PennDesign Black Student Alliance

speaker bios

This year’s theme “Rebuilding Communities After Disaster : How design can heal or harm cities after natural or economic disasters” will be an examination of past successes and failures of strategically designed rebuilding efforts.

Recent years have seen a string of natural disasters that have changed the landscape of many worldwide cities. In addition, America’s rust belt has been dying for many years, living a string of troubled city districts across the country. Previous mistakes in planning and design have proven to be hard to fix, requiring a synergy between politicians, designers, planners, economists, businesses, and residents to overcome. The recent economic crisis provided yet another blow exacerbating many issues to a new scale. It is now clear that something must be done to target the disenfranchised in most cities in addition to creating new development to help stabilize the housing and job markets.

Looking at post event recovery plans and actions, how has the design community responded and conceived innovative ways to rebuild? Looking at models from Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, terrorist bombings in New York City, London, and Mumbai, the civil wars in Africa, and now the earthquake in Haiti, how will the design and planning fields contribute to healing these locations? Should it commemorate what came before or inspire and new way of living? How will these tragedies influence the way we practice in the future, in terms of safety, durability, and sustainability? Examining issues facing cities such as Detroit and Philadelphia, what can be done to breathe a new life into these stagnant locales?

These questions, along with many others, highlight a growing need to evaluate the social conditions, historical precedents and design decisions that have led to today’s conditions. The UB10 conference will also discuss contemporary approaches that are confronting the current power structure, and ones that are seeking to establish new, justice-oriented design strategies
that begin rebuilding communities with intentions to include all residents not remove those in lower-income brackets.

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