In Search of the Public: Notes on the Contemporary American City presents a collection of essays, interviews, and projects that deal with the role of public space within contemporary American urbanism. This publication examines the physical, social, and political impact of public/collective space through three key aspects: ownership, density, and the right of access within the city. The book looks at public spaces from an economic perspective viewing the spaces as public goods at a time when the public realm was rapidly shrinking as a result of the extreme dominance of the market of dollars versus the market of ideas. The text also confronts the imminent build out of New Jerseyand extreme situation that prefigures a nationwide encounter with the limits of sprawl. Finally, the book exposes the public as the blind spot of an urbanism that dismissed the relevance of public spaces that are now reactivated by the reinvestments in urban areas.
Contributors come from a range of disciplines, bringing together perspectives of architects, politicians, academics, and non-profit advocates. Contrary to urban studies that focus their efforts on issues such as zoning, building codes, and land use policy, this publication focuses on the relevance and potential of architectureas a practice of programming and form makingto transform the city and change our conception of public space.