Monday, September 16, 2013

A Tale of Merging Two Cities

By Julius Mitchell

I am submitting this blog while these questions are pretty fresh in my mind, so the ideas in my mind may not be as refined are as well thought out as I would like, but more of a stream of conscious. This idea stems from the online critique that Professor Dobbins, Professor Anz, the online students, and myself participated in today.
 The question is how do you cities of opposing or similar interest but different demographics when they are psychologically/culturally separated by a physical barrier such as a highway/road/bridge/wall (berlin for example) and also a history of misconceptions? How do you merge the two? I believe that there may be many answers like most solutions in architecture but a commonality of approach. I really would like to get some feedback from the students and faculty to see if we can come up with something, since this is currently a major if not “the problem” architects are trying to solve in America, especially because of the difficulties with race relations and poverty in minority communities. We as architects and especially architects of western ethnicity are starting to find out that a lot of economic problems are stimulated by these misconceptions.
How many of us have seen in a presentation architects and students give their interpretation of idea or persons with the assumption that everyone has the same opinion as they do. Only, to find out that they are wrong, all people and even all people in our own demographic don’t think the same way about things as we might. I believe that it is dangerous to design on our assumptions and that our research is actually attempted to pay respects to the culture/people we are designing for. In essence research is a way to get to know the people.
So with this approach how do we merge to culture with two different demographics? Let’s say North St.Louis to Central West End in St.Louis, since a lot of us are familiar with the area. North St.Louis is a primarily African American neighborhood plagued by crime and gang activity with an average annual income of per house hold of $18,000. Central West End or West St.Louis near Forest Park is 58% White a quarter black, and 10% Asian with a six figure average annual income.
The way I believe is you try to find a commonality between these cultures (sports, education, recreation, etc…), secondly you find out what is the physical barrier causing these two groups to be separated (highways, gates, roads, bridges, etc…). Thirdly you find out who is controlling these barriers, fourthly you design a way to dissolve the barrier, lastly fully implement plan.

I truly don’t know what else or other approaches? This to me just seemed like the most logical approach from the critiques I listened to today?

Source: Image from Google Earth and Edited by Julius Mitchell

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