At the New School, I teach a class in the Urban Studies department called City Studio. The goal of this class is to collaborate with a community organization and to understand a contested urban space. The outcome of this class is to develop a project for the public that helps the broader community visualize our contested site. In 2008 and 2009 we have focused on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) – located on the Lower East Side, and one of the most contested urban renewal sites. It is still the largest parcel of undeveloped land in NYC south of 96th Street, as noted by the New York Times, here.
Now, this year’s class is grappling with this complex site, and the new questions that have developed, as last year’s community organizing by SPURA Matters (a collaboration of community organizations including GOLES, Place Matters and the Pratt Center) has furthered the conversation in the community. So much so, in fact, that Community Board 3 has once again begun to consider the question of development at SPURA.
At this point in the semester, City Studio is starting to develop our research questions about the site, and how we might contribute to furthering the conversation. A brainstorming session in class, pulling from each student’s own research questions (defined in an earlier paper) resulted in some exciting connections – as seen here.
This week, our research groups present their work plans for public projects, and things will start to develop quite quickly.
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