ICE-POPS at Venice Biennale

Elizabeth MacWillie (MDesS/MAUD ’14) and colleagues from Harvard, MIT and Tufts are in Venice this week, attending the opening of the Architecture Biennale. They are presenting their ICE-POPS project at the U.S. pavilion and facilitating a workshop during the opening week.
ICE-POPS, which stands for Interested Critical Explorers of Privately-Owned Public Space, is a collective of researchers, artists, writers, planners, and urban explorers cataloguing privately-owned public spaces and other public-private developments. The ICE-POPS website offers resources for citizens to identify sites and conduct walking tours, and interactive tools to aggregate information from cities across the U.S. The project founders are passionate about the connection between public space and democracy, and driven to make public space more open and accessible.
The most prestigious architecture event in the world, the Venice Architecture Biennale, has been alternating with the Art Biennale since 1980. ICE-POPS neatly fits the theme of the U.S. Pavilion, “Spontaneous Interventions: design actions for the common good,” a nod to the growing movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations and create new opportunities and amenities for the public. Continental Wingate Building plaque The ICE-POPS team in Venice includes Harvard graduate students John Hulsey, (visual and environmental studies) and Caitlin Gianniny (mind, brain and education program at the Graduate School of Education) , as well  as Rebecca Uchill, studying history theory at MIT, and Molly Cooney-Mesker in the urban and environmental planning program at Tufts. Judy Sue Fulton (MArch I) collaborated on graphic design for the Biennale submission. In true democratic fashion, each member of ICE-POPS has taken a leadership role in different aspects of the project, and their unique skill sets have shaped the project’s development.
MacWillie is particularly excited about ICE-POPS’ educational potential: aggregating the financial and legal agreements governing public spaces will make it easier to understand trends or differences across cities, states and time periods. She looks forward to the project’s potential growth as a result of the connections the team is able to make with a worldwide network of diverse activists at the Biennale.
Photographs by Caitlin Gianniny