The Politics of Public Space

Lecture by Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times

Introduction by Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design

This event is free and open to the public.

Space is limited. Walk-ins welcome on a first come, first seated basis. Doors open at 3:30. 

Statement by Michael Kimmelman:

From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti, from the streets of Rio to Istanbul’s Gezi Park, politics are being played out in public spaces. The fabric of the city is both the stage for social action and the object of civic debate. Increasingly, people are coming to understand that equality, opportunity, mobility, prosperity, and health are reflected in the way we shape and build our cities, that freedom is defined and contested in public space. When the Occupy movement took over parks and plazas around the world, it wasn’t incidental that these places became temporary cities, ad-hoc proposals for a more just and equitable culture. And as in Istanbul, Egypt, and elsewhere, these places proved that social media, despite its ubiquity, may augment but can’t displace the power of public space. A few hundred people gathered near Wall Street created an impact that a million signatures to a petition online couldn’t. In this, the first urban century, as billions more move into cities and claim its spaces as their own, the way we plan and construct those cities and define what is public will define the coming decades.

Michael Kimmelman is the architecture critic of the New York Times and the Franke Visiting Fellow at the Whitney Center for the Humanities at Yale University. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books.