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Rizzo

Architecture Organization

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Working on what Kib said:

Are there any Icon Bunkers? NO. How'd it happen? Citizen involvment, keeping the elected officals held accountable and by extention, the developers accountable.

Fight the good fight

Why not us UP-GRs start a non-profit, say Grand Rapidians for Responsible Architecture (GRRA), addressing the awareness through community involvment in projects downtown. Maybe this can help community officials and citizens understand the importance of responsible design and archtecture in the public and private square... This non-profit could advance awareness by providing architectural awareness through involvement in GRPS, local organizations, and also a local architectural exhibit in a newly renovated downtown building ;)

Let us discuss:

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I think that sounds like a very responsible Idea. However, as that would sound an awful lot like lobbying, I would be afraid that people would use it to fight against developements or ideas that may just not be to their own personal taste and liking, that would be unethical.

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I think for the most part, new developments in GR seem to be doing a good job architecturally. At least most designs from what I've seen in the development thread. I think citizens and leaders can set goals that wouldn't necessarily scare developers away. This isn't something that has to be harsh, just a prevention strategy from filling up the cityscape with crap. You guys have a wealth of great architecture in GR, unfortunately I can think 3 somewhat new buildings in your downtown that look like absolute crap and are eyesores among your beautiful skyline. Every city has their share of bad buildings, and it wouldn't have taken a lot to improve their design.

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This wouldn't to be an annoying citizens group chasing after developers to change design. The object of the organization will be to educate Grand Rapidians of their architectural heritage, history, and future trends. While educating the general public, this could swing the importance of community involvement in the area.

With growing interest in Downtown and everyone seeing where our architecture is progressing, its only a matter of time when locals and folks visiting the city start asking: "Hey, what's that building about?" "Who designed that building?" There is a beautiful urban building stock in downtown, Heartside, The Hill, and among other neighboring districts. You don't have to be an architect or critic to appreciate the buildings downtown.

Think about the impact an organization could have if suburban high-schools booked a presentation for students to learn more about Downtown.

I envision a renovated ground floor in the Heartside as our operating quarters and also our gallery exhibit...

  • An exhibit could include:

  • Gallery photos of buildings

  • Renderings

  • Models

  • History section of architecture including reading material

  • School exhibitions with hands on subjects.

This would be a real interesting project for all of us.

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Rizzo, love the energy, keep up the good work.

What WE can do today:

I would say that the majority of large development projects in the city require public hearings with at least one commission such as the Planning Commission, HPC, ZBA, Parking Commission, or City Commission.

A Public Hearing is a great way to express support, concerns, or suggestions to the proposed project. Depending on what commission the hearing is for, there is still opportunity for input regarding design.

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As long as it was kept unbiased, and purely factual and scientific. I think it would be a wonderful thing. I think people would start walking by blank walls thinking, Man this is some ugly crap! I just fear it would become a NIMBY organization like I feel the HPC is. Everyone knows how I feel about them.

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MJLO and the rest, you make valid points.

I guess my idea is becoming more of a community organization promoting architecture rather a sound peice for NIMBYism.

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I'm in favor of any organization that promotes community knowledge and possitive growth of downtown. Even though I am relatively new to the whole UP scene I would be happy to be a part of it.

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I would see value in an educational group, something like an architectural league or society. We could have walking tours, a shop, a gallery, etc, all with the express purpose of being an architectural supporter. I have a bit of a problem with the name (responsible). If the organization veers off course and becomes one more stumbling block to development, filled with architectural nazis, then the name would be a hard thing..."so if I oppose the group does that mean I am not responsible?"

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No, I just threw that name in there to go along with what Kib was saying. I think the direction I am going will warrant us as an advocacy group:

We could say, Grand Rapidians for Architectural Awareness (GRAA) :)

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Rizzo -

I think that's a brilliant idea. Please understand going into this, while the precept should not be adversarial toward development and the elected officals that are supposed to be keeping an eye on things, you're going to get some push-back. (As already evidenced on this thread)

I think GRGridGirl was spot on with her comment that public hearings are a key part of the process. Educating your ELECTED officals that there are ways development can be done that enhances an urban environment is another key. Educating developers that while it's thier nickle on the line, it's YOUR city that will live with the results for 50 years, so STFU isn't an acceptable response when considering a project.

If I can offer any insights on "the Portland experience", please feel free to call on me.

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I threw the idea out there, but I didn't intend for it to as a "push-back" organization (don't worry Developers :) )... My original idea awhile ago was to create an advocacy group for architecture. Thanks Kib.

EDIT: Never thought of that one GridGirl. ;)

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No, Rizzo it shouldn't be a push-back organization. Fact of the matter is however, anytime anyone asks anyone to look at the consequences of thier actions (especially if there's money/polictical influence felt to be trod upon) you're going to get push-back. I submit if you don't, you're not accomplishing any more than the civic and urban planning equivalent of Oprah's Book Club.

Which is OK if that's what you want to accomplish

See, aren't we having fun already ???????

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I'm down with the advocacy Rizzo, I can play that game, I can even be against certain things. As long as they are very definately not a benefit.

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A little close to hockey. How about ARG-GR? Architectural Review Group.

No No No.......Do not refer to it as an Architectural Review Group. There is a negative mental stigma about that right from the start. It sounds like an architectural review board for a subdivision.

What has been discussed in this thread is Architectural Resource Center. There are plenty of them all across the country. There is one in Pike Place Market in Seattle also NYC just opened one up as well. Generally they are run by or funded through a local AIA chapter.

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you're not accomplishing any more than the civic and urban planning equivalent of Oprah's Book Club.

Which is OK if that's what you want to accomplish

From what I understand Oprah sells millions of copy's of every book she talks about. If we can generate more interest in downtown construction with people wouldn't they be more likely to locate a businesses or simply live downtown? And if we can get together, organize, and fight for things such as a new transit system or smart design architecture wouldn't that eventually stimulate downtown growth? I don't think we would ever say, "no, you can't build that" but rather, "hey you know if you did this it may better blend in with the surrounding area." The likelihood that they do anything may be small but at least we tried.

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The likelihood that they do anything may be small but at least we tried.

There's not a darn thing wrong with that !!!!!

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Another thing we may be able to do is gather donations for downtown renovation or even volunteer in them.

Although I may be on a completely different page than Rizzo. Rizzo, what activities exactly are you thinking of for this organization?

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I don't want this organization to be a podium for NIMBYism or any special interest other then to be a learning/resource center. Keep in mind that my first post isn't what I really intend in an organization. The idea of having a resource center for local schools, organizations, and citizens to come to an learn about our architectural history.

Learning can be facilitated via: interactive learning modules, tours, and gallery exhibit.

Interactive learning modules - Tools for interactive learning geared to the topic of the architectural studies. Modules should be geared to understanding in both adults and children, yet provide enough interactiveity so the individual grasps the idea of architecture.

  • Workstations, such as "Design your own Skyscraper." - a computer workstation where people can create a simple skyscraper or building with a set of building materials used in actual skyscraper construction. Jeff, I think you'd get a kick out of this because you would be able to actually operate a tower crane to move the materials around :)

  • A mock up of a scene in a architect's studio. Here you would see the actual tools an architect from the past and present would use to create a building here in downtown.

  • A biographical section including biographies of local architects and architects who have their work in Downtown Grand Rapids.

Tours - Creating self-guided tours through the community with pamhplets depicting important buildings. Guided tours by trained folks could also be created too.

Gallery Exhibit - A gallery could contain:

  • Miniture models featuring past and present architectural projects proposed for downtown.

  • Photographs documenting the architectural statements

  • Renderings

EDIT: Activites for our organization:

  • Have touring exhibits through local public/private schools

My idea machine is pooping out, I have to run and get a part to fix it, any more ideas?

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All very good ideas Rizzo.

How would you fund such an organization? Is there a part of this that is an income generator or does this rely on an endowment?

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Ah, the one question that seems to have the hickups. Honestly, I have no clue, except to turn to federal and private grants specificly geared to this form of organization. I know that applying for grants is a nightmare so that will be an obstruction.

I would entertain the idea of having a charge to cover operating costs, say if a private organization or private business "booked" an exhibit with the organization.

I'm not quite sure about the legality of 501( c )3 NPOs and how you are legally able to generate income to cover expenses, but asking for a donation fee to organizations "booking" an exhibit will likely be an option, if legal.

EDIT: I could start a website geared to this specificly, and use it to raise funds. While raising enough funds the above ideas could be implemented in a "Step" process.

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Alright, I like that idea even better than what I was invisioning that you ment :)

btw, I am a web developer so I can assist you if you want.

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