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October 22, 2014


Issues in Civic Visioning

In collaboration with AIGA/NY, AIANY/Center for Architecture and the AIANY/Public Architecture Committee, as part of Archtober, Architecture and Design Month

This Symposium event was the fifth in Town+Gown’s ongoing exploration of Design. Prior events focused on NYC Department of Probation’s Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) program as a case study project to explore the many meanings of design, including the exploration of how design-based research methodologies and techniques turn data into knowledge in a cyclical process that includes policy recommendations, implementation and evaluation. Other events continued exploring the meanings of design by bringing some of the engineering disciplines, as designers, into the design conversation, and highlighting the role that the allied design fields, such as interior design, communications design, service design and industrial design, play in the delivery of public services. 

A chart—10 things public policy analysts should know about design and 10 things designers should know about public policy analysis—provided the foundation for cross-disciplinary conversations at another event to help both sides reach across the policy/design divide and increase cross-disciplinary collaborations. 

The last event focused on three completed Town+Gown projects that began to tie the theme of creating sustainable neighborhoods with ever-present theme of design, exploring the relationship between design and planning scale. One theme woven through all the prior events was the role of the city’s design-related academic institutions play in supporting the design sector of the local economy, focusing on pedagogical programming to integrate basic business and entrepreneurial skills with the design curriculum and ways to connect the design programs with New York’s other economic sector businesses, developing city-wide academic partnerships.  Another theme was the role of government and how public agencies can use design in their work to inform program functions and outcomes. The first conversation at this event used the discipline of placemaking to discuss various approaches to neighborhood improvement by the combined use of data, communication design and visual arts to engage communities in producing change and lasting benefits.  The second conversation brought forward the focus on design thinking combined with technical design aspects—building information modeling (BIM) technology and lean design and construction principles.  The focus on BIM, with academics who have used the classroom setting in Town+Gown projects, also explored how BIM will change traditional relationships during the design and construction phases.