WHAT IS AN URBAN CENTER? “Urban Center” is a term used to describe any institution whose core mission is to inform and engage the public in urban planning and public policy. Around the world, these kinds of institutions are fast becoming the most effective way cities can facilitate community involvement. Because they offer the public a nonpartisan, centralized location for all planning, policy and urban design information relative to their city, urban centers are the perfect neutral ground for architects, planners, city officials, and community members to hold discussions and debates on proposed changes to public policy and the built environment. The following institutions offer some successful ways SPUR, through the opening of the Urban Center, might be able to facilitate increased community involvement in SPUR's work, and spark continued interest in the San Francisco Bay Area's democratic process. SPUR's programs will embody the best these centers have to offer, while continuing to remain uniquely SPUR: the city's go-to organization for innovative policy, planning, and good government solutions. Based on data from like institutions, SPUR can expect to attract more than 150,000 visitors to the Urban Center in its first year.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation More than 125,000 visitors per year No art other than architecture so vividly expresses what Chicago is and where it is going. That is why the Foundation hosts more than 7,800 river, bus, and walking tours per year, as well as forums and exhibits, to encourage citizens to think about long-term outcomes and demand best practices as the landscape continues to grow and change.
The National Building Museum More than 400,000 visitors per year Created by an act of Congress and housed in an historic structure, the National Building museum in Washington, D.C. hosts hundreds of lectures and forums each year. Through tours and exhibitions such as “Me, Myself and Infrastructure,” the Museum educates citizens and promotes discussion on current projects while taking into account the myriad connections between our daily routines and the engineered networks that define modern life.
Center for Architecture More than 150,000 visitors per year The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) built the Center for Architecture to encourage collaboration among professionals and the general public. Particularly since the attacks of 9/11, the AIANY has played a crucial role in convening architects, engineers, planners, and citizens to continue the debate on how to return lower Manhattan to the thriving neighborhood it once was. Prior to opening the Center, the AIANY held approximately 600 workshops, meeting, and symposia to encourage excellence in design practices and support civic engagement. Since opening the Center, the AIANY holds more than 6,000 events each year.
Pavillon de l’Arsenal More than 200,000 visitors per year The Pavillon de l’Arsenal has a two-fold mission. For citizens of Paris the goal of its exhibits is to engender a sense of community, belonging, and ownership, so that citizens can become actively engaged in future changes to the built environment. For visitors to Paris, the goal of exhibits is to highlight the urban expertise of the City of Paris and act as a model of good planning.
Officina Citta’ Torino Opening in 2008 Turin, Italy’s, urban center—Officina Citta’ Torino—will be an informational and cultural resource for citizens. With an architectural history as old as Italy’s, an organization that focuses on looking at society through a planning lens is crucial for both the preservation of culture, and the incorporation of vital new design. Key to Turin’s programming is acting as a neutral forum to discuss, debate and analyze the architectural, social, economic and environmental issues surrounding proposed projects. Turin is eager for other cities to build urban centers and grow an international exchange network for the sharing of best practices and innovative design ideas. Scheduled to open in 2008, the Turin center will be housed in an historic renovated train station in the center of downtown, with a new underground train system tunneling underneath.
Published on Oct 15, 2011