An interesting White Paper has been written by Karl Kalcher of MindFolio, a marketing strategy firm and published by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research.
The paper calls for developers of new “town centers” and “life-style centers” (oh – I really dislike those terms) to leave the beaten track and resist repeating the mistakes of the past. What are the mistakes?…making soulless places that have nothing to do with their community or surroundings and then copying it again and again all around the country/world. Duh!
The report, titled “North America’s New Town Centers: Time to Take Some Angst Out and Put More Soul In,” is available at no charge from the Center for Hospitality Research.
For his part, Kalcher Says:
“I wrote this analysis mainly as a contribution to the quest of many for innovative, socially responsible, and commercially viable spaces, where enjoyment, comfort, authenticity, and dynamism can merge seamlessly…a matter of economic necessity… Truly usable, socially animating public spaces are rare within these so-called town centers, thus reducing average dwell times—to the detriment of developers and tenants…America’s urban landscape is increasingly dominated by nearly identical, pastiche ‘Mediterranean’ towers, domes, and archways, frequently devoid of any local authenticity. I call this ‘angst’ for stepping out and a preference for copying rather than innovating with courage.”
Speaking of Mediterranean…I have to share….Conde Nast Traveller has a lovely article in this months magazine called “Not Your Grandfather’s Sicily”. I recognized this “town center” in Siracusa immediately from a wonderful trip a few years ago. While my husband and I ate, relaxed and mingled, our then 2 year old daughter happily played on the church steps with the other children. It is a lovely place where we felt immediately part of the evening community. I will remember it always, so I get why we all want to copy…but I challenge us to do a better job in our own individual contexts.