Odds and ends.

Posted: May 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

About this blog…

It all started at Pullman Square in Huntington.  My wife and I were enjoying a cup of coffee, basking in the sunshine, and watching people.  Being an analytical sort, I started trying to figure out why we liked the place so much and began to recognize some of the good qualities of the place.  While Pullman Square is nice, it’s not what I would call an extravagant space.  No interactive fountains.  No LED special effects.  No Frank Gehry design.   I realized that creating a good public space is not so much about spending a lot of money as it is about understanding the needs of people. 

The place that started my thoughts about public space - Pullman Square in Huntington.

I have also visited some really bad public spaces.  Scary places.  Uncomfortable places.  Places that will remain nameless. 

One method of understanding how to create good public spaces is to learn from the mistakes of others, to analyze the bad public spaces.  That’s too easy. Who can’t sit back and be a critic?  Instead, my vow is to look at good public spaces and, when I can, talk about the principles that make it work.

Having said that, understand that even with the public spaces highlighted here, some are better than others.  Some may have significant flaws.  But if I present a public space, it means that I think the good aspects significantly outweigh whatever shortcomings may exist.

Designers of the future…

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of serving as one of the judges of the presentations of the top seniors in the Landscape Architecture department at West Virginia University.  They all had amazing presentations representing their work as students and their budding design philosophies.  Two of the students are heading to graduate school, including one who was accepted into the Harvard Graduate School of Design.  The others are ready to begin their professional careers.  They all have an understanding of the importance of their work and the impact it could have in making the world a more livable place.  Congratulations to the students and the faculty at WVU.  And if you need a good designer, let me know and I’ll connect you with some very good candidates.

WVU landscape architecture seniors: Andrew Kelly, Nina Chase, Laura Grunert, Kyle Stauffer, Ryan Seacrist, and Rob Dinsmore.

A call for spaces…

I keep a running list of public spaces I want to visit and you never know when you’ll see a skinny stranger taking pictures in your community.  As recent posts will attest, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in southern West Virginia.  I am traveling to parts north this summer so if you have a space that works for your community, let me know about it.  If you’re shy and don’t like to post a comment, just shoot me an email at jbird@chaptech.com.

About you lurkers…

There are several blogs that I find interesting but I hardly ever post a comment.  The cyber world has a name for people like me.  We’re called lurkers.  This blog has many such lurkers.  Lurkers are good.  It means that you’re interested in the subject matter.  If you’re like me, you may have started to post a comment but then deleted it, for whatever reason.  I encourage you to go ahead and post your comments or questions and join the conversation.  It’s how we learn.

And finally…

I’ve had a few comments regarding RSS feeds and Subscriptions.  From my independent tests, everything seems to be working like it’s supposed to, but I would appreciate some feedback.  If it’s not working let me know.  If you are getting the RSS feeds and everything works, let me know that as well.  Again, either post a comment or shoot me an email.

Thanks for reading.  Next week, we’ll check out another space.

  1. Mr. Bird:
    Perhaps in a future post you will give us the benefit of your 30 years experience in the design of public spaces and write a post that is a kind of “white paper” on what a municipality should do before it spends one dime of taxpayer money on a public space. How does a muny prevent their public space from ending up looking like it was designed by a committee instead of by an expert like you? How does a muny start this process of evaluating its public space needs? How does that muny end up with a public space that looks like it was designed by an expert and not by a committee of amateurs?

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