RiverCity recently celebrated the culmination of six concept plans for six downtown sites. RiverCity is to be commended for this initiative which included a small stipend for each group while it should be noted that each design team probably spent at least ten times the monetary reward. The architects and planners involved should be very proud of their solutions as well as the huge probono publico!
All six solutions are essentially an abstraction of what could become a reality.
Suffice it to say, none of the concepts will come to fruition, at least in the form presented. Many stakeholders such as property owners, businesses, bureaucracies, financial institutions, neighborhoods, and the public at large influence, and therefore, mold or sculpt proposed developments such as these. These creative men and women have dared to dream what could be in hopes of planting seeds for what may be. Many architect's best ideas, notions, and dreams never get built, just ask Frank Lloyd Wright.
So the question is, what is next and where do these ideas go to avoid shelf life? Unfortunately, there are no more Jack Luptons left, but fortunately, the spirit of our community is strong. The 700 Block which was one of the six challenges is a perfect example of how difficult it is to create momentum and traction during these times of economic uncertainty. This abscess in the middle of our downtown continues to be a challenge years later while the Southside and North Shore flourish. Surrounded by wealthy banks and successful businesses, you would think this eyesore would not be tolerated. Not to fear, most of you will remember that the Southside and the North Shore used to appear hopeless, also.
Kudos to RiverCity and the design teams for providing a catalyst to generate ideas and possibilities that stimulate dialog, attempt to sustain growth, and provide hope for Chattanooga's ongoing vision.
Vance Travis, president
TWH Architects, Inc.
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Well spoken, Vance.
15 years ago Mayor Roberts sent me an e-mail saying "let the planning begin."
It happened, and the Southside has become a success. Kudos to the planners who had vision at the time, and have carried the vision to the next level.