At the Reading Images Series: In Search of the Public, Storefront for Art and Architecture and the authors of In Search of the Public: Notes on the Contemporary American City, including Mario Gandelsonas, Rafi Segal and Els Verbakel, will discuss public space and how recent urban events such as Occupy Wall Street have modified citizens’ understanding of public space.
Washington, DC (May 2013) — How much is public space worth? How can it be mapped, understood, and strengthened? In Search of the Public: Notes on the Contemporary American City (Publication Date: May 27, 2013) presents a collection of projects, essays, and interviews from prominent experts that deal with the evolving role of public space within contemporary American urbanism.
The authors look at public spaces from an economic perspective, viewing them as public goods at a time when the public realm is shrinking in many cities as the market of dollars takes priority over the market of ideas. In each piece, leading thinkers tackle the challenge of making shared space in an age of urban growth and change.
The book examines public space from ancient agora to Washington D.C.’s Anacostia waterfront. Authors look at the imminent build out of New Jersey—an extreme situation that prefigures a nationwide encounter with the limits of sprawl. Lastly, the book exposes “the public” as the blind spot of an urbanism that dismissed the relevance of public spaces, an absence that became glaring with the reactivation of public spaces by social media, popular uprisings in the Middle East, and the “occupy” movement in the United States and around the world.
Contributors come from a range of disciplines including architecture, policy, and non-profit advocacy. Contrary to urban studies that focus their efforts on issues such as zoning, building codes, and land use policy, this publication focuses on the relevance and potential of architecture—as a practice of programming and form making—to transform the city and change our conception of public space.
By bringing together a range of perspectives, In Search of the Public underscores the value—and necessity—of an urbanism that respects community, particularly in an age of social, economic, and environmental challenges.