Humanizing Data for Just Cities

Design and the Just City in NYC exhibit that opened in early January this year to the public nudges the audience to think of the city through the lens of justice. Featuring research from Harvard GSD’s Just City Lab led by Toni Griffin, it examines a values-driven approach to urban planning and design to address conditions of injustice in the city.

Imagine that the issues of race, income, education, and unemployment inequality, and the resulting segregation, isolation, and fear, could be addressed by planning and urban design. Would we design better places if we put the values of equality, equity, and inclusion first? If communities articulated what they stood for, what they believed in, and what they aspired to be, would they have a better chance of creating healthy and vibrant places?

The project invariably draws one’s attention to the nature of data that informs urban planning processes, moving away from traditional statistical models towards humane, intentional, complex and nuanced forms of city data.

Situated in a cozy, reflective nook at the Center for Architecture, the exhibit engages the visitors in rethinking their neighborhoods and places in terms of the values they represent.

A large walled map of New York City is a canvas for New Yorkers to collectively aggregate these values and add their dimensions to the city.