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Capital Knowledge: IDEAS City Festival Touches Down in NYC

IDEAS City is a four-day festival and meeting of the minds that hopes to explore the future of cities around the globe.

Celebrating all things theoretical (and possible), the 2013 IDEAS City conference kicked off at the New Museum in New York this past Wednesday with a keynote address by MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito. Speaking to the unlimited potential of the internet as it continues to transform society in substantial and positive ways, Ito was the perfect figure to usher in this massive consciousness-raising event.

Announcing a line-up as diverse as it is intriguing, IDEAS City is a four-day festival and meeting of the minds that hopes to explore the future of cities around the globe, and the role art and culture play in the innovation of urban centers. This year’s IDEAS City has been dedicated to the exploration of "Untapped Capital," and the ways cities can use what’s already at their disposal to create and renew.

By focusing on four main areas where Untapped Capital can be found and put to productive use, Ad Hoc Strategies, Waste, Play, and Youth, the festival looks through a series of workshops, panels, and discussions to get the public to think about ways they can rejuvenate their ailing or stagnated public spaces. Featuring such curious events as “Arlin Austin in collaboration with human and puppet colleagues presents: Art-Pedagogy Fun-Time Alternative-Economies Discourse-Adventure”, IDEAS City hopes to act as a city-wide catalyst and open platform to help urban dwellers re-consider the way they view art, design, the urban center, and the way we interact.

Taking place throughout downtown NYC, IDEAS City’s main base will be at the New Museum on the Bowery, where events like artist-led workshops by Burak Arikan and Nicolas Paris will focus, respectively, on networking as a medium for special mapping (Arikan), and architecture as a model, education as a system, and drawing as a tool (Paris).

So far, exciting featured events have included Studio 360’s Kurt Anderson moderating a mayoral panel including Manuel Diaz (Miami 2001-9), Christophe Girard (Paris 2001-12), Jim Gray (Lexington, KY), Bill Purcell (1999-2007), and Will Wynn (Austin, TX), on how government can use untapped resources like green power and the arts to contribute to the betterment of their cities, and a discussion on how play and gaming can assist us in “re-imagining and co-creating urban environments, foster deeper engagement, propel education, and provide solutions to urban problems” (featuring Kickstarter Cofounder Yancey Strickler, video game designer Eric Zimmerman, and many others).

One particular event we’re curious about is Pitching The City: New Ideas for New York. Featuring some of the most recognizable names in New York media and politics, the event is co-hosted by the Municipal Art Society and “Facebook for architects” Architizer, and hopes to offer a platform for fresh ideas that use New York’s untapped capital in new and inventive ways. The founders of LowLine, +Pool, New Lab NYFi, and the Hudson River Powerhouse will have the chance to pitch their ideas (in front of an audience of real New Yorkers) to a jury that includes’s Nick Denton, NY1’s Pat Kiernan, Nazli Parvizi of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, Christopher Sharples of SHoP Architects, Megan Sheekey of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and designer Yeohlee Teng. To further illustrate the remarkable democratization of this bid to mold NYC, at the end audience members will be asked to vote with their mobile devices on their favorite project. The winner will then receive editorial assistance in launching a campaign, as well as the opportunity to present their proposal at the annual MAS Summit for New York City in October.

In all, the conference promises to be an exciting opportunity to witness collective action and conceptualization in real time. Regardless of any genuine outcomes that may emerge from panels and workshops, IDEAS City promises to be an illuminating and thought provoking four days.

IDEAS City Conference May 1 - 4 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery New York, NY; In partnership with The Architectural League of New York, Bowery Poetry Club, Cooper Union, The Drawing Center, NYU Wagner, and the Storefront for Art and Architecture

Images courtesy of IDEAS City/New Museum

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