Additional information about publications with access to Adobe PDF documents where noted.
Good, Deeds, Good Design
Princeton Architectural Press, New York (2003)
Over the last twenty years, Rex Curry has taught a variety of urban planning seminars and studios in Pratt’s School of Architecture, the Graduate Program for Planning and the Environment, and in the Pratt Institute Center for Community Development. As the former president of the national Association for Community Design, Inc. (ACD), he has furthered the development of this national organization by representing a combination of for profit and nonprofit planning and architectural practices in the United States.
One mainstay of community service through architecture is the community design center, some of which have existed for over twenty-five years and contributed a unique body of knowledge and great depth of experience. CDCs have come to represent great potential for a new form of professional practice. Read Article (pdf 365K)
In July 2000, a news headline described conditions in Chinatown in the following manner: “Boom times are the worst thing ever to have hit New York’s Chinatown.” In January 2001, members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) invested in the development of a “working papers” project and a survey of public opinion. Over a period of six months, beginning in March 2001, research and interviews identified the facts, defined issues and encouraged mutual action in areas of shared interest. On September 11, 2001 everything changed. The papers became a resource for recovery. Read Executive Summary (556 .pdf)
Community Design as a Standard of Practice
While at Pratt Institute, I sponsored a Fulbright Scholar interested in design, community participation and development. When I received a call from the editor of Time Savers seeking contributions to their first publication of Urban Design Standards, I asked our resident scholar Dr. Sheri Blake if she would be interested in the project. The article link is below.
When trapped in the matrix of metrics, Blake points out that change does not occur without persuasion. In this sense, when the facts do nothing but paralyze a community, other methods are needed to develop the courage to change and grow with uncertainty. Read Article (pdf 366K)
Gowanus Research Leads to Zoning Changes in 2007-2008
The freight moving capacity of the Gowanus Canal defined Brooklyn’s economic growth for a century. The material the canal delivered are the homes that surround it. Today, it there is less a robust but steady investment in environmental protection and lack of decline in some businesses that hint at its new potential. This combination of economic inputs implies significant changes to the adjacent “upland” residential communities such as Boerum Hill, Columbia Heights, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and many others.
The choices outlined in the 1987 Gowanus Canal Development Study (GCDS) examine the potential for a sequence of land use changes into the future. Data for local business and local nonprofit corporations provided measures of changing economic conditions. A series of “sites” in the report offered probable development locations. Several fragmented urban blocks over total area of 1.7 square miles, almost 467 acres define these locations. The primary investment remains a public responsibility. Making right a long series of past environmental wrongs has proven to take two decades vs. the 4 to 5 years originally estimated. A subsequent analysis undertaken in 2000 identified the causal issues, but once again attempted to define and market development locations.
During the initial 4-5 year period the Canal’s ancient flushing mechanism was re-engineered using the same technology – a pump to bring clean water into the Gowanus Canal to achieve “fishing and boating status” (level 7). The next high level of need is the administration of environmental services to continue the process of land restoration and monitoring for intentional dumping and spills in the area. This is where clean up efforts have stopped “dead in its tracks”. Dumping is part of the Canal’s legacy, just putting clean water into it does not mean that CSO dumping has been reduced or the that the need for indemnification of past land owners by the public can proceed given the current status of the land and environmental protection reform.
The 2000 report (a few of the pages are inserted below) included a detailed review of zoning history examining the last fifteen years of public land use decision making. An argument promotes the “re-invention” of local business opportunities using a special district approach with financial incentives. The vision is a revitalized canal business and industry center drawing on the substantial resource of design professionals in the area. The challenge is it argued, is the revitalization of this part of Brooklyn’s waterfront landscape is through unifying the demand for employment with new affordable housing based on industrial product design and research.
The community base of demand for “doing something” came from a visionay, a resident business man, and the unofficial Mayor of Carrol Gardens. Buddy S. Scotto’s saw a little bit of Venice, young entrepreneurs, and above all an end of its pollution. The central lesson here should be persistence. Any developer taking a modest look would require a fearlessness sense of risk. Since 1987, when I first started to take a serious look, I realize that position will hold through 2050 with a strong new group of advocates.
Survey of Outreach Programs
This survey examined the relationship between graduate urban design programs and university-based community outreach programs. The survey reports urban design programs in schools that included community outreach organizations. In addition to those covered, six others, without graduate programs in urban design do have undergraduate programs: Arizona State University, Tulane, University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, University of Oregon, and Yale. To open and download the table (pdf 280k) Click Here