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 DevelopmentThis course explores the rich legacy of urban physical planning and design, examining both the reification of human values in the built environment and the shaping of society and culture by the places we have envisioned, planned and built. A spectrum of forces and agents—economic, political, religious, technological—will be analyzed to understand their impact on the spatial form of cities and regions. Themes include the origins of urban settlements; humanism, utopianism and the quest for the "ideal city"; the dialectics of modernity and tradition; power and the grassroots; the role of transportation technology; the spatial dynamics of race and class; and the urban crisis, "white flight" and suburbanization. The course concludes with an analysis of contemporary urbanism and an assessment of the renewal of city life in an age of unprecedented global urbanization, peak oil and light speed flows of ideas and information.

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.