Why use 23 pages to describe something that could have been written in 2 pages, double spaced with size 18 font (times new roman or arial, your choice).
On the surface, I agree with the basic idea that Ms. Susan Bickford set forth. Social and private spaces are constructed in ways such that democratic social interactions are very rare (last paragraph). This point is very evident even to a layperson that is not familiar with architecture or social sciences. However, the writer has the cause and effect reversed. It seems that she takes the stance that because the spaces constructed in a way that promotes segregation, it effects our daily interactions with other persons not of our "normal" social circle. Therefore, she logically concludes that if we construct spaces to force interaction, this will help to fix the problem. In my opinion, it is the opposite.
People have a preconceived notion of how spaces should be created (be it the client or architect). This prejudice then influences the final built space. Then, the problem of democratic interaction is acerbated because the outward reflection of the created space is either perceived as 'safe' or 'dangerous'. Thus further propagating the problem as a never ending cycle. A planner can design the most utopian space ever imagined but it still won't solve the democratic dilemma. The owner will require the benches to be "homeless proof" and to have controlled access into the building. The construction manager will value engineer the space so that an ugly facade is toward the "bad neighborhood" instead of beauty all around. The end user will forget that they told you to design a space one way, and use it in the exact opposite what was intended. Finally, the public within the space will find some way to ignore your best efforts at the utopia, and use the space as inegalitarian as possible. It's a loosing battle. You have to change people's perspective in order to change society. Something that is much harder to do then to simply create the space.
Shortly after this article was written, the Chicago Housing Authority started to a project to gentrify the City of Chicago. Albeit they wouldn't use that terminology. Without going into great detail, the city began it raze most of the low income and "project" housing in the city limits. Most notably the Robert Taylor Homes which could be seen off of the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94 to all the non-Chicagoans). The low income housing in the city was in shambles and something did need to be done. So the city consolidated a small number of citizens to other more suitable housing within the city limits. Most got displaced to the surrounding suburbs. In the place of the demolished projects, new "yuppie" housing was planned (aimed at upper-middle class and above). To legitimize this, the City of Chicago mandated a certain percentage of the new housing had to be " below market value and affordable". This was before the housing market took a dive recently. The affordable housing was very hard to acquire (scarcity) and not very affordable. It would be interesting to hear Bickford's take on this case study. The projects were a perfect example of her opinion of social inequity and the solution was in kind to the problem.
That was a bit of a long winded response to a long winded essay. I welcome all commentary (even though you are required to for the class) be it kind words or harsh critique.