Sometimes you’ve got to pay a little more for things and make it up somewhere else. When faced with needing an update it’s also a prime opportunity to increase functionality and enhance or add appeal. Here’s a thought though…run it by someone who has some design sense.
As the following images depict, it looks like a lot of design decisions for different purchases that’d been incorporated through the years, came from non creative types. Many of these elements should be around a long time as longevity is inherent by their composition like brick and cement. This fact alone emphasizes the importance of making good decisions for new ideas to merge with existing structures.
The visual picture or aesthetics of our village is representative of what kind of community we are; the downtown core is what broadcasts this the most. In essence we are telling our visitors that we’re disconnected, disorganized and frugal – even cheap. We only know how to piecemeal everything with no long-range plan or overall concept – we’re either just not prepared to pay for anything better or our powers that be, make decisions or pass them to someone else that are ill equipped to decide. If I had to guess, somebody got the ideas from seeing it elsewhere and this was the translation.
By using an old historic brick in conjunction with a new interlocking paver the whole effort was reduced to nothing short of an amateur project. As it is, it’s interpreted as just thrown together and using the historic brick was an afterthought. A number of mediums, colors and patterns could have been incorporated to look great, but knowing what you’re doing and how to get it done is essential. These two brick choices were the wrong combination to put together, especially when just butted adjacent each other the way they are.
The simplest fix option that would have looked both, more professional and made more design sense would’ve been to use only one of these brick types for the whole project. By also bricking the far left strip section that runs along the left side of the light poles from corner to corner would have tied the whole design together and connected the bump-outs. The same strip should have also been repeated with brick work around corners like Jefferson Street, instead of the section left as asphalt (where the hydrant is located), as seen in the photo below. Exposed tree grates around the base of the trees would have provided more texture and should have also been incorporated into the design.
I cannot stress this point enough, but another important factor to consider is getting a bigger bang for your buck. If you’re intent on spending the money…go for the wow factor.
More bang from the planters as an example: Instead of purchasing the most economical or run of the mill planter to house an annual display of blooms, if fewer were purchased, more could have been spent on larger receptacles or ones with a more architectural or interesting shape. Because a smaller size was chosen, a different color would have brought attention to the planter and distinguished itself from the background instead of blending into the background like they currently do. In the same vein, the plants that were chosen should have been vibrant deep colors for impact instead of pastels that again, have difficulty competing with the background. Lighter colored blooms would have worked if the background was a solid, dark color. We would be looking for contrast in this instance, contrast makes things stand out.
When the planter purchase was considered, if choices that offered various sizes were purchased instead, they could’ve (and still should be) been arranged in groupings of three for a greater visual impact. Groupings could have also given another opportunity to interject color, or a nice mix of colors. Even their placement should be reconsidered, placing them away from the buildings and in some sort of alignment with the light poles would encourage more window shopping, allowing people easier access and a clear path to the windows instead of having to navigate around each pot. Placing them where they are, only works for buildings that aren’t reliant on window shoppers. Planters placed closer to the street also give pedestrians across the street a more pleasing depth to the view.
The photo below shows the low impact return on investment, versus the dollars spent on the planter pots, flowers and maintenance.
Even though there are always some remedies available to lessen the weight of poor choices. The taxpayer is reminded they are at the mercy of whoever is the chosen decision maker. The things I have just pointed out in this article are equivalent to a homeowner sinking time effort and finances into a renovation where he has no real expertise. He thinks he has raised the value of his property and the subsequent purchaser may feel bad, but has to rip it all out.
On a positive note, planting the trees was important, they were a good choice and hopefully more can be found in the budget to plant along US 223. Below I’ve given examples from the City of Elgin Illinois, showing the right way to accomplish what we attempted.