What was initially a concept project has ballooned into a movement promoting an open, candid discussion about local architectural issues. Architecture 5¢ is an attempt to get the public talking about architecture. I think this is a great idea – I feel the average person does not understand the roles architects, planners and engineers play in their lives everyday. Architecture should not be a practice reserved only for college graduates apprenticing at a firm.
Planners must make a push in this direction. Planning has to be approachable. We’re far less appreciated than architects and our work much less tangible. (Architects point to a building. What do we point to?) We know our work is important (and thankfully our clients know this, too) but that’s not enough. Planning is the key to uniting the individual buildings into a greater urban fabric.
The recent trend towards incorporating charrettes or visioning sessions is a step in the right direction. However, we must make our work (in draft and final form) as open and available as possible. Workshops and public hearings should be a part of every project. Planners need to excel at outreach and get the people and stakeholders involved to the greatest extent possible. GIS can aid in outreach efforts through coordination, presentation and as a feedback channel. We need to be at the forefront of all development projects, from major redevelopment down to streetscaping. If we don’t get the public involved, not only will we produce less effective planning documents, in their eyes we’ll be just another professional group billing a town.