John Bousfield Public Lecture – Las Vegas: The Prismatic City

John Bousfield Public Lecture – Aseem Inam

Las Vegas: The Prismatic City

Held – Friday 22 January, 2016 – Department of Geography & Planning – University of Toronto

Las Vegas has long been portrayed by urban scholars and practitioners as an outlier and exemplar of what urbanism should not be.  The talk argues otherwise:  that Las Vegas is not only worthy of serious analysis, but also serves as a prism for understanding the true nature of urbanism in North America.  This argument is illuminated through four episodes in the history of Las Vegas:  how an infrastructure project outside the city designed the downtown, why the Las Vegas strip was the result of an unusual partnership, how one isolated hotel-casino project reinvented the city, and ways in which the most recent high-profile intervention in the city is emblematic of how so-called “public-private partnerships” work in reality.  Ultimately, the talk argues against singular narratives about the design of cities and in favor of urban theory that emerges out of fine-grained empirical analysis.

Aseem Inam was the 2015-2016 John Bousfield Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto.  His work focuses on developing critical and creative theories, strategies and practices of urban transformation.  He is  the Director of TRULAB:  Laboratory for Designing Urban Transformation, and was the founding director of the highly innovative MA Theories of Urban Practice Program at Parsons School of Design and The New School in New York City.  Dr. Inam is the author of the books, Planning for the Unplanned, and Designing Urban Transformation, several journal articles and book chapters, including in the recent books, The Emerging Asian City, and Companion to Urban Design.  His work has received awards from the SOM Foundation, the American Planning Association, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He has practiced as an urbanist in Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Haiti, India, Morocco and the United States.