Introduction: Urban Design Forum and The Architectural League are launching a fellowship program to empower new, fearless, and diverse voices to challenge the ways we understand, design, and develop our cities. The fellowship will support the development of five critics from underrepresented backgrounds through guest lectures and workshops, research guidance, mentorship opportunities, networking, and production of new critical projects in Urban Omnibus and other leading publications. Through public programs and other channels, the fellowship will encourage a more expansive conversation on the future of cities.
Summary: New City Critics aims to drive change in the culture of criticism. In 2022, architectural criticism and urban analysis in mainstream media remains the domain of just a few, largely older, and mostly male, white writers. Though it is a shrinking arena, as newspapers and magazines have moved away from having full-time critics on staff, it remains extremely powerful. A handful of professional critics from similar backgrounds means attention to a limited selection of topics and perspectives. We want to see kaleidoscopic coverage from a much wider variety of perspectives and rewrite public understanding of why urban design and development matter.
New City Critics is for a criticism of city design and development that reflects the people who live in cities. We need more informed and sustained examination of citymaking in media beyond small professional circles, for a broader public. Housing, workplaces, infrastructure, public spaces and monuments define the contours of our lives. They demand critical attention and a critical imagination expressed through novel formats and in new forums. Our goal is to equip a new generation of critics with new skills and a meaningful network, to conceive and carry out potent projects that advance the work they want to see in the world.
Fellows will meet twice each month over the course of the 18-month program. Some sessions will be conversations with guest speakers: writers, editors, advocates, practitioners, and change makers in the built environment. In other sessions, Fellows will develop and workshop their projects together. The Architectural League, Urban Omnibus, and Urban Design Forum staff will support Fellows’ research and networking. In addition, Fellows may be paired with mentors to hone their skills and network across the broader media community.
In the first phase, participants will prepare a major editorial project for publication in Urban Omnibus. We will focus on supporting participants’ research and writing, but welcome experimentation with other storytelling formats.
In the second phase, participants will prepare a major feature for another leading publication, with support from The Architectural League and Urban Design Forum. We will actively network participants with leading editors and cultural institutions.
Who Should Apply
We welcome applicants who are passionate about introducing us to the varied, complex, delightful, fraught, and rich experiences of our cities and neighborhoods. We welcome emerging observers, analysts, and storytellers of varying ages and experiences–writers, journalists, designers, planners, scholars, advocates, artists, curators, organizers, DIY newsletter writers, zine publishers, podcasters, photo essayists, and others–who are committed to producing critical work about the shape and experience of our city.
New City Critics is intended for people who do not see themselves or their experiences reflected in the fields of criticism, urbanism, and design today. We aim to build a cohort of five individuals who will lean on each other’s curiosities and grow together. Beyond support in developing projects and skills, applicants should be searching for co-conspirators to broaden their understanding and imagination. Fellows must live or work in the New York metropolitan area for the duration of the program to be considered.
What We Offer
Fellows will learn together and collaborate to shape a curriculum that develops their skills and expands their thinking on writing, design, and cities. Fellows will also work with Urban Design Forum and Architectural League leadership to develop public programs on the culture of criticism.
Produce Original Work
Fellows will have an opportunity to develop new work that advances a critical perspective on issues in the built environment, to shape and refine it working closely with experienced editors, and to present it to an engaged audience.
Leverage Our Networks
Fellows will be encouraged to connect with the Urban Design Forum’s and Architectural League’s networks and audiences. They will have access to experts in design, planning, and development in New York City, as well as accomplished critics and cultural producers.
Participate in Forum and League Programs
Fellows will enjoy two years of complimentary Urban Design Forum and Architectural League membership and access to our lectures and discussions.
We expect to convene in person, following updated safety guidance from New York City health officials. Safety protocols will be confirmed with accepted Fellows in advance of orientation. If the public health context shifts, we will adapt the program to a hybrid or virtual format.
We will work with all accepted Fellows to accommodate individual accessibility requirements, caretaking responsibilities, technology needs, unique health and safety concerns, or other circumstances.
Fellows will meet Monday evenings twice a month in New York City. They should make reasonable efforts to attend all required meeting dates listed in the application portal and notify staff of anticipated conflicts.
Fellows will be awarded a stipend of $15,000 for participation in the 18-month fellowship. In addition, they will be provided a travel or research stipend of $2,000 and an allowance of up to $2,500 for project expenses (such as image rights or production costs).
Applications Open – February 3, 2022
Information Session – February 28, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00pm
Applications Due – March 23, 2022, 11:59pm
To read in details and apply to the fellowship, visit the official website of the open call here!