Tate Liang


AboutAbout ⏷
Architecture Student from Vancouver / NYC
The Cooper Union -> B.ARCH 2025
OMA -> Intern 2024
Diller Scofidio + Renfro -> Intern 2023
ContactContact ⏷
Email ->tate.liang@cooper.edu
Instagram ->@tateliang
Github ->TateLiang
Portfolio & CV available on request

Superlative Cities

Independent Research Project / Fall 2023 – Spring 2024
Advisors Nader Tehrani, Guido Zuliani
Bookmaking with Phillip Denny, Laura Coombs

The past century of urban theory has concluded that cities are imperfect by nature through a thorough codification of disorder. Flawless extremes have been sieved to reveal alleged fundamentals and to establish precedents on which to define the basis for imagination. Perhaps innumerable histories of what not to do have fooled us into believing that its aggregate antithesis is utopia itself.

Discourse on the city today occupies a precarious compromise where it can neither imagine a radical restructuring nor fully placate itself through autonomous function. The clash of a critical culture and reductionist agenda work in both directions to install an unchanging prospect for the city plan.

But this prospect is yet unable to explain reality without implicitly citing prejudiced infinities and their ensuing limits, thus unwittingly implying utopia as resolution. Through Plato to the renaissance, modernist idealisms to subsequent critical responses, each assert a criteria for interpreting the city. Debate with the assumption of a continuous “progress” under those criteria necessarily also acknowledges a hypothetical end condition. Whether a revision of what came before, or an earnest advocacy ofnew inevitabilities, urban theory reluctantly approaches utopia of its own definition.

Our appetite finds its only satiation in a framework that cannot by any means be further perfected; the better city is automatically enticing, so the “best” is irresistible. Architects find relevance in the persuasiveness of ideals in admission of their ineffectiveness and inapplicability on the large scale. If we accept the premise, however narrow, of a specific ideology and bring it to absurdity, we reveal a blind perfection describing a hilarious outcome— the superlative. Their absolute peculiarities reveal limits underpinning the nature of experience, perhaps even articulating some bounded certainty where the absurd becomes rationale. If we cannot be accurate about the ideal, we can only be precise.

This ultimate city occurs at the edge of possibility when impeded by one of two bounds: limits to our physical world and limits to our imagination. Here it is imperative to distinguish between an “Ideal city” implying that urban gestures have social effectwithin real constraints, and “Utopia” as an unrestrained and unreal no-place.