Designers and planners do community engagement for all kinds of reasons. For some, it’s a scope requirement that results in empty evening meetings and obligatory “dotmocracy” activities. At worst, it’s an act of coercion: an opportunity to sell a predetermined, independently-generated idea to an unwilling public whose support is needed for approval. Increasingly, community engagement events are PR platforms—photo ops staged to showcase a designer’s willingness to work with “the community.” Rarely is community engagement what it should be, namely, an open-ended, inclusive, and meaningful (and fun!) dialogue that generates something unique and site-specific. In this talk, Dan will talk about some of Interboro’s recent and not-so-recent adventures in community co-design, in which they have deployed engagement, close observation, and learning tools to create regional, citywide, and neighborhood plans, parks and open spaces, public art installations, and other co-authored urban environments.
Daniel D’Oca is an urban planner. He is Principal and co-founder of the New York City-based architecture, planning, and research firm Interboro Partners, and Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. At Harvard, Daniel has taught interdisciplinary US-based studios about age-friendly design and planning, suburban poverty and segregation, and other contemporary problems faced by the built environment in the United States. Prior to teaching at the GSD Daniel was Assistant Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he produced an award-winning public exhibition about racial segregation in Baltimore. With Interboro, Daniel has won many awards for Interboro’s innovative projects, including the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices and Young Architects Awards, and the New Practices Award from the AIA New York Chapter. Most recently, Interboro was one of ten firms selected by the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development to work on its pioneering “Rebuild by Design” initiative. Interboro’s book The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion is an encyclopedia about accessibility and the built environment that will be published by Actar in 2015.