Urban Disobedience: 99 Provocations to Disrupt Injustice in St. Louis

The legacy of discriminatory laws, urban disinvestment, the decline of the industrial economy, shifts to a knowledge-based economy, concentrated poverty, physical, social and political divides, polarized tensions between community and law enforcement, and a deepening narrative of “winners and losers” pose challenges to the recovery of what was once the 8th largest city in the United States. St. Louisans are taking to the streets every day in acts of resistance and activism around these chronic and episodic conditions of injustice.

St. Louis has 99 problems – but it also has 99 opportunities to eradicate divides, correct inequalities, and advance innovation and justice.

This studio will examine historic and recent events that have created the conditions of injustice, as well as current efforts of promoting restorative justice. The city will be the geography of intervention where we solve for the residual effects of racial segregation laws, as well as the effects of the “back to the city” movement and urban gentrification. These contrasting conditions create stark spatial divides–separating power, place and space along lines of race, class, generational cohorts, and territorial boundaries. However, the canvas for architectural, urban design, planning, landscape, engagement, and policy intervention is abundant.

Students will produce and be evaluated on the following assignments: Using big data, media, mapping, and tentative field investigations in St. Louis, the studio will a create taxonomy of 99 problems that impede redevelopment and social justice. Student teams will develop a Just City Manifesto video prioritizing values using the “Just City Index.” Students will design a catalogue of 99 interventions at multiple scales (spatial, programmatic, graphic, creative place making, regulatory, media, engagement) that resolve the 99 problems and address the core values of the Manifesto. Finally, the students will work in collaboration with the city’s Equality Indicators Project to translate their Just City Manifesto values into metrics that measure just urbanism in the city.

The learning objective of the studio is to interrogate the ways design can have a positive impact on social justice values and outcomes. Theories of social and spatial justice, gentrification, and social impact design will be examined and challenged as part of the design process. All design disciplines may enroll.