Nov 4, 201309:00 AMPoint of View

Rudy Bruner Awards for Providence and Dallas

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Reflecting on The Steel Yard’s success, Rockefeller acknowledged the value of taking a “slow growth” approach to development that permitted the project to evolve organically over time, allowing for learning by doing, taking risks, and not being “afraid of what you don’t know.” Through this approach as well as help from the community, the project generated a groundswell of support from local people and businesses as well as city hall. Martin noted that being open to risk taking provided freedom to experiment with the project’s design, such as pursuing an unusual “urban wild” approach to landscape and using permeable concrete, recycled steel, and locally fabricated materials. Summing up its impact, McCormack observed how The Steel Yard showcases Providence as the “Creative Capital”—a place where art and people with creative skills “can move an agenda” and rebuild a community.  

Clay Rockefeller discusses lessons learned from the development of The Steel Yard as Lynn McCormack looks on.

Courtesy AS220Youth

The spirit of community was also strong in Dallas on October 18. A presentation at the Dallas Center for Architecture kicked off a daylong celebration for the Congo Street Initiative. Benje Freehan from buildingcommunityWORKSKHOP, Michael Faenza from Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, and Erin McFaye from The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center joined me for a discussion about how the project is changing perceptions about community development. We talked about the RBA as well as their award-winning projects’ impact on the city. All three participants underscored the value of receiving a national award that endorsed their work, which aided their missions of addressing vital issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, and sustainable development, thereby putting them on the city’s ongoing agenda.

Benje Freehan discusses the impact of winning a national award as part of the panel discussion with Anne-Marie Lubenau, Michael Faenza, and Erin McFaye at the Dallas Center for Architecture.

Courtesy buildingcommunityWORKSHOP

That evening, homeowners and staff, alumni and volunteers from bcWORKSHOP gathered on Congo Street to celebrate. The group’s camaraderie reflected the collaboration that made the project possible as everyone enjoyed a Texas barbeque dinner, music, and dancing in the street. The energy and enthusiasm of bcWORKSHOP’s staff and alumni demonstrated the organization’s success in attracting emerging design professionals nationwide to work in their community-engaged practice. As darkness fell and fireworks from the nearby Texas State Fairgrounds lit up the sky, bcWORKSHOP founding director/president Brent Brown gathered everyone around the porch of the project’s Holding House for the award presentation and a group photograph to mark the occasion.


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