Why Architects Create Intentional Connections…and You Should, Too.

In Phoenix & Orlando, Architecture is a Catalyst for Change

Why Architects Create Intentional Connections…and You Should, Too.

In Phoenix and Orlando, Architecture is a Catalyst for Change

by Chuck Cole, FAIA, FACHA

Last month I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, with fellow Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission members on their annual Leadership Experience. At an after-hours event, we were able to spend time at Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, Taliesin West. Wright built Taliesin West as a home, school and business. Its formation was an intentional connection of three important aspects of his life and foretells how today’s millennials seamlessly weave together family, work and community.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, Phoenix, Arizona

Our trip to Phoenix unveiled other examples of intentional connections, especially on Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus. By locating a satellite campus in the city center, ASU contributed to the revitalization of the urban core. A striking intentional connection involves the ASU School of Social Work which is integrated within a senior housing complex in order to foster interaction between students, faculty and a low-income senior community.

In Orlando we have a similar opportunity to positively impact the residents of the historic Parramore neighborhood. The ASU initiative in Phoenix is very similar to the Creative Village concept we have developing in downtown Orlando. Universities are partnering with downtown businesses and residents to create a dramatic positive change in the community.

Our delegation also visited Tempe, a city that teamed with ASU and local businesses to rebrand itself to better reflect a new, vibrant urban core. The community banded together to enhance existing retail environments, develop an urban lakeside park, establish dense mixed use developments and recruit top tier national corporations. These intentional connections resulted in the establishment of a vibrant, desirable urban setting.

Tempe Town Lake with downtown Tempe, Arizona, in the background

We have a lot to learn from Phoenix. Our cities share similar infrastructure and goals. Like ASU, the University of Central Florida is one of the nation’s largest universities, and its move downtown would mean dozens of new partnerships and growth for Orlando.

I’m especially interested in how architects can connect with others to play an important role in Orlando’s urban renaissance. Architects create great spaces for people. We think about intentional connections all the time; mainly in relation to the built environment. Our piazza at the UCF College of Medicine was modeled after large open European squares, flanked by buildings, that serve as important gathering spots for the community.

Guests gather on the piazza of the UCF College of Medicine for its grand opening celebration

Students at the COM study and eat lunch on the piazza during the school year, but also gather for significant life events such as Match Day. The lobby and outdoor seating area we designed at Florida Hospital Orlando is a large, light-filled place of repose and solemn connection, intentionally situated to face the calming waters of Lake Estelle.

View of Lake Estelle from inside Florida Hospital Orlando

Have you been in a building lately that brought about positive change? How else can we weave our way into the existing fabric of a city to bring about revitalization?




designing excellence

About Chuck Cole, FAIA, FACHA

President and Healthcare Design Principal Chuck Cole is a nationally recognized healthcare architect. He has been honored as a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Architects for his healthcare design leadership, and as a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects for his contributions to the architectural profession.

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