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“We should all feel welcome to the park”

Intergenerational Public Space and Universal Design in Disinvested Communities

Abstract

This article investigates the potential for intergenerational public space in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Through a series of site observations, focus groups, interviews, thick mapping, and participatory design exercises, we work with 43 youth and 38 older adults (over 65), all residents of Westlake, to examine their public space use, experiences, and desires, and identify where the two groups’ interests intersect or diverge. We explore the potential for complementary approaches to creating intergenerational public space using the principles of Universal Design. In doing so, we emphasize the importance of taking an intersectional approach to designing public space that considers the multiple, often overlapping identities of residents of historically marginalized communities predicated by disability and age, in addition to race, class, and gender. Our findings yield insights for creating more inclusive and accessible public spaces in disinvested urban neighborhoods as well as opportunities for allyship between groups whose public space interests have been marginalized by mainstream design standards.

 

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Published:
Pages:135 to 154
Section: Academic
How to Cite
Wendel, G., Loukaitou-Sideris, A., Nelischer, C. and Bastar, G. (2022) “‘We should all feel welcome to the park’”, The Journal of Public Space, 7(2), pp. 135-154. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v7i2.1481.

Author Biographies

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Urban Planning
United States United States

Gus Wendel is a Ph.D student in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA. His research is broadly concerned with the intersection of race, gender and sexuality, urban design and governance, and neighborhood change. In his concurrent role as the Assistant Director of cityLAB, Gus oversees several design-research projects examining the links between housing insecurity, long-distance commuting, and public space access and use. Gus also manages the multi-year Mellon Foundation award to the Urban Humanities Initiative, where he also co-produces the Digital Salon and is involved in teaching and research. Prior to graduate school, Gus worked for the Oregon Secretary of State and advocated for LGBTQ rights in his home state of Oregon. Gus has a Master in Urban and Regional Planning from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and a BA in International Relations and Italian Studies from Brown University.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Urban Planning
United States United States

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris is a Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and the Associate Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. She holds degrees in architecture and urban planning and has published extensively on issues relating to public spaces. She has authored or edited 13 books and multiple articles on urban design, transportation, and community development. Her more recent books include: The Informal American City: Beyond Taco Trucks and Day Labor (MIT Press: 2014); Transit Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? (MIT Press: 2019); The New Companion to Urban Design (Routledge: 2019); Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City (MIT Press 2020); Transit Crime and Sexual Violence in Cities (Routledge: 2020); Spatial Implications and Planning Criteria for High-Speed Rail Cities and Regions (Routledge: 2021); Pandemic in the Metropolis (Springer: 2022), and Just Urban Design: The Struggle for the Public City (MIT Press: 2022).

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
United States United States

Claire Nelischer is a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA interested in public space governance, civic participation, and urban design. Her current research centers on questions of spatial justice in the production and management of urban parks and public spaces, and the role of planners, designers, and communities in shaping shared public environments and outcomes. Claire is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to urban research that blend humanistic and scientific methods. She is a graduate of UCLA’s Urban Humanities certificate program and has served as a Graduate Student Researcher with cityLAB, an architecture and urban research think tank in UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, as well as with the Institute for Transportation Studies in the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Before pursuing doctoral studies, Claire worked in policy research, advocacy, and community engagement in Toronto and New York City, with a focus on the public realm. She holds a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography from Queen’s University.

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