Thomas J. Campanella

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Thomas J. Campanella is a historian of city planning and the urban built environment. He teaches and writes about the culture-space nexus in a variety of contexts, seeking to explain the manifold agents, actors, and forces that have shaped urban landscapes around the world. Though primarily an Americanist, he has also studied and written about the extraordinary growth of Chinese cities in the post-Mao era. Campanella has received Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the James Marston Fitch Foundation. His books include The Concrete Dragon: China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World (2008), and Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm (2003), winner of the Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. He has held visiting appointments at Columbia, Harvard GSD, Nanjing University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Campanella holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999), an M.L.A. from Cornell (1991), and a B.S. from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (1986).

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Planning history
  • Urbanism
  • Urban resilience and hazard mitigation
  • Urban design

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Classes (Selected)

  • CRP 5190 History and Theory of Urban Spatial DevelopmentWe live in an urban majority world, with diverse patterns of urbanization and types of urban places. Cities are not just nodes on transaction networks, or physical collections of build form specific to a context and global movements, or diverse places that represent a mix of cultures over time. They are political assemblages in which formal and informal institutions of governance are forged and continue to be shaped as policies change and morph over time. Various processes impacting societies shape the cities where we live, work, and play: ranging from climate change, shifting migration patterns, and large-scale population movements to changes in geo-political power and the technologies of infrastructure, communication, and manufacturing. But what constitutes the city? What concepts allow us to understand how cities grow, shrink, or expand, and shivel or thrive? This course seeks to introduce you to the broad contours of an interdisciplinary body of work that aims to theorize the city. Using a format of readings, lectures, and discussions, we seek to become familiar with core perspectives of well-established traditions in urban theory that emerges from perspectives on city economy, spatial development, environment, infrastructure, social life, cultural experience, urban politics, and interventions.

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • James Marston Fitch Foundation (2012)
  • Rome Prize Fellowship (2011)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (2009)
  • Spiro Kostof Book Award (2005)
  • John Reps Prize (1999)
  • Fulbright Fellowship (1999)

Publications (Selected)

  • Campanella, Thomas J. The Concrete Dragon: China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.
  • Campanella, Thomas J. Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm. Yale University Press, 2003.
  • Campanella, Thomas J. Cities from the Sky: An Aerial Portrait of America. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.