July 19, 2013

Wentworth Hosts “Designing for Life” Symposium

Wentworth recently hosted “Designing for Life,” a symposium that brought together key figures behind the redevelopment of Caracas, Venezuela, and Boston to discuss ideas about how new developments can contribute to the improvement of both cities. The event took place in Watson Auditorium on July 12.

For Associate Professor of Architecture Manuel Delgado, his role in the redevelopment of La Carlota Airport in Caracas is “a dream come true.” Delgado and his team created the winning design of last year’s La Carlota Park Ideas competition. This was held following plans by the city of Caracas to turn the airfield, which has been closed to the public since 2006, into a city park.

 “We are trying to write the book of planning in Caracas,” Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma said. The redesigning of La Carlota is part of several planning goals under Ledezma to redevelop the city from now until 2020.

In addition to social activity, Ledezma believes that the creation of the park will encourage alternate forms of transportation, from walking and bicycling to taking public transit, drastically reducing automobile emissions in the city.

“If we take steps to reduce carbon emissions, we can make Caracas a more sustainable city,” Ledezma said. “Hopefully we can counterbalance the enormous loss of life quality due to congestion and pollution.”

James Kostaras, a senior research associate for the Institute for International Urban Development, drew many parallels between several prominent redevelopment projects in Boston and how the same concepts can be applied to Caracas.

Kostaras explained that in the past Boston, like Caracas, was designed to cater to automobiles, with several highways being built that are no longer in use. Kostaras pointed specifically to the area around Kenmore Square, saying developers are in the process of “reintegrating the infrastructure” into this area by building residences, hotels, and shopping centers.

“Our hope is that we can re-energize this corner of the city, and turn it into a vital, active area,” said Kostaras.

During the closing panel discussion, Boris Muñoz, associate researcher for the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, expressed optimism for the future of Caracas, based on Boston’s success.

“Boston has renewed itself, proving that urban reinvention is possible,” Muñoz said. 

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