MAKING PUBLIC PLACES
A TWITTER FORUM
The “Making Public Places” Twitter Forum was held at the office of Balmori Associates on July 13,2009. We discussed public places with a Dutch group of students in landscape architecture and professors, Erik de Jong and Arnold van der Valk.
We used Twitter and live video to extend the discussion to a worldwide public. We started the discussion in house, divided in smaller groupsaround the following topics: ecology, funding, furniture and materials, program, public/private, public amenities, scale, and circulation/traffic. In the Twitter forum our discussion focused on shared space, urban decorum, context, and the relations between past and present. Here follows a summary of the event and what we discussed. Finally, we comment on the use of social media, like Twitter, to allow truly public discussion of public space.
40 Dutch students and their professors, landscape architect Erik de Jong and planner Arnold van der Valk came to our landscape and urban design office, Balmori Associates in New York City. De Jong had asked me earlier if we, the members of my office and their students could have a discussion about Public Space. That resulted in the Twitter forum of July 13, 2009 ( see www.balmori.com and www.facebook.com/balmorilab for full coverage). My decision to put it on Twitter came out of a desire to have a larger community participate, as well as to learn new forms for a symposium, given the new tools available.
Our office is in the Meatpacking District in Greenwich Village. To make the discussion concrete we began with this neighborhood. We have been asked to redesign its public space by the Meatpacking District Initiative, an association of property owners, since the Department of Transportation has recently decided to take away space from cars and give it over to pedestrians. We invited our direct client, Annie Washburn, who heads the association to the forum; I also included my colleague at the Yale School of Architecture, Joel Sanders. Tweeters, internal and external, touched on some critical topics, the most salient of which are summarized in the pdf you can download in the following link: http://balmori.com/mpplaces_summary.pdf