We are ecstatic to announce that Hector partner Damon Rich has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship!
Today the MacArthur Foundation named Damon Rich as a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, describing him as "a designer and urban planner creating vivid and witty strategies to help residents exercise power within the public and private processes that shape our cities. Trained as an architect, he is committed to enlivening bureaucratic systems and applies a democratic approach to a wide range of projects, including designs for public spaces and exhibitions, civics curricula, and regulatory systems."
At Hector, we are extremely honored and floored by this recognition and support of our work. We are lucky to be part of a long tradition and deep field committed to exploring the democratic potentials of design, thankful for so many life-changing teachers, collaborators, and partners over the years, and eager for the challenges of making spaces, neighborhoods, and cities more accountable and spirited.
From the MacArthur Foundation:
“Damon Rich is a designer and urban planner creating vivid and witty strategies to help residents exercise power within the public and private processes that shape our cities. Trained as an architect, he is committed to enlivening bureaucratic systems and applies a democratic approach to a wide range of projects, including designs for public spaces and exhibitions, civics curricula, and regulatory systems.
In 1997, Rich founded the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and, in collaboration with a group of other educators, advocates, artists, and architects, developed a roster of programs to engage community-based organizations and public school students in explorations of such topics as tenant rights, affordable housing, and infrastructure design. As part of the Urban Investigations program, Rich worked with high school students to study and create models of New York City’s waste and water systems. In the ongoing Making Policy Public program, CUP staff work with artists, designers, and advocacy organizations to create highly accessible and portable fold-out posters that explain policy and social justice issues. Rich’s projects have taken larger-scale, three-dimensional forms, as well; for Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center (2009), he made imaginative use of the Queens Museum’s 1000-square-foot panorama of the City of New York to provide visitors with a physical way to experience and comprehend the contours of the foreclosure crisis. More recently, Rich’s focus on place, policy, and design has broadened to include development of more democratic urban planning mechanisms and design and construction of permanent physical spaces. He served as chief urban designer and director of planning (2008–2015) for Newark, New Jersey, a city marked by decades of disinvestment and sustained by traditions of political activism. There he worked with long-standing advocates like Ironbound Community Corporation to begin transforming Newark’s waterfront along the Passaic River with public parks, trails, and environmental installations. He also engaged a citywide coalition of neighborhood-based organizations in replacing Newark’s unwieldy and outdated zoning and land-use regulations with a user-friendly version (the first revision in over fifty years) based upon goals of environmental justice and accountable development.
In 2015, Rich co-founded (with Jae Shin) the independent design studio Hector in order to expand the reach of his practice, and he is currently at work on projects in Newark, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Attuned to the many competing interests at play in the urban planning process, Rich’s work celebrates visions of communities and residents who are often excluded and advances the roles of design and democracy in civic decisions about urban change.
Damon Rich attended Deep Springs College and received a B.A. (1997) from Columbia University. He served as founder and president of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (1997–2007) and director of the Newark Planning Office (2008–2015) prior to co-founding Hector. He has taught architecture and planning courses at Harvard University, Barnard College, Syracuse University, and Columbia University and co-authored the book Street Value: Shopping, Planning, and Politics on Fulton Street (2010). His work has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Newark Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.”
Hector's exhibition Space Brainz—Yerba Buena 3000 opens tonight at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
From YBCA: Celebrate the opening of Damon Rich and Jae Shin’s Space Brainz—Yerba Buena 3000 on Friday, June 30. Join us at 6 PM when designers Damon Rich and Jae Shin will be in conversation with Jeremy Liu, Senior Fellow for Arts, Culture, and Equitible Development at PolicyLink and Janette Kim, Assistant Professor at California College of the Arts, Architecture Division and co-director at Urban Works Agency. The reception will follow.
6–7 pm: Artist Conversation, Screening Room
7–9 pm: Reception, Youth Arts Lounge
Emma Jacobs writes, "A long-time area for refugee settlement, the densely packed blocks of rowhomes around Mifflin Square are shared by Cambodians and Bhutanese immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, as well as Italian and Irish-descended families who came to the city in earlier waves of immigration. In recent years, the area has also drawn young families seeking homes close to jobs in Center City and within walking distance of East Passyunk, a thriving corridor of shops and restaurants. With the changes have come new concerns about retaining the neighborhood’s diverse fabric and ensuring that longtime residents continue to have a voice in the planning process. 'Urban planning,' says Thoai Nguyen, director of SEAMAAC, 'is steeped in certain methodologies that are opaque. We have staff on hand speak majority of languages in the neighborhood,” says Nguyen, who grew up a block and a half from the square. SEAMAAC has important cultural knowledge, “but for us that was just not enough. You bring people to the table but then how do you have them engage in the process for a meaningful way?'" Read more...
"Cities Are Rebuilding Connections to Nature: The old model in which cities were totally cut off from their waterfronts — either by highways or industrial facilities — seems to be ending in the developed world at least. Damon Rich, head of Hector Urban Design, walked us through one prime example of how communities are reconnecting to their waterfront in Newark, New Jersey, which transformed some of the edges of the Passaic River from 'toxic nastiness' into the site of the 20-acre, $35 million Newark Riverfront Park that uses a 'symbolic system' of bright orange to 'reflect this is an anti-racist space.' To accomplish something like this, Rich said you need to 'bring together the conservation, organizing, and design communities together and invite them to the same party.'"
The first Design Guidelines for Rehabilitation of New York City Housing Authority Residential Buildings, co-edited by Hector partner Jae Shin, was released at the American Institute of Architects. Read more on FastCoDesign and AIANY and watch presentations at the AIANY release event.
Hector partner Damon Rich participated on a technical resource team for the American Architectural Foundation's Sustainable Cities Design Academy working with a group of local stakeholders and government officials looking at downtown developments in Fresno, California, where plans are underway to undo a historic pedestrian mall.
Hector partner Damon Rich participated in an Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel in Nelson Mandela Bay examining potential development scenarios of the center city and port-adjacent land. Read more...