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Calling Urban-Design Geeks

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Go-getter industrial designer John Locke’s mantra: “There should be more to being an architect than waiting by the phone for a commission.” The Columbia architecture-school grad has launched DUB (the Department of Urban Betterment), a pet project that seeks out creative uses for underutilized public space. For his inaugural undertaking, phone-booth libraries, Locke has retrofit the ultimate city artifact by installing a series of fitted plywood shelves stocked with free-for-the-taking books donated by neighbors and friends. Over the next few weeks, he’ll be mounting version 2.0—a modified shape designed to accommodate booth repairs—on the Upper West Side (Columbus Avenue and 105th Street) and in Astoria (he’s still browsing locations), while also teaching a six-week class called Hacking the Urban Experience to students at his alma mater.


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