Posted on December 9, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research
Above: faculty participants collaboratively developing mapping-based assignments during the Summer 2016 Mapping for the Urban Humanities course.

With the Dean of Humanities we are pleased to invite interested Columbia University faculty to participate in Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Institute.

During the two-week Mellon-funded "bootcamp" faculty will learn key skills in mapping, data visualization, and data collection that they can incorporate into their research and teaching. Space is limited. Interested faculty are encouraged to apply by January 27, 2017.

About the Workshop: The workshop will be held from 1:00-5:30pmMay 22, 2017 – June 2, 2017 with an optional third week practicum from June 5-9, 2017. No class will be held on Memorial Day, May 29. If you are interested in taking the course but the timing poses a problem please email Dare Brawley ( with the dates and times you could commit to attending. 

Eligibility: This course is open to faculty from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Barnard College and to research scholars and doctoral candidates.

Our Motivations: Today, ever-increasing quantities of data are available to scholars and urbanists. However, work with data has largely been the province of data-scientists and policy-oriented social scientists, who have not always been eager to interrogate the limits of their data. Conversely, scholars in the humanities and design practitioners who could offer important critical perspectives on data often lack the technical training to understand data-driven tools and methods. 

The institute will give professors of the urban humanities the ability to make their courses places where students who might not otherwise take computer science classes can learn how to use computational tools to tackle humanistic questions. Students who sign up to learn about nineteenth century Bombay or London in the novels of Charles Dickens will complete their courses having also become conversant with GIS, HTML, Excel, and Python. This summer intensive faculty workshop is the first step in adapting a "writing across the curriculum" model to working with data.

More information about the course as well as materials from the summer 2016 course, including the syllabi that were developed during that course are available here.

How to Apply: Interested faculty should apply by sending the following materials to by January 27, 2017.

  • A one page statement that describes your interest in acquiring digital and computational skills.
  • The course syllabus, or research brief, that you hope to workshop during the summer intensive.  
Posted on October 22, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is on view at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale from October 22, 2016 to November 20, 2016. The Biennale is titled “Are We Human?” and presents projects that stretch “from the last 2 seconds to the last 200,000 years.”

Our exhibit is on view in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and presents two zooms from high-resolution satellite images of Aleppo at the scale of 1:1000. For every one unit of space in the gallery, the corresponding space in Aleppo is one thousand times larger. Visitors can also browse the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo interactive map and case studies including a case study on the “Time Scales of Aleppo” researched and written for the exhibition.

Exhibition photos by Sahir Ugur Eren.

Posted on October 20, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

On October 20, 2016 Laura Kurgan spoke about the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project as part of SUPERHUMANITY TALKS, a panel event at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial presented by e-flux Architecture.

Laura Kurgan spoke about the Center for Spatial Research’s work on Conflict Urbanism Aleppo in relation to e-flux’s provocation:

Superhumanity aims to explore and challenge our understanding of “design” by probing the idea that we are and always have been continuously reshaped by the artifacts we shape, to which we ask: who designed the lives we live today? What are the forms of life we inhabit, and what new forms are currently being designed? Where are the sites, and what are the techniques, to design others?”

View the recording of the panel event. 

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia was named a winning entry of the CityVis Competition at the Habitat III conference in Quito. The competition was organized by University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany and the Future Earth Media Lab.

We are thrilled to have been selected as a winner!

Read more about the competition and the Visualizing Cities platform here

Posted on October 7, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

To mark its inaugural year, The Center for Spatial Research will present its work on "conflict urbanism" in Aleppo, and Colombia. The event will engage participants in a discussion about the role of conflict in structuring urban space and the politics of representation in zones of discordance, disruption and violence as it contributes to the making and remaking of cities. Friday, October 7, 2016 at 1:30pm in Ware Lounge, Avery Hall.

Watch the recording of the event. 

The roundtable will feature Eyal Weizman, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture and Enrico Bertini, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering as respondents to the work presented by CSR researchers and students: Laura KurganJuan Francisco SaldarriagaGrga BasicDare BrawleyViolet Whitney, and Michael Storm

The center point of Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is an interactive web-based map representing the intensifying violence in urban Aleppo after five years of civil war in Syria. The map combines layers of high-resolution satellite images together with data gathered from multiple perspectives and sources to show the historic city from 2012 to the present. Using the logic of a typical geographic information system (GIS) map, the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project overlaps these layers, as it explores two kinds of evidence: evidence about the physical destruction of the city and evidence about how urban warfare is tracked and monitored from a distance.

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia traces the trajectories of Colombians who were forcibly displaced between 1985 and 2016 as a result of the decades long conflict between state and non-state actors. The project visualizes conflict at the scale of the country through a single government-created dataset that will shape transitional justice efforts. The visualizations that have resulted reveal the paths of more than eight million people displaced by war while critically examining how this conflict has been recorded. Conflict Urbanism: Colombia is a collaboration with the Masters on Peacebuilding at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

Posted on October 1, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research
Prof. Marguerite Holloway and Prof. Dan Jurafsky presenting the Science Surveyor project

Science Surveyor Demo was launched at the first annual Brown Institute Media Innovation Showcase at Stanford University. Science Surveyor is a tool developed for science journalists that uses cutting-edge algorithms to characterize the scientific literature on a selected topic. Using the abstract and citations of a peer-reviewed paper, Surveyor provides journalists context about that paper in several easy-to-read visualizations.

Posted on September 15, 2016 by Spatial Information Design Lab

Juan Francisco Saldarriaga will be presenting his recent paper ‘Access to Taxicabs for Unbanked Households’ during the Data for Good Exchange yearly conference at Bloomberg. The conference will take place on September 25th, 2016. Here’s a description of the presentation: Taxicabs are a critical aspect of the public transit system in New York City. Ubiquitous yellow cabs are as iconic as the city’s subway system, and the city recently added green taxicabs to improve taxi service in areas outside of the central business districts and airports. In this paper we use multiple datasets to explore taxicab fare payments by neighborhood and examine how paid taxicab fares are associated with use of conventional banking services. There are clear spatial dimensions of the propensity of riders to pay cash, and we find that both immigrant status and being ‘unbanked’ are strong predictors of cash transactions. These results have implications for local regulations of the for-hire vehicle industry, particularly in the context of the rapid growth of services that require credit cards. At the very least, existing and new providers of transit services must consider access to mainstream financial products as part of their equity analyses.

Posted on September 7, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Our Conflict Urbanism: Colombia will be on view at the Oslo Architecture Triennale, After Belonging from September 8 to November 27, 2016. The project traces the trajectories of Colombians who have migrated between 1985 and 2016 as a result of the decades long conflict between state and non-state actors, which is hopefully nearing its end. After more than three years of negotiations between the government and the FARC, Colombian citizens might soon vote on a referendum to approve a historic peace accord between the two parties.

Posted on July 23, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce our selection with the Brown Institute as inaugural recipients of Columbia University’s Collaboratory Fellows Grant for Points Unknown: New frameworks for investigation and creative expression through mapping.

Aimed at advancing education that combines data science or computational expertise with domain expertise, the Collaboratory Fellows Grant is intended to support pairs of instructors (one with data science or computational expertise and the other with domain expertise) to develop and co-teach new educational offerings that can help fulfill the data literacy requirements of a discipline, specific cohort of students, or domain.

Points Unknown will offer journalism students formal training in GIS and web-based mapping, both as a product in stories and as an important tool for reporting. Concurrently, the program will provide GSAPP students an introduction to spatial data analysis through the lens of journalism, helping them use investigative methods that can be integrated into a design process.

Jointly founded by the Data Science Institute and Columbia Entrepreneurship, The Collaboratory@Columbia is a university-wide program that seeks to provide the resources and tools required to ensure that all Columbia University students receive the education and training that they need to lead in today’s data-rich world.

More on the Collaboratory Fellows Fund is available here

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Laura Kurgan's 1994 installation at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, "You Are Here: Information Drift," was featured in The Atlantic in June 2016. Geoff Manaugh revisited this project in The Atlantic in light of new locative technologies. 

Read More.