Creative placemaking can be described as the deliberate integration of arts and culture into community development. This can happen at the smallest scale of a privately-owned space, or at a massive and comprehensive city-wide level. By adding elements of interactive architecture and artwork to a space, designers and artists can make a space more dynamic and desirable for those using it. This positive association with a space can radiate out in unexpected ways. Think of a park with a perfectly-placed bench under a shade tree and a built-in chess board. Users might not have gone to the park to play chess, but when they see the board is available, they sit and play. And now, perhaps, they’ve developed a weekly routine to play with a friend they met at the park. Think of a collection of rotating local art in an office space. Employees with little exposure to local art might look forward to that monthly rotation of artwork. Better yet, they might develop a love for local art and start frequenting galleries and art shows.
Here, we’ll look at some examples of the way outside artists have contributed to creative placemaking in our projects.
To cover unsightly dumpsters, a wall was added to ORNL’s property between their Oak Ridge credit union branch and their main office building in Knoxville, TN. But a blank block wall was too drab, and they invited a muralist to create art on it. Not only does this enhance the overall landscape, but we imagine some really cool photos happen here! In addition to the mural, the branch has a sculpture in the plaza that adds to the unique, local character of this project.
Barnes and Thornburg is a national law firm with an office in downtown Fort Wayne. To incorporate local character into their space, they’ve selected a rotating gallery of art from local artists for employees and clients to enjoy. It’s a great way for offices to add a local element to their space, and to expose their employees to the local art community.
Indiana Wesleyan University is about to kick off their second season of football, a sport new to the school. At the gates of Wildcat stadium sits a large, bronze wildcat statue. Students and fans can take photos with it or rub it for game day superstition and luck. Fans see this work of art as a physical reminder of school spirit.
At Design Collaborative, we hired local artist and muralist Matthew Plett to bring DC’s vision of People-First Places to a physical reality in our space. This large mural reminds our staff of our vision to create People-First Places. It’s a great conversation piece for office guests, and a fun place to take photos.
With the highly-anticipated opening of Promenade Park, we are excited to see how this new hub lifts our community! Convergence is only one piece of interactive architecture found in the new park. We don’t want to giveaway too much, but the park is now open to the public. If you live in or around Fort Wayne, visit it and see for yourself!
We encourage everyone to find examples of placemaking in your everyday routine. Engage with interactive architecture. Take a selfie for your Instagram account at a local mural. Visit a local art gallery and purchase a piece for your home. Art is intentionally placed everywhere – you just have to look for it.
Katie Briner – Graphic Designer
Kourtney Teegardin – Business Development & Marketing Coordinator