Building Rome In A Day: A Better Model For Re-Doing The Comprehensive Plan?

Posted on September 30th, 2009 at 11:43 am by in Things We Like

Building Rome In A Day: A Better Model For Re-Doing The Comprehensive Plan?

Children working collaboratively and feverishly non-stop for an ungodly amount of time.

Parents building ‘with’ their children for hours on end, asking for 9/16″ wood cuts from the jig saw.

Socialites dressed for bacchanalian feasts and/or battle hanging out curiously amidst the growing city.

Young designers stopping by to build a building before heading out to tackle the rest of the evening.

Random passersby transfixed, flummoxed and amazed, with their noses pressed against the glass.

Food, beverages and music to sustain the builders, and make for relaxed conversations.

Hoards of curious people passing in and out of the space, asking questions and dispensing suggestions.

An incredible, palpable air of excitement.

Ladies and gents, Liz Glynn’s fantastic 24 Hour Roman Reconstruction project at the Arthouse last weekend could not have offered a more perfect example of how the ‘making’ of our new Comprehensive Plan could and should occur. You may recall that I suggested a similar, centralized and celebratory public approach to the planning process in an article I wrote for the Austinist and this blog (click here). However, recommending it is one thing and seeing it in action……….seeing it work in Austin and work really damn well is another thing entirely.

Yes, there are some things that would have to change for the translation to fully work and for Austin to get the ‘biggest bang for its buck’. For example, there are programming adjustments that would need to be made to accommodate the difference in the duration of the event(s), to maintain interest and intensity. There is also the issue of diversity: the crowd I saw at the event was largely homogeneous but I think this can be solved through event programming and the Comprehensive Plan Store/Gallery/Workshop being open throughout the day. And of course, imagining versus simply recreating does present some different challenges but ones that can easily be solved through the thoughtful design of the creation process.

Nevertheless, these are all small, small challenges and last Saturday’s Build Rome In A Day cannot offer a better reason to tip over the proverbial apple cart and really let the Comprehensive Planning Process be all that it can be.

What do you think?

Alex Gilliam