Thinking back on our discussions during class, the word that comes to mind is “importance.” By standard definition importance refers to “the state or fact of being of great significance or value,” and I see the mission of placemaking as highlighting what’s important.
When discussing Anirban Adhya’s chapter this past class we spoke about academia in placemaking and the general view that architects tend not to implement opinions/considerations from the locals. In a sense, the architect’s attachment to the project is impersonal; there exists no emotional attachment to the place(s) they are creating. My takeaway from that conversation was that locals want to be heard. They want to be listened to and understood, but perhaps most importantly they want to be validated and seen. They want their concerns to matter. When you take the time to listen to a community you allow for the potential for change and the realization of that change; something that brings me to the application of this article: the terrace.
After having seen the plans the past placemaking class had made and the discussion that followed, it became clear that the mix of academia and locals simply isn’t enough, rather it became evident that the conversation needed the attention of local bureaucracy. There was mention that the town was enthusiastic about the terrace project but failed to realize that enthusiasm. I’m curious, then, how projects like the terrace can maintain the attention of local bureaucracy. How does something maintain its relevance?
Digressing from this for a moment, as a class we discussed what made the terrace so great and what about it needed some attention. Overwhelmingly the negatives of the terrace were lack of seating and lack of lighting. There is currently only one set of bleachers and little to no artificial lighting fixtures to illuminate the terrace at night (which in part makes it a prime location for nighttime revelers). We felt that these issues were ones that needed immediate attention as they deter multiple people from enjoying the terrace. Other issues that were discussed included accessibility, micro-climate, and tidiness; all of which influence what the space can be used for. In fact, this past weekend I went to the terrace late afternoon to read. It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to take advantage of the quiet solitude of the terrace. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the garbage littered throughout; food wrappers, cigarettes, and empty bottles aren’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing! I then saw that on the bleachers someone had spray-painted the bottom ledge. Although the image wasn’t crude in nature (in actuality it resembled a Simpsons character), the very nature of spray-painting the bleachers is a bit upsetting. What I noticed while reading was the wind that seemed to have suddenly appeared and made the terrace a bit chilly. I then understood what was meant by saying the terrace had a micro-climate.
Despite these details, I found the terrace to beautiful in its own respect. I acknowledge its flaws, but I see the potential. It’s a location worth investing in because it adds beauty and character to the neighborhood. In moving forward with this project, however, it seems that we must circle back to the question of local bureaucracy and relevance. How do we keep the terrace on top of the to-do list?