The Importance of Community Feedback

I was browsing Reddit during my morning commute (by city bus, whoo mass transit!) and came across a post in the r/engineering subreddit.  The post, by u/nat45928 is titled “Civil’s [sic]: Listen to what the locals tell you” and u/nat45928 goes on to describe their recent experience with an engineering/design firm.  The firm came out to investigate a small bridge that required replacing and sought to gather information from the locals.  u/nat45928 shared that the creek under the bridge regularly flash floods and carries large amounts of debris.  It was then recommended to raise the bridge to avoid potential back up. 

Now, admittedly, there a million and one factors as to why the bridge wasn’t designed to be higher.  Raising the bridge may have required extensive redesign of the entire roadway.  Or it may have pushed the project over budget.  Or maybe they just didn’t listen to the local residents.  Either way, a large storm came through the area and left the bridge area looking like this.

ymtpbd6s F3C18yws OGwpcgws CwtAGTEs

So now there is a problem where there wasn’t one before.  Also admittedly, as another Reddit user pointed out, the real problem was the high amounts of erosion upstream.  But that still doesn’t negate the fact that the bridge is backing up the stream.  If it isn’t regularly checked on the greater amounts of pressure from debris and water will wear out the bridge supports more quickly than before.

With this in mind, there is a great importance for design and engineering firms to engage community residents in the design process.  Local residents know the values and history of an area better than anyone else and can sometimes provide invaluable insight.  This comes to light with an even greater sense of importance here at SHP Leading Design since we specialize in school designs.  These schools will be used by residents, their children, and maybe even their children’s children.  We are tasked to create a building that will leave long-lasting memories of a successful and exciting learning career for the community.  They will be in these buildings for possibly 12 years of their life.  And that’s a huge chunk of time for someone to be in an ugly or uncomfortable building.

No one is better at gathering this local information than Jeff Sackenheim, a principal at SHP.  Jeff recently undertook a volunteer project in his community of Bellevue, KY.  The Marianne Theater resides on Fairfield Avenue and has been closed for a number of years but some are seeking to revamp the old theater.  Jeff will be leading a community forum on July 30th in which residents came come to share their thoughts and opinions about the future of the theater.  There will also be a Facebook page that is open for people to post thoughts and opinions.  With this information the community’s vision for the theater can become a reality.  And not soon enough.  Mayor Ed Riehl said his favorite movie he saw at Marianne was Star Wars.  The next Star Wars movie, Episode 7, is rumored to be released in late 2015.  Maybe the Marianne can live again so Riehl can enjoy a blast from the past.

1403583207001-KY-MARIANNE-3 (photo: Cincinnati Equirer)

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