To move toward an Architecture of Place, we must all advocate for our cities to take a Place-Centered approach to creating new buildings and public spaces.
When an opportunity to develop a site in your city comes up, what kind of approach do the people leading the process take? Do they treat the site as an independent piece of real estate, to be interpreted by architects and planners first before involving any of the local residents? Or do they reach out to people to find out what needs already exist in the area around that site, and then begin devising a plan with the community?
We call the former of these two a Design-Centered approach, and the latter a Place-Centered approach. One of our 11 Placemaking Principles is that it is critical to remember, in any project, that you are creating a place, not a design. While good design is important to creating great places, it is but one tool in your kit–not the driving force behind good Placemaking. When a community is involved from (or even before) the start of a design process, that process serves the site and the people who will use it, instead of serving the designers’ own interests. This creates places that are accessible, dynamic, and inclusive–the kind of places that are central to building strong neighborhoods and cities.