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The Big Story (in one nugget)

I work for Pyatok Architects. We are...?
by

Shannon Range

on 25 May 2010

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Transcript of The Big Story (in one nugget)

Vision Statement "To foster the development of vibrant, sustainable,
and inclusive communities... Mike's Writings Story Brainstorming
Session pedagogical center action-oriented think-do tank a relationship of trust with community, agencies, and professional partners to shape local policy in underserved communities relationship responsive hurdle jumpers forseeing trail guide relationship Big Love part of a community collective heroes In short, rebuilding the human infrastructure should be the prime purpose, with rebuilding the physical structure as merely the excuse or the means to achieve that first priority. Well-designed housing for lower income families, if built in a neighborhood without an economic development strategy and without supportive services, will deteriorate rapidly regardless of physical planning strategies. BEST PRACTICES help tenants personalize their settings
instills pride, long-term upkeep, neighborly vigilance against crime This emphasis on consumption rather than production... distracts attention from a loss of dignity and control... and insures endless acquisition. People must now be conditioned to define their self-image not by what they 'do for a living' but at least as much by the things they consume and possess and in which they enclose themselves. perpetual novelty of appearances

radical individualism

the sine qua non of design Reductive formalism with its fashionable images becomes the architects' opiate and the cultural ideology necessary to perpetuate the commodity culture. Architects need to seek clients who not only do not want to use buildings as commodities, but who have organized to oppose theis practice. The more the product is valued for the quality of its execution by labor and less for its exchange value for the owner, the more that labor - both manual and intellectual - is elevated as the real source of wealth. Only in this inclusive manner can we insure the localized creation of cultural artifacts and escape the hegemonic culture created by centralized capital exploiting the myth-making skills of co-opted architects. These changes must push not only to make the creation of our environment more democratic but also to push for the socialization of 'profits,' such that the value created by the built environment is shared by society as a whole. Realist epistemologies assert that ideas for workable change can only be evolved through extensive involvement in the realities to be changed, preferably by the people who are directly affected. In this view, successful housing design must involve the inhabitants themselves from the outset of the design process. When competition is linked not with “who gets the most wins” or “who is the most unique wins,” but with “who gives the most wins” and “who satisfies the needs of most wins” then the cause of justice joins with the competitive spirit.
[Our work is about] the truly nitty-gritty necessities of surviving at the lowest levels of income, where “design for survival” means something radically different than “design for resale.” This is not to deny the poetic power of form, space, texture, color, light and nature’s bounty – the ingredients of beautiful places – but their designed compositions are lifeless unless shaped to meet the needs of those they serve. The hope is that, because we continue to extol the virtues of equality, justice, and freedom and keep them within our peripheral vision, we will continue to chip away at the barriers that prevent us from achieving them. Multifamily affordable housing is one more arena within which the struggle gets a serious workout. [They] need to recognize that those struggling up from the bottom have little concern about the long-term ‘exchange value, or resale value of their dwellings – instead, they care about the use value. [YOU] distract us with a deceptive pretense of rebellion against those institutions merely because the form of their envelopes shocks while there is no substantive change of their institutional contents. [WE] are fighting to bring a moral foundation to the ruthless self-interests of market-driven economies. We have to be very honest about whom we are going to bed with here: to get inclusionary housing it must be buried within risk-free market-rate housing [which means] these same developers conspire to shut down SROs and remove homeless shelters. Until its leadership recognizes that the creation of physical interventions are not the end, but the means for building jobs, community self-sufficiency, and political empowerment, we will continue to see “sticks and bricks” interventions that merely raise property values and cause displacement of the very people we are trying to help. Good design is essential for the long-term good of the housing. The more than people are proud of where they live, the greater the likelihood that they are going to work harder at taking care of it. The next thing we do is design nothing, absolutely nothing, before we are in the room with the neighborhood group where you’re going to be placing the housing. BUILDING JOBS; COMMUNITY There's a political role to design and that is the message it sends to the people living there. If it's done well, it's like saying all those folks who collaborated to make the place - the community, the lenders, the developer, the insurance company, the architect - had a high degree of respect for the people getting housing. DESIGN IN SERVICE PRIDE IN PLACE MATTERS WHAT WE'RE FIGHTING AGAINST OUR COMMUNITY OF PROFESSIONALS OUR VISION
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