By Murphy Antoine

How Can Design Catalyze Transformation?

Westlawn Revitalization, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Westlawn Revitalization, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mahatma Gandhi famously urged us to, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” As architects, urbanists and planners, we strive to be a force for positive change in the world through our research, creative process, neighborhood design and placemaking, Our very work seeks to embody the kind of change which we wish to see in a rapidly changing world. That work engages us in the service of the people and communities it touches, and the incremental change spurred by that work has the proven power to transform places, neighborhoods, cities and lives.

Derelict urban lots only become community fabric and vibrant city plazas through vison and the transformative power of design. Neighborhoods where a cab won’t stop and a rideshare keeps driving only become a destination for pedestrians, bicyclists, busses and public transportation infrastructure through intention, forethought and design that attracts resources to fuel infrastructure. Food deserts and commercial strips of pay day lenders only become lively mixed use commercialcenters at the heart of community economic development when design, thoughtful programming and strategic investment catalyzes transformation. Concentrated pockets of poverty, redlined sections of town and gated enclaves for the rich only becomebalanced, thriving mixed tenure/mixed income neighborhoods through designs that foster that mix and the political will to achieve it. Repairing the damage done by years of sprawl development requires the kind of transformation that is only engendered by a better solution and approach to development patterns.

The power of these kinds of fundamental and positive transformations of place through design is evident in Torti Gallas’s analyses, research and work. Through case studies, post-occupancy evaluation and observations of the world around us, we will use this platform as a venue for the illustration and discussion of transformation. This is the TG+P voice for the role of design as a tool for catalytic transformation, and this is our platform to present and discuss a series and set of ideas surrounding those notions. Design’s significant capacity to incite and shape the change we wish to see in our world is a mighty force, and we hope to unlock and enlighten the power of that force through shared information and informed dialogue.

In his insightful observations on education Alfred Whitney Griswold wrote, “The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” Design is the fundamental expression of ideas in our efforts to physically transform the places we live, work, shop, play, learn and love. Better ideas are the source of transformation for a better world, and we look forward to sharing and shaping those better ideas through this format.

 

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