One of my favorite pastimes is watching movies, and although romantic comedies are generally my go-to, I enjoy a good documentary on occasion. One of the best parts about documentaries is how they get me thinking about things differently. At the AIA Wichita February Meeting, as a Section, we watched Urbanized. Since then, I have not stopped thinking about it and talking about it; I discuss it with colleagues, the person standing next to me at the coffee shop, and even my hair stylist!
Urbanized explores many aspects of urban planning around the world, and I became amazed at how quickly cities are growing and the need for effective planning and building in order for cites to keep up with the demand of the modern world. People are attracted to cities because of opportunity, vibrancy, and the chance for a life-changing discovery. However, there are some cities that are dramatically changing, and instead of growing, these cities are shrinking.
One fact that was stated in Urbanized is that Detroit used to have a population of 2 million people, and when the movie was filmed, the population had declined to to 700,000 people. I also learned that Detroit is 138 square miles! Can you believe the ratio of people to land? I had known that Detroit has had immense hardships in recent years, but numbers like that are absolutely astounding.
We should be asking ourselves the following questions: what are the social, economical, and political issues that affect design, planning, and architecture in our neighborhoods, communities, and cities? What do our cities need? How are issues addressed, and how are they being solved?
The landscape that surrounds us is constantly changing, and this change affects us dramatically. I encourage you to be active in your community and speak up about design. After all, the High Line of New York City would not exist in its current state if two people did not have the courage to improve their city and demonstrate to residents the potential that had lain dormant in an old structure.
Are you interested in watching Urbanized? You may access it on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.
by: Timarie Trarbach, Associate AIA Kansas Associate Representative to the AIA Central States Emerging Professionals Committee