Saturday, July 29, 2006

Design a Designing Center in Memphis

I went to this meeting about establishing a design center in Memphis (held in the very cool Bridges Center). I got there late, so I'm not sure what I missed, and I didn't stay to the end because I got kinda bored watching one of the speakers re-enact his portfolio. It may have gotten better but not for me.

So these are my thoughts about the idea, not the meeting:
  • The more people in Memphis are working in and thinking about design, the better.
  • It's important for the center to be visionary and not just technocratic. I think most of the major design atrocities in Memphis are caused not by inferior talent or technique, but by a worldview that doesn't care about beauty or even long-term viability -- neat banality and expedient economy guide it. I would hope that the center would be an advocate and not just a counselor.
  • They should locate the Design Center in one of Memphis' renaissance neighborhoods, like Uptown or College Park district, near Soulsville USA. Good design and architecture have been key in both of those areas' economic revitalization. Each is a testament to the power of design and vision.
  • The center should design a online presence that allows real-time and asynchronous participation in their activities, especially creative activities like charrettes.
  • The center should sponsor architectural design competitions that are intentionally fantastic or visionary. A lot of designs never happen anyway (or at least the way they're originally envisioned), so why not just start with that idea and see what happens. Offer a Memphis building, site, or neighborhood as a starting point and let the games begin. Let anyone in the world, including non-architects, participate.


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