Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Arch Design Charette November 6 - 9 at Mansion House

Students from across the midwest will be participating this week in a design charette for the future of the Arch site. The public is invited to attend this Sunday from noon - 4:00 pm.

Details available here.


Sparky said...

Maybe some good ideas will come out of this. Not to sound cynical, but a project of this magntitude is something so complex (i.e. namely because of all the different entities and units involved) that it can't be solved in one weekend. It therefore seems that generally these type of student assemblages are trivial at best. Good for instruction / education, but the contracted firm(s) that end up getting hired for the actual job (if it materializes) will come up with their own solution.

(note: speaking from experience and the various design studios I went through in architecture school in Chicago 1998-2002).

GMichaud said...

Actually I have always found design charettes useful. Certainly the problems can't be solved in a weekend but I have found that even if students don't come up with a magical solution, architects, planners and other urban thinkers will gain from the experience.
The real advantage (if they are properly trained) is that the students can exhibit a freedom of thought that stimulates new avenues of thinking and development possibilities.
I would hardly call such projects trivial before they even happen. Such judgments before the fact resembles the closed minds that got us into this urban mess in the first place. In fact I would hardly call the professionals who created the urban hell that surrounds the arch grounds competent.
These trivial students are likely to come up with more effective and interesting solutions as compared to what is in place now.

I am glad the design community is taking a leadership role in this effort.

(note: speaking from experience and sitting on many juries at Washington U. architectue school, plus studios etc at U of Hawaii architecture school 1970-73)

Anonymous said...

Will organizers bridle the creativity of the participants? Are there any imposed limits to their work?

Will there be multiple recommendations or just one? How does this fit with the idea of an official design competition?

Sparky said...

I agree, gmichaud, that charettes are excellent venues for the free expression of ideas. My comment was not to judge or give the impression of having a closed mind - just commenting on what I see in retrospect now from my own experience after transitioning from academia to the workforce.

While I respect the fact that you have served as a juror, it appeared that jurists in the review of my projects tended to leave out aspects of reality in the name of theory. There was much valuable discussion that really broached the core of the issues, but often it also seemed like pointless banter. It ultimately came down to getting the grade and that was that.

The market and available funding itself in the end dictate what can be done (re: Ballpark Village). For example, we spent three semesters looking at the Lakeshore East site north of what is now Millennium Park in Chicago. This was actually on a scale much worse than the Arch grounds, as it was a three-story deep hole that had been created by elevating the streets above grade around it. Double-decked Wacker Drive cut off the north side, and access to Lake Michigan was resticted as well by Lake Shore Drive. There were a multitude of ideas that fellow students in my studio had for exciting and interesting interventions, all of which would reintroduce a sense of "flow" to the site and connect it to the surrounding context and urban street grid. Now take a look at the site plan over at www.lakeshoreeast.com
What has resulted instead is a rectangular park with strange curves that seem to arise from nowhere, surrounded by ubiquitous condo towers. While certainly more inviting and eye-pleasing than the "crater" that used to be there, was it indeed the best solution? Or one that resulted purely as a result of developer overture?