Lunch Talks

Damon Rich

Planning Director and Chief Urban Designer for the City of Newark
January 23, 2015

How do we educate ourselves so we have any chance of learning from other people?

Damon Rich is a designer, planner, and visual artist. As the Director of the Newark Planning Office (NPO), he works to make New Jersey’s most populous municipality a prosperous, walkable, and environmentally just city. Under his leadership since 2012, the NPO’s achievements have included completing the city’s first riverfront parks, launching the Newark Public Art Program, and drafting the first comprehensive update to the city’s zoning regulations in over 50 years. He 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.

Prior to coming to 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.

  • A group of people socializing in an open office space. The office has a mezzanine level and workstations on the ground floor. A large orange flag with a design hangs from the ceiling. Computers and office materials are visible on the desks.
  • A man standing in front of an audience gives a presentation. He is near a large projection screen displaying a slide with the title "Newark Goes Back to the River" and images of cityscapes, a park, and welcome signs for Newark. Attendees are seated and attentive.
  • A group of people is gathered around a long wooden table with food and drinks, chatting and eating. The table has a long sandwich, plates, and bottles. Some people are standing while others are seated. The background shows desks and shelves in a room with a casual atmosphere.
Ready to unlock the potential of your nonprofit's brand?
Reach Out