Million Dollar Blocks

Stacey Sefcik’ thesis project was focused around the “million dollar block”, which is something that I learned was heavily present in the Atlanta area.  A million dollar block can be defined as a neighborhood or “block” where one million dollars or more is spent on prison costs of the residents who have been incarcerated.   These areas often have high rates in poverty and recidivism.  Stacey decided to take one of these blocks located in Atlanta under design exploration in hopes of improving the neighborhood.  I found it interesting that this project focuses on an issue that is actually on a larger scale than just interior design.  In fact, as I followed along from the earlier presentations, one of the concerns about this thesis was the constant questioning of whether or not a design of a building’s interior spaces can successfully have a large enough impact on a community issue such as this.

The scope of the project consisted of two separate buildings that were located on two corner sites across from each other.  A striking comment that was made about this project is that it is not so much about the building as it is the programs that are needed in the community.  So essentially, Stacey’s project became more about the programs and activities she proposed as well as the design of the spaces that would “house” these programs.  I think this is an interesting way of looking at community re-development and planning, and believe this is the way we should approach design issues such as this one: first creating programs and activities that will improve the community, then shaping the spaces around them (with elements of flexibility and adaptability, of course.)  Many times people are stuck trying to fit a program into a building that doesn’t accommodate it.  We have to remember that the built environment’s main goal is to successfully support the activity of the inhabitants, while influencing this activity comes second.

Further Reading:

http://www.wbur.org/npr/162149431/million-dollar-blocks-map-incarcerations-costs

Image Credit: http://candychang.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/milliondollar_blocks.gif
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One Response to Million Dollar Blocks

  1. ShannonG says:

    Yes Jessica, I agree that many times people get stuck in trying to fit a program into a building that is not appropriate. When we remember the simple phrase, ” We are a product of our environment” we can make informed decisions abut the interior space as well as activities that support the community. Make the space uplifting, the community will follow along.