36 minutes | Mar 9, 2019

#003 Fred Kent || Animating Urban Spaces with Improvisation

Fred Kent founded The Project for Public Spaces over 40 years ago. He likes to say that if architecture is frozen music, then urban planning is composition and placemaking is improvisational street performance. Very early on in his career, he became part of a community of people -- Margaret Mead, Jane Jacobs and William H. White -- that formed a thesis around thriving public spaces not through the cold snapshots of a city from an aerial viewpoint, or the sterile abstractions of data, but through the keen power of human observation and the belief that richness is all around us if we're only willing to look. These pioneering urbanists famously stood up to Robert Moses and other destructive notions that prioritized traffic and sales over basic human needs with an approach that was as radical in its simplicity as it was transformative.  Based on lightweight design tenets from community organizing that help facilitate public life with the help of the public, Fred has helped local communities reimagine and transform spaces they live in into places they love to live in over 3,000 communities and 48 countries. He and his partner are currently busy expanding their mission into PlacemakingX, a global network of citizens who are leading the fight against special interests and the dehumanizing effects of corporate urbanization by catalyzing change according to their collective visions.  Note: The clip at 7:27 is from the Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte, who was a collaborator and inspiration for The Project of Public Spaces.  ++++  This is the third episode in a 5-part series about Designing Wild Bodies and Space. Check out our other conversations with a Choreographer (Andrea Miller from Gallim Dance) and an Interactive Narrative Designer (Nick Fortugno from Playmatics / Come Out and Play). Stay tuned for our upcoming conversation with an Urban Geographer to understand the invisible forces governing today's urban spaces and a nonfiction narrative episode to wrap it all up.  Thanks to Brad Clymer for the dope intro music and Lawrence Williams for producing this episode!
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