6: Sequencing Like a State: Ciudad Guayana and the Infrastructures of Arrival

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Between 1961 and 1966, a group of planners and social scientists from the Harvard–MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies built a midsized industrial city from scratch on a ‘resource frontier’ in post-dictatorship Venezuela. Rather than compose an old-style ‘model town’, the Joint Center sought to document the planning process itself, necessarily elapsing over time, and abstract its lessons for application to American cities and their futures. This chapter examines how they fundamentally reconceived urban and regional fabric in terms of mobility, rhythm, process, and flow. It focuses on a high-speed road, the Avenida Guayana, as a piece of region-making infrastructure and an experiment in choreographing the visual sequence of automobility as an information-rich chain of approaches and arrivals. Along transnational circuits of the Center’s own making, the Avenida Guayana offered Cold War urbanists a way to link the felt temporality of everyday life with the presumed political temporality of stepwise state ‘modernization’. The chapter argues that the transnational debates that constellated around this city still animate attempts to theorize the place of planning as a fundamentally future-making proposition.

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