The Just City Lab

The Just City Lab investigates the definition of urban justice and the just city and examines how design and planning contribute to the conditions of justice and injustice in cities, neighborhoods and the public realm.

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, and imagine that we can assign metrics to measure design's impact justice, and image we can use these findings to design interventions that minimizing the conditions of injustice. 


The lab accomplishes this work through three project initiatives:

 Just City Essay Publications**:  Volume 1 was released in 2015 featuring 26 authors from 9 different countries.  A second volume is planned to further the discussion and debate about whether a truly just city is achievable.  A series of forums will also be planned, featuring best practices.

 Just City Indicator Project**: The Just City Indicator Project is developing an indicator framework tool including an elaborate menu of urban values, indicators and metrics, both spatial and social,designed to evaluate how design of the built environment contributes to health, economic, civic, cultural, aesthetic and environmental design wellbeing.  The initial pilot project, “Public Life and Urban Justice in NYC’s Public Plaza’s” was completed in 2015 by Professor Griffin, with the J. Max Bond Center, Gehl Studios and Transportation Alternatives.  The second pilot project to create an indicator framework for the neighborhood scale is under development.  These issues are also explored through the GSD spring seminar, Design for the Just City.

 Just City Participatory Planning Approaches:  As part of the Just City Indicator Project, the lab will research and develop unique participatory tools that enable a community to define the values necessary to achieve their just city or just community.  The tools will also equip communities with the ability to collect and analyze neighborhood data to be entered into the indicator framework for evaluation of the presence of just and unjust conditions.

 ** Just City publications and indicator studies dated 2015 were developed by Professor Griffin at the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York, Spitzer School of Architecture.