Thomas J. Campanella

Fellow: Awarded 2009

Field of Study: Architecture, Planning and Design

Competition: US & Canada

Thomas J. Campanella is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he is also a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. He taught previously at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2008. He has also lectured at Nanjing University in China, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1999-2000.

A native of Brooklyn, Mr. Campanella is an urbanist and historian whose work focuses primarily on the evolution of the urban civic landscape of the United States. He has also studied and written about the wholesale transformation of Chinese cities in the post-Mao era. His most recent book is The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), which the Washington Post has called “a powerful overview of China’s huge building boom and its social and environmental consequences.” He is also the author of Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm (Yale UP, 2003), the first study of the origins and significance of “Elm Street” in America. The book received the Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians, and was featured in the New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe, which named it one of its “ten best non-fiction books” of 2003. His other works include Cities From the Sky: An Aerial Portrait of America (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001) and The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster (Oxford UP, 2003), edited with Lawrence J. Vale. Mr. Campanella also writes frequently for the popular and professional press. His essays have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Metropolis, Salon, Wired, Orbit, and Architectural Record.

Thomas Campanella holds a Ph.D. in urban planning from MIT and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Cornell University. He published an award-wining article in Landscape Journal during his second year at MIT, and his doctoral dissertation received the John Reps Prize from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History. At Cornell, he was awarded the Michael Rapuano Memorial Medal for design excellence in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

During his Guggenheim term, Mr. Campanella will be working on two books: The Last Utopia will chronicle the rise and fall of Soul City, North Carolina, an intentional “new town” planned and partially built in the 1970s by civil-rights lawyer Floyd B. McKissick; Designing the American Century will examine the careers of two of the most important American landscape architects of the twentieth century—Gilmore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano—creators of many of the parks and public works associated with Robert Moses in New York.