I saw one of these signs on a Bishop Arts sidewalk over the weekend and thought nothing of it -- that is till today, when I was looking for something unrelated on the Dallas CityDesign Studio, which led me to its Facebook page, which led me to this: Urban Design Matters, a just-launched website rolled out by the City Hall-based studio funded by that Trinity Trust grant. And there I found six signs describing the different parts of town in which the dots have been dropped: Bishop Arts, Deep Ellum, downtown, the West End, the West Village and State Thomas.
The signs themselves are intended to be virtual; hence the QR codes, like the ones planted 'round White Rock Lake last month. But the physical ones exist; they're hanging in the Dallas Center for Architecture. And, of course, you can see them on the Urban Design Matters site -- each one containing a general description of the area, several photos, notes related to such things as "buildings" and "public realm" and more detailed looks at ease of access to public transportation and how each area's buildings are used. (For instance, 79 percent of the area land use in State Thomas is residential, as opposed to Deep Ellum, where that number drops to 20 percent.)
Brent Brown, head of the CityDesign Studio, tells Unfair Park this afternoon that the data was collected by intern Justin Tirsun, a recent grad of the urban design program at Rutgers. And the intention, says Brown, is twofold -- to show people that "urban design does matter," and to present a look at "the issues surrounding urban design."
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"I think talking about our city is important, and the direction the city goes is based upon the people who live in it," says Brown, who's been involved in everything from the Congo Street makeover to the Living Plaza at City Hall. "It shouldn't just be left up to urban designers. We're gonna take these boards into libraries and things like that, use some of the city's resources -- libraries, that is, not money -- to start a conversation about urban design. And we'll add more content over time. But we wanted to show people things like access options, which are are programmatic elements with an urban space, and one view is the more choices you have and the better the land use supports the public realm, the more enjoyable the land is. This is the beginning of a conversation. And I want us to have one."