NYUrban Greening Lab Initiative

Meeting the Need for Innovation, Integration, and Interdisciplinarity in the Study of Urban Environmental Change

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Greening Berlin: Urban Ecology and Forging the Sustainable City

 ENVST-UA.9495001, SCA-UA.9650001
Instructor: Dipl. Ing. Architekt Sigismund Sliwinski


This course provides a comprehensive examination of Berlin’s urban ecology and approaches to urban planning, while introducing their history, and the correlations between the city’s built structure, urban nature and culture. The course combines lectures, workshops and site visits to several facets of Berlin’s ‘green’ past and present.

The course investigates Berlin’s ‘green’ structures in relation to the economic, socio-cultural, and political processes that shape it, while placing an emphasis on sustainable ideas and projects and how they influence Berlin’s built structure.

This is a fieldwork-intensive course which meets for 2.5 hours per week.

Tours will alternate with lectures, discussions and workshops.


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Fall 2015 Greening Berlin Syllabus

Urban Greening Lab: New York

Instructor: Anne Rademacher


This reading and field intensive course explores the theory and practice of urban “greening” as it has been planned, debated, and implemented in New York City. Drawing on analytical tools from the social and biophysical sciences, we will consider how New York’s historical and contemporary context shape the meaning, implementation, and social experience of environmental improvement. We will ask, “What does it mean to green New York? What does it mean to green a city?” Rather than accepting the meaning of this term as self-evident, we will give it clear analytical contours and apply our research questions accordingly.

Our analytical approach integrates ecosystem ecology concepts, urban design principles, and social scientific sensibilities.

Fall 2015 Urban Greening Lab Syllabus

Billion Oyster Project

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Tracks to Parks: Coproducing Nature and Urban Society at Berlin’s Suedgelaende and New York’s High Line

Jens Lachmund & Anne Rademacher Draft Project Statement

Since the 1970s, urban environmental initiatives have been guided in large part by scientific ecology and its attendant notions of sustainability, environmental quality, and environmental improvement. Global metrics that compare “green cities” or relative environmental quality in cities depend on scientific ecology for their core indicators of success; such indicators enable metrics for assessing relative air quality, vegetation coverage, water quality, and the presence or absence of park spaces. Continue reading

Coproducing a ‘Green’ Urban Fabric

Coproducing a ‘Green’ Urban Fabric: Investigating Intentions, Assumptions, and Dynamics of Three Environmental Improvement Initiatives in New York City

Cadenasso and Rademacher

Conceptual mission: To investigate the coproduction of environmental and social change through an urban ecology research approach that integrates biophysical, social, and design studies.

Intellectual goal: to understand the flows between biophysical and social processes as they operate in case-based initiatives.

We understand cities as composed of a heterogeneous fabric in which multiple and entangled social and biophysical processes intersect. We consider social and biophysical change to be “coproduced,” since social and biophysical processes constantly interact and, in doing so, mutually shape one another.

Across the urban fabric, we find instances in which social actors make deliberate attempts to create certain forms of environmental change. These efforts and their intended effects may be thought of as “green” interventions. They can take many forms, including those of parks, urban gardening projects, green buildings, or waterway improvement initiatives.

Continue reading

Courtyards as Co-produced Spaces in the Green Fabric


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Courtyards, as central elements of the urban fabric, are coupled human-natural systems. We hypothesize the existence of a feedback loop between the ecological characteristics of courtyards and the perceptions and use of courtyards such that users have a more positive view of, and conduct a greater variety of activities in, courtyards that maintain greater ecological benefits. Our overarching goal is to understand how courtyards function as co produced socially desirable and ecologically valuable spaces. Continue reading

‘Green’ Urban Fabric

Cadenasso and Rademacher

Conceptual mission:
To investigate the coproduction of environmental and social change through an urban ecology research approach that integrates biophysical, social, and design studies. Intellectual goal : to understand the flows between biophysical and social processes as they operate in case-based initiatives. We understand cities as composed of a heterogeneous fabric in which multiple and entangled social and biophysical processes intersect. We consider social and biophysical change to be “coproduced,” since social and biophysical processes constantly interact and, in doing so, mutually shape one another. Continue reading

Coupled Social and Biophysical Dynamics of Spontaneous Vegetation In Urban Ecosystems

Spontaneous vegetation (native and/or exotic species that establish without deliberate human action) is a fundamental component of urban ecosystems. Recent research suggests that this vegetation plays fundamental roles in the structure and function of these ecosystems, with important effects on biodiversity, fluxes of carbon, nutrients and water, and on ecosystem response to disturbance and environmental change. The social dynamics associated with spontaneous vegetation area also important and complex. Continue reading


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