Posts in Placemaking
We Learn by Making

These days, the Heurista team is seldom covered in paint and hand-building our designs ourselves – well, it still happens sometimes. It’s in our blood, it’s who we are. We know what can be built because we know how to build. Our designs are informed by our knowledge of how materials feel when you shape them. Our shared history as makers allows us to dream bigger while staying within the realm of what’s practical, affordable, and safe. Now that we lead teams – inside and outside of Heurista – we hold those who make our designs with or for us to that same high standard.

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UAB Blazers - Community Support for the Team

A nearly unbelievable thing happened: for a while, there was no football at the University of Alabama Birmingham. This was a decision that rocked the university and the city, pulling them together in support of a sport that was integral to the community and its sense of place. Over a remarkably short time, the community stepped forward supplying the necessary enthusiasm and financial support to rebuild the football program at UAB.

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Child-focused Donor Recognition: Opportunities for Creative Design

Designing donor recognition for projects focused on children provides special challenges and special rewards. “Bright and colorful, playful, engaging, interactive…” are the first instructions we hear. If a brand manager or the architect is in the room, “integrated, coordinated, and tasteful” get added to the list. Facilities chimes in with “safe, durable, and easy to maintain.” The foundation reminds us, “we may need to add names later” and “it has to be cost-conscious.” Such was the case in Chattanooga, Tennessee but there is so much more to be said about the Kennedy Outpatient Center at the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.

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Creative Play: Cross County Shopping Center Playground

Heurista was engaged to help create a staged program of amenity improvements that will bring a park-like feel to the shopping mall. We were selected for our combination of creativity, project management skill, and expertise in sponsorship and recognition. Cross County acknowledges that they will need community partners to fund these new projects, ranging from seating that encourages a co-working style environment, a community art program, and renovations to existing hardscape that facilitate special events like concerts, fashion shows, and family activities.

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Creative Placemaking: Heurista’s Partnership with Edison Projects

Heurista works with Ed Manner and the team at Edison Projects to draw from experience in place-based storytelling for leading international property development firms ranging from the developers of Dubai’s Downtown - including the Burj Kalifa tower and The Dubai Mall – to Sung Hung Kai Properties who operate more than 50% of the public/private commercial properties in Hong Kong. Developers in Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Morocco have engaged our thinking to welcome their communities.

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Creative Placemaking: Turning Song into Place

Immersive experiences are all the rage now. The term has gotten a new life with the trend of sharing pictures that drive personal narratives. When I look back over my 20+ years designing for public spaces I can recall the idea of immersive always being present. Scale often drives a sense of immersion as do interactive components and attention to details. A project from days before everyone carried a camera and all the worlds information in their hands is the Giving Garden that was commissioned by a leading retail cluster developer. The challenge was to use the principles of Creative Placemaking to carry the traditional narrative of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ song. What Fun!

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Mohegan Sun: Creative Placemaking that respects existing culture

America has many cultures to celebrate as its own. The native peoples that inhabited and stewarded this land prior to the Europeans arriving keep a culture alive that is truly American in its deepest sense. In our modern times, tribes have continued to adapt and leverage the resources at hand to help lead segments of our modern culture. The Gaming Industry is an example of this fact.

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Interactive Display: Reflections Mobile in Portland

Riddles are inspiring to my design appetite. Reflections Mobile was commissioned to solve a Creative Placemaking riddle in urban Portland Oregon. The client was in an aggressive rebranding campaign for one of Portlands busiest commuter and retail properties. The vision was to create a pice that brought new vibrancy to the place and included references to the people who populated the place daily and nightly. No floor space was available. To impact the space a vertical solution felt right. A sense of inclusion was the vibe I was after from the public. Mirrored surfaces proved to be a subtle but powerful way to include viewers and create an element of interaction.

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Ring Trees Dubai: Sculpture to enhance the theme

My early years of training and study were on Manhattan’s famous Fashion Avenue. The Fashion Institute of Technology brought out my best illustration, design, and maker skills at the time. It showed me how to see trends and to respect the makers that had come before me. I soon moved on from fashion-specific design and it’s trappings. Time as an exhibition designer at the Central Park Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History broadened my understanding of how I could apply my creative passions. Ultimately, creative placemaking –defined by groups like Art Place America and others – captured my focus.

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Water Trees on the Arabian Gulf Coast

I have been fortunate to have thought many times that I was at a high point in reaching my design ambitions. Arriving in Dubai as it was beginning to reveal where it was headed blew my mind. Seeing it emerge from the sand with a vision and commitment built me into the maker I am now. Being immersed in their culture and experiencing that degree of hospitality helps me be the man I aim to be. Wild how chasing one’s design ambitions can impact who you are.

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