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Posts Tagged ‘Damon Rich’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Damon Rich talks about the planning approaches that recently earned him a MacArthur Fellowship.

FROM THE JANUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Damon Rich describes himself as a designer who uses the tool set of a community organizer. Rich says his goal at his design firm, Hector, with partner Jae Shin, and at his previous post as a founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy, is to “[assemble] constituencies, trying to connect people so they can better exert political influence.” As a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship grant recipient, Rich will get a chance to see how an infusion of money ($625,000), translated through broad-based grassroots urban planning, can pull policy levers to make urbanism more equitable, healthy, and vital.

With Hector, his goal is to go into a neighborhood and uncover design elements that can offer multilayered meanings and associations to meet a wide range of needs. “I’m really excited to keep on finding ways to design things that really become social objects and social symbols,” Rich says. At the Newark Riverfront Park project, designed by Lee Weintraub, FASLA, during Rich’s tenure as the planning department director for the city of Newark, New Jersey, the color orange is used prominently in a boardwalk. The color references local schools’ heraldry and Newark’s municipal neighbors, East Orange and West Orange. It also works because it’s a neutral hue across local gang turfs. After it was built, a yoga instructor who teaches classes there complimented Rich for selecting this color because (unbeknownst to him) orange represents the water chakra.

Rich practices largely in the urban planning tradition, but he’s not careful about disciplinary lines. At the Center for Urban Pedagogy, he created users’ manuals for the city, working with marginalized communities that most need civic jargon translated into plain language. “I Got Arrested! Now What?” explains in graphic novel format how the justice system works, while “Vendor Power!” uses nearly wordless IKEA-like diagrams to show street vendors (who may be recent immigrants who don’t read English) how to comply with vending rules. Clear explanations of the city’s form, use, and regulations are part of his responsibility to (more…)

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January’s issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine does a global scan to see how different countries tackle familiar problems. In Europe, the writer Michael Dumiak travels across Switzerland, where almost every corner of the country is accessible by public transportation. An ocean away, efforts to mitigate the effects of future disasters ramp up after the devastating tsunami that rocked Japan’s shores in 2011.  San Francisco has required downtown projects to add privately owned public spaces since 1985. But private ownership can sometimes make it hard for the public to find, much less access, these spaces that are meant for the public.

In Materials, SiteWorks’s Andrew Lavallee, FASLA, details common problems and remedies for natural and human-made edging in the landscape. In Water, lessons in evolving a moribund cranberry bog into its former glory as an ecologically productive wetland. And in Interview, planner Damon Rich discusses his firm’s work and his recent MacArthur Fellowship. All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for January can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting January articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “New Roots,” Nate Berg; “Public, with an Asterisk,” Kyle Jeffers; “Clockwork,” Michael Dumiak; “Exit Strategy,” Nick Nelson, Inter-Fluve; “Trouble on the Edge,” James Dudley, ASLA, SiteWorks; “A Force for People,” John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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