Image Schulze+Grassov; 2014 WashU Mobility Survey

Panel Discussion: The Lively Cities

June 19, 2020
Livestreamed on the Sam Fox School Facebook page

View the full recording of the event>>

Over the past four months we have seen an emptying of public spaces around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, over the past few weeks, in response to the killing of George Floyd and other acts of racial injustice and police brutality, public protests have taken place in cities across the United States. As “stay at home” orders lift in many areas of the country—including the St. Louis region—and civic demonstrations continue, people are returning to the streets, and to commercial and public spaces. We are seeing public life reshaped as a negotiation between public health concerns and urgency of the public voice.

Join us for The Lively Cities webinar, an online panel discussion exploring how social distancing practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are challenging our conceptions of urbanity, leading us to question how we share public spaces as social infrastructure and what “future normality” will look like as restrictions lift and we regain a more active city life. The event will be livestreamed through the Sam Fox School Facebook page at 12p Central on June 19; a recording will also be made available.

The webinar marks the culmination of a weeklong workshop for Master of Urban Design students led by visiting professor Oliver Schulze, partner of the Copenhagen-based studio Schulze+Grassov, and Divided City visiting lecturer Mohammed Almahmood, head of research & innovation for Schulze+Grassov, as part of the summer 2020 MUD Global Urbanism Studio.

It will feature presentations of students’ design concepts for tactical urbanism interventions in St. Louis’ Delmar Loop area, as well as responses to those ideas and discussion of where we’re headed from the following panel of experts:

- L. Irene Compadre, Principal, Arbolope
- Louise Grassov, Partner, Schulze+Grassov
- Jamie Kolker, University Architect and Associate Vice Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis
- Jenny Roe, Mary Irene Deshong Professor of Design and Health, Urban + Environmental Planning and Director of the Center for Design + Health, University of Virginia School of Architecture
- Linda C. Samuels, Associate Professor of Urban Design, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis

About the Lively Cities Workshop

Master of Urban Design students prepare to investigate the use of public space in St. Louis’ Delmar Loop area.

Social distancing practices enforced under COVID-19 are challenging our conceptions of urbanity, and making it increasingly difficult for all users to negotiate public space. While some people seem unaware of the need to adhere to social distancing guidelines and are impeding individuals’ personal space, others are showing alarming signs of anxiety when they are meeting people in public spaces. This individual anxiety could potentially lead to a fundamental change in how urban citizens look at public life, challenging this idealized image of the open and welcoming city, where active public life is a cornerstone of the urban identity, underpinning retail, development, tourism and the wider urban economy. Short-term, medium-term, and long-term interventions are needed to ease these anxieties and help our urban society define a “new normal.”

In this workshop, students will investigate public life in a key urban life corridor in St. Louis, the Delmar Loop. Working alone, in groups, and as a studio across they will examine the current use of public space and develop ideas for tactical urbanism interventions for the area that would address issues of public anxiety and space. These ideas will be shared with administrative leadership at the university and for the city of University City to help inform strategic urban governance in the future.

About the Global Urbanism Studio

The workshop is part of the Master of Urban Design program’s Global Urbanism Studio. This studio has long focused on providing students the opportunity to study and experience significant global cities in comparative perspective. Summer 2020 is no exception—even at a time when international travel is not possible.

Associate professor Derek Hoeferlin, chair of landscape architecture & urban design, has re-conceptualized the Global Urbanism Studio this summer to be run completely remotely. Led by visiting assistant professor Jonathan Stitelman, this summer’s studio is working with an international network of designers across the globe, representing all of the continents plus the oceans, to understand how COVID-19, climate change, and other crises affect their regions. The studio is taking a multi-scalar view to balance the global interconnectedness of cities with the particularity of each urban context. Working with these guests and Sam Fox School faculty, students will design proactive, site-specific adaptations to the public realm, infrastructure, and building typologies.

Visit the Global Urbanism Studio page of the Sam Fox School website for more information.

This event is supported, in part, by the Divided City Initiative.