Critical Infrastructures: Center for Urban Pedagogy

Weds 2 Feb 2011 6.30pm

  • Making Policy Public: Vendor Power! Courtesy CUP.

Damon Rich and Christine Gaspar, Center for Urban Pedagogy (New York), in conversation. Chaired by Heather Ring, landscape architect; Founder, The Wayward Plant Registry; Senior-Editor, Archinect

Doors and drinks 6.30pm
Presentations 7.00pm

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that uses the power of art and visual culture to increase the quality of public participation in shaping the city itself. CUP specializes in creating interdisciplinary collaborations that bring together artists, designers, educators, students, community organizations, and others to improve urban life in New York City and beyond. CUP projects begin with questions about how cities work: Where does our garbage go? Who built public housing? What are street vendors? rights? Collaborators use a research based, design-driven process to create inventive tools for community participation and change.

CUP projects are at the forefront of a new kind of civic education - one that uses design, media, and community engagement to lay the groundwork for effective democratic participation. CUP uses art and design as powerful tools for social change, helping ordinary people understand and participate in the political life of the city. Projects look at the way the city works, harnessing design to demystify policy, physical infrastructure, and economic systems (from sewage to subprime mortgages) that affect us every day. CUP is successfully interdisciplinary like few other organizations are, fostering collaborations among stakeholders and directly reaching audiences from public housing residents to artists.

Damon Rich, CUP's Founder, currently serves as the Urban Designer for the City of Newark, New Jersey. His design work has been exhibited at venues including the 2008 Venice Biennale, Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Netherlands Architecture Institute. His solo exhibition Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center, a large-scale installation exploring the relationship of architecture and finance, was on view at the Queens Museum of Art May 31-September 27, 2009. Rich has taught at institutions including the Cooper Union, and his writing has appeared in publications including The Nation and Perspecta.

Christine Gaspar is Executive Director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy. She is an architect and an urban planner whose work has focused on collaborating with historically underrepresented communities to shape their own neighbourhoods. Prior to joining CUP, she was Assistant Director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, Mississippi, where she provided architectural design and city planning services to low-income communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina. She holds Masters in Architecture and in City Planning from MIT, and a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University.