A new book by Ana Morcillo Pallarés, assistant professor of architecture, explores the complex relationship between architecture and public space in America’s largest city.
Manhattan’s Public Spaces: Production, Revitalization, Commodification (Routledge, 2022) analyzes a series of architectural works and their contribution to New York’s public space over the past few decades. By exploring how various elements, including legal systems and planning guidelines, have transformed these collective spaces, Morcillo Pallarés frames Manhattan as a controversial landscape of interests and concerns to authorities, communities, and developers.
“This book is a remarkable window onto a unique moment in the history of New York — and the history of contemporary urban design — when squalor, decline, innovation, and opportunity somehow existed simultaneously,” said Robert Fishman, professor of architecture and urban and regional planning at Taubman College, who wrote the forward for the book.
Morcillo Pallarés shows that the production, revitalization, and commodification of Manhattan’s public spaces have made a positive impact but also led to negative outcomes. Beyond the analysis of good design, Morcillo Pallarés seeks to understand the functional mechanisms for the current trends in the production of space for public use by sharing a complex framework of actors, governance, and market monopolies and by framing a debate of how these interventions contribute, or not, to an inclusive environment anchored in the existing built fabric.
Morcillo Pallarés is a Spanish architect, researcher, and designer based in Ann Arbor and Cieza, Spain. Her research and creative practice critically engage today’s increasing need for more shared space as an ongoing process of continuous agreements among the diverse networks of people who are part of the city. Her work has been featured in the Journal of Architectural Education, VLC Arquitectura, MONU, and the Plan Journal, among others. She began her academic career as the 2015 Walter B. Sander Research Fellow at Taubman College.