By Lani Walker
What makes a place memorable? What is it that makes you want to return to that place? For myself, I associate the good places I have been with the good experiences and memories I created there. Within architecture and urban planning, the term ‘Placemaking’ was used in the 1970s to explain the process of creating attractive and interesting public places which will appeal to a variety of people. Placemaking capitalized on a community’s existing resources and assets, while drawing from the community’s inspiration and potential to be a great place. Placemaking is both a process and philosophy of urban planning. Originally, placemaking involved squares, plazas, parks, streets and waterfronts that are landscaped well and designed to bring people into the place. Today, the term placemaking can be used to improve all of the spaces that people gather in and invite greater interaction between people within the community. Placemaking is not about just a building or a public plaza, placemaking is a process which creates places to encourage people’s health, happiness, and well-being. This process can help to construct strong communities in which people feel a commitment to making their place better.
In order to implement this process into our studio project located in an abandoned set of parking lots near the United Center and Rush University Hospital in Chicago, IL, we first focused on the communities assets. For this area, the United Center Arena, Bulls New Training Facility, Rush University Hospital, vibrant local neighborhoods, and the local educational facilities seemed to be this community’s primary economic and social assets. We researched the people who lived, worked, and played in this particular space to discover their hopes and needs for this site. From our research about the people of this area and the analysis of the site, we created a strategy and vision for our place. We focused on how the Sports and Entertainment industry (from the United Center) affect the north side of our site, while the Medical industry (from Rush University Hospital) affects the south side of our site. Our goal is to fuse the two distinct areas together with art. In creating this place, we are attempting to give the local communities an enjoyable and safe place to inspire greater social interaction. We have been working on this project for about a week and below are our initial plans for the site.
Image 1 by: Brittany Ricker
Image 2 by: Lani Walker
Image 3 by: Lani Walker
Image 4 by: Brittany Ricker
Quote: “We Are Good at Putting Up Buildings, but We Are Bad At Making Places” by Bernard Hunt