In spite of a messy day of sleet last Tuesday, about 60 people showed up to DCPL’s Meet and Greet for architects from Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson, who have been chosen to renovate MLK memorial library.
Lead architect Mecanoo’s Francine Houben at first appeared a bit bewildered by the apparent lack of a formal program. However, after a brief introduction by new Library Executive Director Richard Gavilon, she gamely and quickly went through the same slide presentation again from some weeks ago. When she was finished, one perplexed gentleman called out in dismay, “Where are the new plans?”
Considering that it had been a month since the architects were selected, it was not unreasonable for him to think that something additional would be presented. Alas, his question went unanswered as there would be no Q & A. We were assured that it was preferable to talk one-on-one with the architects instead.
As we were dispersed to “light refreshments” of cookies and water, there was grumbling at this well known tactic to keep information from being shared. One wonders, too, what these world class architects must have thought about the sheer inefficiency of answering the same questions over and over for each individual.
In the end, a degree of efficiency triumphed, as it will when a group of humans are left to their own devices. A small crowd gradually gathered around Francine over at the model display (across the Great Hall from the cookies), which she dismantled and put back together as needed to answer various questions. By then some had left in frustration, but those who stayed received a small measure of personal interaction with this charming Dutch genius.
This video highlights the public engagement process in Roxbury Boston, on an historic preservation and revitaliztion project there, headed by Ms. Houben. Video from Boston Project