Should Designers be Outlaws?
Founded by Teddy Cruz in 2000, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Forman has been at the vanguard of evolving urban practice. Cruz is an American architect, urbanist, and educator. Forman is a noted political theorist who joined the practice in 2010. Both are currently professors at the University of California, San Diego. Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman are directors of the UCSD Cross-Border Initiative.
Together, Cruz and Forman have pushed a quiet revolution in the culture of U.S. planning by attempting to move civic imagination away from the legacy of post-war suburban planning, while using the Tijuana/San Diego border as a laboratory for study. Central to their work is a study the conflict and criminalization of the border. Conventional planning methodologies understand ‘borders’ as something to be defended. Through their work, Cruz and Forman have argued that borders would be better thought of as places of exchange and innovation. Their participatory planning model works across borders – both national and otherwise, to draw out the intelligence of informality.
Estudio Teddy Cruz + Forman has worked at many scales and contexts. Much of their work focuses on the activation of small spaces – taking neglected urban areas and developing them into community resources. Through this approach, planners and architects can begin to transform neighborhoods under the nose of existing and ossified zoning psychologies.
Simultaneously, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Forman has been at the frontier of blending design and policy. In 2013, Forman and Cruz were recruited by then-San Diego mayor Bob Filner to develop the Civic Innovation Lab – an ambitious project to bring designers into City Hall and develop new practices for engaging marginalized communities and strengthening the urban relationship with Tijuana. Although the project was short-lived, it remains one of the few examples where such an integration was attempted in the U.S.