The Just City Lab investigates the definition of urban justice and the just city and examines how design and planning contribute to conditions of justice and injustice in cities, neighborhoods and the public realm. Professor Toni L. Griffin and her team of research assistants have produced The Just City Index, Just City Indicators for the Public Realm, tools for civic engagement, design case studies and offer masterclasses and workshops on designing for justice.
At the Just City Lab, we ask: Would we design better places if we put the values of equality, inclusion or equity first? If a community articulated what it stood for, what it believed in, what it aspired to be — as a city, as a neighborhood — would it have a better chance of creating and sustaining more healthy, vibrant place with positive, economic, health, civic, cultural and environmental conditions? Imagine that the issues of race, income, education and unemployment inequality, and the resulting segregation, isolation and fear, could be addressed by planning and designing for greater access, agency, ownership, beauty, diversity or empowerment. Now imagine the Just City: the cities, neighborhoods and public spaces that thrive using a value-based approach to urban stabilization, revitalization and transformation. Imagine a set of values that would define a community’s aspiration for the Just City. Imagine we can assign metrics to measure design's impact on justice. Imagine we can use these findings to deploy interventions that minimize conditions of injustice.
nov 14 2018 • design observer
jun 26 2018 • Harvard GSD
jun 1 2018 • CITY LAb
MAR 26 2018 • HARVARD GSD
TONI L. GRIFFIN • FOUNDER
Toni L. Griffin is a Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and leads The Just City Lab, a research platform for developing values-based planning methodologies and tools, including the 2017 Just City Index and a framework of indicators and metrics for evaluating social justice in public space. The 2015 Public Life and Urban Justice in NYC's Plazas study developed an elaborate framework of indicators and metrics to assess how the conditions of civic life and social justice in several New York City Public plazas. Toni is also co-editor of and contributor to The Just City Essays: Volume One, a collection of 26 essays by thought leaders representing 22 different cities and 5 countries, offering their propositions for ways to acknowledge injustice and promote greater justice in cities.
Toni is also the founder of Urban Planning for the American City, based in New York, specializing in leading complex, trans-disciplinary planning and urban design projects for multi-sector clients in cities with long histories of spatial and social injustice. Recent urban planning projects that showcase how the practice transforms legacy issues of population and economic decline into innovative places for inclusion, prosperity and equity include Detroit Future City and MKE United: A Greater Downtown Action Agenda. The practice has also served as a strategic advisor to mayors and civic leaders in Washington, DC., Memphis, and St. Louis looking to design comprehensive urban planning frameworks through inclusive engagement. Additionally, Toni has served as program advisor and facilitator to the Kresge Foundation, Surdna Foundation and Heinz Endowments for integrating policies that promote social and spatial justice into their program areas and investments.
Most recently, Ms. Griffin was a Professor of Architecture and the founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Toni has also held several public sector positions including, Director of Community Development for Newark, New Jersey; Vice President and Director of Design for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in Washington, DC; and Deputy Director for Revitalization and Neighborhood Planning for the DC Office of Planning. She began her career as an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, where she became an Associate Partner.
Ms. Griffin received a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In 2014, Toni was the Visiting Associate Professor and Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Real Estate Law and Urban Planning, in the Department of City and Regional Planning at University of California, Berkeley.
Toni has published several articles and book chapters on the just city, legacy cities, and urban planning and design and her work has been featured in publications including Metropolis and Next City. She has lectured extensively in the United States, Europe, Africa, and South America and has a 2015 TED Talk on Detroit. In 2016, President Barack Obama appointed Toni to the Untied States Commission of Fine Arts.
The Just City Lab works with a range of partners in research and practice, including: