Relevant notes and citations provided to TED by Jeanne Gang.
"But today, urban-habitats are out of balance. Climate change, together with political and economic troubles are adding-up and stressing-out cities and us: the people that live in them."
For an overview and analysis of a wide range of issues affecting cities today, see Joe Cortright, City Report: Less in Common (City Observatory, June 2015).
"It’s actually this balance -- this web of relationships -- that sustains life."
For more information on the interconnected web of life, these articles by Fritjof Capra, the founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy, are a great resource:
Fritjof Capra, "The New Facts of Life: Systems Thinking Includes a Shift of Emphasis from Structure to Process." (Center for Ecoliteracy, 2009).
Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi. The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
"I mean, you’d actually bump your head."
In the United States, convening for social justice has historically happened in informal settings rather than purpose-built spaces. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, held meetings in the basement of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. But in many cultures around the world meeting places are often specifically designed for gathering and conflict resolution. The Togu Na in Mali, for example, is a meeting place for Dogon men, typically located at a prominent location in the center of the village. The structure has a low roof that forces everyone to sit. No one can stand up and take over the meeting. More images of the architecture of the Dogon can be found in the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.
"The act of 'making' is a social activity."
To learn how to design and build with wood masonry, members of the design team attended a workshop led by Rob Roy of the Earthwood Building School. More information about this building technique can be found at the Earthwood Building School’s website.
"The carbon is captured inside the walls, and it’s not released into the atmosphere so that making these walls is equivalent to taking cars right off the road."
The difference in the carbon footprint of a wood masonry wall and a conventional brick wall is equivalent to removing 10 cars from the road for one year. A more detailed analysis is available on the Studio Gang website.
"And as a result of these fireside chats and a full calendar of programming, the applications for Arcus Fellowships are up ten-fold since the building opened."
Since the building's opening in October 2014, interest in events at the Arcus Center has remained popular across campus and among community members. Applications for Arcus Center fellowships -- which include opportunities for Kalamazoo College faculty, staff, and students, as well as visiting activists, artists, and public intellectuals -- have increased each year since 2014, indicating that engagement in social justice issues and awareness of the Arcus Center’s resources has expanded with the new building.
"So, we invented a way to make balconies the new social connectors."
Read more about Studio Gang’s strategies for designing buildings that encourage social connections in the essay, "Three Points of the Residential High-Rise: Designing for Social Connectivity," published by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
"It’s working! It’s connecting people in positive ways to each other and to their environment."
Studio Gang interviewed the Director of Community Relations at Aqua Tower to understand how the building’s property management group works to encourage community, and why this work is important to their team. The tower’s unique mix of units (rental apartments, condos, and hotel rooms) offers residents the option to stay in the building—or as we think of it, the "vertical neighborhood" -- as their lives and housing needs change. Over the years, at least six residents who moved into Aqua as renters have purchased condos. In addition, a number of condo owners have sold their studios or one-bedroom units and purchased larger units in the building, choosing to stay in the neighborhood.
The development group sees the building’s shared amenity spaces as key social hubs that provide space for people to meet and get to know each other better. Aqua’s party spaces are rented out an average of 200 times a year -- nearly every other day. This is twice as much as similar buildings they operate.
"And even though they had good intentions to treat every neighborhood equally, the communities didn’t feel invested in the process or feel a sense of ownership of these buildings."
The architecture of policing in the United States has undergone continuous change since the Colonial era. In the 20th century, as patrolling by car replaced the traditional foot beat, police stations tended to become large-scale, fortress-like structures. Today Chicago’s prototypical stations are often sited on major thoroughfares and flanked by expansive parking lots, isolating police and their stations from the communities they serve. Chicago’s 10th District Police Station in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood is one of fourteen prototypical stations built across the city between 1999 and 2012. More information on past Chicago Police Department projects can be found here
"In the U.S., policy reforms have been recommended in order to rebuild trust."
You can learn more about current recommended policing reforms by reading the 2015 *Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing" on the website of the US Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. An interactive map records efforts across the country to turn policy into action.
"These insights came directly from the community members and the officers themselves. As designers, we just connected these dots and suggested a first step."
The Studio Gang team gathered local community members’ and police officers’ input through a variety of platforms to ensure many perspectives were considered. These included one-on-one conversations with community leaders, community café workshops bringing together police officers and residents, and roundtable sessions with local youth where sketching together helped bring out and refine ideas.
"Now parents say there’s a feeling that this court is safer than other courts nearby and that they prefer their kids to play here."
Interviews with community leaders about the new court at the 10th District Police station can be found on Studio Gang’s website
The 10th District Community Policing Office reports that kids play basketball on the court nearly every day. Community events, like the annual favorite B-Ball on the Block, bring together families, neighbors, police offices, and community partners—including members of the Studio Gang design team—for basketball tournaments and neighborhood block parties.