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For my money, some of the most pleasant urban places in this country are modest-sized college cities: Lawrence, Kan., Madison, Wis., Burlington, Vt., Charlottesville, Va., Ann Arbor, Mich., Missoula, Mont., Eugene, Ore., and Davis, Calif., among many others. A common thread: walkable public spaces and the requisite planning oversight to keep them functional and intact. Threats abound, however—and that’s the topic of a symposium tonight at the National Building Museum: “The Future of Public Space in an Era of Privatization.” The panel features New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Public Interest Editor Nathan Glazer, author Jerold S. Kayden, and developer James Todd. The panel’s key question: Is private ownership of plazas and arcades a creative use of enterprise or a barrier to public enjoyment? The discussion begins at 6:30 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $16. For reservations call (202) 272-2448. (Louis Jacobson)