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May 5, 2008

Another Critique

Here I will be discussing the first presentation of the second week of presentations. This group chose the goal of poverty and hunger, and a good realm of response - the Minneapolis area.

I thought it was a good first step to look at organizations that are already working on this problem, like Architecture for Humanity. This is a great organization created by Cameron Sinclair, and they use some very innovative ideas for dealing with the poverty and hunger issue. Examining organizations like these can help uncover practices that work, and ones that don't. This is crucial when coming up with a new plan, like this group did.

I had a slight problem with the second part of the presentation, which looked at projects that have 'failed' in their missions. The Cedar Riverside apartment complex was a focus of this section, and I don't completely agree with the criticism put forth by the group. Sure, the original idea for the project never panned out as envisioned by Ralph Rapson 40 years ago, with mixed income families4 living together harmoniously. But that doesn't make it a failure. As I heard Tom Fisher say at a lecture, the Cedar Riverside apartments play an important role in the local area as they offer affordable living for hundreds of low-income families. Converting these to condos or demolishing them altogether would force countless numbers people onto the streets. It would be helpful, however, to renovate the buildings, as suggested by one of the honors groups on Thursday.

It was very ambitious of this group to design a multi-use building for low-income families. I liked the general ideas that were presented, even if some of them may not be too practical. They had a plan for everything, and even went down into the smallest of details, like the brand of windows, and the solar panel fake trees. (I'd say mount the PVs in real trees, maybe fruit bearing trees) I was initially going to analyze the practicality of the different features of this designed community (I actually wrote them all down), but I realized that most of us in this class don't have a great depth of urban planning knowledge, myself included. So I'll be nice. This was a great effort, and I applaud this group for it.

I enjoyed the physical portfolio that the group produced. It was small and presented the information in a very effective manner. Good visual qualities.

All of the groups that presented in this class did a great job. This was a long process, with a vague requirements and a lot of creative control. It was very interesting to see the different angles taken by the different groups...certainly kept it from getting too dull. We all managed to pull it off, and it is a relief to finally be done.