A recent email from Kaid Benfield, fellow blogger and Director of Smart Growth for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) alerted me to an interesting visual tool they had recently unveiled, called Picturing Smart Growth” A short overview: “With generous assistance from our friends at Urban Advantage, NRDC has created a map of the United States featuring 70 locations across the country that are ripe for transformative change. Open the map, zoom in on a location (one of two Tempe, AZ, sites shown below) and, without leaving our web site, you will be shown a Google Maps satellite view of the existing site, given some context about the metro area, and be treated to a brief slide show demonstrating how each can be converted, step-by-step, from sprawl, vacant property or disinvestment into a lively, beautiful neighborhood”
Check out the photo array of site to completed neighborhood (these are developed as overlaid flash movies on the PSG site). all images via Switchboard – Kaid Benfield
There are over 70 locations from around the country as well as a searchable database, so definitely check out the ones in your neck of the woods and report back to see if they are compelling examples… to give a little more expansive example, I did some screen shots of the version of visioning for Mount Pleasant, South Carolina called Variety Beats Uniformity – to give a little more idea of the process and product… there’s around a dozen frames, each expanding from the previous – of which I’ve included a few (images via NRDC):
It’s quite a dramatic transformation. An interesting addition for this visual is an alternative view of the area seen as a residential area instead of the final mixed use version above.
The idea of the iterative visuals (instead of the typical before/after that we often do) are incredibly powerful, showing the aggregation of changes and improvements – not a snapshot of a distant future – and also allow for alternative scenarios. I’m thinking of the rudimentary ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books where you could establish a range of visions, then give some points of decision for clients or others to pick – which would allow the story to unfold along multiple pathways.
I also checked out the closest example in Eugene, Oregon, and it looked pretty great – (with the exception of the slip road, but that may be my own personal transportation bias)… It’d be interesting to see if there’s a mechanism for sharing these videos aside from the embedded flash videos… (aside from my above screen shots) they would be an amazing resource for meetings and presentations.