Emily Talen

Emily Talen

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: Architecture, Planning and Design

Competition: US & Canada

Arizona State University

I am passionate about urbanism and the prospects for creating walkable, socially diverse, sustainable urban neighborhoods in the U.S. and elsewhere. I am primarily an urban planner and urban designer, but my work also spans the fields of geography and sociology.

I started my career working as an urban planner for the cities of Columbus, Ohio, and Santa Barbara, California, for eight years. I then returned to academia and completed a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My dissertation reflected on my role as a practicing planner: how do we measure “success” in urban planning? Are the plans we create for our cities ever actually implemented?

I have been a faculty member at four universities since I started my academic career in 1998 (the universities of West Virginia, Texas, Illinois, and currently Arizona State University), during which time I wrote four books and lots of journal articles and book chapters. I’m most proud of my work on diversity, codes, and neighborhoods. The diversity work culminated in an exhibition on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and a book called Design for Diversity. My codes work was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and led to The Codes Project website, an anthology of the codes, laws and related documents that have created, or sought to create, particular urban forms.

My most recent venture is about neighborhoods—how they are defined, designed, delineated, perceived, contested, controlled—they are elusive, real, impactful, and ignored all at the same time. Trying to make sense of the complexity of neighborhoods—and their relevance in contemporary culture, I recently curated an exhibition on neighborhoods called Neighborhood: the Measure and Meaning of an Urban Ideal for the Gray Arts Center at the University of Chicago, running for the month of April 2014. I am writing on book on this topic to be published in 2016 by the University of Chicago Press.


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