Contract - April 2010 - (Page 64)
What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?
Working alongside the community, our board of directors, and SPUR staff to build the SPUR Urban Center
Urban Center Director San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) San Francisco
What inspired your career change from design practitioner to design “client”?
Before I was approached by SPUR to be the director of the Urban Center, I had always thought that San Francisco desperately needed an urban center, but didn’t know how it would get built. When it was explained to me what the goals of the center would be, I was honored and thrilled to be part of building it. It was exactly what I had been imagining for so many years.
What do you perceive to be the broader role of the designer in society?
I believe that design professionals need to get more involved in their communities and more actively participate in urban policy decisions that directly affect the “built environment”—as well as their professions and their personal lives.
What is the best thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?
I think one of the best things I’ve learned in the past 10 years would be the importance of “place” in our lives. While working in the world of architecture you discuss the importance of “place” all the time with your clients and with your community of friends, but being on the client side, you experience it. It can transform an organization.
What advice would you give to A&D students or young designers just starting out in the field?
I always advise young students/designers to become engaged in their communities—in small ways in the beginning and then gradually expanding their involvement. One’s grasp of how a city works and doesn’t work will be immensely helpful and valuable to their professional career. I think it is a danger for designers of all ages to be isolated from what is going on in their communities.
What advice would you give to other nonprofit organizations on how to create a successful project?
First and foremost, make sure that your Board of Directors is totally committed to the vision and goals of the project. And keep in mind that there is no “good time” to build a project. Do not allow yourself to be too cautious or make excuses about not proceeding (economy, construction costs, etc.). The “perfect time” doesn’t exist. My advice is to be bold, courageous, and move forward. And repeat everyday that “failure is not an option,” and it will happen!
What would you like to leave as your legacy?
For me, the legacy would be future generations coming to the Urban Center to learn and be inspired by the city in which they live and participate in the direction of its future. Also, I’d want for the SPUR Urban Center to inspire other cities all over the world to build their version of an Urban Center for their community.
64 contract april 2010 www.contractdesign.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - April 2010
Contract - April 2010
Resources: The Green Scene
Focus: Land of Opportunity
Green: Post-Occupancy Green
Practice: Legal Green
Lean & Green
Above the Legal Limit
Informing the Masses
Luxury in the Raw
Designers Rate: Green Products
Process: Science in the Age of the Invisible
Contract - April 2010