Thursday, January 12, 2012

From Project For Public

Placemaking for Communities
Collaborative, Creative Placemaking:
Good Public Art Depends on 

Good Public Spaces

Santa Marta Favela, Rio de Janeiro. (Haas&Hahn for

“It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people; what is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.” William H. (Holly) Whyte

During the past two or more decades, communities around the country have fallen victim to the relentless machinations of a group of people with an overdeveloped, overspecialized “creative function,” who see themselves as experts rather than collaborators or service providers. In the face of these experts and their implicit authority, communities have been intimidated and made to feel impotent. The public has been convinced to leave the creative function solely in the hands of the specially trained—namely architects, artists, and designers—and to abdicate its role in nurturing the creative life of the city. As a result, the communal psyche has atrophied and the public realm has suffered. Projects—whether public art, public parks, or public transportation—designed without the community in mind have provoked fierce criticism by host communities. That criticism is based on, among other things, a lack of trust in the motives of the professionals involved, who often serve something other than the public good and whose priorities are often different from those of the community.


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