Partner, Hector urban design, planning & civic arts
Damon Rich is an urban designer, planner, and partner at Hector, an urban design, planning and civic arts studio whose recent projects include designing a riverfront park, writing citywide zoning and land use regulations, and creating a memorial for an eco-feminist nun. As Planning Director & Chief Urban Designer for the city of Newark, New Jersey (population 278,427) from 2008-2015, he worked to make New Jersey’s biggest city a prosperous, walkable, and environmentally just city. Under his leadership, the Newark Planning Office completed the city’s first riverfront parks, launched the Newark Public Art Program, and drafted the first comprehensive update to the city’s zoning regulations in over 50 years. Damon has led award-winning planning and urban design projects including Newark’s River: Public Access & Redevelopment Plan, awarded a 2014 New Jersey Future Smart Growth Award, The Box & Beyond: Infill Housing for Newark, awarded the 2009 Outstanding Community Engagement and Education Award by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, and Newark Riverfront Revival, the recipient of a Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Before his work in Newark, Damon founded the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that uses art and design to increase meaningful civic engagement, where he served as Executive Director for 10 years. At CUP, Damon developed innovative models of community education, drawing on the tools of architecture to help people and organizations understand and improve the places where they live. He also served as Chief of Staff for Capital Projects at New York City Parks, where he led efforts of 200 architects, landscape architects, and engineers on over $400 million of investment in the city’s public spaces. Damon has taught architecture and planning at schools including Harvard University, Cooper Union, and Syracuse University, and has written about real estate and architecture for Perspecta, Metropolis, Architecture, and Domus among other publications. His first book, Street Value: Shopping, Planning, and Politics on Fulton Street was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2010. His design work represented the United States at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, and has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Netherlands Architecture Institute, and the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center. In 2009, his solo exhibition Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center appeared at the Queens Museum. He is a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a Fellow of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. Damon is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a licensed Professional Planner in the State of New Jersey.