The recent Putting Public Space in its Place conference brought scholars, practitioners and activists together to discuss and debate public spaces. The conference focused on physical public spaces including parks, streets, privately owned public spaces and temporary spaces. The conference was organized and chaired by Jerold S. Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, and sponsored by both the GSD’s Urban Planning and Design Department and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.
Held over two days, the program featured sessions examining all aspects of public space from physical design to issues of globalization. Alice Brown (MUP ’13) said, “One of the underlying questions at the conference was the role of designers in making public space feel more public. While there were designers who were commissioned to make beautiful spaces and critics of design like Fred Kent from Project for Public Spaces, the quintessential example of working with the public to improve public space was Kristian Koreman of Zus. He and his partner literally opened a storefront for ideas and are testing their vision in Rotterdam to see whether ‘informality can become the new formality’ or if ‘the temporary can now become the new permanent.’”
The conference also featured a number of Urban Planning and Design Department faculty including Jerold Kayden, Neil Brenner, Diane Davis, and Dan D’Oca. Loeb Fellow Jim Lasko from the Redmoon Theater in Chicago discussed the role of temporary public spaces.