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They’re putting the public back in public space

Meet five practitioners who want our shared spaces to be a resource for those who use them

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The architect who’s confronting climate change

Pamela Conrad is out to restore nature to our cities—and help them face future ecological disasters.

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The urban designers who bring the community in

The Denver-based firm wants its projects to be useful to the public for decades.

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The architect making playgrounds reflect how children actually play

To Meghan Talarowski, play is "so much more than just physical activity."

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The urbanist with a plan for the LA River

To landscape designer Mia Lehrer, making LA more livable is all about peeling back the concrete.

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The architect who uses performance to open up public space

Through site-specific installations, Bryony Roberts addresses democracy, spatial justice, historic preservation, and identity.

Maybe landscape architecture is having a moment: This year, both a Bay Area landscape artist and a Chicago urban designer working in agriculture were deemed geniuses by the MacArthur Foundation. And as the conversation about climate change becomes more urgent, the people who work in and with the elements have become more vital and more vocal participants. Of course “a moment” in the built environment lasts a long time, and some of those now recognized as trailblazers have been hard at work in the field for years.

It’s in our urban landscapes—parks and playgrounds, public buildings, the waterways in and around our cities—that we feel the clearest and most tangible impacts of architecture and design. So, to close out 2019, we’re highlighting five of the most progressive and promising people and studios doing precisely that kind of work: Bryony Roberts, Studio Ludo, Mia Lehrer, Civitas, and Pamela Conrad of CMG Landscape Architecture. We’ll be profiling one of them each day this week.

Whether they’re activating a storied plaza as a means to explore spatial justice, challenging their peers with a tool for tackling climate change, or taking large, complicated projects over the finish line with buy-in from the community, all of these five are out to make public space a resource for the people who use it.


Writers: Jeff Andrews, Diana Budds, Patrick Sisson, Alissa Walker
Editor: Sara Polsky
Art direction: Alyssa Nassner
Illustrations: George Wylesol
Photo editing: Audrey Levine
Copy editing: Emma Alpern
Engagement: Jessica Gatdula, Stephanie Griffin, Sharell Jeffrey
Special Thanks: Mariam Aldhahi, Kelsey Keith, Mercedes Kraus