Way back in the 1980s, when I first started work in the field of community development, an architect friend and mentor passed along to me two principles of his practice that he always tried to factor into his work: the concentration of misery principle and the flexibility principle.
When it came to concentrating misery, he always tried to combine the negative aspects of things spatially and chronologically. He wanted lousy experiences to be minimized, so he worked to put them close together, and get them out of the way. If he had a bunch of unpleasant things to do, he tried to get them all done together. That way, the rest of his time would spent on more positive work.
On the other hand, when it came to making choices or finalizing alternatives, he took an opposite approach. He always worked to preserve as much flexibility into the planning and development process as possible. Rather than painting oneself into a corner by making firm decisions too soon in a planning or development process, he would create room for new ideas and options to emerge in a forward moving, collaborative process.
This week, the planning process for the future of the Arch moves forward. There will be two public meetings regarding the Draft General Management Plan for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. When the General Management Plan is adopted, it will establish the direction for future management of the Arch site. This is a key process for defining the future of our riverfront and downtown.
Thinking back to my old architect friend's advice, he would recommend that the final product promote flexibility. With the top issue of agreement being a lack of connectivity, are there flexible approaches about how to improve connectivity?
Regarding the concentration of misery, I think he would like the way the Arch site concentrates its new service area all on the southern part of the site. But what about the parking area on the north end of the site? What ways might it be repositioned to increase flexibility at the site?
In terms of difficult connections, they are found all around the Arch grounds. Poor connectivity is a problem surrounding the entire park. Is there a way to minimize the bad connectivity experience at the Arch and maximize the better connections? Where are the key connection points?
As Laclede's Landing and Washington Avenue as well as the Chouteau's Landing areas continue to draw more downtown businesses, visitors and residents, how can we best connect those activity generators to the Arch site?
Information about tonight's public meeting for the future of the Arch can be found here.