The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

28 January 2005

Sprucing up the place

Professor Gary Hack of MIT has come up with Ten Commandments of Design Review, which, in a city like this with hopes of reinventing itself, probably should be heeded. And in Oklahoma City in particular, two or three should be emphasized:

6. Design review needs patronage, a core of supporters who stick with it over time. The support is necessary because in the process a lot of people will not be getting all they want. The supporters will help shore up the process when those who have not gotten what they want from it become frustrated. A review board of highly respected members can play this role, or there could be a group appointed to monitor and evaluate the process that also assumes this role.

You can't plan everything to the nth detail unless n is vanishingly small. There are going to be disagreements on just about everything. The phrase that pays is "We're going to do this," not "We're going to do this exactly this way."

7. Be prepared to break the rules. The best environments have landmarks, folly and divergence from the norm. This is especially true of public institutions, public locations or intersections.

Two words: Stage Center. Love it or hate it, you can't miss it.

9. Design review is not about creating beautiful buildings. It is not taste making. It is about creating good street, good communities and protecting important symbols and about determining whether new development fits in.

You can have the nicest neo-Victorian mansion in the three-county area, but if it's on a block that's gone to seed, who's going to care? A desirable urban environment takes a lot more than just remarkable architecture.

(Via The Downtown Guy.)

Posted at 1:04 PM to City Scene

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