Summit Speaker: Blaine Merker
June 10, 2016
Director, Gehl Studio
Blaine Merker is a designer, entrepreneur and activist working to reshape the public spaces of cities through design and storytelling. He heads the San Francisco office of Gehl, an international design consultancy based in Copenhagen. His studio works throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America, helping clients that range from city agencies, mayors, private developers, nonprofit foundations, and international NGOs create cities for people.
He believes that design, making, and telling stories about what comes out of experiments are a powerful and interrelated set of practices that can change the “envelope of the possible” for decision-makers and the public. Through his design, writing and advocacy, Blaine has sought to recast the public imagination about cities as places that offer human scale experiences, invitations for social cohesion and opportunities for play. In 2005, he founded Rebar, an art and design collective that created Park(ing) Day and dozens of other projects that defined the emergent genre of “tactical urbanism” and helped establish San Francisco as a center of innovation in urban public space. He has helped startup a handful of companies and nonprofits dedicated to urban experimentation and advocacy, including Innovation Partnership, Livable Oregon, and Gehl Institute.
Blaine earned his Masters of Landscape Architecture in 2005 from Berkeley, where he also teaches, and holds a Bachelors in History from Reed College. His writings can be found in Next City and in the Routledge book, Insurgent Public Space.