Edited by: Chuihua Judy Chung, Jeffrey Inaba, Rem Koolhaas, Sze Tsung Leong
"Not only is shopping melting into everything, but everything is melting into shopping."
Sze Tsung Leong
Harvard Design School’s Project on the City is a graduate thesis program that examines the effects of modernization on the urban condition. Each year the Project on the City studies a specific region or phenomenon, and develops a conceptual framework and vocabulary for urban environments that cannot be described within the traditional categories of architecture, landscape, or urbanism. In order to understand new forms of urbanization, thesis advisor Rem Koolhaas and students from the fields of architecture, landscape, and urbanism document and analyze areas of study through a combination of field research, statistical analysis, historical developments, and anecdotes. The result of each project is an intensive, specialized study of the effects of modernization on the contemporary city.
During the years 1997 and 1998, Harvard’s graduate students concentrated their studies on the phenomenon of shopping as the primary mode of urban life. As a generative engine of urbanization, shopping has become a defining element of the modern city, and, in many cases, the reason for its existence. Research for this project, targeting the United States, Europe, and Asia, focuses on retail technologies, marketing strategies, and the hybridization of retail and cultural/recreational environments. Including essays ranging from "Disney Space: Urban Template" to "Three-Ring Circus: The Double Life of the Shopping Architect," as well as hundreds of diagrams, floor plans, and photographs, the Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping explores the ways in which shopping has refashioned the contemporary city.
"Architecture is where some of the best ideas are coming from, and in Rem Koolhaas and the output of the Havard project you have this weird mixture of sociology, art speak and a kind of cheerful despair that really rocks. People should be coerced to go through this stuff, it's potent and vital."
— Creative Review