about at all. And that leads me to one definition of a city that has remained consistent over time, as every other activity flows in and out: Cities are where our culture locates activities that are supposed to be seen, because we’ve collectively decided they matter.

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