The constantly shifting concept of “public good” poses a challenge to designers, stewards and managers of public space, as well as to politicians, elected officials, community leaders and citizens. How are public-good ideals rendered and tended in public spaces, sites, buildings, infrastructure and institutions? Praxis Dialogues offers an opportunity to discuss these questions in a series of public conversations. The program, co-hosted by PennPraxis and PlanPhilly, held its first event in December 2015.
The design professions have become very proficient in creating sophisticated urban public spaces – streets, plazas, parks, infrastructure, public art, and more. These places reflect inherited ideas about the commons and the public realm, but how well do they reflect the changing conceptions of “public good” in contemporary political discourse? Amid the often fragmented, distorted, and theatrical political realm, designers’ notions of public good must somehow find resonance with contemporary needs and desires. The first Praxis Dialogue explored gaps and connections between the design and management of public spaces and social, political conceptions of the public good.
The first event, held on December 1, 2015 at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, focused on public good in the design practice. The second, held April 11, 2016 at Fringe Arts, focused on the notion of public good in arts and culture. Future conversations will focus on different aspects of the public good as it relates to the areas of study of PennDesign.