Ron Shiffman earns the APA Planning Pioneer Award

Ronald Shiffman, FAICP, Hon. AIA, full professor at Pratt Institute’s Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development and cofounder of the Pratt Center for Community Development is being honored with the 2013 Planning Pioneer Award from the American Planning Association. This prestigious award is presented to leaders of the profession who have made personal and direct innovations in American planning and have significantly and positively redirected planning practice, education, or theory with long-term results.

Ron Shiffman is the lead editor for Beyond Zuccotti Park and contributing author to What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs. He has an extensive history in the fields of community development, urban planning and design, architecture, and sustainable development. He has provided program and organizational development assistance to community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Well known for many projects, including founding one of the US’s first university design centers—Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development—he is more than deserving of this award.

Congratulations to Professor Shiffman for earning APA’s highest honor! For more information click here.

The 2013 National Planning Awards jury was chaired by Ann C. Bagley, FAICP. Members of the jury were Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Letitia A. Gomez, AICP, Charles C. Graves III, AICP, Regina Gray, John R. Gosling, AICP, Mayor Ron Littlefield, AICP, Lynn M. Ross, AICP, and Chase W. Rynd.

Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture Honors Michael Pyatok

Michael Pyatok, head of Pyatok Architects located in Oakland, California and contributor to Beyond Zuccotti Park, has been honored with the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. Pyatok has received the award in the category of making a significant contribution to the quality of public architecture while working in the private sector.Pyatok and Pyatok Architects has focused on elevating the quality of design in affordable and low-income housing. An early advocate for density, mixed uses, and proximity to transit and services in low-income communities, Pyatok developed site planning and design strategies to create “cozy communities,” or intimate groupings of neighbors that foster social cohesion among at-risk households.

He is the co-author of the now standard Good Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing. Today, he and his staff have designed more than 35,000 dwellings in hundreds of projects around the US. He has also designed more than 5,000 affordable homes for low-income communities in Malaysia and the Philippines. In addition to the Thomas Jefferson Award, Pyatok has received many other awards in design, leadership and social responsibility.

Congratulations to Michael and Pyatok Architects!

For more information on the award and Pyatok, click here. For more information on Pyatok and Pyatok Architects, please click here.

Ron Shiffman awarded 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal

Ron Shiffman, editor and contributor to Beyond Zuccotti Park, was awarded the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership by the Rockefeller Foundation for his work as a “trailblazer in his development of the model for community development corporations.”

The Medals are awarded each year to recipients whose work creates new ways of seeing and understanding New York City, challenges traditional assumptions, and creatively uses the urban environment to make New York City a place of hope and expectation.

The Rockefeller Foundation highlighted Shiffman’s efforts to promote community-based activism over the last fifty years:

As a student in the early 1960s, Mr. Shiffman, along with Professor George Raymond and others, worked on a study of Bedford-Stuyvesant, anticipating a city urban renewal program planned for the neighborhood. The community consortium developed a comprehensive plan to rebuild Bedford-Stuyvesant through economic development programs that became a model for the creation of community development corporations today.


Mr Shiffman’s work in Bedford-Stuyvesant became the inspiration to create the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, founded by Mr. Shiffman and Dr. Raymond in 1964.  The center continues today to empower low and moderate income communities in New York to plan for and realize their futures.


Just in the last few years, Mr. Shiffman has advised Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, an organization that brings community voices into the planning process for development projects in Brooklyn such as Atlantic Yards. For his tireless pursuit of, and belief in, the power of community-based groups to change the makeup of New York City for the better, Ronald Shiffman is the 2012 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership.


Congratulations, Ron!


Read the full press release here.

Reports from the Field

An excerpt from Greta Hansen’s “Reports from the Field: Freedom of Assembly and Public Space Today” published in e-Oculus.

Last year the Center for Architecture initiated a series of discussions titled Freedom of Assembly, the first of which, in December 2011, was a swift reflection upon the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Last Sunday was the third panel of the series that accompanied an exhibition entitled “Beyond Zuccotti Park.” The exhibition, in turn, is derived from a book by the same name. In all, the Center has become a forum for one of the most relevant intersections of occupy-thinking and standard architecture and planning practices.


Engaging us this time were activists, designers, and city planners. Rick Bell and Lynne Elizabeth, director of the New Village Press, opened the event with a discussion about what should be done now, a year after the occupation…


Michael Pyatok, FAIA, of Oakland-based Pyatok Architects, showed his firm’s design of the plaza in front of Oakland, California’s City Hall; New Yorkers in the room noted the lack of an open and accessible public square outside of our own city hall. Signe Nielsen, FASLA, while initially supporting the open expression at Zuccotti Park, described her sense that the proliferation of tents represented a misuse of public space, Pyatok said the Oakland Occupation suited the space. He designed the amphitheater-like steps as “the living room” and the adjoining lawn as “the people’s mattress” – useable metaphors for a livable city…


Ideas presented and debated at the three-hour long session described the potential role of municipal government in commissioning public spaces that could be designed to encourage open dialogue and participatory democracy. There was no consensus, however, that a design solution could be created, despite Pyatok’s example, in response to social movements. The ability of architects, landscape architects and urban designers to plan spaces is limited by the terms of engagement. Closing remarks by Ron Shiffman, Hon. AIANY and Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, also among the editors of the book, were more upbeat, noting the value of the dialogue about the design of public space in advancing issues of social justice.


Read the full article here.

Occupy Anniversary: Looking Back

The Beyond Zuccotti Park exhibition at the Center for Architecture marked the one year anniversary of the Occupy movement. Rick Bell, director of the center and curator for the exhibition, discusses the thought process for creating the event and what it means:

We want to convey the idea that freedom of speech and assembly is about people coming together for a democratic and political purpose: not just to play chess…


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.


To read the full article with color images, click here.

PlaNYourCity Excited about Beyond Zuccotti Park

PlaNYourCity is a blog intended to be a means of sharing information and starting a conversation about urbanism and planning. Here is an excerpt of what blogger alinefader wrote in a July 30 post entitled “Beyond Zuccotti Park”:

New York City has these strange beasts called Privately Owned Public Spaces (or POPS) which were put to some significant tests for the first time in recent history during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Many planners were watching the protests to see if privately owned spaces, like Zuccotti Park, could truly operate as public spaces for protest and debate, as the public realm in a democratic republic like ours should. This is an important issue, because there are so few truly public spaces (that are not parks or streets) in this big city. I can think of Police Plaza and Cadman Plaza, which is mostly a park, but the area near the courthouse and municipal buildings is utilized for protests, announcements, ceremonies, celebrations, performances, farmers’ markets and general hanging about. Union Square also seems to function this way too.

Anyway, I am very excited about the book Beyond Zuccotti Park being released [in September]. For transparency’s sake, note that I have studied under both an editor and a contributor, but even if that lends some fuel to my enthusiasm, this is a topic that is very important to Americans being able to utilize their rights.

It [has] an impressive list of contributors, and looks like it will be good urbanist brain food!