Before Hood started designing Splash Pad Park in 1999, for example, it was a deserted traffic island under Oakland's I-580 freeway. "Some people wanted it to be a dog park, others wanted an underground creek, and a few wanted something completely different," says longtime Oakland resident Ken Katz, 67. Today, it's all of the above -- and then some. Cement tiles blanket the apron in front of an amoeba-shaped fountain, engraved with the names of the donors who made the installation possible. Grassy knolls are dotted with palm trees from the original island, as well as newly planted dogwood, a water-hungry plant that thrives off the underlying swampland. "It's a hybrid space," Hood says. "Everyone can find a way in." And they do. Every Saturday, the park hosts a massively popular farmers' market and concert series.
This is public space as Hood believes it should be: multitasking, respectful of the land, rooted in -- and watered by -- the community. "Think about the history of civilization," Hood tells me, as if I'm one of his architecture students at UC Berkeley. "The agora, the piazza, the theater, the street, the Colosseum -- we define ourselves in the public realm. And in America, our public realm is sad. We have to be told how to act." He deepens his voice. "Sit here, look there,
El gran desafío para quienes tienen la responsabilidad de gestionar las ciudades es buscar formas de involucrar cada vez más a los ciudadanos en la planificación, implementación y control de reformas que tiendan a humanizar el espacio público (algo que viene haciendo el Ministerio de Desarrollo Urbano en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires).