What Hector Does

Hector is an urban design, planning & civic arts studio led by Damon Rich & Jae Shin. We make architecture, public spaces, plans, exhibitions & publications that use design to help things happen.

“Building with roots in organized communities” is one way to express this goal. How can we connect the choices involved in designing to these larger networks of accountability? How can we understand enough about a design to align it with the slow and fragile work of organizing—knocking on doors, flyering, setting up democratic governance, staying on top of government officials—all the patient labor of putting people together to create a political force? Trying to design in this way centers on how design objects take on social qualities and vice versa: how social relations and conflicts materialize through the design process.


Damon Rich PP AICP is a designer, visual artist, and partner at Hector. He previously served as planning director and chief urban designer for the City of Newark and is the founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that uses art and design to increase meaningful civic engagement. His work has been recognized by the American Planning Association National Planning Award, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, the Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the MacDowell Colony, and the United States Pavilion at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice.

Jae Shin is a partner at Hector whose work combines architecture, urban design, and exhibitions. She recently served as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where she facilitated efforts to define and implement design principles for preserving and rehabilitating New York City’s public housing. She holds degrees from Rhode Island School of Design and Princeton University. Her projects have received support from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts. Jae has led design studios at New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter Award for Best Implemented Plan, 2016
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Research Award, 2016
Honorable Mention, The Architect's Newspaper Best of Design Award for Public Landscape, 2016
American Planning Association National Planning Award for Public Outreach, 2015
Charles Cummings Award of the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee, 2015
New Jersey Smart Growth Award for Newark’s River Redevelopment & Public Access Plan, 2014
Isadore Starr Center for the Study and Practice of Social Studies Star Award, 2014
American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter Outstanding Community Engagement and Education Award, 2009


Ironbound Community Corporation, Lower Broadway Coalition for I-280 & Route 21, Mayor's Institute on City Design, The Museum of Modern Art, Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee, New Jersey Future, Philadelphia Mural Arts, SEAMAAC, Inc, NJCRI Project Wow!, Sustainable Cities Design Academy, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Yendor Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Selected press

“An Investigative Approach to Park Design,” Next City, 4/6/17

"Planning Mifflin Square," South Philadelphia Record, 3/9/17

"Designing Mifflin Square Park to unite a diverse ethnic neighborhood," Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/26/17

"Reimagining Mifflin Square Park in 21 languages," Plan Philly, 10/5/16

“Walking to the Water: Environmental Justice and Newark’s Riverfront Park,” Urban Omnibus, 1/29/14

“Newark Revival Wears Orange Along the River,” New York Times, 7/20/13