NAC In San Francisco This Week! Events, News and More.

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NAC In San Francisco This Week! Events, News and More.

This week, Next American City travels to San Francisco, hosting the “Space in the City” symposium on Wednesday, and a subscriber cocktail party on Thursday. We will also be attending the Ecocity World Summit from April 22 to 26, where NAC’s publisher, Michelle Kuly, will be moderating a panel on sustainability and cities. Read for more details.

Wednesday, April 23, 6-9 p.m.
55 Second St., San Francisco

SPUR Young Urbanists and Next American City will host a symposium on the accessibility of privately owned public open spaces (POPOS) in downtown San Francisco. Refreshments will be served. Discussion will be moderated by Sarah Karlinsky, policy director of SPUR.

John Bela, Rebar
Margie O’Driscoll, AIA SF
Josh Switsky, SF Planning Department

About the moderator:

Sarah Karlinsky has served as SPUR’s Policy Director since 2005. She is responsible for managing SPUR’s housing, community planning, regional planning and disaster planning work and for coordinating SPUR’s policy efforts. Prior to joining SPUR, Sarah developed affordable housing throughout the Bay Area with Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition (MPHC), one of the largest non-profit developers of affordable housing in the Bay Area. Sarah is a board member of the Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC) and has taught land use planning at San Francisco State University. She is the author of “Smart Growth and Community Development Corporations: Putting Policy into Practice,” published by the National Reinvestment Corporation and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Sarah began her career teaching urban planning to middle school students as a Teach for America Corps Member in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and her BA in History from Columbia University.

About the panelists:

Margie O’Driscoll has been the Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects, San Francisco for six years. Prior to taking on this position, she served in senior level positions at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the Office of the Mayor of San Francisco. She also served as the Executive Director for the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. She has taught at Stanford University and San Francisco State University and has a BA in Political Theory from UC Berkeley and a MA in Public Management from Columbia University. O’Driscoll walks to work every day and doesn’t own a car. She is married and is the mother of two young sons who love modern architecture and are vocal critics of the city’s urban fabric.

Joshua Switzky is a Planner and Urban Designer in the City Design Group of the San Francisco Planning Department, where he has worked since 2001 on various neighborhood and policy plans, including the Rincon Hill Plan, Transbay Redevelopment Plan, and the Market Octavia Plan, among others. He first met Rebar after their initial Park(ing) Day installation due to a mutual interest in creative use of streets and the small universe of people working on these issues, and has since provided some professional and personal assistance to Rebar projects, including “CommonSpace.” Josh’s planning work in the downtown area consistently grapples with the design and creation of open space in a dense, built-up urban environment. He holds a Master’s of City Planning degree with a Certificate in Urban Design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. He lives in San Francisco.

John’ Bela’s background is in art, science, and environmental design. He studied drawing, performance, and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Plant Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts; and Landscape Architecture & Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. He currently works in professional practice in San Francisco with Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture (CMG) and directs Rebar, an active open-source art collective.

About COMMONspace “POPOS”:

San Francisco’s privately-owned public open spaces (“POPOS”) have multiplied in the last twenty years, and as major new development is poised to begin downtown, they promise to become even more common. Taking the form of courtyards, plazas, rooftop gardens, and corporate atriums, fourteen new POPOS have been created since 1985. San Francisco’s Downtown Plan enables developers to build high density commercial development in return for providing spaces that are to be “open to the public” during certain hours and provide amenities such as restrooms, shade, and protection from the sun and wind.

Until recently, there has been no comprehensive inventory of these public spaces, and no way of telling how many were successful – or indeed, how many were even open to the public. To explore these questions, REBAR initiated the COMMONspace project. Starting in May 2006, REBAR began to map, document and probe the explicit and unspoken rules of San Francisco’s POPOS, gathering vital data on the fourteen sites and creating a web-based forum for publishing field reports from anyone visiting the sites. Next, in partnership with other artists, designers and activists, we have activated these sites with a series of events designed to explore the spaces’ implicit social codes, to assess the difference between private and public ownership of public space, and to invent new ways of programming these unique additions to San Francisco’s public realm.

As a result of this year long investigation, Rebar was contacted The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), San Francisco’s preeminent public-policy think tank, to hold a salon with planners, designers, and city officials to develop ideas for policy reform and planning code revisions to improve the quality of these existing and future spaces in San Francisco.

The symposium is presented with the generous support of the Koret Foundation. For more information visit:


Thursday, April 24
561 Geary St., San Francisco

Join us for complimentary hors d’oeuvres, limited open bar, music and
an interactive psychogeography experiment. FREE for subscribers, so
subscribe now for only $20 (, then send
an email to


The Ecocity World Summit (7th International Ecocity Conference) will be convening an international community of inspired change-makers in San Francisco during Earth Day Week, April 22-26, 2008. The International conference series brings together the key innovators, decision makers, technologists, businesses and organizations shaping the conversation around ecological and sustainable city, town and village design, planning and development. NAC Publisher, Michelle Kuly, will be moderating a session on sustainability and the city at the conference. Check out the conference schedule here.

Tags: san franciscopublic spacenext american city

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