From 28 March until 21July, the Manhattan Center for Architecture will be showing a retrospective exhibition focusing on the conclusions drawn from the first seven awards of the Prize (2000-2012). On Thursday 28 March, a retrospective exhibition of all the awards hitherto of the European Prize for Urban Public Space (2000-2012) was opened in the Center for Architecture in New York. This centrally located exhibition space, very near Washington Square, one of the main public spaces of Greenwich Village in the heart of Manhattan, is the New York headquarters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and of the Center for Architecture Foundation, both of which are non-profit-making organisations which programme exhibitions, activities and educational cycles for the general public and professionals working in the construction sector. The space was opened in 2003 with the aim of promoting interchanges between disciplines and working with cities around the world to improve the quality and sustainability of built-up areas. Owing to its efforts since then to make better known the qualities of architecture and the urban fabric of New York, this space has become a key cultural reference in matters concerning the city.
Conceived by the public space team at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), the exhibition in New York is titled “POLIS: 7 Lessons from the European Prize for Urban Public Space (2000-2012)” and it will be open to the public until 21 June 2014. Unlike the itinerant exhibitions showing the results of each award of the Prize in different cities, this exhibition has been expressly designed for the venue. Moreover, for the first time, the exhibition has been the occasion for drawing conclusions from the thirty-five projects of urban transformation that have received prizes or Special Mentions in the first seven awards of the Prize. Taking as its starting point, the polysemous nature of the Greek term polis – which reveals the political dimension of urban reality since it refers to both the constructed space and the set of citizens inhabiting it – the exhibition identifies the tendencies that have appeared as being among most relevant in meeting the challenge of democratising European cities. Hence, the examples of good practice accumulated since the Prize’s inception have been grouped under seven headings, namely ways of consolidating peripheral neighbourhoods; promoting mixture and complexity; endowing vacant urban spaces with new uses and senses; enriching the coming together of urban habitat and water; fostering just and sustainable mobility; synchronising present needs with the layers of memory superimposed in the urban palimpsest; and practising fairer and more democratic forms of coexisting in the city.