In a digital age, people will reflect upon 2011 as the year in which physical public space reclaimed its lofty status in the public sphere. From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, physical public space reminded us of its multiple ambitions and capabilities for accommodating consequential political activities as well as everyday leisurely pursuits. Put plainly, place still matters. This conference at Harvard University will focus on physical (corporeal, material, tangible) public space. Physical public space comes in many flavors: publicly owned parks, streets, and sidewalks, privately owned public spaces, privately managed public parks, and temporary spaces that appear and disappear within a parking spot, under a bridge, in a surface parking lot, or anywhere else.
The production of public space simultaneously implicates and transcends technical decisions with regard to design, financing, and management considerations. Who should design public space? Should public spaces be designed at all? How should success of a public space be measured? Can the private sector participate in public space provision without a loss of "publicness"? Do achievements of democracy and equality depend on ample availability of public space? Can public space make a meaningful contribution to solving the world's environmental problems, including storm water flooding? Are there universals of public space that define its use and appearance no matter where the space is located? Are temporary or informal public spaces a fad or breakthrough? Can theory inform, or better inform, practice? Public space scholars, practitioners, and activists will discuss and debate these and other questions along with an engaged audience. Attendance at the conference is free and open to the public.
Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development, The Trust for Public Land; Commissioner, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation 2002–2012 • Adrian Blackwell, Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo School of Architecture, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada; Visiting Assistant Professor, Harvard GSD • Florian Boer, Founder and Director, DE URBANISTEN, Rotterdam • Elma van Boxel & Kristian Koreman, Founding Partners, ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles), Rotterdam • Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory, Harvard GSD • Susan Chin, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space, and Vice President, AIA • Maurice Cox, Director, Tulane City Center & Associate Dean for Community Engagement, Tulane University School of Architecture • Diane Davis, Professor of Urbanism and Development, Harvard GSD • Dan D'Oca, Founding Partner, Interboro Partners, New York and Design Critic, Harvard GSD • Piper Gaubatz, Professor of Geography, University of Massachusetts, Amherst • Adriaan Geuze, Principal and Co-Founder, West 8, Rotterdam • Jeffrey Hou, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington • Blair Kamin, Architecture Critic, Chicago Tribune; Nieman Fellow 2012–2013, Harvard University • Paul Katz, Managing Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates • Jerold S. Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard GSD • Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces, New York • Annette Kim, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology • Jim Lasko, Co-Artistic Director, Redmoon Theater, Chicago; Loeb Fellow 2012–2013, Harvard GSD • Holly M. Leicht, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Parks • Peter Marcuse, Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning, Columbia University • Martha Minow, Dean, Harvard Law School and Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law • Kate Orff, Assistant Professor, Columbia University GSAPP; Founding Partner, SCAPE, New York • Henk Ovink, Director General, Spatial Planning and Water Affairs, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment • John Parkinson, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, UK • Andres Power, Legislative Aide to Supervisor Scott Wiener, Board of Supervisors, City of San Francisco, Former Project Manager, San Francisco Pavement to Parks • Greg Smithsimon, Associate Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College, City University of New York
Co-sponsored by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Supported by The Rachel Dorothy Tanur Memorial Lectureship Fund, Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space@The Municipal Art Society of New York, and the Loeb Fellowship Program, Harvard GSD.