Oculus Book Review

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Excerpt from e-Oculus book review by Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA:

The essays are as eclectic as the writers’ viewpoints, making them rich and provocative. The common thread, which is so clearly stated in the book’s acknowledgements, is their “commitment to the important role that public space, universal access, equity, and design can play to enhance democracy and promote freedom of expression.” The concepts of public commons and the agora became part of the conversation not only within the context of cultural citizenship, but also in the vital role design plays in forming the public sector…


Beyond Zuccotti Park is not written as, nor is it meant to be, a political manifesto. It is a compendium of ideas, challenges, reflections, observations, and thought-provoking questions that members of the design and planning community are grappling with as citizens and professionals committed to enhancing the public realm.


Read the full review here.

New York Times Metro

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Excerpt from the New York Times Metro Bookshelf by Sam Roberts published on September 21, 2012:

The book’s general premise is unarguable: “We need to be vigilant to assure that both the availability of public space and the policies that govern its use in no way impede the right to assemble.”

Read the full entry.

Beyond Zuccotti Park: Making the Public

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Excerpt from Jeffrey Hou’s chapter in Beyond Zuccotti Park that was featured in Places: Design Observer with beautiful and rich visuals:

On the streets near Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, young musicians defy the official rule and transform the sidewalks into a performance space. In the entrance to the HSBC Headquarters in Hong Kong, Filipino guest workers congregate on Sundays and the generic corporate foyer becomes a festive gathering place. In East Los Angeles, Latino residents have retrofitted streets, buildings and residential front yards to support a culturally richer and more vibrant social life. Every day, vendors from Mumbai to Madrid repurpose city streets into temporary markets — legal or illegal. Across North America, immigrant groups have created sanctuaries and refuges in ethnic malls and multicultural neighborhoods and suburbs. These are just a few examples of how citizens are reshaping public spaces — and urban life — in cities around the world. [1]


But beyond such everyday occurrences, citizen actions in urban spaces can also galvanize transformative political events. Witness the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the recent rallies from Athens, Greece, to Madison, Wisconsin. In each case protestors and activists have taken over urban spaces and transformed them into sites of action, meaning, and possibility. And these instances of personal and collective action suggest not only the capacity of human agency to modify the structure of the city and the society; through individual and collective action, protestors are mobilizing not only themselves but also the very notion of the public in public space.


The distinction between public and space, or actions and vehicles for actions, is an important one as we examine the implications of OWS at Zuccotti Park and beyond.

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Occupy Anniversary: Looking Back

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The Center for Architecture reflects on the Occupy anniversary and the Beyond Zuccotti Park exhibition in “Occupy Anniversary: Looking Back at the Intersection of Protest and Public Space”:

The exhibition coincides with the book of the same name published by New Village Press in Oakland. In it are essays by 42 writers, as well as an introduction by Michael Kimmelman. The content of the show are quotes from the book and photos of where people were in those months last year. It’s not an archive or a history of what happened and it’s not looking backward trying to catalogue what the design features were of the places of assembly, but it’s really talking about the future. How does this continue and in what form?


We also explore how architecture relates to the Occupy movement by looking at the use of public space. It’s not just as important as drinking a cup of coffee or getting away from the office, but the parks and plazas and places that people can assemble in New York and other cities contribute to a society that’s open and allows for an exchange of ideas and discord.


By creating public places in cities, you can create the same type of space that has that openness of communication like a college student union or a dining hall. That’s how you keep that “continuing education” mentality alive. For people like architects—who think about the physical environment first—to not be involved would be crazy. These are the people who care how space augments the ability to communicate beyond the Internet, email, and twitter.


What Occupy meant to a lot of people was a different way of communicating and transparently and democratically interacting.

Read the full entry with visuals on Good.