Urban Design Lesson Three: Design Places Knowing that Places are Made, not Designed

People Place Purpose

This following was written by Richard Dagenhart.

“The main idea for this project is to create an authentic place for your community.”

Every time I hear this I clinch my jaw so I can keep my mouth shut. It happens often — when an architect or landscape architect or planner presents a proposed plaza or park or shopping center makeover, or during my students’ design presentations at Georgia Tech. And, I admit, I have said it myself, but that was before I realized that “place,” is way too important a word to use so loosely.

As designers, when we talk about places, we are referring to something called “a sense of place.” A lot of academic literature deals with this but is not very helpful for designing places, but we know it when we see one.

Wright Square, Savannah, GA.

Courthouse_oxford_600pxLafayette County Courthouse and sculpture of William Faulkner, Oxford, MS.


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