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Artistically Inflected Cities

Benjamin Barber, writing in the Nation, has some thoughts on how cities can use public art as attraction but also integrated into the more mundane spaces, be it neighborhood parks or commons:

Consider Millennium Park in Chicago. The city got it right by engaging artists, designers and architects to collaborate in creating the space, with Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion, Jaume Plensa’s interactive Crown Fountain and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture. Together, these interactive attractions have made the Millennium Chicago’s most popular recreational and leisure destination.

Yet artistically inflected public spaces in our cities need not encompass only upscale parks and tourist destinations. In 2008 the extraordinary artist and director Robert Wilson brought a team of artists and sociologists (I was among them) to Gunpowder Park just outside London and, working with a local visionary consultancy and neighborhood residents, helped transform what had been a World War II munitions testing ground into an interactive commons. It is now widely used by the multicultural community that helped create and define it.

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