Damon Rich, founder of the Center of Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and co-founder of design studio Hector, and Kate Orff, founder of SCAPE, have been honored with 2017 MacArthur Fellowships. Awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to individuals across a range of fields, the award gifts its fellows a no-strings-attached $625,000 stipend over five years. Unlike other awards, its fellows aren't selected based on an existing body of work so much as "extraordinary originality" and "a marked capacity for self-direction," according to the Foundation's website. Rich certainly demonstrates both. Trained as an architect at Columbia University, in 1997 Rich founded CUP, a New York City-based nonprofit that develops programs to help community development organizations and public school students address public policy and social justice issues like zoning, tenants' rights, infrastructure design, and more. From 2008 to 2015, Rich served as the chief urban designer and director of planning for the City of Newark, New Jersey. During his tenure, he worked with local advocacy groups to redevelop the city's waterfront as an accessible urban parkway dotted with environmental installations, a process still embroiled in city politics. He also formed a coalition of city-wide organizations to revamp Newark's obsolete zoning and land-use regulations for the first time in over fifty years. In 2015, Rich co-founded the design studio Hector with Jae Shin. The firm is currently involved in the redesign of Mifflin Square Park in Philadelphia in addition to ongoing work in Newark and San Francisco. As part of the Philadelphia project, Hector has formed a coalition of local advocacy groups and city agencies to inform the final design, which may incorporate a Buddhist temple, a number of public eateries, and ongoing community programming. Forming these kinds of coalitions has become the backbone of Rich's work. "This is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, and Bhutanese residents, and many more from a range of backgrounds," Rich told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "Design groups need to have the cultural competence to treat people like they're people, and bring the spirit and identity of the place into physical form." Rich also serves as an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP program, where he teaches architecture and urban design. While he didn't specify how he would use the award, Rich reflected on what it might mean to the next generation. "In public sector work, I'd hope to be one voice standing up for our often beleaguered municipal planners, and encourage youth that this is a career path they might want to be a part of," Rich said. "I hope this award points to the fact that even though planning departments are very old technologies, there's still a fundamentally exciting and engrossing potential in any forum where we come together and shape the places we live in." Kate Orff is the first landscape architect to ever be awarded the MacArthur prize. Her work at SCAPE has risen to great prominence, with upcoming commissions including participation in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her emphasis on ecological stewardship, however, sets her apart from peers. Orff cares deeply about the effects of climate change on the urban fabric, as well as the long-term effects design can have on biodiversity and ecosystem wellness. Her approach also puts some of this responsibility on the users of public spaces, encouraging park-goers and community members to participate in environmental stewardship. One cornerstone project that helped put Orff's work on the map was a collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach. In 2012, the two set out to document and quantify the outfall of industrial sites along a chemical corridor known as the "American Ruhr" in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. The resulting book, Petrochemical America, examines the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of pollution in southeastern Louisiana. SCAPE's project for President Obama's Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy proposed a series of oyster reefs on Staten Island's North Shore that would act as wave breakers and water filters, as well as serve as an outdoor classroom to educate youth on marine and coastal ecology. Most recently, SCAPE has completed a design for Lexington, Kentucky's Town Branch Commons. Their design highlighted the site's underlying porous limestone in a linear park that stretched through the city. "I really feel we need to mobilize and understand the best available science, apply it to the built environment, and to anticipate the next 50 years or the next 100 years," Orff said in her feature on the MacArthur Foundation's website. "I think we have a huge role to play, not just to beautify but literally to reset ecosystems, to reconnect people to each other through these social spaces that also can perform ecological services."
Posts tagged with "Center for Urban Pedagogy":
In New York, as supertalls shoot up and the outer boroughs yield to relentless waves of glazing, there's growing public interest in the unsexy urban planning jargon that shapes the city behind the scenes. Enter the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). The New York–based nonprofit that taught architects how not to be dicks has debuted an interactive tool to explain one of the most confusing concepts in planning and development. Building on the What is Zoning? toolkit, CUP's What is FAR? helps users get savvy with developer lingo—particularly the concept Floor Area Ratio (as readers may know, FAR determines the height and bulk of buildings). Language is power, and CUP, along with eight community partners, reasoned that it's helpful for ordinary folks to speak the language of bureaucrats and capitalists when discussing changes in their neighborhoods. To learn about FAR, players move blocks across a 2,000-square-foot lot. At first, the tool asks for a building with a FAR of 1—a one-story building that fills the entire 20-by-100-foot parcel. Using the same number of blocks, players can re-mass the structure to create a new building—also with a FAR of 1.For those who want to play Jane Jacobs (or Robert Moses), What is FAR? has an area to visualize how zoning (and re-zoning) shapes whole neighborhoods. The tool—with lot coverage, height limits, and rear yard stipulations—gets really granular, producing familiar city blocks or whatever the hell you want:
Don't be a dick. For some, it's a motto to live by. One New York City–based nonprofit would like architects to design by it, too. The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) teamed up with the Equity Collective—Christine Gaspar, executive director of CUP; Theresa Hwang, founder and director of Department of Places; and Liz Ogbu, founder and principal of Studio O—and illustrator Ping Zhu to produce Dick & Rick: A Visual Primer for Social Impact Design, a gently didactic pictorial for architects on the dos and don'ts of community-engaged design. As their names suggest, Dick is the Goofus to Rick's Gallant. The 15-page spread walks readers through the design process in each architect's respective office: In a stroll around the neighborhood, Rick spies a flier for a community meeting about parks, and wonders if he could lend his skills to the project. Dick reads a news piece about the same initiative and, pen aloft, offers help to "them." Channeling Howard Roark, Dick does a site analysis himself and holds perfunctory public meetings where he explains his ideas to residents, with no space for feedback. Rick, in contrast, lives the principles of socially-engaged architecture by collaborating with stakeholders over a sustained period to discuss how the park should be designed and programmed. Readers familiar with social impact design are vindicated when Dick's park is nice, but devoid of visitors while Rick's park is nice and a hit with residents. The Equity Collective believes that art can spur effective citizen engagement and that, if done right, social justice is integral to great design. Take their advice and don't be a Dick.
In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design competition to develop strategies to increase the resiliency of urban and coastal areas in the face of extreme weather events and climate change. According to HUD's website, the goal of the competition is "to promote innovation by developing regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both public and private funding dedicated to this effort. The competition also represents a policy innovation by committing to set aside HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding specifically to incentivize implementation of winning projects and proposals. Examples of design solutions are expected to range in scope and scale—from large-scale green infrastructure to small-scale residential resiliency retrofits." The shortlist of 10 teams—including architects, landscape architects, university groups, developers, engineers and others—has been announced. Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes. PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics WXY architecture + urban design / West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser. OMA with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors. HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America. SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design. Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP. Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects. unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy.
The annual Curry Stone Prize, which honors design for social change, has shaken up its awards program this year. Previously laurels went to a Grand Prize winner, leaving several teams as runners-up. But in recognition of Curry Stone's fifth cycle, this year five winners will equally share the prize, including a cash award of $25,000 each. Announced this week, the 2012 winners are: Center for Urban Pedagogy, aka CUP (Brooklyn, New York); Liter Of Light (Manila, Philippines); MASS Design (Boston, MA); Riwaq (Ramallah, Palestine); and Jeanne van Heeswijk (Rotterdam, Netherlands). Once again the Curry Stone Foundation has teamed up with Harvard's Graduate School of Design to create a larger educational event around the awards ceremony, which takes place at the GSD on November 15. The day following the winning teams will deliver presentations on their work and participate in panel discussions that are free and open to the public. Some winners will be familiar to those in the architecture and design world—MASS Design, for example, has received previous accolades and coverage for projects like the redesign of a hospital in the Burera District of Rwanda and has gone on to establish collaborations with NGOs—while other organizations have been initiating change at a local grassroots level: Brooklyn-based CUP facilitates communication on community issues by collaborating with artists and designers; Liter of Light offers inexpensive alternatives to electricity in informal settlements in the Philippines; Riwaq documents and preserves Palestinian culture through restoration projects; Jeanne Van Heeswijk gained attention for recasting derelict areas in Dutch cities into dynamic public spaces. Joseph Grima, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Teddy Cruz, and Clifford Curry, who founded the prize with Delight Stone in 2008, served as the 2012 jury. Read more about the five winners: CUP Liter of Light MASS Design Riwaq Jeanne van Heeswijk
Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) asked housing advocates and community groups what educational tools they needed the most. The topic of affordable housing was at the top of the list, so designers set to work devising a handy way to help New Yorkers comprehend the much-debated subject. “Affordable housing is a term that has been thrown around for a long time,” said CUP staff member John Mangin. “A lot of people are suspicious of it, it is complicated, and the technical meaning behind it is not always apparent when you hear the word.” CUP’s answer is a red plastic kit of parts called the Affordable Housing Toolkit. Inside the box is a colorful felt chart designed for workshops where housing advocates, community organizers, developers, and educational institutions can use bright squares and dots to help participants engage in a conversation about current projects—and whether those are actually affordable for residents in need. Also included is a guidebook outlining the basics of affordable housing, as well as access to an online map that displays statistics and income demographics in different neighborhoods. (The kit is available for purchase on a sliding rate scale, while the map and the book can be accessed for free.) Developed with graphic design studio MTWTF, the Pratt Center for Community and Economic Development, and Brooklyn-based advocacy group Fifth Avenue Committee, the project aims to get New Yorkers to ask the question: “Affordable to whom?” According to CUP Executive Director Christine Gaspar, there is a need for a certain level of mutual understanding in order to be able to start a deeper conversation. “Hopefully the toolkit will let individuals throughout the city understand how affordable housing works. This means that they can advocate in their own community, talk to elected officials, and hold them accountable to the decisions they make,” Gaspar said. Dave Powell, a tenant organizer, stressed that CUP’s pedagogic and visual approach is necessary, since the finer points of housing policy are rarely conveyed to ordinary citizens. “CUP helps us deconstruct our environment in order to advocate for social justice––which we are unable to do simply by reading through hundreds of tax pages from the planning department.” Last Friday, a group of young community organizers gathered for one of CUP’s first workshops with the new toolkit. Among the participants was coordinator Katie Goldstein from tenant-rights group Tenants & Neighbors. She said her citywide organization will use the felt chart to involve residents in a discussion about broader policy trends. “It will help us figure out what are the right targets for us to organize against and how to preserve affordable housing for the long term,” she told AN, adding that the interactive quality of the toolkit is what she appreciates the most. At a time when one in 20 New Yorkers lives in public housing and a third of the city’s residents spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, the toolkit might perhaps be better called a first-aid kit. Fortunately, this effort is just the first in CUP’s program called Envisioning Development Toolkits, which aims to demystify controversial and confusing concepts in New York City land use. Upcoming curatives focus on zoning law and the city’s exhaustive development review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.