I think there are two answers and ways of looking at that.
One is the day-to-day operations; bringing a whole bunch of disciplines together to realize a vision. I work with architects, landscape architects, and many types of engineers. Bringing all those people together and achieving a vision together is success in my mind.
The other one is looking forward to thinking back; when you’ve finished a community and to see people living and enjoying it. The biggest purchase in life is, for most people, their home. And there are lots of factors that go into deciding where to buy that home. When I go back to the communities I’ve participated in building and see people enjoying park spaces and public spaces or the design I contributed to in any way, that’s a powerful thing. Very gratifying.
Both. It all depends on what you’re looking at. A good example is a park space. If I see people using that park space I’m just happy it’s being utilized because that was part of the intent to bring people together. And then through that you may see how they’re using the space in ways you didn’t plan for, like someone setting a picnic up under a tree instead of at a table. Watching people interacting with their neighbours is what’s gets me. It’s not the aesthetics or the street signs, its how happy the people are who are living there.
I have friends who live in communities that I helped to build. Getting their feedback is great. That’s special.
I have two answers.
The first is what my family call ‘small adventures’. I take them out, or they take me out, and we have a small adventure together. It could be a bike ride to get some ice cream somewhere or go explore a museum for a few hours – just a short outing. Maybe we’ll do some exploring or hiking, or something else that’s new and out of our element and fun. The main element is fun and just to make some memories and spend time having fun together.
The other is the productive recharge Sunday. We’ll charge our batteries by hanging out in the yard or having friends over for a BBQ. You need that every so often.
I have two answers again. Why do I do that? Must be a left brain/right brain thing…
First answer: the vibrancy and energy level of New York or London. I think that’s really important. I think that ties into how we build our amenities and main streets, shops – all that. How people interact with each other, see their neighbours on the corner, and stuff like that. In those big cities you interact with other people all the time and you feel that vibrancy, which I think is important.
The second: I always think of Chicago. They have Millennium Park and in the park they have the Bean, and I’m fascinated by how many people love to interact with the Bean. You can see your reflection and there are so many angles; you can go under it, it’s different in the night from the day. You don’t go to Chicago without visiting that park and taking a picture with the Bean. So I don’t know if I’d want to pick it up and bring it here because it’s unique to Chicago, but something like that, something that defines a place. Not only from a city perspective, but from a community perspective. Because Bean doesn’t only mean ‘Chicago’, but it means Millennium Park. It would be really cool to have something that defines University District as a place like that.
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