Baruch was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, in a neighborhood where social barriers divided neighbors and fear of crime defined its streets. As a child he frequented Hamilton-Metz Park, the lone green space shared by multiple ethnic and religious groups, and served as the neighborhoods only common ground where unexpected interactions could lead to norm-defying conversations.
As an Urban Studies undergrad at Hunter College in NYC, Baruch was introduced to the works of Jane Jacobs and William H. “Holly” Whyte. After watching Whyte’s documentary Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, he became fascinated by the social-physical dynamics of public space, and began playing with furniture in Hunter’s common spaces to the surprise (and sometimes delight) of Hunter students and security. These experiments (and the reactions they caused) inspired Baruch to pursue a course of study focused on the design and communal issues surrounding public space and enrolled in the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, creating a personalized degree in urban planning and design.
Before joining PPS, Baruch worked as a placemaker and organizer, often drawn to spaces divided by the conflicting interest of its stakeholders, including spaces in Jerusalem and in NYC including Lower Manhattan, Central Queens, and Hamilton-Metz Park.
As a summer intern at PPS, Baruch is utilizing his experience in community engagement and site planning to analyze potential sites for the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program, helping stakeholders visualize change through physical design and programming.
Favorite Spaces: Prospect Park Plaza at Grand Army; Freedom Bell Square, Jerusalem
Favorite Quote: “In open and accessible public spaces and forums, one should expect to encounter… those who [appear to be] different, whose social perspectives, experience and affiliations are different.” -Iris M. Young, The Politics of Difference, 1991
Bachelors in Urban Planning and Design, CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, New York City, 2013