Working in the office hasn’t any sense if you don’t know who are you working for. When your company presents the project to the neighborhood community where the buidling will be, be prepared because you may be surprised of non-architect people reaction.
That Monday, after finishing the presentation in InDesign and printing some copies, I got into a car with my bosses way to New Jersey. Developers, lawyers and neighbours were waiting for us to present them the new project in the area. The project is a residential tower and a public park within Journal Square, a centric district in Jersey City where some other residential towers are being constructed.
When we arrived to the place, which was a tacky space with pink columns in the basement of a church, there was nobody but the clients. Ten minutes later, when everything was prepared, there were around 60 people there. People from all cultures, ages and social class, all of them living in the area.
My boss finished the presentation but nobody clapped. People’s hands were raised and architects and developers prepared for their questions. Only one person in the room agreed with the project, but the rest were really angry with the idea. People don’t like changes and they said they don’t want a high-rise building in their low-rise neighborhood, neither a park with a public center. They were worried about a lot of things: security, traffic, landscape, etc.
Eventually nothing ended up really clear. My bosses told the people that we will rethink about it after having listened them, so some changes will occur.
So, in that meeting was when I realised that architecture is not just design and construction itself but it’s mainly a social matter. I don’t say people is right and professionals aren’t or vice versa, I just think desigining architecture is always social and this kind of meetings are essential.