Issue 01: Symposium
October 3

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM EST

“What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Public Space?”

How to Join

Register to attend the lecture via this link.

GSD Event Page

Once you have registered, the zoom link will be emailed to you.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office at (617) 496-2414 or events@gsd.harvard.edu.

Harvard University ChinaGSD is proud to introduce the virtual symposium “What Are We Talking About When We Talk Public Space?”. The event, featuring practitioners and professors at the forefront of the discipline, will dive into how China’s rapid development since its opening up reforms had led to a significant change in attitudes toward public space. As the advent of the decade is overturned by a global pandemic that disrupts our behavior in the public sphere, the time is ripe to reflect, recognize, and reconsider attitudes towards public space.

The symposium is a part of ChinaGSD’s new online event and publication series “PIN-UP”, that celebrates, and facilitates the exchange between Harvard University and those tackling issues at the forefront of the design profession in China. Each issue will address a specific and pressing theme, featuring architect interviews, public lectures, symposiums, exhibitions, and student works. The publication is bilingual and will be updated on our website, Instagram, and WeChat.


9:00am - 9:10am
Opening Remarks
Susan Nigra Snyder & George E. Thomas

9:10am - 9:30am
Lecture: "Public Space Matters"
Jerold S. Kayden

In a digital age, does physical public space matter?  Tahrir Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Madrid Rio, Zuccotti Park, and other physical public spaces argue yes, with ambitions ranging from accommodation of everyday leisure activities to political protests.  Physical public space survives and thrives as an evergreen facet of human existence, adapting itself to present-day local contexts yet anchored in long-standing human needs and desires.  Put plainly, physical public space matters.

9:30am - 9:50am
Guest Lecture: "Passivizing Public Spaces"
Tao Zhu
Through privatization, over-management, and sometimes over-design, more and more public spaces in Hong Kong are turned into ‘passive open spaces.’ With social dimension missing, these spaces stop encouraging citizens to engage actively with public affairs. Instead, they become ‘passivizing zones’ to train people to be docile workers and consumerists.

9:50am - 10:10am
Guest Lecture:
"From Infra-structure to InfrArchitecture - A Shenzhen Perspective on Public Space"
Doreen Heng Liu

An introduction of NODE's recent design works, this talk will reveal the state-of-the-art thoughts and practice on designated or accidental public space in Shenzhen.

10:10am - 10:50am
Roundtable Discussion

10:50am - 11:10am


George E. Thomas, an architectural and cultural historian and Susan Nigra Snyder, a registered architect are co-directors of the Critical Conservation Program in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Their practice, CivicVisions, merges knowledge of a place’s history with the ability to see how this may be used to create a future that responds to contemporary lifestyle forces. CivicVisions’ work includes extensive work in Manhattan for REBNY, community groups and developers; the Arts District and Fremont Street downtown initiative in Las Vegas; an economic/identity initiative for Pennsylvania’s colleges;, a Getty Grant exhibit about Haverford’s campus identity and projects for developers and institutions nationwide.

Jerold S. Kayden is the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he previously served as co-chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design and director of the Urban Planning Program. His teaching and scholarship address issues of land use and environmental law, public and private development in cities, public space, urban disasters and climate change, and design competitions. His books include Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience; Urban Disaster Resilience: New Dimensions from International Practice in the Built Environment; Landmark Justice: The Influence of William J. Brennan on America's Communities; and Zoning and the American Dream: Promises Still To Keep.
Zhu Tao is Associate Professor and Co-director of the Center for Chinese Architecture and Urbanism at The University of Hong Kong. He received his Master of Architecture and PhD in Architecture History and Theory at Columbia University.

He writes on contemporary Chinese architecture and urbanism and practices in China. He has published essays in AA Files, AD, a+u, Bauwelt, Domus, and Time+Architecture. His writings include the book Liang Sicheng and His Times (Imaginist, 2014) and a chapter “Architecture in China in the Reform Era 1978-2010” for the book A Critical History of Contemporary Architecture 1960-2010 (Ashgate, 2014). In 2010, he received the first Architectural Critics Award from the China Architecture Media Awards organized by China’s mass media Southern Metropolis Daily in collaboration with eight major Chinese architectural magazines. His design works are mainly public projects with a wide range, including school, library, bus terminal, street, park, and reservoir. Recently he also leads his HKU team and office to collaborate with the governments of Shenzhen and Dongguan to assist in their development in public spaces through both academic research and design practice.

Doreen Heng Liu is a Chinese architect born in Guangzhou. She received her MArch from UC Berkeley in 1994 and Doctor of Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2008.

In 2004, Doreen established her own design practice NODE in Nansha and Hong Kong, and relocated in Shenzhen since 2009. Her design works have been awarded and published in many international and domestic professional magazines including Architectural Record, Domus, Volume, Abitare and etc.; and exhibited in various architectural and art exhibitions internationally including Venice, Berlin, Rotterdam, Vienna, etc. In 2012, Doreen with her firm NODE was shortlisted as one of five international emerging architects for Audi Urban Future Initiative (AUFI) awards; in 2014, Doreen was nominated as Curator for Hong Kong Pavilion for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. In 2015, the Entrance Building of Shekou Fufa Glass Factory renovation won Excellent Award for Creative Design Award in China; In 2016, the built project of Shekou Dachan Flour Mill Renovation was shortlisted for International Archmarathon Awards and WA City Regeneration Award; in 2018, the Renovation of Dameisha Village, Yantian, Shenzhen (2017 UABB) was shortlisted for WA Social Equality Award and Nominating Award for Architectural Design Category of Shenzhen Global Design Award 2019.

In 2014, Doreen was nominated as Curator for the Hong Kong Pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. In 2015, she was nominated as Chief Curator for Shenzhen Hong Kong Urbanism / Architecture Bi-city Biennial. In 2008-2020, Doreen taught at the School of Architecture, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) as Adjunct Associate Professor.  In academic year 2015-16, Doreen was appointed as Guest Professor at D-ARCH, ETH in 2015-16, and as Friedman Visiting Professor of Practice at University of California – Berkeley in fall 2019; Starting in Fall 2020, Doreen is appointed as Distinguished Professor in Architecture at Shenzhen University.