Picture yourself standing in front of a tranquil lake watching the sun descend into the horizon, thus amplifying the shadows that spread across the water. Now start tossing pebbles and small rocks out into the water. Watch as each one breaks the surface and catapults concentric rings of energy effortlessly outward. With each successive impact the rings begin to couple and subtract, bounce and marry until they become a patchwork of ripples, each with its own unique path and destination.
This is the metaphor for the contemporary city.
Cities are complex organisms, wholly alive and as individual as a snowflake or thumbprint. What is the reason for their distinctiveness? Well it is because their creators are equally unique and have created the city in their own image. For as many different people exist in a city, there are as many different thoughts, attitudes, values, morals, beliefs, and lifestyles all woven together into a life-size tapestry. And THAT is what makes cities spectacular.
Cities are a result of our collective identity. They are breathed into being by humans looking for ways to solve many of life’s most basic issues. How to protect yourself, how to provide food for your family, how to treat waste, how to earn money, and how to be happy.
Cities are designed by people, for people. And their design is a principal way the city exemplifies the values of a community.
Lest we forget that as humans evolve and alter their lifestyles and habits, our cities need to evolve in parallel. And with DMC becoming a reality, we stand on the verge of a new decade of growth in Rochester that may profoundly change its character and appearance. So we have an obligation as citizens to speak up, have our voices heard, and imprint into our city the values that we hold dear.
Or our fate will be to have an imposed character grafted onto us without our permission. Let’s stand up and make Rochester a more livable city.
If you were sitting on the DMC Authority and were given the power, how would influence the growth of downtown in the core areas of DMC? And what ideas do you have that you think nobody on that committee would have? Post your thoughts below.
Adam Ferrari is an architect and design activist living and working in Rochester, Minnesota. He is the Director of the non-profit Design Rochester and the host of “Design with a Capital D” on The COBB Radio.