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The park bench effect

May 31, 2015

This photo essay is about the role of public seating in places that nurture human relationships and actively contribute to a healthy state of mind.

A decade or so ago it was common to see pathogenic parks and public spaces. I remember sitting in NYC’s Bryant Park (briefly, in the ’80’s) when it was scary. Decaying conditions and anti-social behavior became normal when there was no direct involvement by each community in ongoing improvements.

In recent years, new standards for civic engagement and quality have been set by such places as Bryant Park, Campus Martius in Detroit and Sugar Beach in Toronto.

Rather than simply aim to “do no harm” in line with the 30+ year old “broken windows theory“, many of today’s new and revitalized parks are salutogenic (v. pathogenic).

Lovable, not just sustainable

May 15, 2015


Recently I led a Jane’s Walk which looked at a wide range of settings in terms of how they make us feel and why.

My message was that our daily visual diet affects our state of mind. We can make better choices as individuals and as a society if we become better critics.

During my walk I mentioned that “building beloved places is a sustainability issue.” Up to 40% of solid waste in landfills comes from construction debris. If we aim to build places that are love-worthy, they will not be destined for demolition. A SAB Magazine article I co-wrote explores this idea in more detail.

Everyone has a different “Love List.” I’ve noted in the slides above some of my reasons for choosing these particular places.

What places do you love in your city?

Top Ten Places to Feed Your Psyche in Detroit

April 19, 2015

Drive Thru Art Gallery

April 19, 2015

Located in downtown Detroit, this 10-story gallery-garage displays the work of 26 international artists commissioned by Dan Gilbert, owner of Bedrock Real Estate, working with Library Street Collective.

“The Z” could have been just another utilitarian design in a city that needs new infrastructure. Instead the developer makes the most of this opportunity to reinforce Detroit’s image as an optimistic, intriguing and human place.

My ideas for the Packard Plant in Detroit

April 18, 2015

In response to an international competition organized by Parallel Projections, here is my proposal, which will be included in an upcoming book about the event.

Packard_PLAN performance spacePackard bridge+ghostsPackard 2APACKARD PLANT PANELS_final crop2






Look Around. Diagnose Your Habitat!

December 13, 2014

My amateur video asks all citizens to look around and ask themselves, “How healthy is this place?”


TORONTO: How healthy?

November 14, 2014

Behold my entry for Spacing magazine’s Public Space Invaders film night. The evening of short films about Toronto and urban issues took place on Nov 26.


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