Fall 2014

Off The Grid

This course was concerned with the production of public space as social space through temporary food-centered interventions in the city

Taking on San Francisco’s food truck-based markets as a manifestation of temporary social space, this seminar explores the layers and scales of their physical definition, as well as the dynamic interactions of those programming and using the space with the goal to develop mobile social infrastructures that catalyze new urban conditions and events within the framework of these markets. The seminar was part of a one-year collaboration with Off the Grid, the second semester of which was a Building Technology Elective that built full-scale prototypes based on the design concepts generated in the Active Urbanism seminar.

Students developed propositions for mobile food market infrastructure such as seating, lighting, way-finding, and new concepts for stage set-ups through the lens of specific construction methods that lend themselves to temporary deployment and quick set-up. Some projects operated at the scale of product design, adding small components to the existing folding chairs. Other proposals generated a range of spaces using all sides of the food trucks as additional spatial definitions. Yet others proposed interventions where people wait in line for their order in front of the food trucks, turning them into a space for interaction and games. Two of the proposals were converted into full-scale prototypes during the second semester.

One of the prototypes was displayed during the Market Street Prototyping Festival in Spring 2015.


Beyond Census

The U.S. Census does not represent an accurate number of Arab Americans. ENGAGE students gathered personal narratives from Arab American individuals living in the Bay Area.

Project Objective:

“Beyond Census: The Lives of Middle Eastern Immigrants in Post -9/11 America” explored the political, cultural, and social logic proliferated by US Census data about the experience of recent Middle Eastern immigrants .
In partnership with The Arab Cultural and Community Center of San Francisco [ACCC], ENGAGE students gathered personal narratives from (Arab American) individuals living in the Bay Area.  Students aggregated data from multiple sources to reflect a more accurate census count, both by country and across all residents of Middle Eastern descent aiming  to expose the myths perpetuated about the Arab American experience through Census data. Finally, “Beyond Census” visualized the data sets said to represent the Middle Eastern experience and presenting them alongside personal stories from Arab American community members.


Project Outcome(s):

The ENGAGE course culminated in the publication of qualitative and quantitative data uncovered by research conducted throughout the class. In their publication ENGAGE students visualized American Community Survey GIS data sets and detailed their findings. ENGAGE participants also curated the personal stories (lectures/ films) of Arab American community members amongst the datasets, complicating (or as a way to speak back to) the restrictive (limited/obscuring/ inaccurate) representation communicated by the visualized data.