MEx - The Metropolitan Exchange

The Metropolitan Exchange


We're currently running a lecture series about design and development in Downtown Brooklyn called "Brooklyn Exchanges" (press release here) and another called "Metropolitan Exchanges" where practitioners and scholars present works in progress for discussion with an audience of peers. We also sponsor occasional screenings, parties, and lectures and dinners.

Learning from Sur Global: A Lecture by Urban Think Tank (Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner)
Tuesday December 8, 2009, 7PM
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of Urban Think Tank will discuss a new project, Sur Global, a film which explores the emerging landscapes and communities of tomorrow's cities.

About Sur Global: "Using different perspectives and levels of focus, the film looks at the problems and solutions facing urban centers like Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Casablanca, Mumbai, and Tijuana. The film spans continents and cultures in a search of dialogue and understanding. Sur Global is a theory film--a movie that documents reality while asking viewers to engage in the ideas and values that shape the world. In a time when the majority of humans now live in cities, Sur Global initiates a needed conversation about how we, as a species, can create and sustain an urban existence that allows for both survival and prosperity." -Urban Think Tank

About Urban Think Tank: The Urban Think Tank is a multi-disciplinary design practice dedicated to high-level research and design on a variety of subjects, concerned with contemporary architecture and urbanism. The philosophy of the UTT is to deliver innovative yet practical solutions through the combined skills of architects, civil engineers, environmental planners, landscape architects, and communication specialists.

two meals prepared by guest chef Marc Guertler
Friday June 12th, 7 PM
Saturday June 13th, 7 PM
By reservation only. For more information or to make a reservation please email studio -at food by Marc Guertler

BROOKLYN EXCHANGES exhibit open Wednesday-Saturday 12-6 PM, May 15 through June 5
Produced by students at Pratt Institute, with help from professors David Frisco and Meredith TenHoor, the exhibit BROOKLYN EXCHANGES presents Downtown Brooklyn's past and present development projects in order to imageine a more creative and just vision for its future. In the ground floor gallery of MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn. More information...

Artistic approaches to the urban project: A discussion with Maud Le Floc’h
Monday May 18, 2009, 7PM
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217
Urban planner/theater professional Maud Le Floc’h is an expert at establishing collaborations between artists, government officials and urban planners. At MEx, she will speak about her current work connecting the “living arts” (theater, urban art) to urban planning and urban space in France. Her presentation will be followed by a discussion comparing possibilities for this kind of work in Europe and the United States.

About Maud Le Floc’h: Maud is a French urban planner who has dedicated herself to connecting the living arts and the city. After earning a degree in urban planning and working as a journalist specializing in the street theatre scene in France, she developed and programmed festivals of live arts in the city. With Philippe Freslon, she co-founded and developed the Compagnie Off, a street theatre company in Tours, France in 1996. From 2002 to 2006, Maud conceived and led the initiative of “one elected official/one artist in the city,” through the project Mission Repérage(s), where she united an elected political official and an artist to reflect on their city, its development and future. The results, Mission Repérage(s), un élu - un artiste (Location Scouting - One Elected Official, One Artist) were published in 2006 by editions L'Entretemps. Maud is the founder and artistic director of POlau-pôle des arts urbains, a research center and platform of experimentation between artists, cultural workers, and urban planners. She is also currently a consultant for Ateliers Jean Nouvel for the “Grand Paris” project of re-envisioning the Parisian Region.

Mission Reparages, Maud Le Floch

The BAM Cultural District, A roundtable discussion with Katie Dixon (Dowtown Brooklyn Partnership), Ken Smith (Ken Smith Landscape Architects) and Thomas Leeser (Leeser Architecture)
Monday March. 30th at 7:00 p.m
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217

Our guests will discuss the latest architectural projects in the BAM Cultural District, the arts district in the neighborhood surrounding the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The BAM Cultural District's plans for affordable performance and rehearsal space for non-profit visual, performing, and media arts groups as well as mixed-income housing, and new public open space are currently in various stages of progress and completion. Our guests, who are involved in the current developments, will be able to give an update on what is actually being planned, designed and built and how the current economic crisis is affecting the district and its projects.

Katie Dixon from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership will give an update on the district as a whole, discussing the development of the master plan over the past several years, followed by special presentations by Thomase Leeser of Leeser Architects, and Ken Smith of Ken Smith Landscape Architects. BAM Cultural District

Retrofitting Suburbia, a talk by June Williamson, RA, LEED AP
Tuesday Feb. 24th at 7:00 p.m
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217

June Williamson is co-author, with Ellen Dunham-Jones, of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solution for Redesigning Suburbs, published by John Wiley & Sons.

The last fifty years have been dominated by the reproduction of sprawl development patterns. The big project for the next fifty years will be retrofitting suburban sprawl into sustainable places. The process has already begun: aging, stand-alone shopping malls and office parks are being transformed into multi-block, mixed-use town centers with public squares and greens. Ambitious new public transit networks are being proposed, constructed, and integrated into rapidly redeveloping suburban contexts. Archaic zoning ordinances are being overhauled to permit higher-density, mixed-use development, especially near transit stations. New housing types are attracting a diverse mix of young professionals, empty nesters, and families.

In Retrofitting Suburbia, Dunham-Jones and Williamson document over 80 suburban retrofits, analyzing the various strategies employed and calling attention to their potential to operate systemically to produce a polycentric pattern they call “incremental metropolitanism.”

About June Williamson:
June Williamson, RA, LEED-AP, is associate professor of architecture at The City College of New York / CUNY. She has held previous appointments at Columbia, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. Her writing has been published in the journals Places and Thresholds, and in the recent anthology Writing Urbanism.

Retrofitting Suburbia

the tree circus of Axel Erlandson, a talk by Mark Primack
Thursday Jan. 15th at 6:00 p.m
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217
Between 1922 and 1963 a California farmer, surveyor and orchardist named Axel Erlandson designed and trained trees into sculptural and architectural forms unique in horticultural history. Axel expanded that ancient science to include chairs, towers, ladders, spiral staircases and enclosures that could be grown, rather than built. He eventually displayed his creations in a roadside attraction outside of Santa Cruz, which he named the Tree Circus.

Mark Primack discovered Erlandon's neglected and dying trees in 1977, shortly after completing his Masters thesis on Botanic Architecture at the Architectural Association of London. His efforts to document Axel's work, to write their history, and to protect and preserve the surviving trees were themselves fading into obscurity when his friends at the Museum of Jurassic Technology convinced him to present, in words and images (many for the first time) his remarkable record of a dedicated visionary and a creative genius.

The tree circus

Second Annual Holiday Party, Friday Dec. 19 at 9 PM, 
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217

architecture and sociology in France – a report by Thomas Watkin from Collectif OOB
Monday Dec. 8 at 7 PM
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited
Please RSVP to info -at-

Thomas Watkin, from the Paris-based urban research group Collectif OOB, will present and analyze a series of lectures and events organized by the Collectif in France. He will highlight how the "sociological eye" is used today in France to study architectural practice as a political act. He will also report on initiatives by Collectif OOB in Guadalajara, New Delhi, Shanghai and Paris.

Collectif OOB was founded in November 2007 by three architects, Charles Detilleux, Thomas Watkin, and Miguel Mazeri; Chen Yang joined the group in 2008. All four architects share an interest in the relationships between the social sciences and architectural processes, both as disciplines and practices.

With the goal of collecting and disseminating theoretical and practical knowledge about architecture, urbanism, politics and the social sciences, Collectif OOB carries out research on the politics of urban redevelopment, the ethics and aesthetics of architecture, and the transformation of how architectural projects are realized.

a dinner + presentation of sustainable food campaigns in Brooklyn
Sunday Nov. 23 at 5 PM
By reservation only. For more information or to make a reservation
please email info -at-

"Where We Live Now", an evening with Matthew Stadler
and his traveling slide lecture
Sunday Nov. 16 at 6 PM
at MEx, 33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited
Please RSVP to info -at-
More information at:

Tom Angotti - New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate
Tuesday, October 28th - 7:00pm
33 Flatbush Ave. 6th Floor, Brooklyn NY 11217
RSVP via email to: info -at-

Tom Angotti will present his new book, New York for Sale, published by MIT Press.

Remarkably, grassroots-based community planning flourishes in New York City—the self-proclaimed "real estate capital of the world"—with at least seventy community plans for different neighborhoods throughout the city. Most of these were developed during fierce struggles against gentrification, displacement, and environmental hazards, and most got little or no support from government. In fact, community-based plans in New York far outnumber the land-use plans produced by government agencies.

In New York for Sale, Tom Angotti tells some of the stories of community planning in New York City: how activists moved beyond simple protests and began to formulate community plans to protect neighborhoods against urban renewal, real estate mega-projects, gentrification, and environmental hazards.

About Tom Angotti:
Tom Angotti is Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development and Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is the author of Metropolis 2000: Planning, Poverty, and Politics, the coeditor of Progressive Planning Magazine, and a columnist for the online journal Gotham Gazette.

New York For Sale Book Cover

Dinner Exchange
Saturday, October 11 - 7:00pm

Dinner Exchange
Tuesday, August 19 - 8:00pm

Metropolitan Exchanges #1
Common Room, "Provisional Practice"
Jan. 25, 2008
A presentation of the work of Common Room, exploring the contingent relationship of workplace to community.

Common Room