Drawing from architecture, human geography, and urban planning, Michael Rios’s research focuses on the intersection between marginality, urbanism and public space. A theme emerging from this work is placemaking as an assemblage of different practices that involves negotiations of belonging, authorship, and power; a means for marginalized communities to produce different imaginations of space, action, and identity; and a lens to analyze tensions between the state and civil society groups, planning and design professionals, and the publics they purport to serve.
Michael has contributed numerous publications on the topics of placemaking, marginality, public space, the ethics of practice, and critical pedagogy. (Routledge), co-edited with Leonardo Vazquez, takes note of how Latinos are shaping urban, suburban, and rural places, and considers how the growing cultural diversity in regions, cities, and towns, both challenges and offers insight into placemaking practices in an increasingly multi-ethnic world.
He has written peer-reviewed articles on these and other related topics in the Journal of Architectural Education, Landscape Journal, the Berkeley Planning Journal, the Journal of Urban Design, and the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. He has also contributed chapters to a number of books including The Informal City: Settings, Strategies, and Responses (under review at MIT Press), Landscape Urbanism and its Discontents: Dissimulating the Sustainable City (forthcoming from New Society Press), Transcultural Cities: Border-crossing and Placemaking (Routledge), Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space (New Village Press), Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (Routledge), Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism (Metropolis), Good Deeds, Good Design: Community Service through Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press), and From the Studio to the Streets: Service Learning in Architecture and Planning (Stylus). Michael has served as a peer reviewer for scholarly journals including Cities, City & Society, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, Journal of Urban Design, Landscape Journal, and Political Geography. He has also written book reviews for Landscape Journal and Urban History.
Prior to coming to UC Davis, Michael was the inaugural director of the Hamer Center for Community Design in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at The Pennsylvania State University (1997-2007), president of the Association for Community Design (2003-2005), and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity (2001-2007). He received his Ph.D. in Geography from The Pennsylvania State University (2006), and Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (1997). Currently, Michael is chair of the Community Development Graduate Group and director of the Sacramento Diasporas Project at the Center for Regional Change.