WorldChanging brings us this feature, including an exclusive recap of the charrette written by Jenny Aguilar.
On December 5, our allies at Urban Re:Vision joined forces with the City of Dallas, Texas to host a planning session for an incredibly ambitious green building project. The day-long charrette brought together city officials, urban planners, master architects and green building experts in anticipation of a truly visionary project: the creation of a sustainable city block in downtown Dallas.
The charrette helped prepare guidelines for an international design competition called Building Blocks Dallas, which will kick off in January. The process began in August, when experts convened in San Francisco to determine the unified conceptual framework, a document that would guide the creation of a sustainable city block project in any community. The session in Dallas focused exclusively on translating that universal framework to Dallas itself, with the goal of creating a set of detailed data so complete that any contestant around the world would be able to create a vision for a sustainable block relevant to Dallas, regardless of whether he or she had ever set foot in Texas.
The winning city block design will actually be built, on what is currently an unused parking lot spanning two blocks across the street from Dallas City Hall. According to Urban Re:Vision, one of the two blocks will be transformed into public green space; the other will be devoted to the new sustainable city block.
The lead developer for the project will be the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation (CDC), a local community development organization. The CDC will be responsible for bringing in the developers and contractors that will turn the design vision into a living, functioning location. The non-profit developer is an arm of the Central Dallas Ministries, a faith-based community development organization whose mission is to build affordable housing, develop communities, and establish economic opportunities for the people of Dallas County.
But the big-picture goal of the contest isn’t limited to sustainable development in Dallas alone, says Ian Bryan, media relations director at Urban Re:Vision. “The reason we’re doing it is to create a model [for sustainable development] that’s so well thought out that any city could replicate it in their own community.”