2007, Sat, Oct 20

Urban Development and the Public Sphere - Between Politics and Activism

New York - Berlin: Cultural Diversity in Urban Space

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin are large-scale development schemes which will have a lasting influence on their respective cities. Are there possibilities and strategies for broadly involving urban residents in the development and decision-making process of such projects? Or can participation work at the local level and through individual initiative? What concepts are urban planners and activists developing?


With Michelle de la Uz (activist in Fifth Avenue Committee, Brooklyn community development initiative), Joan Byron (Pratt Center for Community Development, Brooklyn, New York), Uwe Altrock (Professor of Urban Renewal and Redevelopment, University of Kassel) and Matthias Heyden (architect, Berlin).

Moderated by Deike Peters (Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York)


Uwe Altrock is a professor of urban renewal at Kassel University. His research interests include planning theory and politics, urban renewal, and governance research. He contributed to the DFG research project Renaissance der Mitte: Zentrumsbau in Berlin und London and is the editor of the publication series Planungsrundschau.


Joan Byron is the director of the Sustainability and Environmental Justice Initiative (SAEJ) of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, integrating technical assistance, policy research, and advocacy for the equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens among New York City communities. From 1989 through 2003, she directed the Pratt Center's nonprofit architectural practice in the design and construction of over 2,000 units of affordable housing, as well as community health, child care, and cultural facilities. Joan Byron is a registered architect and has taught in Pratt Institute's undergraduate architecture program and in its Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.


Mathias Heyden is an architect, lecturer, publicist, and member of the mitBAU_AGENTinnEN / ISPARA (Institute of Strategies of Participatory Architecure and Spatial Appropriation). He co-edited the book Hier entsteht, Strategien partizipativer Architektur und räumlicher Aneignung (2004) and is a co-founder of the cultural association Stilkamm 5 1/2 and the self-administered housing and work community K77. Additionally, he conducts research on direct democracy and public space resources for the communal political information center at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


Deike Peters is a post-doctoral fellow of the German Research Foundation at the Center for Metropolitan Studies at the TU Berlin. Prior to joining CMS she was a Lecturer at the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning, Technical University Berlin. She received Master’s degrees in international affairs and in urban planning from Columbia University in New York and a PhD in urban planning and policy development from Rutgers University. Her research and publications focus on policy analysis, local governance and restructuring in cities, ecological and social dimensions of traffic and mobility, and planning theory.


Michelle de la Uz has twenty years of experience in public and community service and holds Master’s degrees in Public Administration and Social Work from Columbia University. Since 2004 she has been the executive director of Fifth Avenue Committee, a non-profit organization fostering economic and social justice in Brooklyn. A long-time Park Slope resident, Michelle de la Uz is the first in her working-class immigrant family to graduate from college and is a product of bi-lingual education.


The conference is a joint event of the House of World Cultures and the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York.


Concept: Susanne Stemmler (Center for Metropolitan Studies) and Sven Arnold (House of World Cultures)