The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut
The Beirut Urban Lab is a research hub based in the Masters’ in urban planning, policy and design programs. The aim of this lab is three-fold. First, the lab seeks to develop interdisciplinary knowledge of Lebanon’s ongoing urbanization by documenting and analyzing ongoing transformation processes in the natural and built environments. Second, the lab seeks to engage local decision-makers, researchers, professionals, and activists as an advocate of better urban livability, resilience, and sustainability. Third, the lab seeks to intervene as an interlocutor and contributor to academic debates about southern urbanization.
An initiative by faculty members in the MUPP/MUD programs, the urban lab has explored topics as diverse as youth and urban activism, urban policies, governance and informality, forced population displacements, forms and models of urban social movements, the financialization of land, and the securitization of public space.
Public Works is a multidisciplinary research and design studio that engages critically and creatively with a number of urban and public issues in Lebanon. Through collaborating with a network of professionals ranging from historians and journalists to artists and filmmakers, the studio initiates research projects that study, shape and implement counter strategies to urban planning and policy making in Lebanon. The studio also offers commissioned professional services in graphic design, architecture, consultancy, development planning and research within a communal work environment.
Current projects are supported by Studio-X Amman (SXA), GSAPP’s urban research hub in the Middle East region. SXA “brings together Columbia GSAPP students and faculty with practitioners, researchers, and students from the Arab World to critically reflect on the role of architecture education and practice in times of mass displacement, dispossession, and destruction, and in the construction of alternative collective imaginaries for our cities.” SXA will play an integral role in terms of supporting the organization of a regional workshop on urban activism methods and the production of a reader on innovations and experiments in housing in the region.