AIAS NEQuad Fall Conference 2012 Recap 3

AIAS NEQuad Fall Conference 2012 Recap 3 ::
Keynote Speaker Fred Kent
by Milton Castro, B. Arch Candidate

When I went to the Keynote presentation by Fred Kent, I had no clue who was the speaker, neither what he was about to present. It started with a huge sign on the screen “Placemaking”. Placemaking is basically a central idea that focuses on revitalizing neighborhoods, parks, plazas and cities.

Its approach involves studying carefully, and interview people who live, work, and play in a particular space to determine their needs and expectations. After the information is collected, it is used to create a mutual vision that will bring benefits to that particular space and the people who use them.

Fred Kent is the founder and president of Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization. He strongly disapproves the work of well-known architects such as Frank Gehry saying “he has no idea how to incorporate human community activities to his projects”.

It clicked in my mind on why our studio instructors always push us to come up with our designs concentrating on human experience in every space. After I got home from the Northeast Quad Conference, I did a little bit more of research about PPS and I found a very helpful diagram on how to evaluate places.

The Place Diagram is one of the tools PPS has developed to help communities evaluate places. The inner ring represents key attributes, the middle ring intangible qualities, and the outer ring measurable data. After all the data, they use another tool called “The Power of Ten” which Fred Kent introduced in his Lecture.

The Power of 10 is basically a model to start off a Placemaking process based on the data collected from the place diagram.  The idea behind of the power of 10 is that any place needs to offer 10 things to do or 10 reasons to be there. These could be like place to seat, playground, art, music and social activities. Preferably, these activities would be unique to a particular place that will engage people to keep coming back.

Overall, Fred Kent Lecture gave me another way of thinking as an architecture student not to think just on the fa├žade of the building. Furthermore, how it influences the human activities that will improve the living of such community. I definitely recommend checking out the PPS website to get some cool ideas for your designs.