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Friday, March 8 • 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Homelessness and Plazas: Creating Inclusive Urban Environmental Design

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In recent years, New York City has turned to the creation of plazas in areas understood as underutilized or abandoned. Many of these plazas incorporate regularly-scheduled activities such as farmers' markets and outdoor recreation and fitness classes, while simultaneously introducing green infrastructural elements such as horticultural installations, planters and rainwater recycling systems. On the surface, plazas seem to provide environmental amenities to communities with less access to large park areas while creating pedestrian-friendly public space. But the plaza program and its associated design elements have also displaced homeless people from spaces and areas that were critically important to maintaining some degree of safety and invisibility, and have often continued longstanding design and policing practices that exclude homeless New Yorkers from public space. Both of these tendencies within the plaza program compound an ongoing housing crisis. How can plazas, and other similar spaces featuring environmental design and green infrastructure, become more inclusive of homeless residents and other marginalized populations that are nevertheless crucial to the fabrics of community? This panel will explore this question from a variety of perspectives (critical urban geography, homeless activism, and environmental design) and will include an interactive component, where participants will have the opportunity to create guidelines for inclusive plazas and green infrastructure.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Understand the history of design and homelessness through a combined presentation by homeless activists and academics who study the history of urban public space. Participants will learn the thorny history of public space and exclusion of homeless people, focusing on how this occurs through processes of design.
  2. Demonstrate ability to apply design principles to housing justice. Participants will be asked to share their own design skills in an exercise that attempts to create a homeless-friendly public plaza.
  3. Incorporate homeless ideas of positive public space into sample plaza design. Participants will learn and apply the perspective of homeless people into the plaza design exercise.  This will require momentarily unlearning many conventional design and architecture principles.
  4. Learn how to discuss homelessness in a productive way with design colleagues. Participants will leave the workshop equipped to break stereotypes of homelessness in conversation with colleagues, and to appropriately push back against anti-homelessness in the design world.

AIA Continuing Education Credit: 2 HSW
Living Future Accreditation Credits: 1.5 HRS

avatar for Jarquay Abdullah

Jarquay Abdullah

Picture the Homeless
“There are so many vacant properties and vacant lots in New York City, that there should not be so many of us sitting in shelters. Instead, money should be put towards permanent housing. And these bills will help hold landlords accountable for letting properties sit vacant. I see... Read More →
avatar for Eric Goldfischer

Eric Goldfischer

PhD Candidate, University of Minnesota
Eric Goldfischer is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. His research examines his dissertation examines the politics of visuality and homelessness in NYC’s urban ecological projects, such as the High Line and the... Read More →
avatar for Nikita Price

Nikita Price

Civil Rights organizer, Picture the Homeless
Nikita Price is the Civil Rights organizer at Picture the Homeless, New York City's only homeless-led social justice organization. While navigating the NYC shelter system, Nikita joined Picture the Homeless in 2006, he (volunteered) as a member for over a year, and was later hired... Read More →
avatar for Gemma Duffee

Gemma Duffee

Masters student of Design and Urban Ecologies, Parsons, The New School
Gemma Duffee is a Masters student of Design and Urban Ecologies at Parsons, The New School. With a B.A. in Anthropology, her approach to urban design is human centered, and considers how the convergence of policy, planning and the built environment impact the lived experiences of... Read More →

Friday March 8, 2019 1:00pm - 2:30pm EST
K321 Kroon Hall, 195 Prospect St, New Haven, CT 06511
  Social Justice
  • GBCI CEU Self Report
  • LFA CEU 1.5 HRS - Self Report