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logistical urbanism

The Space of Food

A Crisis City Thesis:


Thesis Prep Fall 2010:

Nathaniel Wooten

Brendan Moran
Julia Czerniak
“Of course the whole point of living in a city is that you
don’t have to think about where your food comes from.”
Karrie Jacobs, Back To The Land, Metropolis

Agnes Dene, Wheatfield - a Confrontation, 1982

table of contents
1. glossary 02

2. introduction 04
thesis contention 06
thoughts on crisis 08
logistics 10

3. food networks 14
feeding the city 18
global and local 20
public and private 22

4. spaces of distribution 24
history of the market 26
program study 28
the site

5. annotated bibliography 40
commodity chains

analagous to a watershed a foodshed is a loosely defined region in which food is produced and distributed to an urban population.

the process by which regional and local cultures and economies become integrated into global economic systems.

a physical or operational apparatus that controls access

Wthin food system often defined as a 400 miles (single travel day) radius, here local food will be defined as the geographically closest available
source of a particular food commodity.

places of agricultural exchange

farmers market
a collection of farmers that sell their agricultural product directly to consumers.

retail market
a market that sells agricultural product directly to consumers

a vertically integrated private market that sells agricultural and processed food products directly to consumers

termninal market
a central market that serves as an assembly and trading place between producers, distributors, and consumers

wholesale market
a market which sells agricultural product in large bulk quantities to distributors


a network in which individual nodes are dependent upon a single central node through vertical protocols

a network in which individual nodes are dependent a middle tier power between the central and local nodes through hierarchical protocols

a centerless network in which all individual nodes are independent, equal, and cooperate through lateral protocols

the shift in power and governance from politics to consumerism

Food Inc., Magnolia Pictures, a trailer
image from the film

Food: material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate,
and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and
vital processes and to furnish energy”
merriam webster dictionary

As such, food is the most essential concept of life. By

consuming food we sustain, grow, and repair the energy that life
requires and transmits. Our constant necessity for food has typically
placed it at the center of human civilization. Until recently albeit in
hunter and gatherer or in agrarian societies, human labor was principally
concerned with the production, protection, and consumption of food.
With the agricultural revolution and the mechanization of food production
following the industrial revolution, man has rightfully liberated himself
from this laborious burden in the name of progress. However, with
this liberation in labor comes a liberation from the concerns of our

Food is at once chemical, historical, cultural, and political but

it is also fundamentally spatial. Conceptually, to study food is to study
the transference of energy amongst living things. This transference can
be analyzed, mapped, designed, and controlled. As most of our food is
fixed to the ground, food is inevitably a place-based concept. Therefore
to study food spatially is to analyze the relationship between places (of
production) and people (in places of consumption). This relationship
has become increasingly displaced as the space(s) of food distribution ,
that which links production and consumption have become stretched so
thin its visibility is lost. The exchange of life marginalized in a system.
thesis contention
It is my contention that food has and must continue to play an integral role in the shaping of urban landscapes and civic life in order to
establish a more sustainable urban society. Intensified by the inseparable forces of industrialization, modernization, and globalization, our rapidly
growing urban world is becoming increasingly distanced from the realities of its sustenance. The human migration from rural to urban can also
be seen as a migration from places of production to places of consumption in which an increasingly marginalized poor forfeit their direct access
to fresh food. As a place of consumption the city is not an autonomous entity but rather relies on a much larger territory for production for which
the city nor its citizens have direct knowledge, influence, or control. How and where is reliance manifested?

Given the privatization of global food systems and the agricultural risks of climate change, cities have slowly begun to invest in and
promote informal urban agriculture, regional produce markets, and higher food security and traceability to combat potential food crises and
appease a resurgent food literate public. But despite these recent initiatives, cities are still overwhelmingly reliant on global food infrastructures
to manage the logistics of food trade from global hinterlands to global metropolises. Society’s prior investment and current reliance on these
existing infrastructures create physical, economic, and ideological barriers that hinder new sustainable urban food systems from developing.
How can these two competing and currently necessary forces be mitigated in order to ensure their ultimate purpose, the sustaining of urban life?

Throughout architectural and urban history the market has served as the urban space of food. Carolyn Steel author of Hungry City:
How Food Shapes Our Lives writes, “For all their mess, noise and nuisance, markets bring something vital to a city: an awareness of what it
takes to sustain life... They are spaces made by food.”

The market Steel is describing is the market of old or a best the farmer’s market of new which offers little real and ready solution for
food crises. Inhuman in scale, often privatized, and removed to a city’s hinterlands, modern markets, as part of the global food distribution
system no longer bring this ‘awareness’ to urban life; rather they are often the cog of an unsustainable global/urban food system. If our cities
are to transition towards local food sourcing and other sustainable models, how will mega-markets as logistical nodes of food distribution
accommodate local community agricultural economies without neglecting the immediate demands of the worlds greater urban population?
How can these places of economic value manifest a cultural importance?
“Indulgence and hunger coexist in this city of plenty, complicated by
a lack of the most basic awareness of food as part of nature—of its
sowing and growing, from seed to harvest; of time and place, seasons
and soils. The elemental knowledge of what we eat is disappearing. In
terms of food, everything from anywhere is available all the time for
some, while basic subsistence remains out of reach for others.”
Placing Food, Nina-Marie Lister

A food riot in Hait, photo by Ariana Cubillos of

the Associated Press
thoughts on crisis
Like life itself, cities have always existed in a state of constant
crisis. Albeit political, social, or economic cities have thrived on their
constant instability. Crises are impending turning points, decisive
moments of great failure or great success, as such they present both
danger and opportunity. As the hereditary survivors of crises, what is
unique about many of the crises of our age is that they do not belong
to ‘a city’ but rather ‘the city’. Within the global food system no city is

Food Crises
Humans require the availability of a certain amount of food to
stay alive but the food we consume must also be of a certain quality.
This distinction can be read as starvation versus malnutrition.

The absence of food has always been a source of human

crisis. Yet after thousands of years of agricultural engineering and
development hunger and starvation still exist, and the complexity of
the modern food system, seems to be generating additional health and
environmental crises. Beyond the dialectic between city and country, the
current food crises, like most crises, is about the control of knowledge
and the implementation of power. As such our modern crisis is our
inability to know or act about crisis. Food is personal yet universal This
project seeks to create a permeable infrastructure of food knowledge
and access.
“You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and
even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

DB Schenker’s Willebroek Belgium Food Distribution Center,


The term logistics (one of the fundamental concerns
of this urban blog) originates from the Roman”Logistikas”.
The logistikas were responsible for supplying and managing
the resources of the different Roman legions. Like cities
today, the legions, constantly driving towards ‘progress’,
relied on well calculated logistics to manage food and
Centralized De-Centralized Distributed other essentail resources so that the army could achieve
Network Network Network
its uniquely assigned goal. So too the city, often sited for
reasons beyond the easy availablity of food or water, has
to find ways of sustaining the daily lives of its inhabitants.
In this sense logistics are seen as secondary. They are the
routine things that are kept actively hidden and calcuably
controlled so the primary goal can be focused on and
Who are the logisticians of a global food system and
whose ‘army’ do they serve? In such a complex system
there are multiple and often competing logistics which are
influenced at a variety of scales. Within the food network
it is the spaces of distribution, the spaces of logistics that
these influences are most clearly revealed.
producer as consumer

informal food trade
community supported agriculture

village type

modern food system

food networks

Food, an object to be transferred to and consumed by a
subject, is and has always been inherently networked. Over time as
society has progressed, these networks have grown and mutated to
adapt to the need of that society.
Expanded to production, distribution, and consumption, the
evolution and current multiplicity of food networks can be distinguished
and mapped.


food networks


food networks

“Food is culture in the sense that it is at once
an object, a crafted thing, and a symbol that,
when exhchanged, cements social relations.”
Fallen Fruit

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Effects of Good Government on Town and Country; detail of center,
Image from SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
feeding the city
Agricultural Revolution
Unleashed by the invention of agriculture, the city’s orgins
emerge from food. Cities first emerged as points for the collection,
exchange, and defense of surpluse agricultural product. The agricultural
revolution (invention of farming) led to the emergence of the city/country
dialectic in which the spaces of food production and food consumption
first became displaced.

City/Country Dialectic
As urban society progressed and diversified economically and
socially, inventing various new forms of labor, the city began to see itself
as distinct from nature.
At once the city/country dialectic has never been more
pervasive, as people evacuate the rural for the (sub)urban and the
spaces of food production become increasingly distinct from places
of food consumption. While land-use and population statistics might
support such a claim, the city/country dialectic may now cease to exist.
With the disipation of rural society, the country now exists not as an
other but as a calculated extension of the city.

“What is eaten by the great majority of North
Americans comes from a global everywhere,
yet from nowhere that they know in particular”
Jack Kloppenburg, Coming Into the Foodshed

“We do not have the option to start from scratch. The
current food production system is to massive, entrenched, and
profitable to be disassembled. Our strategy in this epic endeavor must
be to co-opt and adapt what already exists.”
John Knechtel, Food

“Today, localism speaks to the specific alienations and

anxieties of globalization (from peak oil through national sovereignty)
as well as to a population increasingly cynical about political struggle.
Most crucially, it reflects a political condition in which it is only in their
role as consumers that Americans can imagine political efficacy.”
Chad Lavin, The Year of Eating Politically

Beyond lower fuel emissions the local food movement is

about ‘food sovereignty’ or the right of peoples to define their own
food system as oppose to being subject to international market
forces. While this has generally been a rural force the rise in urban
farmer’s markets brings further validity to the local movements urban
While some cities have expansive agricultural hinterlands,
newer cities sited far from areas of agricultural production as well as
cities whose burgeoning sprawl has wiped out farms are incapable of
realizing the local ideal. Cities have outgrown their foodsheds. Unless
we redistribute population, the global must be critiqued and optimized


“Of course, much of the power of agribusiness ultimately depends on farmers and consumers not knowing. If we do not know, we
do no act. And even if we do know, the physical and social distancing characteristic of the global food system may constrain our willingness
to act when the locus of the needed action is distant or when we have no real sense of connection to the land or those on whose behalf we
ought to act. Ultimately, distancing disempowers.”
Jack Kloppenburg, Coming in to the Foodshed

Food sovereignty is as much politics as it is geography. Throughout history different civilizations have had different attitudes towards
the ‘right to food.’ Civilizations such as the Romans and Egyptians often rationed food and implemented early forms of public welfare. In more
recent history the state sponsored public market has often been the space for public food and as recently as the early twentieth century many
cities had Departments of Markets’. In the US, public sponsored markets were even a critical part of New Deal building projects. Many of these
public markets where wholesale terminal markets that ensured a cities access to fresh produce.
Beginning with a 1916, Piggly Wiggly, the private self-service supermarket began to radically shift food sovereignty toward the private
sector. In recent decades supermarkets have begun vertically integrating, creating their own distribution chains. The corporatization and
monopolization of food systems by the private sector leaves communities with little to no say in their food access often leading to the creation
of food deserts

“You who control the transportation of food supplies are in
charge, so to speak, of the city’e lifeline, of its very throat.”
Cassiodorus, Geoffery Rickman, The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome

spaces of food distribution

Throughout history, cities and markets have
sustained eachother, the former providing
location demand, and social context for
the latter; providing sustenance, profit,
and cultural verve to the former.”
(Theodore C. Bestor, Supply-Side Suchi: Commodity, Market, and the Global City

history of the market

The market typology can be traced back to the Greek agora. Housed in long open-air colonnaded buildings called stoa, the market
was the civic center of the Greek city including administrative, legislative, judicial, social, and religious programs (Tangires). In early civilizations
the necessity of food and the value of exchange was centric to its success. When the Roman empire emerged the market continued on as the
forum, many whose sites are now the sites of some of Europe’s greatest piazza’s and squares that still serve as market sites.
Following the collapse of the Roman empire, as cities shrank and densified, the street, publicly owned and already bounded became
the most available site for new markets. While these markets were often temporary and architectural informal the street markets could also be
permanently enclosed such as the bazaar’s of the Ottoman empire which were basically whole sections of a city whose streets were enclosed
with barrel vaults.
Similar to the markets of antiquity, the mercantilist societies beginning that emerged during European Renaissance reinstated the
market as a civic institution. Many new markets built by city administrations during this period were built as open galleries on the ground level
of new civic/administrative structures such as courthouses and city halls.
The rapid growth of cities during late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries coupled with material advancements in iron and glass led to
a building boom of new central markets. Meant to modernize many cities chaotic food systems. These new markets exemplified by Les Halles
in Paris and Covent Garden in London were massive iron spanning glass and masonry structures that attempted to regulate urban food systems
through a central node that could be monitored by city administrations. As cities continued to grow and food systems were further modernized
by refrigeration and automobile and rail transportation city administrated markets began to see an increase in wholesale over retail exchanges.
No longer the point of direct exchange to the public, the market became liberated from the city center. City administrations supported the
establishment of wholesale markets at the urban periphery, where they could expand their size without causing urban congestion, and where
they could better access emergent infrastructures of global trade systems such as highways, rail, and sea and air ports. No longer reliant on
the grandeur of public architecture to attract customers and harness public life, the wholesale terminal markets became purely logistical spaces,
whose architecture was governed by material efficiencies and commodity flows.

central market rungis hunts point food distribution center tsukiji
mexico city, mexico paris, france mexico city, mexico tokyo, japan
327 hectare site 232 hectare site 24 hectare site 9 hectare site

ontario terminal market philadelphia regional wholesale market new covent garden market carrier dome
toronto, ontario philadelphia, pennsylvania london, united kingdom syracuse, new york
6.7 hectare site 6.3 hectare site 6 hectare site 7 hectare site
program studies

program study 1
Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Construction Completed: 2011

Site: 48.6 acres
Building: 700,000 sq ft.
Number of Buildings: 4

Operation: Non profit C-Corp Cooperative
Services: Centralized
Tenants: 26
Dock Doors: 224

airport port downtown food distribution center

Food Production:
Viljoen, Andrew. CPULs: Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes. Burlington, MA: Architectural Press, 2005. Print.
This pioneering text sees urban agriculture as an essential element of sustainable urban infrastructure. It exhibits one of the most widely successful and critically praised visions of a more
sustainable city (which happens to revolve around food). Continuous productive urban landscapes are seen as the best alternative to the current global food system.

Food Consumption:
Grimes, William. Appetite city : a culinary history of New York. 1st ed. New York: North Point Press, 2009. Print.
Hauck-Lawson, Annie, and Jonathan Deutsch. Gastropolis : Food and New York City. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
Both of these books look at the history of food in New York City. This is critical in understanding the historical context behind the creation and sustaining of the Hunts Point Market, while also
projecting on the city‘s current and past food environment and culture.

Kleiman, Jordan. “Local Food and Problem of Public Authority.” Technology and Culture 50.2 (2009): 399-417. Web. 7 Oct 2010. <http://muse.jhu.edu/

Parham, Susan. “Designing the Gastronomic Quarter.” Architectural Design 2005: 86-95. Web. 1 Oct 2010.

Food Distribution:
Cohen, Marc J., and James L. Garret. “The food price crisis and urban food (in)security.” Human Settlements Working Paper Series: Urbanization and
emerging population 2 (2009): 1-36. Web. 1 Oct 2010.

Donofrio, Gregory. “Feeding the City.” Gastronomica Fall 2007: 30-41. Web. 1 Oct 2010.
This text looks at the history of food distribution in the city, primarily examining the cities complex relationship to distribution markets from the ancient city to the City Beautiful Movement, to the
rise of the supermarket, to the recent produce market resurgance.

Franck, Karen A. “Food for the City, Food in the City.” Architectural Design May/June 2005: 35-42. Web. 1 Oct 2010.

Francis, Charles; Lieblein, Geir; Steinsholt, Havard; Breland, Tor Arvid; Helenius, Juha; Sriskandarajah, Nadarajah; Salomonsson, Lennart .“Food Systems
and Environment: Building Positive Rural-Urban Linkages.” Human Ecology Review 12.1 (2005): 60-71. Web. 1 Oct 2010. <http://www.interfacesouth.org/

Annotated Bibliography
Goldman, Richard H. “Food and Food Poverty: Perspectives on Distribution.” Social Reserach 66.1 (1999): 283-304. Web. 1 Oct 2010.

Hamilton, Lisa M. “The American Farmers Market.” Gastronomica. Summer. (2002): 73-77.
Focusing on the informal farmer’s market Hamilton question the resurgence of farmers market as an un-authentic bastardization of the traditional market it trying to emulate. Her text seeks “to
transform the farmers market from a nostalgic puppet, a shadow of the past, to a meaningful and influential institution.”

Jacobs, Karrie. “Back to the Land: The hottest 21st-century urban amenity might be a farm.” Metropolis Oct 15, 2008: n. pag. Web. 2 Oct 2010. <http://
“Fields of corn and soya stretching as far as the eye can see, plastic polytunnels so vast they can be seen from space, industrial sheds and feed lots full of factory-farmed animals--these are the
rural hinterlands of modernity.”

Koc, Mustafa, Rod MacRae, Jennifer Welsh, and Luc J. A. Mougeot. For Hunger-Proof Cities: Sustainable Urban Food Systems. Ottawa : IDRC Books,
1999. Print.

Knechtel, John. Food. Alphabet City #12. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. Print.
An anthology of projects and issues that collaboratively deal with the topic of food. Like Ecological Urbanism a variety of view points and potentials are explored on the relationship of food and

Miller, Sally. Edible Action: Food Activism and Alternative Economics . Halifax, NS: Fernwood, 2008.
Change and transition rely on action. This book holistically examines the actions that are currently underway to change the global food system.

Shigley, Paul. “When Acces is the Issue.” Planning (2009): 26-31. Web. 1 Oct 2010.

Steel, Carolyn. Hungry City: How Food Shapes Out Lives. London: Random House, 2008. Print.
This book is in many ways the inspiration of this thesis. Chronologically this book looks at urban history through the lens of food, ultimately seeing the way food as shaped our civilizations (for
better or worse) and how it might do so in a sustainable future. This book suggests that food and urbanism are unseperable.

Urban Society:
Doherty, Gareth, and Mohsen Mostafavi. Ecological Urbanism. 1st ed. Lars Muller Publishers, 2010. Print.
Including specific texts and projects on food urbanism, this 600 page ‘bible’ examines an emergent mode of urbanism, in which the city is thought of as an interrelated set of processes. With an

aim of a more sustainable city through architecture (built form) and its relationship to politics, economics, and social issues, this sets out a trajectory by which this thesis can navigate.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Urban Revolution. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, translated 2003 (originally published in French in 1970).
Following the attempts at urban revolution in the late 1960’s, Lefebvre’s early writings trace the history of city towards a global urban society, which he declares has surpassed industrialization as
the primary mode of societal control and development.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Globalization: The Human Consequences. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1998. Print.
For Bauman globalization involves the compression of time and territory through the value of mobility. This value, harnessed through global trade as capital, is most evident (in built form) at
locations of trade distribution.

Harvey, David. The Enigma of Capital: and the Crises of Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making A Life on a Tough New Planet. New York: Times Books, 2010. Print.
As the most recent comprehensive text on global climate change and ways to mitigate it, this book lays out the possibility that we are already living on a severely altered earth. The since of
urgency that this book demands brings about the examination in my project between what exists and what we know to be right, and how they might be mediated.

Smith, Neil. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space. 3rd. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2008. Print.

Berman, Marshall. All That is Solid Melts Into Air : The experience of modernity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Print.
Latent in the global food system is the experience of modernity, by which we all participate. In examining possible transitions of the modern food system into some ‘other’, it will be helpful to
look at the initial transition from which it was born. How do notions of ‘sustainability’,‘community’ , and ‘stability’ take into account the modern maelstorm.

Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Moder. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. Print.

Annotated Bibliography


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