JLL 01 - 19 - 2010

My design project concerns the development of a community center/gardens near the center of downtown Goshen, IN. The main focus of this center is to bring the residents of this community together and to provide a place for them to exchange ideas, thoughts, stories, etc. Good spaces are design with multiple draws - a lesson learned and a less to apply to my project. When a space is designed, every designer imagines that space as a populated, thriving place in it's city or community. However, people need to be drawn to a space, they do not simply appear. A site must constantly engage people's interests, especially after the novelty of it's "newness" has worn off. The popular spaces we have visited so far... they have all been full of people. Not only are they full of people, they are full of people doing things, engaging with the site! Chosen are two such examples that stuck in my mind: There was no bull fighting taking place the day we visited the bull ring in Granada, the building and it's plaza, however, were not empty: shopkeepers were bringing out their wares, restaurants were setting up their outdoor seating.... bars were writing up their specials on large chalkboards. The ring was organized in such a way that activities could still take place, whether or not the actual bull ring was operating. The bull ring occupied the center of the circular stadium, vendors and souvenir shops that served the large crows were in the second ring, both of these circles could be blocked off while events were not taking place. The outer circle, open to both the inside and the outside, held the restaurants and bars and larger shops. On event days, people were able to enter these businesses from the inside and the outside of the ring. During the rest of the week, patrons entered only from the exterior of the building, but received the same services. A seemingly simple design... but rather overlooked in large sports stadiums and event centers in America. I would like to provide something like this in my center, perhaps a few privately owned cafes or a restaurant, something that can function with the center, or without it. Of the two mentioned, I thought the Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain most interesting. The Plaza is a huge space, most of which is outdoors, surrounded by the semi-circular building. Although we visited the site in the winter, it was still quite crowded with people. Some were tourists, some were using the site to get to work, others were jogging, walking, or simply enjoying a rest in the sun. I can only imagine this place in the summer, when people head outdoors to simply enjoy the outdoors. The most interesting draw on this plaza (to me) was the outdoor library. As our guide explained: in the summer books are placed in the nooks surrounding the periphery of the plaza. Ledges, benches, and lawns provide places for people to sit or lay and read their books. Usually outdoor spaces cater to active people or towards large group activities; at the Plaza de Espana the books provide a quieter, more introverted opportunity, that is apparently quite popular. I would really like to involve something of this sort in my project. Although it is small scale I really think that it might become a defining point of this community center. Although I think the importance of attraction has been ingrained in C.A.P. students at Ball State since our very first year (who doesn't like drawing little stars all over their site analysis?), seeing sites that work first hand really drives the point home. A place is nothing, can become nothing without people to populate it, to experience it, and to enjoy it, this is the kind of place I want to create, and the kind of space the people of Goshen need.

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