You just need to Login or Register to make a class proposal. (Sorry about that, but it cuts down on spam and also helps with organizing)

#whOWNSpace #UES: Observe, Diagram, Intervene

Organizing Committee:


William Whyte on urban space and the enforcement of undemocratic rules: “a stiff, clarifying test is in order.”

Meet up: 64th St and 5th ave
Facilitators: Aurash Khawarzad and Daniel Latorre
Twitter: #whOWNSpace #ues

This studio/class will use design and urban theory to critically study the design, ownership, and rules of New York City's open spaces as part of the #whOWNSpace research project. #whOWNSpace arises from the the questions that the #occupywallstreet movement has brought up about ownership and use of open space in New York City, North America, and cities around the world.

The class will occur at three sites simultaneously in order to focus on the varying centers of control in Manhattan--both public and private.* The lens for the studio will be on power dynamics around public space, focusing on the potential of open space to create democratic vitality.

The Upper East Side (#UES) group will focus on the civic center of power that dictates many of the rules and designs of New York’s public space: NYC’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The group will study these rules as well as look at Central Park and a nearby residential privately-owned public space (POPS).

Students will be asked to read a few assigned texts as well as come prepared to write, photograph, sketch and map POPS, publicly-owned open spaces (POOS), and governmental and financial centers of power. The documentation will include observation and diagramming of rules/regulations, aesthetics/design, uses/programs, politics/economics, etc... The documentation will be uploaded as the beginning of a digital crowd-sourced map that tests the limitations of collective use in both publicly and privately owned open spaces.

Observation tour/discussion of readings
Collective Mapping exercise
Intervention (action that tests the limits of rules at both POPS and POOS)
All groups meet up at the POPS inside the Bank of America headquarters for the official launch of a #whOWNSpace crowd-sourcing map of Privately-Owned Public Spaces (POPS) and POPS, publicly-owned open spaces (POOS).

This collaborative studio/class has been organized and will be led by DSGN AGNCDoTank:Brooklyn, and Not An Alternative in collaboration with The Public School NY

*The other sites include the following:

The Midtown (#midtown) group will focus on Bryant Park and the privately-owned public spaces (POPS) around the Bank of America headquarters.Meet up: 42nd St and 6th ave
Facilitators: Quilian Riano, Phil Grimaldi, and Melissa Frost
Twitter: #whOWNSpace #midtown

The Financial District (#FiDi) group will focus on the area near the Goldman Sachs headquarters. Meet up: Hudson River Greenway and Warren St
Facilitators: Rena Mande and Amanda Rekemeyer
Twitter: #whOWNSpace #FiDi


Recommended Reading List and Films

-Mike Davis - Fortress Los Angeles: The Militarization of Urban Space   
- Rem Koolhaas - Junkspace
- Cahier - The Civic City - Social movements in the Post-Neoliberal City
Lefebvre -- Right to the City

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces           
Summary of the book: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces   



  • Aurash Khawarzad and Daniel Latorre


For those who attended the other sessions of #whOWNSpace classes, join us for the Greenpoint iteration!

Join us in our new home, at 155 Freeman, where this studio/class will "use design and urban theory to critically study the design, ownership, and rules of Greenpoint's open spaces and infrastructure as part of the #whOWNSpace project. The lens for the studio will be on neighborhood power dynamics around space, focusing on the potential of open space to create democratic vitality."

solidk's picture

Hello #whOWNSpace #UES,

I want to thank Aurash Khawarzad and Daniel Latorre for facilitating this class. Thank you also to everyone who participated. I'm hoping that we can do this again in the near future.


solidk's picture

Hello #whOWNspace #UES,

This is a reminder that this group meets today at noon at 64th Street and 5th Avenue.


Close this window