Monday, May 16, 2011

Post-Modernism, Pedestrianism, and the Meaning of (City)Life

I thought we were past this. I hoped we were once again finding meaning, purpose. Not just meaning in our work and our lives, but actual meaning in the words we use. Apparently not. And we're back in the spiral of things/words meaning whatever we want them to mean, therefore they have no meaning at all, no shared relationship between sender and receiver in the communication equation.

As you see, the aqua zone is the "Pedestrian Primary Zone." And we celebrate the pedestrian's primacy by placing said pedestrians (some might call them humans, but in this particular case some might refer to them as sub-humans) within a 3-sided box of freeways. On the fourth, the Trinity River side, we are proposing a 4th, ummm parkway, aka highway. On top of those matters, the pedestrian zone is currently bisected by Industrial Riverfront Boulevard, which is proposed to have a 160-170' building face-to-building-face distance across it.

Where is a pedestrian to go? Spin around in circles? Do laps around the jail? Where are they to come from? Helicopter in? A new stealth blackhawk in every garage perhaps?

But really... the entire idea of a "pedestrian zone" shows our misunderstanding of cities and pedestrianization as well. In that way, every mall in this city is a "pedestrian zone." Might as well just go ahead and call it a "free speech zone" or "Super Happy Fun Town" too. Because all you have to do is draw some colors on a plan, label them as you wish, and voila, super and happy.

Maybe, just maybe, after all of these efforts fail, we won't be able to keep lying to ourselves about the various potential of all these nonsensical projects.

As I stated in the Unfair Park comments section of the article, if we're to be serious about using public investment to leverage private development, there are 3 things we can do: 1) build the Trinity (without the parkway), 2) Start Project Pegasus as far as the demolition phases go and then forget to rebuild it, i.e. get rid of it, or 3) remove the prison. And it will likely take 2 out of 3 to really make anything viable down there. Otherwise, this is all very expensive tilting at windmills with money better leveraged elsewhere.