The Skyway community, organized through Skyway Solutions, has been investigating ways to invigorate itself. A series of workshops in 2009 resulted in a community agenda that outlined ways to revitalize the city. The idea of a community center arose in concert with other ideas that emerged during that process. The community is looking for a place to engage with their neighbors, learn new skills, teach others, share resources and gather to dance, cook, exercise, read, and celebrate. The spaces will be flexible, and will change throughout the day; the community center will be a place for all ages, a living room for an extended family, a gathering place at the center of the community that will be full of life - the community’s social hub.
Schemata Workshop's role has been to develop a conceptual plan and perspective image that grasps the community's vision. Through three workshops we have been able to gather some exciting ideas about how the community center should be organized by collaborating with the people of the Skyway neighborhood.
The purpose of this workshop was for Schemata Workshop to learn what kinds of activities the community envisions taking place in a community center and to understand the community's prioritization of the spaces provided to us to incorporate in the overall floor plan.
This second workshop’s intent was to encourage and assist the community to visualize how their building should be organized and used. Which spaces should be located next to each other? Away from each other? Can some spaces be used for overlapping functions? What other issues arise when the building starts to take shape? How much security versus openness?
Part of the intent of this activity was to provide the community with a tool for thinking about how building spaces could respond to what uses they need, rather than start with a given building and make the program fit the building. Why? Either approach requires an enormous investment of time, effort and finances, but the first approach helps ensure that the building provides what is actually needed and will be used.
After the second workshop Schemata Workshop took the three plans developed by the community members and developed five schematic floor plans and presented them at the final workshop. Community members were asked to provide positive and critical feedback about all of the layouts. They were given 6 lime-colored post-it notes for positive comments and 6 purple post-its for critical comments. The purpose of the exercise was not to select a “winning” layout, but rather to get a clearer idea of what features people like or don’t like. For example, looking at the comments, participants like an open reception lobby, angled spaces to add variety, doors and movable walls that allow rooms to change in size, a covered entry porch, locating the kitchen away from the gym, and providing a skate park, among other things. There is a strong desire to have a swimming pool, but the community also recognizes the cost implications, both upfront and for long-term maintenance. All of this feedback was used to generate a final conceptual perspective and floor plan that was presented at a potluck held for members of the community to gather and celebrate the hard work and efforts put into driving this community vision.
A potluck was held to present the conceptual images to the community and for everyone to gather and share their delectable family recipes. I got to participate in Skyway Jeopardy with little success in naming streets and businesses. Overall the event was a success with at least fifty people in attendance.
It has been very rewarding for me to be able to work with the people of Skyway and see their enthusiasm to push for a much-deserved community center especially since the community reminds me of the town I grew up in. This project has also just given me a great opportunity to break out my brushes and watercolors.