The Nature of Public Consultation

Asking questions about the role of urban designers simultaneously raises the question, 'What is the role of the public in urban designing?'. The level of consultation in developing urban designs that the public expects varies from society to society and within a society from project type to project type. Sometimes there is no consultation. Did President Ceausescu consult the people of Bucharest before moving ahead with the building of the Avenue of Victory of Socialism (see Chapter 7)? Hardly! In some instances, proposed schemes are simply put on display for public comment and feedback. Few of the case studies here went beyond this level of consultation. Politicians' views have implicitly acted as surrogates for public opinion. The degree of attention to the public's responses varies. At the other end of the scale designs emerge through a full participatory design effort, often in sessions 2 or 3 days long in publicly conducted charettes. During charettes designers and stakeholders in a project work intensively to generate preliminary designs. These designs are then developed professionally in full design and engineering detail.

While many important ideas that have changed cities have come from well-informed and observant lay-people, it is often difficult to get the general public involved in thinking about what a project should be until a design is shown to them. It is, nevertheless, important to get them involved if they are to claim designs as their own and for such designs to be well cared for after implementation. If seen as the work of outsiders being imposed on them, the reaction can be hostile. The degree of vandalism of the public realm in projects around the world that have been built without consultation attests to this observation. Part of the problem with the Cadillac-Fairview proposal for what later became Pioneer Place in Portland was that it was seen as a foreign imposition (see Chapter 6).

The lay-public often cannot comprehend the consequences of designing in one manner rather than another. Often any environmental change is seen as negative. In many suburban communities, for instance, the fear of high-rise buildings is so embedded in ways of thinking that sensible discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of taller buildings, residential or commercial, seems impossible. In the development of the Denver Technological Center, pressure from the residents of surrounding areas resulted in a major constraint on the height of buildings. The result is the buildings are all of the same height and flat-topped (see Figure 8.66). While a sense of unity is achieved, it is hardly a visually exciting precinct.

How does one get the public involved and, more importantly in specific projects, how does one get all the stakeholders to actively engage in discussions before crises occur? Much of the public furor over the building of Darling Harbour arose because Sydneysiders did not grasp what the scheme would be like when completed (see Chapter 8). The media - newspapers and television -have been important in bringing visions of what places can be like to popular attention. They were constantly involved in Curitiba and in the design of Battery Park City and now the proposals for the World Trade Center site in New York. They have also been important in moulding people's attitudes. What the lay-public sees as desirable in illustrations is what they seek and, in turn, the press feeds images back to them of what they want to see. Advertisers dictate much. It is difficult to break into this cycle but urban designers have a role as educators. A detailed knowledge of case studies can be used in this educational process.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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