Photo by Ken Abbott
The Asheville Design Center will host two open houses on the Haywood Street visioning process this month, creating a creative space focused on function rather than form. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 23 and June 28 on the lobby level of One West Pack Square (former BB&T Building), participants will be asked: What do you want to DO there, not what do you want to SEE there.
“It gets us away from the end point and instead gets us thinking about how we want to use this space, to let form follow function,” said Chris Joyell of the Asheville Design Center.
Earlier this year, City Council contracted with the Asheville Design Center to lead a community visioning process for City-owned properties at 68-76 Haywood St. and 33-37 Page Ave., downtown. The Asheville Design Center (ADC) is working with City staff to facilitate this visioning process.
The project will include strategic planning and coordination with a Haywood Street Advisory Team, key stakeholders, as well community members who express a desire to participate in an open, democratic “town hall” process of consensus building.
For now, Joyell wants people to consider many uses for the property, not just one. “When the Project for Public Spaces gave their presentation here (in May), they talked about the ‘Power of 10,’ ” he noted.
The Power of 10 is a framework for place-making built on the principle that if you want a thriving public space, more is better. Simply put, the more there is to do in a space, the more people will be drawn to the space, bringing energy and social and economic benefits that come with being a destination in demand.
At the open houses, people can view a 3D model of the property and other visual aids. They can put sticky notes with their ideas on them up on a wall. They can also go out to the property and play a “Place Game” where they will be asked questions such as what do they see, smell and hear.
The Asheville Design Center will also ask people to go out to Pritchard and Pack Square parks with surveys, “to think about what works, what’s missing and how whatever happens on the Haywood Street property can complement the two existing parks in downtown,” Joyell said.
So come on down. Get creative, share your ideas. Let’s think about how to turn this spot into a great place with lots of uses, inviting for a wide range of people.
Don’t think about budget. All ideas are welcome for how you think the space should be used! Don’t think about what it looks like. Think about what you would like to do there. The feedback will be compiled for the Haywood Street Advisory Team’s consideration.
“We have enough time to study the site through all four seasons,” Joyell said of the Haywood Street property. “It’s not even our job to come up with a design. Our job is to tee it up so a designer can knock it out of the park.”
Dream big for Asheville’s so-called “Pit of Despair.” What would you like to do on the 1-acre Haywood Street site across from the U.S. Cellular Center and the Basilica of St. Lawrence?
Following the two open houses, the City of Asheville and the Asheville Design Center will launch online tools to continue the conversation as well as more public engagement in the form of a public workshop. And if you can’t make either of these open houses but still want to participate in the process, get in touch with Joyell; he’ll set up a time you can come down to the center and give your feedback. He can be reached at 828-782-7894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.