Political Urbanism deals directly with the intersection of architectural design and community benefit campaigns.
The Salazar Architect Inc. practice was founded during the peak of the housing bubble in 2007 in response to the impacts of gentrification and displacement. In the early years, we collaborated with community based organizations (EBHO, Just Cause, Urban Strategies, EBASE and others) utilizing our urban design skills as part of grassroots political campaigns for affordable housing.
Since opening a Portland office in 2014, we've been collaborating with organizations like RADIX, PCRI and Living Cully on a range of community design projects that involve housing, community/commercial developments and public space. While Salazar Architect Inc. is a for-profit business supported by our affordable housing design work, we value our community advocacy partners and often provide discounted fees on projects that address issues of equity and participation in the built environment.
'Political urbanism', as a term, expresses our firm's belief that all design work has larger social, political and cultural impacts that extend beyond individual buildings. This is particularly true with urban designs and public policies that underlie the built environment, often to the detriment of low income communities who have historically been marginalized from formal planning processes. The term also has roots in philosophy and theories dealing with the built environment, particularly the work of Henri LaFebre, as well in the practices of Community Design Centers who have had a resurgence in recent years under the banner of 'public interest design.'