Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-viii

Our thanks to the contributors, whose distinctive and insightful interventions have made for a book we hope will significantly advance the debate about public space. This collection is part of a series called Canadian Commentaries. We have certainly included Canadian voices and Canadian experiences in what follows. But the subject of public space is, like...

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Introduction: Rites of Way, Paths of Desire

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pp. ix-xvii

The architectural theorist christopher alexander, in his monumental 1977 work A Pattern Language, traces what we might call the paths of desire that operate in buildings, walkways, towns, and cities. The “pattern language” of Alexander’s thought is the new way of tracing those paths, allowing room for them, respecting...

PART I

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Masters of Chancery: The Gift of Public Space

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pp. 3-22

Public space is the age’s master signifier. a loose and elastic notion that is variously deployed to defend (or attack) architecture, to decry (or celebrate) civic squares, to promote (or denounce) graffiti artists, skateboarders, jay-walkers, parkour aficionados, pie-in-the-face guerrillas, underground capture- the flag...

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We Wuz Robbed

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pp. 23-26

[IMAGES]

PART II

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Public Space: Lost and Found

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pp. 29-45

Public space has been put on the critical list by some, but the dire prognosis may be premature. It has seemed as if TV, the mall, the car, and the Internet would kill it, and it has been tempting to see its demise as a one-way downward spiral evidenced by painfully visible signs of deterioration all around us...

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Architecture and Public Space

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pp. 47-53

The architectural profession has struggled for over two centuries with the definition of its proper place, both within modern culture and, more concretely, in relation to the city. The problem seems to have become even more difficult since cities have increasingly proliferated and become hostile, unmanageable...

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The Enduring Presence of the Phenomenon of “the Public”: Thoughts from the Arena of Architecture and Urban Design

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pp. 55-61

Evidently, Mark Kingwell has grown wary of the idea of “public space”—or at least of a considerable number of current discourses put forward in its name.1 He is far from alone in his skepticism. In my own field of architecture and urban design, such skepticism has grown significantly—especially...

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Private Jokes, Public Places: An Excerpt

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pp. 63-67

COLIN Tell us about the sequence. MARGARET Sequence? COLIN Run us through the project. How one enters, where one goes, how one gets to the pool. MARGARET I was getting to that. COLIN Fine, proceed, please. Margaret lets out a deep breath of tension. WILLIAM It’s okay, Margaret.… Take your time...

PART III

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Holistic Democracy and Physical Public Space

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pp. 71-84

There is a common view about public space: that its extensions into virtual realms of media, the Internet, and discourse more generally matter more to political action than the old “bricks and mortar” accounts. Thus, “public space” is increasingly used as a metaphor that refers to the myriad ways in which citizens...

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Public Spaces and Subversion

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pp. 85-99

The large foyer of the central arts building at my university is full of all manner of public activity: students talking, reading, dozing, playing cards; tables representing a wide variety of ethnic communities and clubs advertising their functions, soliciting membership, and serving as gathering places; and—most...

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Take to the Streets! Why We Need Street Festivals to Know Our Civic Selves

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pp. 101-112

What are cities for? for some, they are centres of production and little else: machines made for doing business. Big cities are often referred to as the “engines of the economy,” a sentiment put forward to bolster the importance of urban areas during various national debates on where tax...

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How Insensitive: An Excerpt

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pp. 113-120

Ted got off the subway at Eglinton. John had told him to just walk north until he saw the cars. He had never been to this part of town before; it was where John had grown up. John never talked about it. Go-Go had sneeringly said it was white, just white and nothing else. In the dark, Yonge Street seemed deserted and sterile...

PART IV

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Beauty Goes Public

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pp. 123-136

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp bought a urinal from a new york ironworks, signed it “R. Mutt,” and entered it in the exhibition of New York’s Society of Independent Artists. And so, the story goes, a toilet conquered the world. In 2004, a poll of 500 artists, curators, critics, and art dealers named Duchamp’s Fountain the most influential art object...

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Protect the Net: The Looming Destruction of the Global Communications Environment

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pp. 137-149

Ask most citizens worldwide what the most pressing issue facing humanity as a whole and they will likely respond with global warming. However, there is another environmental catastrophe looming about which citizens are only just beginning to learn: the degradation of the global communications environment...

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The City as Public Space

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pp. 151-163

A city is full of externalities. noises and smells, congestion and pollution, loitering and littering, fear and excitement, the everyday encounters with strangers and strange behaviours, the shared use of public spaces and the clash of activities—all produce or result in various forms of uncompensated...

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… walks from the office for soft architecture

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pp. 165-177

Once again the plaque on the wall had been smashed. We attempted to recall the subject of official commemoration, but whatever we said about it, we said about ourselves. This way the day would proceed with its humiliating diligence, towards the stiffening silver of cold evening, when...

Contributors

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pp. 179-182

Index

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pp. 183-190