Mapping (In)Equity: Why Urban Histories Matter for Landscape Architects

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Designer professionals of all disciplines must be cognizant of how urban histories manifest in the present. During this session, the speakers will present a mapping and participatory advocacy project of the Harvard GSD’s African American Student Union (AASU) that investigates the tension between and the latent opportunity of design and social justice in the built environment. The project was born from a response to the multitude of black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement in the U.S. and has grown into an initiative that has taken the form of an exhibit, Hackathon, and for-credit research seminar at the GSD. In efforts to humanize victims of fatal encounters, the project details the victims’ community fabric through a set of categorical studies.
Currently, “Map the Gap” examines the cities of Boston, St. Louis, and Baltimore across, (1) their histories of urban renewal, (2) the stark racial divisions in their educational systems, and (3) their misaligned public transportation networks as related to job mobility. This presentation will use these case studies to engage participants by asking how design practitioners can play a role in mitigating the systemic injustices latent in cities and contribute to the development of a more equitable public realm and accessible natural spaces. In practice, design professionals are well aware of minority neighborhoods’ increasing fears of gentrification and displacement, often resulting in concerted community-driven efforts delaying or stopping projects. Drawing from the AASU’s work, the presentation challenges community outreach methods and explores ways in which those responsible for shaping the built environment can better serve the most underserved communities.
Atlantic City, NJ
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1. Draw connections between systemic urban histories and current socioeconomic issues that confront and challenge design projects in practice.
2. Learn how to conduct new modes of community outreach in planning and design using participatory technologies and strategies.
3. Identify ways in which mapping and visual representations can be used as tools for advocacy.
SPEAKERS: Marcus Mello & Lindsay Woodson Marcus Mello, Urban Designer – Boston Planning + Development Agency / Marcus Mello is an incoming urban designer at the Boston Planning and Development Agency. He is currently teaching a six-week summer design
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New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

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