Seeking Northlake: place, technology, and public as enabling constraints for urban transdisciplinary research

Megan Brown, G. Odessa Gonzalez Benson, Roneva Keel, Eleanor Mahoney, Jennifer Porter, James Robert Thompson

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This article reviews the urban transdisciplinary research of the Northlake Collective, a multidisciplinary group of graduate students in the University of Washington's Lake Union Laboratory. Through a series of place-based investigations, we explored a small slice of Seattle ultimately seeking to engage the public through an online digital humanities portal. The broader goal of our work and this paper is to address how we, as a team of emerging scholars, understand and investigate ‘cities’ in the current century as both networked at the global scale and dynamic places for everyday interactions and processes. The paradoxes and complexity inherent to understanding the ‘city’ and how to address these concerns led us to develop a framework that might enrich grounded urban theory through the ‘enabling constraints’ of place, technology and public. The productive character of these three concepts, combined with the practical constraints and interrelationships they bring to bear, allowed us to deepen our work and produced the context for our research of Northlake. We propose this tripartite framework for exploring the contemporary city via the structure afforded by transdisciplinary, born-digital collaborations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-322
Number of pages9
Issue numberPart A
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • transdiscplinary urbanism
  • enabling constraints
  • place
  • technology
  • public
  • collaboration


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