Tagplacemaking

Placemaking contest

I submitted this photo to the “What Makes Your Place Great? Your Secret Corner of Chicagoland Contest.”

Stefano Rini took the photo for me.

The contest will have 4 winners, one of which will be chosen by popular vote. I want to increase my chances of winning so I want to win the popular vote. If I don’t win, then it’s up to the judging panel to choose mine amongst three winners.

Vote here!

(Scroll down or search for “growing station”.)

Your city’s Schelling point

Not a selling point, but a Thomas Schelling point. Also known as focal point, a segment of game theory. Without communicating, how will two people make the same choice?

To illustrate (based on Thomas Schelling’s own example, and Yuri Artibise, who inspired this post), I ask you this question:

If I called you and asked you to meet me in downtown [your city] in an hour and then my phone’s battery died, where would we meet?

Yuri said “According to Adam [Greenfield], most cities have Schelling points, because, without effective communication between people (i.e., cell phones), meeting places ultimately converge on a couple of high visibility—and usually iconic—destinations.”

Seattleites, might you meet your friend at the Central Library in Seattle, Washington? Photo by Dolan Halbrook.

It seems for New Yorkers, the traditional answer has been at the information booth in the Grand Central Station main hall. Yuri suggests that “there is nothing inherent about Grand Central Station that makes a particularly desirable meeting place.”

Schelling’s theory explains why people might pick the same location. Contributors to the “focal point” article on Wikipedia write this:

Consider a simple example: two people unable to communicate with each other are each shown a panel of four squares and asked to select one; if and only if they both select the sameone, they will each receive a prize. Three of the squares are blue and one is red. Assuming they each know nothing about the other player, but that they each do want to win the prize, then they will, reasonably, both choose the red square. Of course, the red square is not in a sense a better square; they could win by both choosing any square. And it is the “right” square to select only if a player can be sure that the other player has selected it; but by hypothesis neither can. It is the most salient, the most notable square, though, and lacking any other one most people will choose it, and this will in fact (often) work.

The destination choice should change with context. If you were to meet a classmate on campus, you might meet in the building where the class you share meets.

Placemaking roundup

A roundup of recent posts on the blogosphere about attempts at placemaking. While engineers, planners, designers, and architects can spend time and money on making a place, only its users have the authority to call it one. How will these “places” fare?

  • Disney will be revamping its stores to match the Apple Stores’ level of attraction and attention by no longer placing the attention on toys, but more on experience and interaction. “Imagination Park” from Brand Avenue.
  • A team led by MIT researchers entered a competition to build a new, permanent, tourist attraction to be built for and after the 2012 Olympics in London. Visitors would ascend one of two 400-foot towers and watch the city from inside plastic bubbles, while on the face of the bubbles, a “mood barometer” would be projected. Read deeper into the project’s beginnings and the people behind “The Cloud” on City of Sound.
  • Two new parks (or plazas?) open in downtown Chicago, Illinois, and both feature boxed up lawns. This new “park” phenomenon helps Lynn Becker refine the definition of a park.
  • Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat changes “tall buildings” standards to now include lowest pedestrian entrance. The result: Trump Tower now taller than Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, China. Burj Dubai still world’s tallest: “John Hancock Center stacked atop Sears Tower.”

Photo of typeset as seating in Printers’ Row Park in Chicago, Illinois. See item three below.

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