An accomplished city planner, urban designer, architect, author and educator, Susan Silberberg is Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is the Founder and Managing Director of CivicMoxie, LLC, a planning, urban design, and strategic placemaking group serving private, public and non-profit clients. Susan is sought after for her ability to identify savvy solutions for cities, businesses, and communities facing complex challenges. She has a keen sense of the leadership and collaboration necessary to align the sometimes disparate needs and goals of many interests. Susan understands that gaining trust and buy-in from all players is as integral to success as the ideas and energy brought to the project. This distinctive quality allows her to craft win-win solutions and create exciting new possibilities for translating plans into actions.
At MIT, Susan developed the urban design curriculum for and has co-taught the “Revitalizing Urban Main Streets” practicum workshop for over ten years. In the workshop, graduate students learn how to revitalize urban commercial districts by exploring the nexus between economic development and urban design for real projects and clients. This award-winning class has produced professional planning strategies for seven Boston “Main Streets” districts and two New Orleans commercial corridors. Susan’s planning research and academic endeavors at MIT have been supported by national foundations and competitive research grants. Her research and writings in security and public space have advanced understanding of how counterterrorism concerns post 9/11 have shaped our public realm in the context of private and public sector pressures and motivations. Susan led the research team and is lead author on Places in the Making, an MIT white paper on placemaking released in October 2013. In June 2013, she published “Pretext securitization of Boston’s public realm after 9/11: Motives, actors and a role for planners” in Policing Cities: Securitization and Regulation in a 21st Century World (Routledge).
All of Susan’s work melds theory and practice and encompasses placemaking, an inclusive process that capitalizes on community assets—space, resources, people, expertise, vision—to promote vibrant public places, development, and activities. Susan has spearheaded projects ranging from short term stints with one professional to multi-disciplinary planning teams of real estate development experts, transportation planners, economic development professionals, landscape architects, urban designers, and zoning/permitting specialists focused on multi-year city-wide endeavors. Infused with the spirit of collaboration, her planning practice serves clients seeking innovative, impactful results—actionable plans and strategies that translate into meaningful and measurable contributions to community, space, and place, and the bottom line.
Susan has led two Boston waterfront planning efforts that identify the unique challenges faced by developers and that propose creative solutions for cultural and public uses along the Harborwalk. She has also created master plans for new arts districts and worked with community development corporations. As Associate Director of the MetLife Innovative Space Awards, where she worked with over 100 arts and cultural organizations nationwide to identify best practices for balancing affordable artist space and community engagement, Susan cultivated and honed her expertise in artist space and arts organizations. Her understanding of the struggles and successes of developers and artists to create and maintain affordable space spans the range of artist studios to performance venues to new media studios and literary centers. Currently, Susan is completing a book on Artists’ Engagement with Community with groundbreaking insights for funders, developers, community advocates, arts organizations, and artists.
Prior to founding Civic Moxie, Susan was Senior Vice-President of Community Partners Consultants, Inc. and Senior Planner and Urban Designer at Goody, Clancy & Associates. She has a Master in City Planning degree from MIT and a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute. She has also served as the Associate Director of the Northeast Mayors’ Institute on City Design. Susan is on the Board of Directors and Program Committee of Historic Boston, Inc., a non-profit developer of endangered historic properties. She also serves on the Board of The Joshua Bates Art Center in the South End of Boston.