Ayres Knowledge Center INDentrification Via Placemaking
Matt Ashby, AICP|CUD
Downtowns and active urban cores have become so successful that the ripple effect is spreading
to adjacent historic industrial districts. The boom of places like Denver’s River North District
have demonstrated the attraction of gritty neighborhoods as centers of authenticity that are the
antithesis of suburban lifestyle centers. The gentrification of these industrial areas, which could
be considered “INDentrification,” has created an opportunity for reclaiming and repurposing the
public realm of streets and rail corridors as pedestrian thoroughfares. The transformation of
contaminated buildings through brownfield revitalization is driving the installation of civic
promenades in many communities, which is helping to foster placemaking benefits in forgotten
remnants of cities.
The design interface of industrial placemaking, the nexus of form and function, create challenges
for transforming corridors that were created for trucks and trains to support mixed-use
development around intense pedestrian backbones. INDentrification is also driving significant
reinvestment and the evolution of craft employment embodied in the maker’s movement, a
growing economic trend that is highly dependent on quality public places.
Emerging communication tools are helping to expand the dialog between designers and residents,
which ultimately enhance the overall function and personalization of place. Using 3D modeling,
these public spaces can be virtually revitalized as the first cost-effective step to pumping
enthusiasm into character-laden districts once forgotten and ignored.
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