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GOOD Design + GOOD Ideas for Cities

Since 2008, GOOD has held several public events inviting designers to present creative solutions to urban problems. The program is evolving into "GOOD Ideas for Cities," expanding the collaborative model to other cities, platforms, and toolkits.

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I have attended three GOOD Design events in NYC, a two-part series in 2009 and another recently in September during Urban Design Week.  I particularly appreciated the recent event for two reasons: 1) it paired designers with the top issues proposed by the public through the By the City/For the City design competition and 2) each design team engaged in a conversation with representatives from the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation after the presentations. The latter provided extra value by letting the audience know what solutions these departments were interested in and feasible to implement.  Here are a few of my notes from the recent presentation:

  • Original Champions of Design suggested three ways to make New York's subway wayfinding more transparent through GPS, station maps, and designated "First Cars" for tourists.
  • Deborah Gans and Linnaea Tillett proposed "animated beacons" to illuminate the street nights.
  • Kate Orff of SCAPE proposed resting places on every block, not only for humans but also for urban critters.  Some changes included retrofitting lampost bases with fold-down tables/chairs and building upon marine piles and bridge footings to include wifi hotspots and host ospreys nests and oyster/mussel aquaculture.
  • Marpillero Pollak Architects created modular public spaces beneath dark and dusty elevated transportations systems.
  • Christopher Fahey of Behavior Design aimed to make walking in the city more  engaging by offering a smartphone-enabled audio guide to neighborhood history and trivia. 

As for the 2009 events, you'll find a good recap here and I've also uploaded a video. Has anyone else attended events in other cities?

I'm not sure if these events have resulted in any changes to the cities where they've been hosted (UPDATE: actually a few have been implemented including a homeless volunteer training and wireless health solutions). That said, the model has potential, particularly when the public has input and city departments and organizations can be involved.

UPDATE:  I decided to connect this to GOOD Ideas for Cities since that is meant to be the next iteration of the GOOD Design initiative.  Here's an excerpt announcing the program, also indicating why it's one to consider and watch for our challenge:

As we head into the next year, we plan to expand the program in several ways. First, we hope to engage a wider range of creatives, from artists to filmmakers to writers. We'd like to bring the program to mid-sized American cities, working to create the same kind of energy and enthusiasm created in L.A., San Francisco and New York. We also hope to launch several more programs in schools. We'll be creating a website that shares proposed solutions, as well as stories from creatives working on problems in their communities. We'll be launching a new effort that engages the community, so anyone can contribute their solutions for city problems. And finally, we'll be producing a toolkit that allows any group to produce a GOOD Ideas for Cities event in their community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Folks might also like to think about models which bring designers together in multiple locations with a certain level of self-governance like Designers Accord: Perhaps there's scope to use local networks like this to get designers looking at enhancing urban vibrancy – or to build upon and innovate scalable approaches like this? Just thinking out loud as we march forward to the Concepting phase ;^)

Photo of LaTeisha

Absolutely. On a somewhat related note, I updated my post just now because I realized that the GOOD Ideas for Cities project that I'm also familiar with is an evolution of the GOOD Design series. I'm really looking forward to seeing what progress comes out of the expansion and scaling of this program.