Contemporary American society has become increasingly fragmented, with people separated both physically and socially based on ability, age, income, and belief. This fragmentation is built into the urban fabric of cities, suburbs, and rural areas, which wittingly and unwittingly isolate certain groups from larger communities. A host of colliding crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, embedded structural racism, and deepening political polarization, have only exacerbated these divisions.
The negative impacts of social estrangement extend, but are not limited to, the isolation of aging populations and people with disabilities. Cities, suburbs, and rural areas wittingly and unwittingly separate certain groups from larger communities through spaces designed according to age, needs, or income. Rather than designing specific spaces for specific needs, Reset: Towards a New Commons considers how spaces may be designed for all, addressing the need for barrier-free environments and practices rooted in Universal Design. The exhibition will explore how architecture can address this while helping to create communities that foster inclusion, cooperation, and mutual assistance in the broadest of terms.