The Million Dollar Blocks initiative began in 2004 with a grant from the Open Society Institute, the JEHT Foundation and expanded to include several interrelated projects dealing with questions of architecture and justice.

 
"Million Dollar Blocks" exhibited in Just Space(s)
Sep 26, 2007 — Laura Kurgan

Million Dollar Blocks project exhibited in Just Space(s)
LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)

September 26 – November 18, 2007
Organized by Ava Bromberg and Nicholas Brown

"Everyday we confront spaces that don't work - from our neighborhoods and parks, to our prisons, pipelines and borders. In this exhibition and programming series, artists, scholars and activists reveal how these spaces function - and dysfunction - making way for thought and action to create just societies and spaces.

The projects in this exhibition reflect the renewed recognition that space matters to cutting edge activist practices and to artists and scholars whose work pursues similar goals of social justice. A spatial frame offers new insights into understanding not only how injustices are produced, but also how spatial consciousness can advance the pursuit of social justice, informing concrete claims and the practices that make these claims visible. Understanding that space - like justice - is never simply handed out or given, that both are socially produced, differentiated, experienced and contested on constantly shifting social, political, economic, and geographical terrains, means that justice - if it is to be concretely achieved, experienced, and reproduced - must be engaged on spatial as well as social terms."

Read more: http://criticalspatialpractice.blogspot.com/2007/09/just-spaces.html

Read more: http://www.walkinginplace.org/justspaces/overview.htm

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"Architecture and Justice," exhibited in Design and the Elastic Mind, MoMA 2008
Aug 23, 2008 — Laura Kurgan

Architecture and Justice on view at MoMA, New York as part of an exhibition curated by Paola Antonelli.

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2008/elasticmind/#/14/

 

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Project
Justice Re-Investment New Orleans
person role
Author(s): 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Publication date: 
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Publication name, page number: 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Description (optional): 
This is the final report based on work done for a grant titled "Rebuilding Community, Prisoner Reentry and Neighborhood Planning in Post-Katrina New Orleans." The report contains three parts: 1. An Introduction to the concepts of Million Dollar Block maps and Justice Reinvestment. 2. Mapping Incarceration in Post-Katrina New Orleans. 3. A description of the neighborhood planing process and the four pilot projects were were implemented as a result of that process.
Publication PDF: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This is the final report based on work done for a grant titled "Rebuilding Community, Prisoner Reentry and Neighborhood Planning in Post-Katrina New Orleans." The report contains three parts: 1. An Introduction to the concepts of Million Dollar Block maps and Justice Reinvestment. 2. Mapping Incarceration in Post-Katrina New Orleans. 3. A description of the neighborhood planing process and the four pilot projects were were implemented as a result of that process.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Caputo, Brazier, Katz
Publication short title (carousel): 
Justice Re-Investment New Orleans
Is Website?: 
no
Methods: 
dashboard_sort_date: 
Sunday, February 1, 2009
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Project
The Pattern
person role
Author(s): 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Publication date: 
Friday, February 1, 2008
Publication name, page number: 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Description (optional): 
This publication documents the pattern of incarceration in four cities in the United States: Phoenix, Wichita, New Orleans and New York. Building on work already done jointly by the Council of State Governments, the JFA Institute, and the Justice Mapping Center, the lab’s mapping project seeks to help advocates and government officials focus attention on the conditions and needs of urban spaces which show high rates of incarceration. Rather than focus only on the punishment and rehabilitation of individuals, the research identifies particular places and emerging strategies for investing public resources in order to address the urban conditions from which prisoners come and to which most of them return.
Publication PDF: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This publication documents the pattern of incarceration in four cities in the United States: Phoenix, Wichita, New Orleans and New York. Building on work already done jointly by the Council of State Governments, the JFA Institute, and the Justice Mapping Center, the lab’s mapping project seeks to help advocates and government officials focus attention on the conditions and needs of urban spaces which show high rates of incarceration.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Cadora, Reinfurt, Williams
Publication short title (carousel): 
The Pattern
Is Website?: 
no
Methods: 
dashboard_sort_date: 
Friday, February 1, 2008
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Project
City Council of New Orleans Criminal Justice Committee Meeting
person role
Author(s): 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Publication date: 
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Publication name, page number: 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Description (optional): 
Presentation to City Council in New Orleans, June 12th, 2007. A more detailed report will follow in October 2007.
Publication PDF: 
Intro text (homepage): 
Presentation to City Council of New Orleans Criminal Justice Committee Meeting on June 12th, 2007.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Caputo, Brazier
Publication short title (carousel): 
Presentation to the City Council of New Orleans
Is Website?: 
no
Methods: 
dashboard_sort_date: 
Thursday, July 12, 2007
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Project
Scenario Planning Workshop
person role
Author(s): 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Publication date: 
Friday, September 29, 2006
Publication name, page number: 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Description (optional): 
This publication documents the results of a Scenario Planning Workshop, hosted by SIDL and facilitated by the Global Business Network on September 29th, 2006. The workshop took place at the Architectural League of New York as part of the exhibit, Architecture and Justice which was on view from September through October, 2006.
Publication PDF: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This publication documents the results of a Scenario Planning Workshop, hosted by SIDL and facilitated by the Global Business Network on September 29th, 2006. The workshop took place at the Architectural League of New York as part of the exhibit, Architecture and Justice which was on view from September through October, 2006.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Cadora, Reinfurt, Williams
Publication short title (carousel): 
Scenario Planning Workshop
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Friday, September 29, 2006
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Project
Architecture & Justice
person role
Author(s): 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Publication date: 
Friday, September 15, 2006
Publication name, page number: 
The Architectural League
Description (optional): 
A guide to accompany the exhibition Architecture and Justice, at the Architectural League opening on September 14, 2006. Using rarely accessible data from the criminal justice system, the Spatial Information Design Lab and the Justice Mapping Center have created maps of these “million dollar blocks” and of the city-prison-city-prison migration flow for five of the nation’s cities. The maps suggest that the criminal justice system has become the predominant government institution in these communities and that public investment in this system has resulted in significant costs to other elements of our civic infrastructure — education, housing, health, and family. Prisons and jails form the distant exostructure of many American cities today.
Publication PDF: 
Intro text (homepage): 
Using rarely accessible data from the criminal justice system, the Spatial Information Design Lab and the Justice Mapping Center have created maps of these “million dollar blocks” and of the city-prison-city-prison migration flow for five of the nation’s cities. The maps suggest that the criminal justice system has become the predominant government institution in these communities and that public investment in this system has resulted in significant costs to other elements of our civic infrastructure — education, housing, health, and family. Prisons and jails form the distant exostructure of many American cities today.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Cadora, Reinfurt, Williams
Publication short title (carousel): 
Architecture & Justice
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Friday, September 15, 2006
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Project
Beyond the Bricks
person role
Author(s): 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Publication date: 
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Publication name, page number: 
Spatial Information Design Lab
Description (optional): 
A study of topography, prison admissions and expenditures in New Orleans including a focus on one specific housing project in the Ninth Ward, The Florida Homes.
Intro text (homepage): 
A study of topography, prison admissions and expenditures in New Orleans including a focus on one specific housing project in the Ninth Ward, The Florida Homes.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Cadora, Reinfurt, Williams, Spielman
Publication short title (carousel): 
Justice Re-Investment New Orleans
Is Website?: 
no
Methods: 
dashboard_sort_date: 
Thursday, September 29, 2005
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Million Dollar Blocks in Design and Violence Exhibition at MoMA
Oct 23, 2013 — Steven Pinker, MoMA

Million Dollar Blocks on view in MoMA's Design and Violence exhibition. Thanks to Steven Pinker for this article about the project:

"Information graphics have been given a bad name by USA Today. Many people think of them as ways of tarting up the trend of the day into a bit of eye candy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our ability to understand cause and effect in the world depends on grasping complicated relationships among variables—how people, money, actions, power, things, and qualities are distributed in space, how they vary in time, and how they affect one another. The human brain did not evolve to do such complex calculations. But we are primates, with almost a third of our brain devoted to vision and visual cognition. Translating complicated relationships into a visual format is the best way we have of co-opting our primate neural circuitry to meet the demands of understanding our world. And it is a challenge where the creativity of artists, graphic designers, and other visual thinkers is essential. We have made do with standard graphical formats—pie charts, line graphs, organizational charts, and so on—for more than a century. We need ways to figure out how to use the resources of the page or screen—shape, contour, color, shading, motion, texture, depth­—not just to channel data into brains, but to reveal subtle relationships as visual patterns."

Read more

 

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The Soul in the New Machines
Feb 22, 2008 — The New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff

Nicolai Ouroussoff reviews MoMA's Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition which features "Architecture and Justice":

"Bioengineered crossbreeds. Temperamental robots. Spermatozoa imprinted with secret texts. Although the fascination with organic form has been around since the Renaissance, we have now entered an age in which designers and architects are drawing their inspiration from hidden patterns in nature rather than from pretty leaves or snowflakes. The results can be scary, but they may also hold the key to paradise.

“Design and the Elastic Mind,” an exhilarating new show opening on Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art, makes the case that through the mechanism of design, scientific advances of the last decade have at least opened the way to unexpected visual pleasures.

...

Perhaps the most unnerving project here is “Architecture and Justice” from the Million Dollar Blocks Project, a graphic study by Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab. Using the computer to filter through masses of data on prison populations, the group studied several American cities and identified the blocks where the highest concentration of prison inmates lived when they were arrested. That more than $1 million a year is spent on incarcerating people from each one of these blocks is shocking misuse of resources.

Continue reading the main story

The graphic display on a blood-red grid is a bold expression of how the computer can be a powerful analytical tool for dislodging received wisdom and enabling us to examine entrenched social problems through a new lens."

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/arts/design/22elas.html

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