How is an urban designer defined? Recently the role of the urban designer has become distinguished from the architect or planner as urban design has taken a very important role in public space. The approach of the urban designer has thus changed to think holistically, where the focus has shifted to creating public spaces that increase the capacity to support equitable and well-designed environments. The comparison and contrast between two design professionals will help to better understand the role of the urban designer: Le Corbusier, who is a more traditional urban designer, and Katherine Darnstadt a non-traditional urban designer who is practicing in Chicago Illinois.
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We will specifically look at the comparison of their design approach, how the designer intends their project for public use, and also how their work has impacted society. The study of these two designers will begin to re-frame the role of the urban designer.
Katherine Darnstadt is a young practicing architect in Chicago Illionis who has begun to re-define urban design. She has taken a very humble approach to the design of public space in an effort to support equitable spaces for communities. The American Institute of Architects called Darnstadt “”a shining example of the next generation’s citizen-architect”” (Fixsen, 2015). She is the current and managing principal of Latent Design, a small architecture practice that was conceived in the wake of the 2008 great recession. Katherine, who had just been laid off, a newly wed, and also pregnant, thought that having a small architecture firm would keep her afloat through the economic down turn, of which it did (Fixsen, 2015). She has now been recognized by the AIA from the Young architect of the year award in 2014 and has also been distinguished on the 40 under 40 list in the Chicago Business Journal. Her firm works at the intersection of design and community development in order to create social, economic and environmental impact (Latent, 2017).
Katherine Darnstadt has begun to re-define the role of the urban designer and there contribution to society. Her firm utilizes the skills of architects, product designers, graphic designers, and also construction managers becoming a collective group working toward the better design of cities. She stated in an interview with architectural record “”Design can validate initiatives and ideas. And it can highlight where policies and systems are failing, we design for gaps”” (Fixsen, 2015). Katherine believes that architecture can extend beyond buildings and that the true design of our urban environments is the space between here or there (Darnstadt, 2014). She sees the scrapes left-over in the urban environment by in-effective systems are the most crucial part of communities, in which these spaces become a the common thread. She also believes that by making design visible we can begin to change the perception of our communities.
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