Envisioning Fordhamopolis is a classroom-based, undergraduate student-driven initiative. An urban center of 100,000 people is described, employing technologies that enable the city to function without encroachment into the surrounding natural landscape. The course, Ecology for Designers, has been ongoing for the past three years at the Lincoln Center campus. Those efforts are summarized in the three PDFs featured in the Archives section of this website. The collective results of the Spring Semester class of 2018 (See: About Us) is also posted here as a web-content presentation: Fordhamopolis.org.
There are a few principles to the project that deserve mention. First, each class receives six powerpoint presentations by the course director summarizing the basic principles of ecosystem ecology. In addition, a required reading list is provided. This body of background information must then be incorporated into the overall design of Fordhamopolis. The option of creating point - counterpoint comparisons between the natural world and that of the urban landscape allows for a broad discussion, in which the concept of biomimicry assumes an essential place in guiding city planning. By employing technology-based strategies for generating energy, conserving water, employing urban agricultural methods for food production, and insinuating cutting edge waste-to-energy technologies into the fabric of every building, the city transforms from a producer of pollutants (excessive heat, carbon dioxide, harmful particulates and contaminated water), and thus a burden on the natural world, into an entity that has the possibility of helping to restore some of the world’s most encroached upon ecosystems.
Architects have often referred to New York City as a forest of skyscrapers. The notion that a building could in fact mimic the main features of a tree – energy production, water harvesting and recycling, and sequestering carbon in the form of a new building material made from high pressure specially treated wood (“super wood”), gives credence to the notion that what we must be doing in the near future is to create cities that may indeed behave exactly like forests in the strictest sense of that idea. Fordhamopolis must be designed using available technologies, but not necessarily those that have yet to evolve into commercial products. Hyper loop transportation systems, electrified highways that automatically charge batteries in municipal buses that are free to ride, and hydrogen fuel cells, employing solar technologies that split water into hydrogen and oxygen, that are used to heat and cool apartments and commercial buildings are all valid applications to the new city.
Locating Fordhamopolis in the real world is predicated on the availability of energy that is harvested passively from the sun (e.g., solar, wind), and/or from ocean tides and/or geothermal sources. As this project matures over the next few years, Envisioning Fordhamopolis has the potential for involving a wider circle of student-driven activities, (e.g., urban studies, design and architecture) at the graduate as well as the undergraduate level. Perhaps some day, a city similar in concept to Fordhamopolis will actually be built. When that day comes, every student that participates in this venture will be able to tell their grandchildren that when they attended Fordham University, they worked on something in class that made the world a better place.