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From Boston to Bangkok: How American Cold-War Urbanism Shaped Thailand’s Current Urban Plans

Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Kahin Center
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Part of the Ronald and Janette Gatty series

Apiwat Ratanawaraha, Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand’s current urban plans and planning institutions originated from a technical assistance project funded by the United States Operations Mission in 1957. The Bangkok-Thonburi City Planning Project was led by a New York-based consulting firm, but the actual city planning component was conducted by a group of professors from MIT. The resulting “Litchfield Plan” was categorically based on the rational-comprehensive planning model, which was then widely adopted throughout the United States. The fundamental concepts, processes, and tools for comprehensive planning in Thailand have changed very little since then. In this talk, I will trace the evolution of Thailand’s urban plans and planning systems since the 1950s and tie it back to urban planning concepts and practices in Cold War America. I will also discuss why the idea of comprehensive planning continues to dominate the academic and professional circles in Thailand, even though it has been flouted in the United States for several decades now. 

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Southeast Asia Program, City and Regional Planning

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James Nagy

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Apiwat Ratanawaraha

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Chulalongkorn University

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