By: Megan Crider
We are three weeks into the new semester already. We have been hard at work beginning the long and difficult stretch of our thesis projects. I myself have a little bit of catching up to do – in the first week of class I changed the topic of my thesis. So now I am trying to complete the research ‘front-end’ stuff along with trying to begin the initial designing. This should be interesting to say the least. I have high hopes for it; I already am quite a bit more interested and excited in this topic than I was the last. My new topic is a downtown revitalization in Marion, Illinois around the square and surrounding area.
In the short time I have been researching downtown revitalization I have already discovered a few key items and concepts to bear in mind for my design. One of which is creating a sense of place. Successful downtowns have a specific identity to them; their users strongly connect to this identity and immerse themselves within it. Additionally, marketing and branding can play an important role in creating place. Downtown areas may be labeled as specific districts and likewise may have a unique logo or image that is associated with them. The names and images become easily recognizable to the public and enables them to further connect to these segments of their town’s environment.
Most of the time, downtown revitalization efforts happen in historic areas of communities. Since this is usually the case, it is important to bear this in mind. Revitalizing a downtown area may maintain some of the historical integrity of the town or city as well as filtering in some ‘new’ aspects. This is usually beneficial for the local residents and users of the space because the downtown area can bridge between the town’s historic identity and new amenities and attractions; it can create an immersion of these two elements.