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Moderating at Day 1 

Opening Panel "Reframing the Role of Public Space in the Age of Pandemics"

Miodrag Mitrašinović
Professor of Urbanism and Architecture at Parsons School of Design, The New School, USA

Miodrag Mitrašinović is an architect, urbanist, author, and Professor of Urbanism and Architecture at Parsons School of Design, The New School university in New York City. He is the editor of "Concurrent Urbanities: Designing Infrastructures of Inclusion" (Routledge 2015), co-editor of "Travel, Space, Architecture" (with Jilly Traganou, Ashgate/Routledge 2009), and author of "Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space" (Ashgate/Routledge 2006). Miodrag’s scholarly work focuses on two parallel and complementary lines of inquiry. First, on the role design plays as an agent of social and political change, and as catalyst for critical urban transformations; his research argues for the centrality of designing in the conceptualization, production, and representation of democratic and participatory urban space. Secondly, Miodrag’s work also focuses on the generative capacity and infrastructural dimensions of public space specifically at the intersections of public policy, urban and public design, and processes of privatization of public resources. His first two books received grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Mitrašinović has served in a variety of scholarly, professional and editorial roles. His professional and scholarly work has been published internationally.

Mitrašinović holds Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Florida at Gainesville (1998), U.S.A.; MArch from The Berlage Institute, the Netherlands (1994); and Dipl. Ing. Arch. Diploma from the University of Belgrade, Serbia (1992). Before joining The New School in 2005, he held teaching and research appointments at the University of Texas at Austin (1998-2005, with tenure), at the University of Florida at Gainesville (1995-96 and 1997-98), and at Kyoto University in Japan (1996-97). In 2012, he completed the academic leadership program at Harvard University, the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education (MLE).

If you look at what you need in order to surpass the impasse we are in, you need resilience at the community level. Where you find the resilience at a community level are paradoxically places where coronavirus hit the hardest.

Insight from "Health Disparity and Public Space in High Density Environments"

Miodrag presented the contrasting case between one of the wealthiest and one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York along subway line 7. Hudson Yards is the largest real estate development in the history of the United States that cost the city more than $5 billion in public funds. It required the subway line 7 to be extended, and together with the High Line has created the wealthiest white neighborhood in the city. A 45-minute ride east on the subway Line 7 brings one to 103 Street/Corona Plaza Station, an area with a high number of essential employees and their families. Risk factors such as income level, overcrowding, lack of health insurance, high percentage of individuals with serious health problems, and age had pointed to high public health risk even before the pandemic. Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the Corona neighborhood. Designed and built as a  part of the NYC Plaza Program, Corona Plaza was turned into a lively public space situated right next to the subway station, costing only $2 million in construction and $60,000 annually for maintenance. The plaza has been the epicenter of community life since 2018 when it opened, highly frequented by differentiated communities, weaving a web of resilient and interdependent relationships, which ironically was also the reason why the pandemic could spread pervasively. Miodrag argued that  Corona communities have created an ‘Infrastructure of Inclusion’ by catalyzing and sustaining processes of transformation – of themselves, their communities, and their society – towards more diverse, democratic, just, and inclusive city, by creating Corona Plaza and in the process the new public.