DESIGN FOR THE JUST CITY

WE'RE A TEAM OF DESIGN JUSTICE THINKERS AND DOERS.

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MISSION

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. 

 

TEAM

 Toni L. Griffin is the founder of  Urban Planning and Design for the American City , based in New York.  Through the practice, Toni served as Project Director the long range planning initiative of the Detroit Work Project, and in 2013 completed and released  Detroit Future City , a comprehensive citywide framework plan for urban transformation. Most recent clients include working with the cities of Memphis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.  Ms. Griffin was recently a Professor of Architecture and the founding Director of the  J. Max Bond Center on Design for the J  ust City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York.  Founded in 2011, the Bond Center is dedicated to the advancement of design practice, education, research and advocacy in ways that build and sustain resilient and just communities, cities and regions. Currently the Center is focused on several design research initiatives including the  Legacy City Design Initiative , that explores innovative design solutions for cities that have lost greater than 20% population lost since their peak;   “Just City Design Indicators Project”  that seeks to define the core values of a just city and offer a performance measure tool to assist cities and communities with evaluating how design facilitates urban justice in the built environment; and  “Inclusion in Architecture”  that examines the participation of people of color in architecture and related design fields.  Prior to returning to private practice, Toni was the  Director of Community Development for the City of Newark , New Jersey, where she was responsible for creating a centralized division of planning and urban design, launching the city’s complete overhaul of its comprehensive master plan and zoning ordinance.  Between 2000-2006, Ms. Griffin served as  Vice President and Director of Design for the Anacostia   Waterfront Corporation  in Washington, DC, leading the planning for the  Washington Nationals Ballpark District , and held the position of  Deputy Director for Revitalization Planning and Neighborhood Planning in the D.C. Office of Planning , responsible for the  Anacostia Waterfront Initiative,  the downtown City Center redevelopment, and numbers neighborhood revitalization plans.  Between 1998-2000, Ms. Griffin served as Vice President for Planning & Tourism Development for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation in New York City.  She began her career as an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, where she became an Associate Partner involved in architecture and urban design projects in London and Chicago.  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, where she also taught as an Adjunct Associate Professor between 2006-2011.  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 UC Berkeley, and serves on the board of the New York Regional Plan Association.
 

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. 

 
  Natasha Hicks   • Los Angeles, CA    Master's in Urban Planning & Master's in Design Studies   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Natasha Hicks • Los Angeles, CA

Master's in Urban Planning & Master's in Design Studies • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Chandra Rouse   • Washington, D.C.    Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Chandra Rouse • Washington, D.C.

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Eamon O'Connor   • Worcester, MA    Master's in Urban Planning   • Harvard Graduate School of Design    Master's in Public Administration   • Harvard Kennedy School

Eamon O'Connor • Worcester, MA

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Master's in Public Administration • Harvard Kennedy School

  Zachary Weimer   • Pittsburgh, PA    Master's in Architecture II   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Zachary Weimer • Pittsburgh, PA

Master's in Architecture II • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Sidra Fatima   • Los Angeles, CA    Master's in Urban Planning   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Sidra Fatima • Los Angeles, CA

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Nerali Patel   • Johannesburg, South Africa    Master's in Urban Planning   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Nerali Patel • Johannesburg, South Africa

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Emily Marsh   • Oakland, CA    Master's in Urban Planning   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Emily Marsh • Oakland, CA

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Mayu Takeda   • Denver, CO    Master's in Urban Planning   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Mayu Takeda • Denver, CO

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Caroline Lauer   • Harrisburg, PA    Master's in Urban Planning   • Harvard Graduate School of Design

Caroline Lauer • Harrisburg, PA

Master's in Urban Planning • Harvard Graduate School of Design

  Meghan Venable-Thomas   • New York, NY    Doctorate of Public Health   •   Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Meghan Venable-Thomas • New York, NY

Doctorate of Public Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

  Milan Outlaw   • Milwaukee, WI    Master's of Architecture   •   Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Milan Outlaw • Milwaukee, WI

Master's of Architecture Massachusetts Institute of Technology