The Quintessence of the Place – D Magazine
Earlier this year, I wrote about the micro-level of place, which for architects and interior designers who focus on corporate design, is the workplace and the immediate surroundings that support it. Now I want to zoom out at the macro level, perhaps to a space that is much more comfortable for me personally as an architect.
The creation of places relates to a wide range of environments. The desire to create new destinations is perhaps inspired by the organic development of grandiose and memorable places that are indelible in our minds. Examples could be Sydney Harbor, the Champs-Élysées or Times Square.
Recently, while we were working on a new urban planning district in Denver, my team and I recalled the magic of places like Venice, Italy, the Greek island of Santorini or Savannah, Georgia, to name a few. -a. Again, these places have been shaped by many factors over many years and have evolved organically, but with such a strong spirit that they have become the epitome of a place people will travel around the world. to visit or live.
Architects share the responsibility with planners and indeed the entire universe of development contributors to focus on a process of shaping the built environment in a way perhaps not as magical and organic as the examples listed. above.
The challenge is to balance the broader goals of creating places with the specifics of a perhaps unique site and the real world factors of putting together real estate offers. Who could have predicted the immense value of the Klyde Warren Park or the Katy Trail in defining Dallas ethics?
Real estate values of the properties that line the Katy Trail have skyrocketed, and the connectivity Klyde Warren Park created between the Dallas Central Business District and Uptown has ignited the energy levels around these areas to define a true heart for Dallas. . Notice the obvious though: the creation of these places did not come about through traditional development. That is, all the positive economic impact on real estate around these character-rich environments is due to what they make for life better – places that don’t even make a dollar except for the generous donations of their supporters.
It doesn’t matter if you’re designing an office building in the city of Dallas or a boutique hotel in the Ozarks, the venue experience will be shaped by the poetic narrative that a dedicated design team uses to tell a story.
Other notable examples in North Texas built on income generating spaces are Sundance Square in Fort Worth and more manufactured places such as Southlake Town Square, Legacy West or Watters Creek in Allen. These have in common the ingredient of the hackneyed term ‘mixed use’, but through the inclusion of characteristics of life, work, play and even perhaps learning, weaves the creative spirit of locations with varying degrees of success.
And speaking of learning, maybe it’s worth providing the context and the main reason I’m drawn to creating places and my own genesis of finding a place. I grew up in Dallas (North Dallas specifically) in the 70s and early 80s and moved to Austin for my architectural studies. It was there, on the classic campus of the University of Texas at Austin, that I first understood the magic of the place and the influence it can have on people. Add to that the Austin scene anchored by the State Capitol building, Ladybird Lake (the city lake of my time) and Zilker Park, and one can understand the immense influence and the strong aura of the creation of places on his well-being.
Making places out of blank canvas through intentional decision making is quite difficult, and the results are often plastic or vanilla. I don’t know how many additional “city centers” DFW can handle. Preserving the ingredients of these mixed-use environments is a voodoo art at best. The flip side of the theme and the crafting is the rebirth of real neighborhoods within DFW. Dallas, which I know better than others, has taken advantage of older neighborhoods like Bishop Arts, The Cedars, Deep Ellum, and Knox Henderson to bring holistic life to these areas.
Even our own central business district has more people than ever before and a new heart of energy in the AT&T Discovery district. It might seem counterintuitive, but a well-designed open space with the right vibe creates new, sustained energy where people just want to be.
While Klyde Warren Park has brought a vibrant connection to Uptown, the potential abolition of Interstate 345 across downtown could make the urban core and places like Farmers Market and the neighborhood more connected to Deep Ellum, Fair Park and beyond.
Placemaking has many ingredients. The ability to walk has become vital for cities in the United States and around the world. Authenticity and authenticity only serve to improve, and Texas has a regional pride that is exemplified in our creation of places, music halls and courtyards in our small towns to the epic and romantic qualities of the San Antonio Riverwalk. or the Stockyards District at High Value.
The rich and varied tapestry of the place can be found in the myriad of decisions designers make from the scale of each physical piece of structure, solar orientation, and material decisions that range from a very contrasting variety. to a connected similitude from simplified and elegant palettes.
Just as I used images from our latest urban office project, Victory Commons One, to support the notion of an evolving workplace, perhaps the spirit of this place will be better anchored by the new park. ‘an acre to the lobby door – or if we’re really lucky, the park framing at the south end and the deliberately planned Biergarten at the north end of the shopping base. Often, we describe the outdoor spaces leading to our constructed buildings as “the space between”. Another common thread to all the examples given here is the exterior fabric, the planting, the landscapes, the lighting and even the orientation and branding of the place.
By now you may notice that the observations I have made are more practical than profound – a desire to raise more awareness of the challenge of conserving a designed environment rather than one that grows organically. I believe we are inspired by the gravity of great places, but what is its quintessence?
I believe that the quintessence of the place lies in the experiences it permeates in those who are ready to live it. It can come from the mundane nature of where we can work to the fantastic escape we take in a unique life. vacation. Great experiments are that simple, but extremely difficult to achieve. The experiences become indelible in our minds, and we naturally want to repeat these positive feelings over and over again.
It doesn’t matter if you’re designing an office building in the city of Dallas or a boutique hotel in the Ozarks, the venue experience will be shaped by the poetic narrative that a dedicated design team uses to tell a story – a story that will invoke memorable experiences and get people to come back to this place again and again.
More than ever, as we move towards an image-based society overrun by social media, the power of creating places will be captured in our experiences and deeply ingrained in our memories. We can only hope that the tactile and tangible will survive Instagram posts and Snapchat stories and we will all lower the lens of our camera to drink it with our own eyes.
Andrew Bennett is a partner and design director at BOKA Powell Architects, based in Dallas.