The Unwavering Relevance of Public Open Space in Shaping our Communities
Central gathering places and other forms of public open space have always been a critical part of creating a sense of community in our cities.
Despite the challenges arising from the current pandemic crisis, and the lasting impacts of physical distancing, public open space should not simply disappear from our cities. Instead of completely reconfiguring the shape of our communities to allow for increased distancing or other passive (yet much-needed) measures, we should focus on improvements that can help minimize the effects of future pandemics and the likelihood of potential resurgences.
Leveraging the use of technology to expand the reach and efficacy of essential solutions like contact tracing is essential for us to be able to return to our longest form of social interaction – gathering in public open space. What if diagnostic technologies could be incorporated into public urban spaces, not only to take advantage of the broader audience available in densely populated areas, but to enable us to feel safe about physical social interaction. As a recent example, the two largest technology companies in the world have joined forces to collaborate on a tool that could revolutionize a process that typically relies on people physically tracing a source; there is a potential for a transformative solution by linking to a form of technology that is already embedded in the pockets of billions of users.
IBI Group's placemaking approach is that we holistically look at issues at all three layers covered by our I-B-I core areas of practice.
The first layer is the infrastructure framework that draws people into our cities, such as public transit systems, streetscapes and parks. These areas with a high frequency of social interaction are key to the second layer of open space in a network of gathering places that see visitors, typically in the form of plazas or squares. They are a destination and an activity hub playing a crucial role in urban life by levelling the playing field of equality, offering something that can be shared by all, and creating a sense of place that defines a community.
A new co-work/live paradigm is rapidly evolving out of the recent pandemic.
The third layer is bringing life into buildings. We are seeing a massive shift away from traditional ways of doing business and into digital platforms that allow for a balance of office and home activities throughout the day. There’s an opportunity to re-adapt historic buildings as a key driver of a new live/work typology that balances new living spaces with a potentially dwindling need for traditional office space. At a fundamental level, we are recognizing our monumental shift into the digital world, and looking at the adaptability of our buildings.
IBI Group is the custodian and advocate for vibrant, active, and uniquely local communities. Public space should always strive to make communities feel safer, and we can’t afford to lose the role of a distinct identity and sense of place that helps to create a thriving environment to live, work and play. People-centered communities enabled by technology can tackle the challenges we are facing today, while preserving the sense of place that makes us all feel part of a community.
Roberto specializes in the design and development of mixed-use masterplanning and redevelopment projects, with a particular focus on large transit-oriented development sites along the US/Can West Coast. Roberto is active in several Bay Area TOD projects, and led the masterplanning and concept architecture of two adjoining phases in the Candlestick Point redevelopment, totaling over 2,000 residential units in 33 acres. Roberto also led the architectural design of the approved Master Development Plan for the Los Angeles Civic Center, a holistic vision to transform that district from 9-5 local government office use into a vibrant 24/7 mixed-use urban center, activated by over 3 million square feet of new construction. In addition Roberto has worked on a variety of mixed-use, residential, hospitality, and healthcare projects in the US, Canada, and Central America. In conjunction with his concept design emphasis, Roberto also specializes in parametric modelling and visualization of projects.
Master Development Plan of the Los Angeles Civic Center
Los Angeles, CA
Our master development plan presented a holistic vision for a vibrant mixed-use community uniting municipal, cultural, retail and residential facilities in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, California.
The San Francisco Shipyard/Candlestick Park
San Francisco, CA
This thriving masterplan provided 750 acres of prime San Francisco, mixed-used development, creating a series of interconnected, open-space neighbourhoods, and the architectural design of a collaborative studio space for North America’s largest artist community.