Planning for Equity
Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Resilient Places in America

Hosted in partnership with the Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy as a part of its 2021 Spring Myra Kraft Open Classroom, Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Resilient Places in America explores the role of design in cities.

The series is presented in partnership with the Association of Architecture Organizations, Association of Collegiate Schools of ArchitectureBoston Society for Architecture, and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

Events over the past year—the civil protests, global pandemic, and western wildfires—illuminated the existing and growing impacts of embedded racism, growing socioeconomic disparity, and climate change in our country. How do cities respond? Maurice Cox, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago discussed efforts to address these challenges in the Windy City and lessons learned from his previous role as Detroit Planning Director. Tonika Lewis Johnson discussed how her Folded Map Project helps Chicago residents share their experiences living in different parts of the city and foster conversation and understanding about the impact of urban segregation. Garrett Dash Nelson from the Boston Public Library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center offered additional insight from his work on the relationship between community structure, geographic units, and political ideology.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand and describe how inclusive and community-engaged planning can address community welfare and affect economic, environmental, and social change.
  • Discuss the value of engaging in collaborative partnerships that engage residents and communities in planning, design, and development processes.
  • Identify and describe examples of initiatives and projects that increase awareness of and engagement in planning and development in Chicago and Detroit.
  • Discuss the role of mapping in documenting, evaluating and increasing awareness about equity in cities.

This session was recorded on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 as part of Northeastern University’s Myra Kraft Open Classroom 2021 Spring series. ASLA and APA continuing education credits are available thanks to partnerships with Boston Society of Landscape Architects and the American Planning Association, Ohio Chapter.

Maurice Cox, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago
Maurice D. Cox was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in 2019. Celebrated for his experience merging architecture, design and politics through multiple public, private and elected positions, Cox is responsible for leading DPD’s economic development, planning and zoning functions while fostering community-improvement initiatives throughout the city. His primary focus is under-invested neighborhoods on the South and West sides. Cox was formerly director of planning and development for the City of Detroit, design director of the National Endowment of the Arts, and served as mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia. He has held roles at Syracuse University, University of Virginia, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and Tulane City Center in New Orleans.

Tonika Lewis Johnson, Folded Map Project
Tonika Lewis Johnson is a photographer, visual artist and life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Englewood. Her Folded Map project visually investigates disparities among Chicago residents while bringing them together to have a conversation. She has transformed this project into an advocacy and policy-influencing tool that invites audiences to open a dialogue and question how we are all socially impacted by racial and institutional conditions that segregate the city. In 2019, she was named one of Field Foundation’s Leaders for a New Chicago, and most recently, she was appointed as a member of the Cultural Advisory Council of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events by the Chicago City Council.

Garrett Dash Nelson, Curator of Maps & Director of Geographic Scholarship, The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library
Garrett Dash Nelson is a historical geographer who works on the history of planning and urban transformation in Boston and New England. He also works on digital humanities projects that aim to bring cartography and visualization to bear on spatial politics.


Anne-Marie Lubenau (moderator), FAIA, is the director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence at the Bruner Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An architect, educator and writer, she is an advocate for engaging people in the design of the built environment and increasing awareness of its impact on our lives. She contributes regularly to national and international publications and forums on design and urban development and is a member of the Boston Civic Design Commission, Harvard GSD Alumni Council, and the Association of Architecture Organization’s board of directors. She holds a BArch from Carnegie Mellon and was a 2012 Harvard Loeb Fellow.

Ted Landsmark (facilitator) is a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs; Director, Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. Ted is an architect, attorney, academic, and civil rights activist who serves as one of five members of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.




Chicago Riverwalk Case Study (2017 RBA Silver Medalist)

2017 RBA Silver Medalist Chicago Riverwalk. Courtesy Sasaki Architects.
  • Chicago Riverwalk (2017 RBA Silver Medalist) transformed underutilized waterfront infrastructure into five distinct “rooms” connecting riverside amenities to the city. The project faced the technical challenge of lowering the Riverwalk to the river’s edge to enable boating and water recreation while creating a sustainable, flood-resilient landscape. For more information about the Chicago Riverwalk check out the Rudy Bruner Award case study to learn about the project’s urban context and history, leadership and vision, collaborative partnerships, design and development, financing, operations and programming, and impact.

All Reimagining Chicago: 75th Street Boardwalk

  • The 75th Street Boardwalk in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood opened in fall 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 75th Street Boardwalk is a family-friendly atmosphere in the heart of Chicago’s Restaurant Row and the collective work of government, nonprofits and the private sector working together to solve a problem in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood. Learn more about The 75th Street Boardwalk on Restaurant Row in Chicago. Courtesy Chris Hoedemann of Prime 312 on behalf of the Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago.

Folded Map Project

Folded Map Project in Chicago (6329 S. Paulina and 6330 N. Paulina). Courtesy Tonika Lewis Johnson.
  • Folded Map Project explores the differences and similarities across boundaries by comparing addresses on the North Side of Chicago with the corresponding addresses on the South Side. Tonika Lewis Johnson does this through paired photos of the houses and the residents living at each twinned address. The project includes video interviews with “map twin” residents, an installation, workshops, a movie and a stage play.
  • Inequity for Sale is a virtual and physical exploration of homes sold on land sale contracts in greater Englewood, demonstrating how legalized theft in the past directly contributed to the present inequity in black communities. Learning more about the project at the National Public Housing Museum.

Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library

Courtesy Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library.