International academic exchanges promotion | URBNETLAB

International academic exchanges promotion

Over recent months, and subsequent to years of exchange programmes as visiting teacher and researcher summoned by various American universities, I have worked towards consolidating (even formally) exchange and collaboration relations between the Politecnico di Milano and other universities I have worked with. Broadening relations between our schools and American ones is a very important topic, as the latter have always been considered (even by our field of studies) as expressions of excellence and as students attractors. Actually, convinced of the importance of the city-planning tradition in our schools and in our department that for years has represented abroad our territorial vision and our particular gaze between plans and policies that the traditions of our department express, I have been illustrating our know-how to American students – while not being frightened by the problems and difficulties of Italian city-planning, but supported by the organic nature of an approach in search of close relations between contexts of city-planning previsions and the implementation of transformations that embody those previsions.

The first results over the years have been exchange programmes and series of lectures by the undersigned in some American universities, including State University of New York at Albany (NY), University of Miami, University of Michigan and York University in Toronto. All of these universities are sought after for the specificity of the research topics that they express. Relations with the State University of New York at Albany (NY) – SUNY – have been consolidated over the course of time; SUNY was among the supporters of the first year, first cycle of the Summer School in Piacenza, summoned by myself.

By continuing my visiting activities with all of these universities, I meant to consolidate relations with the same by proposing Memorandums of Agreement allowing the Politecnico di Milano to work alongside foreign schools on research, teaching exchanges and student exchanges. This has opened up collobarations with all the departments of our school, even in relation to activites that the selected foreign universities conduct in other disciplines where our Politecnico stands out (SUNY hosts one of the most important centres of nanotechnology, which our schools of engineering might be very interested in).

State University of New York at Albany. Stipulation of a Memorandum of Agreement for exchange between visiting professors, students and research activities – Agreement already signed by SUNY and the Politecnico, March 2016

My promotion of the said agreement is of particular relevance. It is the first exchange agreement that the Politecnico di Milano has ever stipulated with a North American university and it inaugurates some exchanges that are presently being defined. In particular, I have proposed working in the fields of:
research. The standpoint of the Department of Geography and Planning at Suny, together with whom the concept of a signed exchange agreement was born, is of particular interest for our Department especially when involved in the search for new interpretations of renovation phenomena within the regions;
exchanges between visiting professors and programmes. Thanks to my initiative, SUNY was amongst the universities supporting the first cycle of the Summer School di Piacenza and exchanges may presently be heightened; currently, I am working the organisation of a series of lectures, on Fall 2016, held by Prof. Bromley (SUNY) expert in Patrick Geddes theories and works, highlighting and studing the work that Giovanni Ferrero did in the past on the role of plans and visions. I introduced in the past Prof. Bromley to Prof. Mazza at our department and since then they started an intellectual exchange that is now worth sharing with the department and our students;
student exchanges. A programme of exchanges between students (both curricular and extra-curricular) is being planned between the undersigned and the Department of Geography and Planning at Albany; it aims at working on the topic of urban transformations, from the standpoint of Milan students in terms of planning methods and from the standpoint of American students in terms of interpretation of the new forms of territory these may produce.

York University, Toronto. Stipulation of a Memorandum of Agreement for exchanges between visiting professors, students and research activities – in progress. Forthcoming visit envisaging discussions regarding progress of the agreement is scheduled on May, 3rd 2016. York University, City Institute, is especially interested with Roger Keil, Faculty of Environmental Studies, MCRI project on Global Suburbanisms. This collaboration is of particular interest especially for research in relation to the topics dealt with during participation in the just concluded PRIN programmes, pending post-candidature award for the 2015 one. It is also very interesting, for the relations I am building with Regione Lombardia, to understand how the City Institute at Your University is cooperating since years with the municipalities included into the urbanised region of Toronto, with a strong envolvement in terms of regional and large scale planning to stop soil consumption. Agreement signature is expected within few months.

Houston Energy Corridor. Close relations have been set up since 2014 with the initiative launched by the Energy Corridor in Houston (that already commenced years earlier in terms of research). A private organization aimed at defining a planning scenario in support of the strong process concentrating the premises of large oil companies in the area of an important highway located in the south-western section of Houston. Along with UrbNetLab, the organization has initiated intense dialogue, envisaging academic exchange, for the assessment of different projects it intends to set up. First and foremost, a masterplan coordinating private endeavours. UrbNetLab is helping the initiative understand the tools and contents to be adopted, in a particular context in search of strong urbanity but completely lacking the natural elements of urbanity. A Memorandum of Agreement is being discussed along with The Energy Corridor, which might alow DASTU to work on the topics of strategic planning that are a tradition with our school and very interesting as to how Houston meant to keep from dealing with the subject during the years of its expansion. Memorandum will be discussed on May, 5th and 6th 2016.

Rice University School of Architecture, University of Houston College of Architecture and Texas A&M University College of Architecture were all involved following and in relation to the experience with The Energy Corridor on the subject of strategic planning and consolidation of transformations in the region capable of modifying the relation between city and suburbs, and building a macro-network of sites with strong urban connotations. Memorandums of Agreement are being discussed with all of these universities, with the aim of building up enduring and stable exchange relations. The next discussions with each of these institutions are scheduled for May 5th and 6th and it should bring to the signature of the Memorandum.


Marco Facchinetti

DASTU - Via Bonardi 3, third floor

02 2399 5531