Q&A: Shouldn’t people come before buildings?

As a civic/community-building practitioner, I often observe a disconnect in how communities approach initiatives to create vibrant places. For instance, the popular place-based initiatives… with new urbanist designs often overlook the necessary visioning work on ‘softer’ issues, viewing (instead) the physical changes as the essential ingredients in community transformation. How will CoolTown integrate civic/community-building aspects within its conceptual approach? Joel Mills, Herndon VA

People do come before buildings, as Bowling Alone, a best-selling book by Robert Putnam illustrates in detail. The CoolTown approach will focus on enabling the community’s future residents and tenants to build their own guilds and third-place communities. Once they establish their communities, we’ll work with them to design the buildings. Seems logical doesn’t it? Unfortunately it almost never works that way, but the times they are a changin’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *