Deaf culture, Rumi quotes, and physically interacting with text: our Collaborators Panel

This month’s Collaborators Panel spans the gamut on projects that feature iconography and typography, including:

  • Deborah Adams Doering of DOEprojekts on a Grand River public art project and selecting river-based icons for the huge public work
  • Julio Sims on an LA mural depicting local deaf actors, and how gang signs influenced the community’s relationship with his mural
  • Xylia Buros of Holst Architecture on a typographic gate at a shelter and the architecture firm’s creation of a piece that welcomed those experiencing homelessness into the space

CODAworx is a community of collaborators, so it wasn’t a surprise when our panelists had more questions for one another than we had for them. With their permission, an excerpt of the conversation that continued when the broadcast ended:

Julio Sims:

“Xylia: The individual voices involved in choosing the quotes seems quite emotionally and politically loaded for me in your project. Even though it hasn’t been gathered, I would love to know the responses from the facility’s ‘homeless’ population. It would be great if the message of respect and compassion was successfully received. I also very much liked imagining a daily procedure where a staff member is exposed to the text while opening and closing the gate…

And that it acts as a literal and symbolic threshold. The visitors’ transition to yet another courtyard space, to wait before entering the building to receive services, reminds me of the physical and psychological ‘journey’ one makes in approaching a traditional Japanese tea garden/ceremony.

Was this transitional experience a consideration of the landscape architects? Is it significant that the text can only be read from the outside? Is it still legible once the gate is slid open? The facility is providing to various extents a ‘home’ to the homeless. Did this influence the design beyond the entrance and courtyard?”

Xylia Buros:

“Yes, the transitional experience was absolutely a consideration of the landscape architects and architects in designing BCC. It signifies safety and a departure from the street, and the entrance to a safe haven. The distinct threshold was a design goal for Holst — to create a large and welcoming opening but also one that is intentional and separate from the public realm. The gate has become a symbol of the facility and is universally appreciated by staff and the public.

The words are still legible when the gate is opened. The text can only be read from the outside because it’s meant to be beckoning and welcoming to the homeless.

And yes, the entire building design was inspired by housing and serving the homeless, from open, naturally lit service spaces on the ground floor, to a private courtyard meant for only residents, to community rooms for gathering, yoga, and job training. We toured a number of facilities with courtyards that ranged from being indistinguishable from the sidewalk, to completely separate and guarded by a checkpoint with locked gates. After programming our clients’ needs and studying other projects, it became clear that we wanted a courtyard that was safe, welcoming, and an extension of the programs inside. The gate sets the tone for everything that happens after you walk through.”

To our panelists, we thank you again for the insight. To our community, it is clear you want to connect with one another, and CODAworx will continue to facilitate that in as many ways as possible.

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